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Course Enrollment

With more than 9,000 courses to choose from at Cornell, there are plenty of ways to build your journey. We can help you make it happen! Here are some resources below and be sure to use Chatter when you have questions.

For the fall semester, there will be a pre-enrollment window through Student Center where you can request classes before arriving on campus. New student pre-enrollment for fall courses occurs mid-summer. At any point during your pre-enrollment window (called your enrollment appointment), you will have 24/7 access to adjust the classes on your schedule. Add/drop periods begin just before the start of the semester which allows for additional opportunities to make changes to your enrollment.

As you prepare for this, be sure to read information from your major department and ask questions. This is your first time enrolling and we’ll be on Chatter to support you ahead of and during the pre-enroll and add period.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Class Roster is the schedule of classes for a specific semester and reflects when and where classes will be taught. Use the search feature to narrow results by meeting pattern, credits and many others.  

The Courses of Study contains the catalog of course descriptions for the academic year.   

Typically, a student’s schedule will have 2-3 major classes, 1 First-year Writing Seminar (FWS), 1 college distribution class, and 1 Physical Education Course. It is possible that Advanced Placement credit may substitute some of your requirements. Students must enroll in at least one CALS course each semester until 55 CALS credits have been successfully completed. 

You can track your college degree progress quite easily here. After you have successfully completed a semester, or you have provided an official transcript to the College Registrar, your degree progress will be updated in DUST.

On top of completing the college distribution requirements, you will have major requirements to complete. Take a look at Canvas and at the emails you receive from your major. This information will give you a good idea on what you should enroll in. If you still have questions on major requirements, ask in Chatter.

Familiarize yourself with your graduation requirements so you can start to understand the number of and types of courses you’ll need to complete before graduation.

Within Student Center you can use My Planner to help build your schedule. You can also use Scheduler to build and visualize semester schedules.

How many classes to take? The short answer: you’ll want to enroll in a minimum of 12 academic credits with a maximum of 18 academic credits (including PE or review/supplemental course). Expect to take an average of 15 credits per semester (120 academic credits total) over 8 semesters to earn your degree. See requirements below for additional details. 

What classes to take? Check in Canvas to see the guidance your major provides for course selection. Reach out to your major for detailed recommendations. We suggest taking a balance between courses in your major, ones that start to complete some CALS degree requirements, and one for fun to explore a topic you are interested in. It is a good idea to balance writing-intensive courses and problem set courses too.

Pre-health or pre-vet? You should check out this special page of resources.

When is the best time to take a specific class? There isn’t always  one answer to this, and you won’t likely get into every class you hope to in your first year so be flexible and have options. Do pay attention to when courses are offered (they may only be offered every other year) and if the course is a prerequisite for future courses in your major try to prioritize completing it sooner rather than later.

Who can you ask for guidance? Start with your major’s advising coordinator and guidance offered by your major. Chatter is a great place to go as fellow classmates will have similar questions and upper-level students will be able to answer your questions.


As you think about your plan of study be aware of the requirements you must complete in order to satisfy your degree. There are three different sets of requirements that you’ll need to fulfill: university, CALS, and major requirements. It is helpful to think about these as three different buckets you’ll need to attend to in the next four years. Learn more about the specifics of the university and CALS requirements (specifically look at credit and schedule requirements).

Major Requirements: You will receive information from your advising coordinator throughout the summer and/or your academic advisor. Each major operates a little differently than the other – that’s what makes us unique! Take a look at Canvas and at the emails you receive from your major. This information will give you a good idea on what you should enroll in. If you still have questions on major requirements, ask in Chatter.

University Requirements- Physical Education and the Swim Test: All incoming first-year students are required to complete 2 courses of Physical Education, one credit each semester of their first year on campus.  There are some exceptions for external transfer students. The University Faculty Committee on Physical Education has established a basic swimming competency requirement for all entering freshman undergraduates. The test is normally taken as part of the Fall orientation process and is required to be completed in the student's freshman year. More information about the University Graduation requirements can be found on the PE website.

Prerequisites should be taken earlier as it will allow more flexibility later. Additionally, AP credit can help inform you of what classes you may have placed out.

If you have taken AP, IB, or Cambridge exams, or courses at another university, it’s possible that you may be awarded academic credit. Learn more about credit transfer at CALS. Any credit earned will be added to your record automatically after we receive your exam scores, which may take a few weeks. 

Student Center: You will use Student Center to request classes, whether during the pre-enrollment period or the add/drop period. Visit the University’s registrar page to learn more about enrolling in classes on Student Center. Before pre-enrollment begins log in to Student Center to make sure you have a valid enrollment appointment (this is the window of days when you have access to enroll in your fall classes). The enrollment appointment will be noted in the box labeled ‘Enrollment Dates.’ Click on “Details” in the lower right corner to view the entire appointment window. If you don’t have an enrollment appointment, email cals-studentservices [at] (cals-studentservices[at]cornell[dot]edu).

Class Roster: The University Class Roster provides detailed information on the meeting times and room location of all Cornell courses (including the different lectures, labs, and/or discussion sections for each course). You can browse courses by subject, or use the search function to find a particular course. Scheduler and CourseCrafter can be found on the Class Roster site.

Courses of Study: The University Courses of Study catalogs Cornell's academic programs and policies. It contains information about colleges, departments, degree requirements, policies and course offerings.

DUST: DUST allows students to track their college degree progress toward graduation.

We will post regularly about enrollment in Chatter. We’ll offer lots of tips to help guide you through this process and encourage you to be flexible and have back-up options.

Don’t panic. Some classes will fill, be flexible and add another course you are interested in. You can adjust your schedule throughout this enrollment period. Additions and/or changes can be made during the add/drop period just prior to the start of the semester. The class that is full now might be open later. So, sit tight and add another course for the time being.

First-year Writing Seminar (FWS) program is offered by the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines . See more information about the process.