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Academic Policies

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) faculty, students, and administration support and abide by the university Code of Academic Integrity. CALS adheres to the university guidelines regarding academic integrity including the establishment of an Academic Integrity Hearing Board. Read more about the Academic Integrity Policy.


These are the main tools you'll use as you enroll in classes:

A large part of your coursework will be outside your major, the College encourages you to explore topics that interest you. 

Choosing Your Courses

To receive a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences degree, you will need to fulfill all of the degree requirements listed in the Courses of Study. 

  • Because some courses have overlapping content, they cannot both be counted toward your degree. Check this list of overlapping courses before you enroll in courses.
  • Courses taken with the S/U option can be used to fulfill college distribution requirements. 
  • You can monitor your progress toward degree completion by checking your DUST (Distributed Undergraduate Student Tracking) report here. The DUST report is updated after each semester to reflect your progress toward completing college requirements.

At the end of each semester, the Committee on Academic Achievement and Petitions reviews the records of all students and takes appropriate action, including but not limited to issuing warnings, placing students on probation, granting students leave of absence, advising students to withdraw, or suspending or expelling students.

To remain in good academic standing, a student must:

  • achieve a semester GPA of at least 2.0
  • maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • satisfactorily complete at least 12 academic credits per semester
  • enroll in at least one CALS course each semester until 55 CALS credits have been earned
  • make reasonable progress toward completion of college and university requirements. This means:
    • make reasonable progress toward completion of distribution requirements

In general terms, regular participation in course work with academic loads at a level to assure graduation within eight semesters and grades averaging 'C' (2.0) or higher are prima facie evidence of satisfactory progress and good academic standing.

Time Conflicts: The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will have a similar time conflict policy as in past semesters. The University has encouraged a no time conflict policy given the desire to minimize situations that will create stress for students.

The time conflict petition will be considered in the following circumstances:

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will have a similar credit limit policy as in past semesters. The University continues to strongly urge students to limit their credits to 18.  Students who wish to enroll in additional credits are encouraged to discuss academic loads with their academic advisor, or major department.    
We strongly urge ALL students to limit their semester enrollment to 18 credits

  • All undergraduate CALS students in good academic standing may enroll up to 22 credits maximum (22 is allowed when add/drop begins).
    • It is recommended that entering first-year students enroll in a maximum of 18 credits in their first semester.
  • Petitions to exceed 22 credits up to a max of 25 credits will not be considered, except for students expecting to graduate in December 2021 or May 2022. Petitions from such students will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis only if courses are required for graduation with confirmation by the Academic Advisor. 
  • On-time submission of the online petition (available in DUST), opening ahead of the add/drop period).
  • Petitions will not be accepted after the University add deadline.  

Through Student Center enrollment pages or submission of a completed add/drop form, students may add and drop classes during the specified enrollment periods (pre-enrollment and add/drop) of each fall and spring semester. Students select and enroll in up to 18 academic credits during the pre-enrollment period through Student Center and up to a maximum of 22 credits during Add/Drop. It is strongly recommended that entering first-year students enroll in a maximum of 18 credits in their first semester (including PE or review/supplemental courses). First-year students are limited to one S-U optional course per semester.

Specific deadlines and further instructions regarding course enrollment are available in the Course Enrollment and Credits section of the courses of study and the Class Roster each semester. Note: individual courses may have add/drop deadlines separate from the University dates. Please be sure to check.

Electronic Student Add/Drop Enrollment Request Form 

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. Further details may be found in Cornell Policy 4.5 Access to Student Information. Additional information is available through the University Registrar's office.

The university offers a broad range of diverse courses. Many of these courses have overlapping content, and students must make their selections carefully to ensure that they will receive credit for each course they take. Students who enroll in courses with overlapping content will only receive credit for one of those courses. Within the "Forbidden Overlaps" section of the Courses of Study website, you can find the list of courses with overlapping content if you scroll down to the "Forbidden Overlaps" section

Graduating Early

Students who are contemplating to graduate one or two semesters early should ensure they will satisfy all college and major requirements in time.  A meeting with your faculty advisor is recommended to be sure you fully understand and can complete all major requirements.  Students are able to apply non-Cornell (transfer) credit to graduate in less than 8 academic semesters. Students wishing to make any changes to their degree date are able to request an updated degree date in the first semester of the junior year. Although personal or economic reasons might factor in, please consider that your time at Cornell University is a rare and special opportunity where you can engage freely and intensely in courses, study abroad, and participate in research. 

  1. On the CALS Resources webpage, choose 'CALS Application to Update Degree Standing'
  2. Submit the online form for review

Delay Graduation (Ninth Semester)

It is expected that students will make satisfactory academic progress on graduation requirements each semester and will complete requirements for graduation within eight semesters. Students may request to delay graduation to complete requirements for the college, including requirements for one major. Delayed graduation will be approved only for compelling academic reasons that prevented completion of requirements within the expected period. Compelling academic reasons is defined as a circumstance beyond a student’s control that prevented taking the necessary courses or credits in a timely fashion.  Requests to add an additional major or minor will not be approved for study beyond the eighth term. The policy does not allow for an exception for adding second majors, minors, or specialized coursework.

Finish Elsewhere

In some cases, students need an additional course beyond their expected graduation date and are unable to complete this course at Cornell University. In this situation, a student can request to complete their course work at another institution (up to 8 academic credits). To do this a student must complete the form to Complete remaining coursework/credits at another institution.

  1. Attain pre-approval of the course the student would like to take by completing a transfer pre-approval form.
  2. On the CALS Resources webpage, choose 'CALS Student Petitions'
  3. Choose the bullet 'Complete remaining coursework/credits are another institution'
  4. Submit the petition
  5. Request an update to the expected degree date

Once the course is complete the student must send an official transcript to the CALS Student Services Office verifying a grade of “C” or better. When the transcript is received, the students degree will be posted for the next eligible degree date (example: transfer received June 5; the student will be an August Graduate).

Students wishing to make any changes to their degree date, including finishing elsewhere are able to ask questions and request their record to be changed through DUST.

The grade of incomplete is appropriate only when two basic conditions are met (1) the student has substantial equity at a passing level in the course with respect to work completed. (2)The student has been prevented by circumstances beyond the student’s control, such as illness or family emergency, from completing all of the course requirements on time. While it is the student's responsibility to initiate a request for a grade of incomplete, reasons for requesting one must be approved by the instructor. The instructor will establish specific make-up requirements and deadlines for completion.

CALS students should not re-enroll in a course where they have received an incomplete (INC). Instead, coursework should be completed under the direction of the course instructor. Generally, deadlines are two successive semesters, but instructors may require shorter deadlines.  If a deadline is not entered, two successive semesters serves as the default deadline. If coursework is not completed within the designated time period, the notation of Incomplete (INC) will be converted to a failure (F*) or unsatisfactory (U*/UX*) grade depending on the grading structure of the course. Once a CALS student has graduated, no additional work can be completed. Evidence of an incomplete remains permanently on the transcript. When the course has been completed, a grade is entered with an asterisk (*), indicating that it was not completed during the regular semester. 

Note: A student may not graduate with an Incomplete (INC) on the transcript.

More information can be found in the Grading Guidelines section of the courses of study.

Prorated tuition is a University policy. Visit the University Registrar's website for the conditions that must be met in order for undergraduate students to be considered for prorated tuition.

All applicants for prorated tuition should be aware of the possible impact that this 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. To determine if you are eligible to apply for prorated tuition, please schedule a meeting with the College Registrar.

Several departments in the college offer individual study (4970), supervised internships (4960), teaching assistantships (4980) and undergraduate research (4990) for academic credit. For more information, visit the Courses of Study website. Students can access the online CALS Special Studies form through the 5th week of the current semester.  Petitions to ADD will not be accepted after the add deadline, no exceptions.

For enrollment in BIOG 2990 or 4990, please contact the Biology Department directly in 216 Stimson or visit the Biology website for more information.

Students wishing to pursue research opportunities may enroll in courses such as research or independent study. Some students enroll in research-focused courses for more than one semester. While the course number may be the same, these courses represent a progression of research and scholarship and are not a repetition of the same material. Students are expected to demonstrate positive forward development in their knowledge and scholarship.

Some topics courses, colloquia, and seminars carry the same course number and title. These courses, from semester to semester, focus on a different topic or area of study. Although students may enroll in the same course more than once, the content of each offering varies. For more information about how repeat coursework may impact financial aid, see the Course Repeats and Financial Aid Eligibility site. For more information, visit the Courses of Study in the "Repeated Courses" section

Students are able to repeat a course at another institution, however if the student has successfully completed the course at Cornell, it will not transfer onto the students record.