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Advanced Placement & Non-Cornell (Transfer) Credit

How many non-Cornell (transfer) credits will be accepted for incoming first-year students? 

Incoming first-year Cornell CALS students can bring in a total of up to 15 non-Cornell (transfer) credits earned before matriculating at Cornell (the equivalent of about one full-time semester). 

What are examples of how incoming first-year students may earn up to 15 non-Cornell (transfer) credits? 

CEEB AP Exams and various international credentials such as International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams, GCE A-Level Exams, French Baccalaureate Examinations, Cambridge Pre-University Examinations, as well as college coursework that has been completed at another accredited institution. In all cases, specific criteria must be met in order for non-Cornell (transfer) credit to be earned. 

What is the purpose of bringing in non-Cornell (transfer) credit as an incoming first-year student? 

The purpose is to exempt students from introductory courses where it has been deemed that they have had appropriate instruction in the subject area and place them in more advanced courses. That said, some departments advise their majors to develop a firm grounding in the subject area and methodology by enrolling in the introductory survey course even if they have credit. Students can also make progress on CALS distribution requirements and their overall 120 degree credits through non-Cornell (transfer) credit earned. 

If a student has more than 15 possible non-Cornell (transfer) credits earned before matriculating at Cornell, can they provide input about which credits they want to transfer in? 

Yes, students can schedule an appointment with the CALS Registrar team to work on determining which 15 non-Cornell (transfer) credits should be accepted. 

What happens if a student took dual enrollment courses (college courses taken while in high school) or even earned an Associate’s Degree along with their high school degree? 

Any courses that meet the specific criteria for non-Cornell (transfer) credit to be earned could be evaluated on a course-by-course basis (up to the 15-credit maximum). Cornell does not accept credit for courses sponsored by colleges or universities but taught in a high school to high school students, even if the college provides an official college transcript. Coursework completed while in high school may be considered for credit if there is sufficient evidence that: 

  • The course was a standard course available to all students registered at the college/university.
  • The course is taken on a college/university campus with matriculated degree students and is taught by a college/university professor.
  • The course instructor is a faculty member (includes adjunct) at the college offering the course.
  • The course is not listed on the high school transcript as a course counting towards the high school diploma. 

For any college courses taken while in high school that meet these criteria (up to the 15-credit maximum) students must submit the CALS application for college credit earned while in high school for each class along and provide an official college transcript to CALS Office of Student Services for evaluation. The application form is found on the experience.cornell.edu website. 

If a student took significant AP/IB courses, dual enrollment courses, or earned an Associate’s Degree along with their high school degree, is this considered a waste since the student may not earn many (or possibly any) non-Cornell (transfer) credits? 

We certainly don’t think so! All efforts to challenge oneself academically throughout high school – including AP and IB courses, as well as college-level coursework were certainly recognized in our admissions process. We seek out students who have demonstrated that they are excited about learning and taking on rigorous academic opportunities, as this is the academic environment and culture here at Cornell CALS. Regardless of any non-Cornell (transfer) credit earned, challenging high school coursework has served to prepare students for the academic journey ahead at Cornell! 

Could a student end up feeling like they were repeating a course if transfer credit was not awarded for an AP, IB or other college course taken while in high school? 

This should not be an issue. Even if a subject area may be repeated, the depth, breadth and rigor covered in the Cornell coursework will build on a student’s previous experience. Again, some departments advise their majors to develop a firm grounding in the subject area and methodology by enrolling in the introductory survey course even if they have credit. It cannot be said enough that having a solid foundation in introductory coursework is essential to future success in more advanced Cornell courses. Further, if a department deems that a student could be in the position of repeating coursework, they may offer subject area placement exams, usually during Orientation. 

What is the timing for seeking non-Cornell (transfer) credit as an incoming first-year student? 

While there is no required or specific timeline, it is recommended that upon wrapping up AP, IB or other international credential exams that students arrange to have official score reports submitted to Cornell. Once added to a student’s Cornell record, the CALS Registrar team can begin assigning any appropriate transfer credit. For any college courses taken while in high school that meet the specific criteria for non-Cornell (transfer) credit to be earned, students can begin completing course applications once spring courses conclude and final, official college transcripts are available. Please note that the CALS Registrar team will not be able to answer any individual questions on this topic until after July 1.