Courses of Study 2017-2018 
    Sep 30, 2020  
Courses of Study 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Graduation Requirements

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .

Graduation Requirements for the Bachelor of Science

1. Credit Requirements:

  1. Minimum total credits: 120 academic credits are required for graduation.
    • Repeated courses do count as academic credit.  Repeated courses increase the number of credits required for graduation by the number of credits in the course.
    • Review or supplemental courses (e.g., 1000- to 1099-level) do not count as academic credit.  Review or supplemental courses increase the number of credits required for graduation by the number of credits in the course.
    • Physical education courses do not count toward 120 academic credits for graduation.
  2. Minimum credits at Cornell: 60 academic credits must be successfully completed at Cornell.
  3. Maximum Non-Cornell credit : 60 non-Cornell credits (included but not limited to AP, CASE, IB, GCE, French Baccalauréat, course work completed at other accredited institutions, and Cornell Abroad) can be applied toward degree requirements. Students are limited to 30 Advanced Placement credits (this includes all non-Cornell credit earned before a student’s first semester in a college/university).
  4. Minimum credits from College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: 55 CALS credits are required for graduation. CALS credits include all courses from departments within CALS and courses offered in the Applied Economics and Management, Biological Sciences, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Information Science, Nutritional Sciences Departments, Statistical Science and SEA semester. Specifically, courses offered under the following subject prefixes count as CALS credits: AGSCI, AIISP, ALS, AEM, ANSC, BEE, BIOG, BIOAP, BIOEE, BIOMG, BIOMI, BIOMS, BIONB, BIOSM, BSOC, BTRY, COMM, DSOC, EAS, EDUC, ENTOM, ESS (SNES), FDSC, IARD, INFO, LA, LEAD, NS, NTRES, PLBIO (BIOPL), PLBRG (PLBR), PLHRT (HORT), PLPPM (PLPA), PLSCI, PLSCS (CSS), SEA, STSCI, VIEN.
  5. Minimum letter-graded credits (course work taken with a grade of A, B, C, or D): 100 (prorated based on non-Cornell credits).
  6. Minimum Structured/lectured credits (course work not earned through independent study, research, teaching assistantships, and/or internships): 105 (prorated based on non-Cornell credits)

2. Physical Education Requirement:

  1. Physical Education Requirement: Successful completion of two 1-credit nonacademic PE Cornell courses with a satisfactory grade. Students are expected to complete the Physical Education Requirement in their first two semesters at Cornell. Note: Physical education credit does not count toward the 120 credits needed to graduate or toward the 12-credit minimum required for full-time status.
    Exception: Students who externally transfer to Cornell from another accredited college or university are exempt from the physical education requirement.
  2. Swimming Requirement: Successful competition of the swim test Swim tests are normally taken as part of the orientation process.
    Exception: Students who externally transfer to Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences from another accredited college or university are exempt from the swim test.

3. Residency Requirements:

  1. Eight semesters of full-time study are expected.
    1. Transfer students are credited with one semester in residence for each full-time semester earned at another accredited institution.
    2. Internal transfer students must be enrolled in CALS for at least two full-time semesters. This includes the conditional term for internal transfer students.
  2. The final semester before graduation must be completed in a Cornell program as a full-time student. (The School of Continuing Education does not count towards a final semester in residency.)
  3. Students in the equivalent of their ninth and final semester may apply for prorated tuition. Prorated tuition information is availabe on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website.

Students applying for prorated tuition must submit no later than the last day to add classes in the semester in which proration is requested. Applications received after that time will not be considered.

Please be advised that prorated tuition may impact the student’s financial aid, student loans, scholarships, non-Cornell health insurance programs, athletic eligibility, or other considerations. It is the responsibility of the student to investigate and resolve these situations prior to submitting this application.

4. Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirements:

Minimum cumulative GPA: 2.00 or above must be maintained for good standing and to meet the degree requirements. The cumulative GPA includes all grades earned at Cornell.

5. Schedule Requirements:

  1. Students are expected to enroll in at least one CALS course each semester until 55 CALS credits have been earned.
  2. Freshmen may not enroll in more than 18 academic credits, not including physical education.
  3. Freshmen are limited to one optional S–U course per semester.
  4. PE and supplemental course work do not count toward the 12-credit minimum required for full-time status.
  5. Students wishing to enroll in more than 22 academic credits (to a maximum of 25 academic credits) must submit an online petition through Chatter by the end of the add deadline.  Students can view the criteria here.

6. Distribution Requirements:

The purpose of the distribution requirement is to provide a broad educational background and to ensure a minimum level of competency in particular skills. Through study of the physical and life sciences, students develop their understanding and appreciation of the physical sciences, enhance their quantitative reasoning skills, and gain an appreciation of the variability of living organisms. The social sciences and humanities give students perspective on the structure and values of the society in which we live, and prepare them to make decisions on ethical issues that will affect their work and role in society. Written and oral expression is designed to help students become competent and confident in the use of oral and written communication to express themselves and their ideas.

Please note:

  • Courses taken with the S/U grading option can be used to satisfy the distribution requirements and you may want to check with your faculty advisor if this course overlaps with a major requirement.
  • Courses will not be counted towards more than one college distribution requirement (example: ENGL 2800  can be included in either the Humanities and Social Sciences distribution requirement in the LA category or the Written Expression distribution requirement, not BOTH).
  • Credits received for independent study, field, teaching, research, work experience, and internships cannot be used to fulfill the distribution requirement.
  • Courses that are review or supplemental in the discipline, such as 1000- to 1099-level courses, will not be counted in the distribution areas.

For a comprehensive search engine of the college distribution requirements, please go to

Physical and Life Sciences:

Faculty legislation requires minimum competency in the sciences to complete a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  Students must complete 18 credits in at least three disciplines with a minimum of 6 credits in introductory life sciences/biology, a minimum of 3 credits in chemistry or physics, and a quantitative literacy course.

Introductory Life Sciences/Biological Sciences:

The following courses can be taken to complete the minimum 6 credits of introductory life sciences/biology. Consultation with your advisor on the best selection/sequence of courses is recommended as some courses may be more appropriately suited for your major. (Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements ( and our website that includes summer/winter courses ( for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement):

Biological Sciences majors: Please refer to the following site:


Courses to complete the minimum 3 credits of chemistry/physics:

  • all courses with a CHEM and/or PHYS prefix (excluding courses that are supplemental, independent study, research, TA, internship, and First-Year Writing Seminar). Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements ( for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.

Quantitative Literacy Requirement:

Faculty legislation requires minimum competency in quantitative literacy to complete a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This requirement can be satisfied in one of three ways:

  • Earning a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus exam or the AP Statistics exam; or
  • Transferring an approved calculus or statistics course with a grade of “C” or better; or
  • Taking an approved math or statistics course at Cornell.

A complete listing of approved math and statistics courses is available online at

Other Physical/Life Sciences:

FAculty legislation reuqires minimum academic credits in Physical Life Scinces to complete a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements  ( for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.

Social Sciences and Humanities:

Faculty legislation requires minumum competency in the Humanities and Social Sciences to complete a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Students must complete four (3 credit) courses in at least three disciplines of the Humanites and Social Sciences with a minimum of one course in Human Diversity (D-AG) and no more than two courses in the same discipline.

A list of courses that can be applied toward the humanities and social sciences distribution can be found on the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements.


  • Cultural Analysis (CA)
  • Foreign Language (FL)
  • Historical Analysis (HA)
  • Human Diversity (D-AG)
  • Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM)
  • Literature and the Arts (LA)
  • Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA)

Detailed descriptions follow.

Cultural Analysis (CA):

These courses study human life in particular cultural contexts through interpretive analysis of individual behavior, discourse, and social practice. Topics include belief systems (science, medicine, religion), expressive arts and symbolic behavior (visual arts, performance, poetry, myth, narrative, ritual), identity (nationality, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality), social groups and institutions (family, market, community), and power and politics (states, colonialism, inequality).

Foreign Language (FL):

These courses are taught by the following departments: Africana Studies and Research Center (ASRC—language only), Asian Studies (BENGL, BURM, CHIN, HINDI, INDO, JAPAN, KHMER, KOREA, NEPALI, PHAJABI, SANSK, SINHA, TAG, TAMIL, THAI, TIBETAN, URDU and VIET), Classics (GREEK, LATIN, SANSK), German Studies (GERST—language only, DUTCH, ROMANIAN and SWED), Linguistics (LING— languages only), Near Eastern Studies (NES—languages only), Romance Studies (CATAL, FREN, ITAL, PORT, QUECH, and SPAN), and Russian Studies (RUSSA, HUNGR, POLSH, SEBCR, and UKRAN).

Historical Analysis (HA):

These courses interpret continuities and changes—political, social, economic, diplomatic, religious, intellectual, artistic, scientific—through time. The focus may be on groups of people, dominant or subordinate, a specific country or region, an event, a process, or a time period.

Human Diversity (D-AG):

These courses address several of the college’s stated goals for undergraduate education, specifically, the expectation that in the course of earning a degree, students will enhance their abilities to communicate with people of different cultural perspectives; to listen carefully and respectfully to the views of others, especially views with which they disagree; and to employ ethical reasoning in judging ideas, actions, and their implications. These courses explore the challenges of building a diverse society, and/or examine the various processes that marginalize people and produce unequal power relations in terms of race, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, gender, age, or economic status.

For transfer credit to be awarded a petition must be completed. Please follow the instructions outlined on the following site:

Knowledge, Cognition, and Moral Reasoning (KCM):

These courses investigate the bases of human knowledge in its broadest sense, ranging from cognitive faculties shared by humans and animals such as perception, to abstract reasoning, to the ability to form and justify moral judgments. Courses investigating the sources, structure, and limits of cognition may use the methodologies of science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, or philosophy. Courses focusing on moral reasoning explore ways of reflecting on ethical questions that concern the nature of justice, the good life, or human values in general.

Literature and the Arts (LA):

These courses explore literature and the arts in two different but related ways. Some courses focus on the critical study of artworks and on their history, aesthetics, and theory. These courses develop skills of reading, observing, and hearing and encourage reflection on such experiences; many investigate the interplay among individual achievement, artistic tradition, and historical context. Other courses are devoted to the production and performance of artworks (in creative writing, performing arts, and media such as film and video). These courses emphasize the interaction among technical mastery, cognitive knowledge, and creative imagination.

Social and Behavioral Analysis (SBA):

These courses examine human life in its social context through the use of social scientific methods, often including hypothesis testing, scientific sampling techniques, and statistical analysis. Topics studied range from the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes of individuals to interpersonal relations between individuals (e.g., in friendship, love, conflict) to larger social organizations (e.g., the family, society, religious or educational or civic institutions, the economy, government) to the relationships and conflicts among groups or individuals (e.g., discrimination, inequality, prejudice, stigmas, conflict resolution).

Written and Oral Expression:

Faculty legislation requires minumum competency in written and oral expression to complete a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Students must complete 9 academic credts in Written or Oral Expression.

  • A minumum of 6 academic credits must be Written Expression
  • Oral Expression may be required for the majors.  Students should check with their major department and faculty advisor.

Please refer to the comprehensive search engine of college distribution requirements for the most up to date list of courses that meet this requirement.

Graduation Procedures

The progress of each student toward meeting the degree requirements is recorded each semester.  Students can review their degree progress online through Chatter. Navigate to the DUST tab at the top of the screen.  Choose the Degree Progress tile then College Degree Program then click “Continue on to Degree Progress.”

A student who wishes to graduate early or delay graduation must complete an online form through Chatter. Navigate to the DUST tab at the top of the screen. Choose Graduation Requirements tile then “Application to Update Degree Standing.”

Submission Deadlines For the Application to Graduate:

January graduates: mid-October

May graduates: mid-December

Failure to meet these deadlines may result for May candidates a student’s name being omitted from the commencement program and/or a delay in a student receiving their diploma.

Student Responsibilities: It is the student’s responsibility to complete The Application to Graduate.

  • Part 1 of the Application to Graduate is available online through Chatter.
  • Part 2 of the application requires students to schedule a meeting with their faculty advisor(s) to complete Part 2 of the application. Faculty advisors submits Part 2 through an online portal.
  • Students should seek clarification from their advisor and/or the CALS Registrar if graduation requirements are unclear.

Note: If a student is completing more than one major, the student must meet with and complete Part 2 of the Application to Graduate with all advisors.  If a student is completing a minor/s, the student must confirm minor completion with minor coordinator within the department offering the minor.

Faculty Advisor Responsibilities: It is the faculty advisor’s responsibility to complete Part 2 of the Application to Graduate with the student, listing any outstanding requirements on the application (including courses in which the student is currently enrolled); and answer any student questions regarding major requirements.

CALS Student Services Office Responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the CALS Student Services to update the graduation summary of seniors before each student’s final fall semester. CALS Student Services is available to review degree requirements by appointment (link accessible for current CALS students only).

Commencement Information: Commencement information will be provided to all graduating seniors directly by the Commencement Office. Information is available at