Graduate Student Orientation

Congratulations and welcome!

We're here to help with your transition to Cornell. If you have any questions, please contact your faculty advisor (the professor with whom you will be working), or Dr. Susan Quirk, Director of the Graduate Field of Animal Science, at smq1 [at] (smq1[at]cornell[dot]edu), or Donna Wakeman, Graduate Field Assistant, at dlb8 [at] (dlb8[at]cornell[dot]edu).


Registration is completed after the tuition bill is released by the Bursar and all holds are released. Graduate students must check their Student Center accounts before the start of the semester to be sure there are not holds that have prevented registration.

Being registered does not mean that you are enrolled in courses. It simply establishes your student status. Graduate students can start enrolling in courses in August 2021 if they have an active NetID. Information regarding your NetID, Cornell email address, Cornell ID Card, enrolling in dining/ meal plans, housing, transportation and parking, registration, and more can be found on the Graduate School “Welcome to Cornell” site.

Arriving on Campus

Date of arrival

Tell your faculty advisor the date you expect to arrive and arrange an appointment to meet with your faculty advisor.

Office assignments

If your faculty advisor is a member of the Department of Animal Science, please see Jessica Carpenter, 149 Morrison Hall, for an office assignment and keys. If your faculty advisor is in another department, please check in the appropriate administrative office for an office assignment and keys. Once you have done this, please email Jessica Carpenter your contact information.

Orientation meeting

Attend and the Graduate School Orientation on Monday, 23 August at 10:00 am via Zoom. A link will be sent via your Cornell email prior to this date.

Checking your registration status

Students should check registration status at the beginning of the semester using Student Center. Look at the “Holds” box on the home page of Student Center. If you have no holds, you are registered with the University. If you have a hold that says “No Registration, Trans, Diploma” or “No Registration” then you are not registered. It is possible for there to be other Holds listed that do not affect registration. Click on “Details,” then click on the “Hold Item” link to find out what is affected and how to clear the hold.

If you are not registered after the third week of classes, you will lose access to university services and be charged a $350 late fee in addition to finance charges to register. If you register after the sixth week of classes, you will be charged a $500 late fee in addition to finance charges.

    Summer registration/courses

    You must register for the summer session if you will receive financial aid, fellowships, loans, assistantships, travel grants, or tuition awards during the summer. You must also register in order to use campus facilities during the summer. If you are not on campus, but meet any of the previous conditions, you must register for the summer.

    Summer registration is automatically granted to all students who enroll in a non‐credit summer graduate research course through Student Center. Enrollment opens in mid‐April and students should enroll as soon as possible. There is no tuition charge for summer registration and enrollment in the graduate research course, although students requesting a registration semester for summer study do pay tuition.

    To register, enroll in the appropriate section of the Graduate School's Graduate Summer Research courses: GRAD 9016 (class numbers 1508, 1509, 1510, or 1511) via Student Center.

    Students receiving summer support who do not register for summer by a certain date to be set by the Graduate School (usually mid‐May) will have FICA (OASDI and Medicare) and income taxes withheld from their paychecks. If you miss the enrollment deadline, you must register at the Office of the Graduate School Registrar (143 Caldwell Hall) immediately.

    Financial Information

    Assistantships include: stipends, tuition, and health insurance. Your letter of admission indicated the source of your assistantship (if any). For questions regarding student appointments (stipends, fees and taxes), contact Lori Harders, Financial Reporting Specialist, 158 Morrison Hall.


    Appointments are made by semester as follows:

    • Fall: 14 August through 31 December
    • Spring: 1 January through 15 May
    • Summer: 16 May through 13 August

    Stipend payments are made through the payroll system and are paid twice monthly. This is considered income and you may be taxed and will most likely file a tax return. Summer stipend payments may be lower than the academic year stipend payments. Please be aware that your paycheck may be lower for the summer period and plan your financial management accordingly. For questions regarding your assistantship, contact: Lori Harders llh84 [at] (llh84[at]cornell[dot]edu), Financial Reporting Specialist, 158 Morrison Hall.


    • Tuition is paid each academic year semester; August for Fall and December for Spring. This is paid (by the department or faculty member if you have been awarded an assistantship) directly to your Bursar account.
    • Health insurance (for Grad students on Assistantships) is paid in August for the entire year.
    • Student activity fee is the responsibility of the student and not covered by assistantships.

    Late fees/interest may accrue on any payment not made on time, including the Student Activity Fee. In the event a late fee is assessed for an item covered by an assistantship, the department will appeal for a waiver or pay the fee.


    Stipend payments are subject to income tax. Your letter states the gross amount of stipend over a 12‐month period. Your actual take‐home pay will probably be lower due to taxes. The amount of tax you will pay or be refunded when filing a tax return is dependent upon many things and cannot be predicted by departmental administrators.

    Employment Authorization Form (I‐9)

    All graduate students are required to complete the Employment Authorization Form (I‐9). Foreign students with other than an F1 visa must confirm employment eligibility and complete the I‐9 form through the International Services - Office of Global Learning. For assistantship appointments, the I‐9 must be completed within three days of the 1st day of employment, which is usually about mid-August.

    Steps to filling out the I-9

    • Complete and print a copy of your I‐9. I‐9 instructions and form are available at:
    • Set up an appointment with Donna Wakeman at dlb8 [at] to present your identification and obtain the signature on the I‐9 form. You must bring two forms of identification to this meeting. Please see page 9 of the I‐9 for acceptable forms of identification. All forms of documentation must be valid – they cannot have expired. A copy of each form will be made at this time.
    • International students must bring their passport, I‐20, and I‐94.

    Please print and bring with you the most recent I‐94 Admission Number Retrieval document from the US Customs and Border Protection website.


    For questions regarding I‐9 requirements, contact: Donna Wakeman, Graduate Field Assistant, 149 Morrison Hall.

    International students

    Information for International Students can be found via the International Students and Scholars Office. The Cornell International Fair will be held on Wednesday 4 September from 11:30 am to 2 pm on Uris Hall Terrace.

    Social security numbers: If you need a Social Security Number (SNN), information on how to obtain a Social Security Number can be found here. If you need a letter from your faculty advisor indicating that you are currently conducting research in his lab, please contact Donna Wakeman, Graduate Field Assistant, at dlb8 [at] (dlb8[at]cornell[dot]edu).

    All students in the Field of Animal Science are required to gain experience as a teaching assistant. International students whose native language is not English may be required to take the International Language Teaching Assessment as outlined below.

    Teaching Assistant Responsibilities

    As stated in your acceptance letter, all Field of Animal Science graduate students are expected to obtain experience as a teaching assistant. If you have a graduate assistantship paid by the Department of Animal Science, you will be expected to be a TA most semesters, beginning with your first semester on campus. If you have your own funding, you will be expected to help TA occasionally as part of your learning experience. Please discuss your teaching assistant responsibilities with your faculty advisor as soon as possible. If you have any questions regarding teaching assistantships, please contact Patricia Johnson at Paj1 [at] (Paj1[at]cornell[dot]edu).

    International graduate student teaching assistants

    The International Language Teaching Assessment (ILTA) may be required if the student:

    • Does not speak English as a first language,
    • May be assigned any teaching assistantship,
    • Has not taken the TOEFL iBT or has taken the TOEFL iBT and received a speaking score below a 28.
    • Has not taken the IELTS or has taken the IELTS and scored below 8.5.

    The purpose of the ILTA is to determine if an international student’s level of English proficiency meets the minimum required level of proficiency to be a TA at Cornell and to inform international students and their departments of any required ITAP course work and appropriate teaching assignments.

    Exemptions from the ITAP

    • Students who receive a 28 or above on the TOEFL iBT are exempt from assessment. This exemption does not apply to the summer program for incoming international students who will be a TA in their first semester.
    • International students who have received previous education in English institutions are not exempt from the ILA.

    For more information regarding scheduling language assessments, scheduling an appointment to take the test, and courses available, please see the Center for Teaching Excellence website.

    Student Progress Review

    Graduate students are required to complete the on-line Student Progress Review (SPR) annually to support the regular exchange of constructive, written feedback between advisees and advisors. It codifies a process for research degree students and their special committees to have at least one formal conversation per year about academic progress and plans. Using the SPR form, students are asked to reflect on their recent accomplishments, identify challenges, and set goals. Advisors then review their students' SPR forms and enter constructive feedback and an overall rating of student progress. Feedback that is documented on the SPR will be made available to the student, all members of the student's special committee, and the DSG/GFA of the student's field.

    Student Progress Reviews must be completed by 31 May each year. The system is designed to retain information from year to year. You will be asked to update your SPR at the end of every academic year, but we suggest that you continuously keep it updated.

    Please submit your portion of the Student Progress Review no later than 31 May each year. Faculty will be asked to submit their portion no later than 31 July each year.

    Suggested process for completion

    1. Schedule a meeting with your committee chair to discuss your portion of the Student Progress Review.
    2. Submit the online Student Progress Standard Review Form at least 10 days prior to your advisor meeting. (Once you submit your portion of the SPR, it is automatically sent to your faculty advisor.)
    3. Meet with faculty advisor/committee chair to discuss your progress and planning.
    4. Faculty submit their portion of the online form.

    Important Notes

    • A deadline extension will be granted ONLY if your committee chair is travelling and you are not able to meet with him/her. Extension requests should be submitted to Donna Wakeman.
    • Graduate students and committee chairs are required to complete the Student Progress Review annually.
    • Not all questions are relevant for all students (e.g., MS students will not have an A-exam date, you may not yet have a publication, etc.). If a question is not applicable, simply enter “NA”.

    Questions? Contact Us.

    profile image of susan quirk
    Susan Quirk

    Emeritus Professor

    Animal Science

    Susan Quirk
    Headshot of Lori Harders
    Lori Harders

    Financial Reporting Specialist

    Animal Science

    Lori Harders
    profile photo of Donna Wakeman
    Donna Wakeman

    Administrative Assistant to the Chair

    Animal Science

    Donna Wakeman