Courses of Study 2021-2022 
    Jul 14, 2024  
Courses of Study 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Policies and Procedures

In the College of Arts and Sciences 

Academic Integrity

The Essential Guide to Academic Integrity at Cornell is one of the documents new students receive. Students should read this booklet carefully and not assume they understand what integrity and cheating are and are not. The standards of integrity are those that prevail in professional life. This means that students must acknowledge and cite ideas they adopt from others (not just direct quotations) and give clear attribution to any help they receive from colleagues, parents or resources (e.g. online sites). When in doubt, ask the instructor.

Penalties for academic integrity violations include adjustments to grades, and also non-grade actions such as community service, suspension for a semester or more, required counseling, expulsion from Cornell, and a transcript notation concerning the academic integrity violation.

For more information, consult the Dean of Faculty website.

Forgery or Fraud on Forms

Forging signatures or credentials on college forms is an academic offense and constitutes academic fraud. In all cases of forgery on academic forms, the effect of the forged documents shall be negated; such incidents will be recorded in the Academic Integrity Hearing Board’s confidential file for forgeries. If the student forges more than once, or if the forgery would advance the student’s academic standing unfairly or fraudulently, or if for any reason the situation requires some response in addition to the uniform penalty, the Academic Integrity Hearing Board might recommend further action, such as a notation on the student’s transcript, suspension, or dismissal.

Registration and Course Enrollment

New Student Enrollment

New first-year and transfer students will participate in pre-enrollment in the summer prior to their arrival on campus. They may seek advice from an advisor in the Advising Office and peer advisors as they make their selections. During August orientation, they attend briefings and other information sessions, meet with their faculty advisors and college advisors, and adjust their schedules as appropriate.

Continuing Student Enrollment

Continuing students in good standing may select and enroll in up to 22 credits during the pre-enrollment period for an upcoming semester. Students can then finalize their enrollments during the general add/drop period just prior to semester start.  Before enrolling in courses, students should plan their programs and discuss long-range goals with their faculty advisors. In addition, all students are welcome to discuss programs and plans with an advisor in the Office of Student Services, KG17 Klarman Hall.

At the beginning of each semester, students can view their schedules on Student Center.  Periodically during the semester, and particularly before the add/drop deadlines, students should confirm the accuracy of their records.

Adding and Dropping Courses

After their pre-enrollment period students may not adjust their schedules until just prior to the new semester start during the general add/drop period. Both the university and college provide calendars with key academic dates for add, drop and withdrawal deadlines each semester. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of and abide by these deadlines.

Adding a regular term course can be done during the first 15 calendar days of the semester (with the exception of specific courses with special deadlines).

Dropping a regular term course can be done in the first 57 days of the semester, if no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Dropping a course removes it from the academic transcript.

Deadlines for short courses will be adjusted according to the length of the courses.

After the 57th day, and by the withdrawal deadline (which is published each term in the college academic calendar), students may petition the college to withdraw from a course, if no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Courses officially withdrawn after the 57th day will be noted on the transcript with a “W” where the grade would normally appear. This is a matter of record and cannot be petitioned. Petitions to withdraw from courses may not be submitted after the published deadlines, except in exceptional circumstances.

Note: a student who has been charged with violating the Code of Academic Integrity in a course may not drop that course without the express written permission of the course instructor(s) unless the student has been cleared of the charges.

The effective date of all course changes will be the day the student submits all necessary and completed paperwork to the A&S Registrar’s Office.


University registration is the official recognition of a student’s relationship with the university and is the basic authorization for a student’s access to campus resources. Please see University Registration for a list of registration requirements.

Numbers of Courses and Credits

In general students should average at least 15 academic credits per semester in order to meet the 120 academic credit degree requirement in eight semesters (Note: AP/test credit, transfer credit, and summer credit may reduce the average number of credits required each semester).

To maintain good academic standing as a full-time student, students must complete at least 12 academic credits per semester. Certain courses at the university do not count as A&S academic credit.  Non-academic credit courses include courses in military training, service as a teaching assistant, physical education, remedial or developmental training, precalculus mathematics, supplemental science and mathematics offered by the Learning Strategies Center, and English as a second language.  A full list of non-academic courses are listed under non-academic courses and cannot be used toward the 12 academic credits required each semester for good standing.

All students in good standing with the College may enroll in a maximum of 22 credits. Students who are on a warning or probationary status from the previous term may only enroll in a maximum of 18 credits. In order to facilitate a successful transition to undergraduate study, it is recommended that entering first-year students take no more than 18 credits in their first term. 

If, for compelling personal or academic reasons, students who seek to be overhours and enroll in more than 18 or 22 academic credits, must submit a petition to the college for approval. Students who fail to receive college approval for overhours may count only 18 or 22 credits toward the degree for that semester.


Attendance in classes is expected. Absences are a matter between students and their instructors. If a student cannot attend classes because of illness or family crisis, Arts and Sciences Advising will notify instructors at the request of the student. Nonetheless, the student must arrange to make up examinations or other work with each instructor. A student who will be absent because of religious holidays or athletic competitions must discuss arrangements for making up work with his or her instructors well in advance of the absence. A student who must miss an examination must also consult with the professor in advance. Alternative arrangements are at the discretion of the instructor.

Student athletes should discuss scheduled absences with their instructors at the beginning of the semester.

Prorated Tuition

Prorated tuition enables a student to pay tuition on a per credit basis rather than the standard undergraduate tuition rate. The following conditions must be met in order for undergraduate students to be considered for prorated tuition.

  • Be in the ninth (or equivalent) and final semester of their degree program.
  • Be enrolled in nine or fewer credit hours.
  • Be in good academic standing with their school or college.

Prorated tuition strictly follows university policy (see Prorated Tuition for a full description).

To apply for prorated tuition students must first contact the A&S Registrar to determine eligibility. The application, which requires the major advisor’s endorsement, has to be submitted before the end of the second week of the student’s final semester. The deadline submission cannot be extended.

All applicants for prorated tuition should be aware of the possible impact that this part-time enrollment status may have on financial aid, student loans, scholarships, on-campus employment, health insurance, or other considerations. It is the responsibility of the student to resolve these situations prior to submitting the application. 


Letter Grades

See Grading Guidelines .  

S/U (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory) Grades Guidelines

  • There is no limit on the number of courses each semester for which students may elect the S/U grade, but within the 120 credits required for the degree, a minimum of 80 graded credits must be earned.
  • Students must select their grading option by the end of the drop-deadline of the semester. Students may petition for a grade option change from an S to a letter grade after the deadline only if it is required for their major as a letter graded course.
  • Students should note that a grade of S is equivalent to a grade of C– or higher; a grade of U, which is equivalent to any grade below C–, is a failing grade equal to an F. Grades appear on a student’s transcript.
  • Prerequisite courses for graduate school and courses counting toward the major (and some minors) should not be taken for an S/U grade unless the department grants permission.
  • Some courses, including First-year writing seminars and most language courses, do not allow students to enroll in the S/U option.
  • When available, students may elect the S/U option provided that such courses do not also count toward major requirements or serve as prerequisites for admission to the major.
  • Second-semester seniors in particular are advised to use the S/U option carefully: A student receiving a D in a non-major course he or she needs for graduation can still graduate if that course has been taken for a letter grade. If, however, the student has taken the course S/U, the D will be recorded as a U and the student will not earn credit for the course, thus impacting their ability to graduate on the desired degree date.

Note: a student who has been charged with violating the Code of Academic Integrity in a course may not change the grading option for that course without the express written permission of the course instructor(s) unless the student has been cleared of the charges.

Note of Incomplete

An incomplete (INC) signifies that a course was not completed before the end of the semester for reasons beyond the student’s control and acceptable to the instructor. Students must have substantial (normally at least 50 percent) equity in the course, be able to complete the remaining work, and have a passing grade for the completed portion. When a grade of incomplete is reported, the instructor submits a form stating what work must be completed, when it must be completed, and the grade (or permanent—”frozen”—incomplete) earned if the work is not completed by that date. When a final grade is determined, it is recorded on the official transcript with an asterisk and a footnote explaining that this grade was formerly an incomplete.

Students should be aware that incompletes are interpreted as credits not passed during a given semester. If a student’s incomplete takes his or her record below 12 credits in a given semester, the student risks being placed on warning or on leave by the Committee on Academic Records. If placed on leave, the student must complete the INC before being allowed to return, and readmission will be permitted only at the beginning of a given semester. If the incomplete is not completed by the beginning of a regular academic term, the student may not register for that term. Students must resolve (make up or “freeze”) any incompletes with their instructors before graduation.

Note of R (Yearlong Courses)

R is recorded for satisfactory progress at the end of the first semester of a two-semester course. Students enroll in such courses both semesters. The grade recorded at the end of the second semester evaluates the student’s performance in the course for the entire year and will replace the grade of “R” for the first semester of the course.

Students enrolled in an R course for the thesis may occasionally wish or feel compelled not to complete that thesis. In order to drop the thesis but continue with an independent study, the student should contact their major advisor and the A&S Registrar’s Office.

Grade Reports

Grade reports are available for each semester in Student Center.  Students should check their courses and grades at the end of each semester to be sure that they are recorded correctly.

Class Rank

The college does not compute class rank.

Dean’s List

Inclusion on the Dean’s List is an academic honor bestowed by the dean of the college to students who have exemplary academic records each semester. Based on grades and credits, the criteria include about the top 30 percent of students. The criteria may be subject to slight changes from year to year.

For 2021–2022, Dean’s List citations are presented to students who meet the following requirements: a minimum semester GPA of 3.600 (without rounding); no failing, unsatisfactory, missing, or incomplete grades in any class; and at least 15 letter-grade credits (not S/U). For students earning Dean’s List, the honor will appear on their official transcript for the corresponding term.

Students may earn Dean’s List retroactively within one-year of that term after making up an incomplete grade or by resolving a missing grade. It is the student’s responsibility to contact Arts & Sciences Student Services if any grade change makes them eligible for a prior term Dean’s List.

Academic Standing

Students maintain good academic standing for each semester if they successfully complete the minimum criteria for credits and semester GPA, and are also making reasonable progress toward meeting overall degree requirements.

To maintain good academic standing for each semester, students must:

  1. Successfully complete at least 12 academic credits by the end of the semester
  2. Attain a semester GPA of 2.0 or better
  3. Be admitted into a major by the end of the summer following the sophomore year
  4. Complete two First-Year Writing Seminars during the first four semesters
  5. Achieve 60 and 90 credits by the end of the sophomore and junior years, respectively (to facilitate graduating within eight semesters)

Note: courses listed under non-academic courses do not count toward good academic standing in a semester.

Students who do not meet one or more of the above academic criteria in a given semester will have their records reviewed by the Academic Records Committee at the end of the semester.

Committee on Academic Records

The college faculty’s standing Committee on Academic Records is the official body that reviews the records of students who fail to maintain good academic standing and takes appropriate action. The committee also decides on students’ petitions for exceptions to college requirements or rules throughout each semester. It accomplishes both of these tasks with attention to each individual situation. Its overriding goal is to help students achieve the best undergraduate education possible.

Academic Actions

Students who are not in good academic standing will be considered for academic action by the college faculty’s Committee on Academic Records. Students are expected to explain their poor academic performance and submit corroborating documentation. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of any potential academic actions given to them if they do not meet the published college good standing criteria. Students may appeal a decision or action of the committee if they have new relevant information and documentation.  All appeals must be received by the college within one week from the date that the official notification of the action was sent to the student. Any appeals filed after the one week deadline will not be considered for the upcoming term and will be deferred to the subsequent term.

Academic Warning

Any student who fails to maintain good academic standing may, at a minimum, be issued a warning at the end of the semester. A student on academic warning may be required to meet with their advisor in Student Services to discuss their academic plans, and their enrollment will be limited to 18 credits for the subsequent semester. A warning is posted on a student’s college record, but does not appear on official university transcripts. A warning will expire at the end of the semester it was issued for, and will not be permanently noted in the student’s record.  It will not be reported externally after the student returns to good standing.

Academic Probation

Any student who fails to maintain good academic standing following a semester on warning, or who is approved to return from a required leave of absence, will be placed on academic probation. A student on probation may be required to meet with their advisor in Student Services to discuss their academic plans, and their enrollment will be limited to 18 credits for the subsequent semester. Academic probation is posted in a student’s college record but does not appear on official university transcripts. Probation is lifted if good academic standing is achieved in the subsequent semester. If good academic standing is not achieved in the subsequent semester, the student will face continued probation or a review for a required leave. Probation is noted permanently on a student’s college record and is reportable externally if a good standing certification is requested by the student.

Required leave of absence

A student in serious academic difficulty may be required by the faculty Committee on Academic Records to take a leave of absence for one or two terms, depending on the severity of the circumstances. Usually, but not always or necessarily, the Committee on Academic Records warns students before requiring them to take a leave of absence. Before being allowed to return and re-register in the college, students must document their leave activities and how they resolved the problems that led to the leave of absence, and they must submit a plan for completing the degree. In some cases students are required to furnish evidence that they are ready to return or satisfy other conditions before being allowed to return to the college. Students who request to return in less than a year must present to the committee convincing evidence of their readiness to return. The leave is posted on the student’s official university transcript. Students returning from a required leave of absence are automatically placed on academic probation during the first semester back.

Required withdrawal

The faculty Committee on Academic Records may dismiss a student from the college because of a highly unsatisfactory record for one semester or for failure to make satisfactory overall progress in grades, credits, or degree requirements. This action expels the student permanently from the college. The withdrawal is posted on the student’s official university transcript.


The college faculty takes graduation requirements seriously, and the faculty’s Committee on Academic Records generally never waives a requirement outright. However, some students, with the support of their advisors, propose structuring their educations or fulfilling the spirit of college requirements in ways other than the specified norms. The Committee on Academic Records decides on such requests. Students who find that their undergraduate education would be better realized by satisfying requirements or proceeding in a way that requires an exception to normal rules may submit a petition to the committee. The committee decides petitions on the basis of their educational merit (to file a petition see Petitions to Academic Policies).

Students are not permitted to petition the Committee on Academic Records for any of the following:

  • Exceptions to the residency requirement
  • Additions or changes to the assigned category of a course or adding a distribution category to a course (these must be requested by the instructor to Educational Policy Committee)
  • For courses to count towards distribution or breadth that have not been approved by Educational Policy Committee
  • For courses on the non-academic course list to count for academic credits or courses towards the degree
  • Waiving of the 100 A&S credits graduation requirement
  • Waiving of the 120 total credits graduation requirement

Personal Leave of Absence and Withdrawal

Voluntary Leave of Absence

Students who wish to suspend their studies for a period of time may request a voluntary leave. Generally students plan to take a leave for an upcoming semester. In this case, students may request a voluntary leave of absence up to the beginning of the semester (defined as the day before the first day of classes) using the University Leave/Withdrawal form.  Leaves requested for an upcoming semester will be officially effective on the day after the end of the last term attended. A leave submitted prior to semester start and will not incur any tuition liability and all enrolled courses will be expunged from the official transcript. 

Students sometimes find it necessary to take a leave of absence at some point during the semester. These are characterized as “in-term” leaves and may have academic and financial impacts depending on the specific date the leave is officially requested (see the Proration Schedule for Withdrawals and Leaves of Absence). Students may wish to consult with their advisors to understand their individual situations and the implications of taking an in-term leave.

Leave requests submitted using the University Leave/Withdrawal form by the 57th day of the semester (the drop deadline) will result in enrollments expunged from the transcript with the exception of partial term courses already completed. Students in this case are eligible to return to the college at the start of the next semester subject to any conditions placed on their rejoin.

Leave requests submitted after the 57th day of the semester and by the last day of finals will result in W’s noted on a student’s transcript for enrolled courses with the exception of partial term courses already completed.  Additionally, regular term classes in which all scheduled work, including final exams and projects, has been completed by the requested leave date will remain on the transcript with the grade awarded and will not be withdrawn with a W.  All voluntary leaves for a current term requested during the period after the last day of classes and by the last day of finals will be reviewed by the Academic Records Committee. The committee may assign an action of warning, probation or even a required leave of absence to supersede the personal leave, if appropriate. Students taking a leave after the drop deadline will be eligible to return only after a full semester on leave, subject to any other individual conditions that must be met.

Students who are granted a leave of absence during a semester are responsible for any outstanding tuition or other university charges owed through the date of the leave of absence. On-campus housing, dining charges and other fees may accrue until the student no longer utilizes the services, regardless of the official leave date.

Health Leave of Absence

Health leaves are granted by the college only upon the recommendation of Cornell Health. The college may attach additional conditions appropriate to the individual situation. The student’s academic standing is also subject to review at the time of the leave and on return. Students must receive clearance from both Cornell Health and the college to be rejoined to study. Students wishing to return from a health leave should contact Cornell Health several months in advance to initiate the return process, and then contact the college.

Enrollment Restrictions While on a Leave of Absence
  1. Students on any leave of absence may not enroll in any classes at Cornell through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions. Students wishing to attend summer or winter session at Cornell must request a return from leave and obtain college approval. Courses taken without college permission will not count toward degree requirements.
  2. Study abroad undertaken during a leave of absence will not receive academic credit. International students on leave of absence from the College of Arts and Sciences may enroll in courses at a college or university in their home country only, as such enrollment is not defined as study abroad. They may petition for transfer of credit upon return to Cornell subject to the standard limitations on transfer credit.

Return from Leave

Students wishing to return from leave must contact the college and, where appropriate, provide documentation that all conditions for returning have been satisfied including Bursar holds. To facilitate pre-enrollment, all requests for return must be received by the college by March 1st for the fall semester and October 1st for the spring semester. In the case of conditional and/or health leaves, students must consult well in advance of those dates with both the college and Cornell Health.

Upon return, the student’s graduation date will be recalculated to account for the time spent away.  Students will typically return on the same academic status (good academic standing, academic warning, or probation) as they had prior to the leave.  Students who are rejoined will receive written confirmation and be reactivated on the university student system. Five years is the maximum length of time a student may be on leave before being withdrawn permanently from the college.

Voluntary Withdrawal

A voluntary withdrawal is a permanent severance from the university and from candidacy for the degree. Students planning to withdraw should consult with their advisors. Students who do not request a leave and fail to meet university registration requirements for a semester will be administratively withdrawn by the Office of the University Registrar. A voluntary withdrawal must be officially submitted via the University Leave/Withdrawal form and is effective on the date of submission.

Transfer Students and Transfer Credit

Transfer Credit for Summer or Winter Terms

Once matriculated, students may earn credit toward the degree by successfully petitioning to transfer credit for summer or winter courses taken at other regionally accredited institutions.  Credit for summer/winter courses taken at external institutions must be approved by the appropriate Cornell department. Approval forms are available online and in the Office of Student Services. Students are advised to submit course descriptions, syllabi, and approval forms to the director of undergraduate studies in the relevant Cornell department for prior approval of each course. Transcripts for completed work at other institutions must be sent to the Office of Student Services, KG17 Klarman Hall. (see Transferring Credits for more details).

Transfer credit approved for summer/winter courses (including summer/winter courses abroad) will count toward the 120 credits, but not toward the 100 A&S credits required in the college. Transfer credits may not be applied to distribution or breadth requirements, but may be applied to major requirements (with the approval of the department). A grade of “C” or better is required for all courses to be eligible for transfer, but some departments require a higher grade for major required courses.  Transfer credits and courses do not factor into the Cornell GPA.

Note: summer session at Cornell or elsewhere does not count as a semester in residence (see). Students are permitted to earn up to 12 credits in one summer.

During the regular fall and spring semesters, continuing students cannot simultaneously be enrolled in Cornell courses and in courses at an external institution, unless part of an official exchange program. These courses are ineligible for transfer credit.

Transfer Credit While on a Leave of Absence

Students who take courses at external domestic institutions while on a leave of absence may petition to have credits transferred. If approved, they are subject to the same rules and limitations outlined above for summer and winter transfer courses.  See Transferring Credits for all policies and procedures that apply to transfer credit. Credits taken while on leave do not count as semesters in residence.

Study abroad credit while on leave is not allowed (see Enrollment Restrictions While on a Leave of Absence).

Transfer Students from External Institutions

External transfer students who are admitted through the university transfer admissions process must satisfy all normal requirements for the degree, including the residency requirement. They must complete at minimum 60 credits at Cornell and complete at least four semesters in residence (summer and winter sessions do not count toward the residency requirement).

The college evaluates credit and residence earned at other regionally accredited institutions and determines the number of credits and courses students may apply toward the various requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree at Cornell. In addition, the college reevaluates advanced placement and test credit allowed by other institutions.  Evaluations of transfer credits are provided when students are notified of their admission. For more information on transfer evaluations see Transferring Credit.

Once matriculated in the College of Arts and Sciences, transfer students must adhere to the same rules for transferring credit earned during a summer term, or on leave as all other students.

Internal Transfer from Other Colleges at Cornell

Students who have matriculated in other colleges at Cornell may apply for internal transfer into the College of Arts & Sciences. There are four basic steps for students to complete the internal transfer process.

  • Determine eligibility
  • Attend required meeting
  • Review A&S College requirements
  • Submit application

These criteria and processes are explained in detail on the A&S Internal Transfer site. Prospective internal transfers are required to meet with the Senior Associate Director of Admissions before they apply. Applicants will be advised on the college’s academic opportunities and given guidance about course selection, Arts & Sciences requirements, and the transfer process.

Current A&S students who wish to explore the option of internally transferring to another college at Cornell should contact the internal transfer coordinator of the target college.