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Education Minor

Education transforms individuals and societies, preparing them for new thinking and new action.

These transformations happen every day — in contexts ranging from schools to workplaces to communities and via formats ranging from small face-to-face seminars to massive open online courses. Regardless of context or format, the work of teaching and learning is incredibly complex, shaped by psychological, cultural, political and economic factors.

Helping students and others to understand these factors — to see education from the inside-out and outside-in — is what Cornell education researchers and practitioners do. We connect students as well as colleagues on and off campus, with research-based knowledge and rich educational programming (e.g., fieldwork in courses and professional development for teachers). In so doing, we join and enlarge the community of people rethinking education and ensuring more and better transformations.

Undergraduate Minor

Undergraduates in all colleges at Cornell can pursue academic study and experiential learning in education. Students can also find expert advising on post-graduate opportunities in the field.

  • The minor offers a flexible curriculum and close advising to help students balance breadth and depth.
  • Co- and extra-curricular opportunities for tutoring, teaching, curriculum design and other educational projects are available across campus.
  • Education (EDUC) courses fulfill a variety of distribution requirements and some are cross-listed in colleges outside of CALS.

A minor in education is available to undergraduates in all colleges at Cornell. The minor would be useful to any student interested in:

  • Teaching in a public or independent pre-K-12 school anywhere in the world.
  • Adult, community and lifelong learning in formal and non-formal settings.
  • College teaching.
  • Counseling and other student-support roles in schools at all levels.
  • Graduate school in the social and cultural foundations of education, educational policy, leadership and psychology.
  • Participation in public discussions about schools and education more broadly.
  • Extension and outreach.
  • Educational technology.
  • Curriculum development.


The Education minor is open to all undergraduates. Students must apply for formal admission to the minor no later than the first day of classes in the senior year.


Education minors take three core courses and (at least) six credits of electives. They also complete a small capstone project. For full details, please see the Education minor handbook; highlights are below.

Core Courses (for breadth):

EDUC 2410: The Art of Teaching

One course from each category below (two courses total):

Category 1: Education history, policy, philosophy

Choose from:
EDUC 2710: Social & Political Context of U.S. Ed.
EDUC 3405: Multicultural Issues

Category 2: Direct experience with learners

Choose from:
EDUC 2200: Introduction to Adult Learning
EDUC 2210: Designing and Facilitating Learning for Development

EDUC 3110: Educational Psych
EDUC 4050: College Teaching

Electives (for depth in an area or further exploration):

Take (at least) six credits of electives using two or more courses. Any course from this list of EDUC courses counts. See the Education Minor handbook for a list of non-EDUC courses that also are approved as electives.

  • No more than four of these credits may be unstructured. Unstructured credits are internships (EDUC 4960), independent studies (EDUC 4970) or teaching assistantships (EDUC 4980).

Capstone (to synthesize insights from coursework and related experiences):

In their final semester before graduation, minors participate in one of two possible culminating experiences:

  • Option 1 (Conversations): Education minors may participate in a 20-minute discussion with educators from the community. Minors spend five-to-seven minutes informally summarizing their new insights on education, how they developed and how they might be applied in the future. Q&A follows.

  • Option 2 (Publications): Education minors may submit a publication that summarizes their new insights on education, how they developed and how they might be applied in the future. “Publication" is broad, including but not limited to essays, editorials, short stories and poems. 

Students must apply for formal admission to the minor no later than the first day of classes in the senior year.

  1. From your Cornell email, send a blank email with "join" in the Subject line to edminor-l-request [at] (subject: join) (edminor-l-request[at]cornell[dot]edu) (Note: That’s a lower-case L after edminor-).
  2. Complete the online application.
  3. education_minor [at] (Email the director of the Education Minor) to arrange a brief get-acquainted and advising meeting.
  4. Complete the courses, making sure you keep the requirements in mind.

Cornell does not offer a teacher certification program for undergraduates. However, it offers strong preparation for graduate programs leading to teacher certification and for other pathways into K-12 teaching. For more on Ithaca College’s Master of Art in Teaching, please visit the Ithaca College website.

Public Schools

Employment in public schools generally requires teacher certification (also known as licensure or credentialing). Programs leading to certification and a master’s degree are available throughout the country. Such programs typically range from 11 to 24 months. Through inter-state reciprocity agreements, certification by a program in one state is usually portable, allowing certified teachers to teach in public schools in most other states (pending completion of some paperwork and possibly additional workshops or exams).

Cornell has special agreements with the outstanding graduate-level certification programs at nearby Ithaca College. Students interested in teaching at the elementary or secondary level can earn an undergraduate education minor at Cornell and then spend an additional 13 months at Ithaca College to earn a master’s degree and New York state teacher certification. More information about this streamlined path can be found in MAT Program accordion below. 

For general questions about the minor, please education_minor [at] (email the Director of the Education minor). For questions about K-12 teaching and the Streamlined Pathway to the IC MAT Program, please contact Jeff Perry, Education minor faculty member.

Independent Schools

Employment in independent (private) schools usually does not require teacher certification. For students who want to teach in privately-run boarding or day schools, Cornell’s minor in education can provide the frames of reference and hands-on experience with youth needed to hit the ground running.

Teacher Certification Transfer Articulation Agreement between Ithaca College and Cornell University

This articulation agreement facilitates the entry of Cornell undergraduates into Ithaca College graduate teacher education programs. The agreement is based on a mutual commitment by Cornell University and Ithaca College to support the preparation of outstanding, academically talented teachers for today’s schools.

This agreement is designed for students at Cornell University completing a bachelor’s degree who wish to attend Ithaca College to pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) in Childhood Education, a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Adolescence Education (grades 7-12), or a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Agriculture Education (grades K-12).

The M.S. program prepares students for New York state certification to teach grades 1- 6. The M.A.T. program prepares students for certification to teach grades 7-12 in the area of English, history/social studies, Spanish, French, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, earth science or agriculture.

Students at Cornell University will be granted admission to the M.S. in Childhood Education or M.A.T. program at Ithaca College provided that the following requirements are met:

1a. Students interested in the M.S. program (to teach in grades 1-6) must have taken at least six credits in each of the following core areas of the elementary-school curriculum:

  • English language arts (English, Writing, Communications)
  • Mathematics (Mathematics, Statistics)
  • Science (Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Physics)
  • Social Studies (History, Political Science, Geography, some Sociology/Anthropology)

1b. Students interested in the M.A.T. program (to teach in grades 7-12) must complete a Cornell University major in the desired area of certification.

1b.i. For agriculture, the appropriate major is Agricultural Science. Other majors (e.g., Plant Science and Animal Science) may be considered on a case-by-case basis; please note the following stipulation from the New York State Education Department: “College study in the field of agriculture includes coursework in such areas as animal science, plant science, pomology, entomology, soil science, animal genetics, crop rotation, animal husbandry and similar courses normally offered by recognized schools of agriculture.”

1b.ii. For history/social studies, the appropriate majors are history or government. Please note the following stipulation from the New York State Education Department: Coursework must include the “study of economics, government, and at least a total of 21 semester hours of study in the history and geography of the United States and the world.”

1b.iii. For earth science, the appropriate major is Science of Earth Systems. Other majors (e.g., Atmospheric Science and Environmental & Sustainability Science) may be considered on a case-by-case basis; please note the following stipulation from the New York State Education Department: “Acceptable studies include courses in scientific methods, space systems, atmospheric systems, geological systems, and water systems. Courses in environmental science, conservation and wildlife management, and agriculture are generally applied science courses and, therefore, are not acceptable.”
1.b.iv. For all other areas of certification, see the notes regarding prerequisite content area coursework here:

2. Students must successfully complete the Cornell University Education minor with a set of courses satisfying the entry requirements of Ithaca College’s M.S. and M.A.T. programs. Specifically, students should complete the following or their equivalents as determined by the director of the Education minor at Cornell University:

  • EDUC 2410, The Art of Teaching, three credits [includes 30 hours of fieldwork, which must be with K-12 youth].
  • EDUC 3110 (cross-listed as HD/COMM 3110), Educational Psychology, 4 credits [includes 20 hours of fieldwork, which must be with K-12 youth]

ONE of the two following courses:

  • EDUC 2710 (cross-listed as EDUC 5710, AMST 2710, DSOC 2710, SOC 2710), Social and Political Context of American Education, four credits.


EDUC 3405 (cross-listed as AMST 3405, ANTHR 3405, LSP 3405), Multicultural Issues in Education, four credits

*Note: EDUC 2410 and 3110 together provide the required 50 hours of fieldwork. If students are unable to take one of these courses but still wish to qualify for this agreement, they may petition the director of Cornell's Education Minor to satisfy the requirement via another fieldwork-intensive course or co-curricular commitment (for example, tutoring with Upward Bound).

3. A minimum 3.0 cumulative grade point average is earned, as well as a minimum 3.0 in the major, and the student is making satisfactory progress in the final semester courses prior to admission to Ithaca College.

4. The student has satisfactorily completed the Ithaca College Admission Application Process. Note: The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for admission. Also, the requirement for two letters of recommendation will be waived if the student is recommended by the director of the Education Minor at Cornell University.

5. The student is in good disciplinary standing at Cornell University.

Applicants who do not meet the above-listed requirements and/or who have course withdrawals and/or incompletes on their transcripts are not eligible to participate in this articulation agreement but can be considered for admission to the M.S. or M.A.T. programs at Ithaca College on an individual basis.

Applicants are eligible to apply for Graduate Assistantships and tuition scholarships at Ithaca College.

What is Adult Learning?

Think of workshops, book groups, training events, museum programs, one-on-one mentoring, skill clinics — these are some of the avenues of adult learning. Picture the face of a new American learning English, a CEO in weekend class for an MBA, an incarcerated young adult completing a high school diploma, a community theater group preparing a play — these are some of the faces of adult learners.

Encompassing a wide range of educational pursuits in many settings and contexts, adult learning can be defined as, “All forms of learning undertaken by adults having left initial education and training, however far this process may have gone.” (Study on European Terminology in Adult Learning, Final Report, July, 2010, p. 6.)

Adult learning takes on different names according to context. At work, it may be called “professional development” or “training.” Around town, adult learning is often referred to as “community education.”  Among the many formats and subject areas of adult learning, other terms applied can include: Night school, language study, wellness class, group fitness, executive degree program, riding lessons, driving school, citizenship test preparation — and many more.

Why it matters for students to study and practice adult learning

Learning is the way of the human being. Our neural networks are made to process, analyze, grow and stretch. Through learning, we become ourselves: Capable, caring and contributing people able to act in the world with agency and through our particular perspectives and gifts. 

Simply put, we are all adult learners for much more of our lifespans than we are youth learners.  Adult learning is your future. You are, or are on the brink of becoming, an adult learner.

Beyond the immediately personal, adult learning is key to everyone’s collective future as well.  Societies, communities, neighborhoods, families — human groups at any scale — benefit from clear thinking and creative expression. Adult learning is vital to innovation, problem-solving and the often overlooked, yet ever important, art of maintaining what is already working. Think of it as building human capital.

When you study designing instruction for adults you acquire the master keys for creating and facilitating meaningful experiences for learning and action. These backwards planning and design thinking approaches serve well in multiple settings with people of all ages to foster new thinking and agency. Think of the worst class or meeting you’ve been in; now think of the best. What makes the difference is good design and facilitation. 

Opportunities at Cornell

The Education minor at Cornell offers a unique opportunity to learn and practice adult learning.   Students enrolled in adult learning EDUC courses apply their learning by becoming an educational mentor for a Cornell employee; i.e. an adult learner, through the Community Learning and Service Partnership, (CLASP). CLASP is an adult education program for employees working in Campus Services. With student “learning partners” employees study a range of subjects from practicing the English language to using computer applications to preparing for the US citizenship exam. Courses include: EDUC 2200/DSOC 2100, Introduction to Adult Learning and EDUC 2210/DSOC 2210, Designing and Facilitating Learning for Development.  

The core courses in the Education minor are taught by the following instructors: 

The Cornell Butterworth Fellowship for Undergraduate Engaged Learning and Research in Education provides significant financial support for undergraduate engaged learning in the broad areas of education and education policy. Students must be enrolled in the Cornell Education Minor to apply.  

Graduate minor in Education

Students in graduate-degree programs at Cornell University may pursue a minor in Education. Interested students should meet with a faculty member from the graduate field of Education. If the professor agrees to serve on the student’s committee, an appropriate plan of study will be developed which will typically include coursework in Education (or related) and some portion of one’s thesis or A-exam on related issues.

Masters and Doctoral Degrees

Cornell’s field of Education is not currently accepting applications for graduate study in Education. Any questions should be directed to jsipple [at] (John Sipple).

Cornell students can apply to nearby Ithaca College to become certified teachers. Graduates of the 13-month M.A.T. program are fully eligible for initial teaching certification in the state of New York, which has reciprocity agreements with more than 30 other states and jurisdictions. Certification specialties include agriculture, English, biology, social studies, chemistry, French, earth science, Spanish, physics, and mathematics.

Those who complete Cornell's Education Minor can take advantage of a streamlined application process.

Why study Agriculture Education?

Agricultural ducation programs are growing in popularity in suburban and urban high schools as well as in rural areas. According to a 2014 National Association of Agricultural Educators supply-and-demand report, more than 200 additional agriculture teachers are needed due to program growth and expansion each year.

Some of the larger programs are looking for teachers who specialize in teaching animal science, plant science or mechanics. But many are looking for generalists who can teach those topics as well as other courses ranging from forestry and environmental science to landscaping, welding and small animal husbandry. If you have a wide-range of interests, these opportunities just might be for you.

Our Agriculture Education M.A.T. program (delivered in collaboration with Ithaca College) will help prepare you for careers as a teacher, Extension educator, community educator, a leader in agriculture sales and marketing and other in-demand jobs. The program combines Ithaca College’s strengths in teacher education with Cornell’s ranking as one of the leading agricultural universities in the world. Graduates are fully eligible for initial teaching certification in the state of New York.

The program in a nutshell

You can complete the Agriculture Education M.A.T. in just a little more than a year, beginning in late May and running through the following June.

Here’s what you’ll study:

Summer session (late May through July):

  • Pedagogy and practice.
  • Agriculture program planning.
  • Educational technology.

Fall semester (late August through mid-December):

  • Literacy course.
  • Special needs course.
  • Pedagogy and practice.
  • Youth organizations in agriculture.
  • Field placement in local schools.
  • Required seminars.

Spring semester (January through April):

  • Student teaching.
  • Reflective practice seminar.

Summer II (May through June):

  • Teacher research paper.
  • Agriculture education professional seminar.

Admission pre-requisites

Requirements for admission to the Agriculture Education M.A.T. program:

  • Undergraduate degree in an agriculture field. (Transcript review required).
  • 3.0 or higher GPA.
  • GRE general test.
  • Two letters of recommendation.
  • 30 hours of documented, in-school classroom experience.

The following can be taken upon your arrival on campus, but it is helpful to have these courses completed before your entrance to the program:

  • Educational/adolescent psychology.
  • Foundations of education.

Application deadline for the program is February 15.

 If interested, contact Jeff Perry jap255 [at] (jap255[at]cornell[dot]edu).

For Cornell students, an ideal path leading to the Agriculture M.A.T. program is to major in Agricultural Science or Animal Science with a minor in Education.

How to apply

Visit the Ithaca College Application Process page for information.


Visit the Ithaca College M.A.T. website for semester-by-semester curriculum details.

Co-curricular opportunities

The organizations listed here provide opportunities for Undergraduate and Graduate students to teach, tutor, develop curriculum, and engage in other education activity

Many opportunities for both undergraduates and graduate students to provide tutoring in local schools (e.g., REACH and Public Achievement) and to partner with teachers to expose local children and adolescents to topics they otherwise might never encounter (e.g., EYES and GRASSHOPR).

CLASP is a participatory adult education program designed to create and support reciprocal educational experiences between Cornell University undergraduates and Cornell service employees. Through CLASP, students and employees achieve a variety of individually determined learning goals. Introduction to Adult Learning (EDUC 2200/DSOC 2100) is offered in the fall and Designing and Facilitating Learning for Development (EDUC 2210/DSOC 2210) is offered in the spring semester.

In addition to sponsoring a course in which students learn how to use gardens for education and then teach abroad (HORT/IARD 3200: Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize), CGBL offers an academic internship in collaboration with Ithaca Children’s Garden.  In addition, individual study offers the chance for students to tailor garden-based learning to their specific interests.

Dedicated to supporting incarcerated persons’ academic ambitions and preparation for successful re-entry, CPEP brings Cornell faculty and students together to teach a college-level liberal arts curriculum to students at Auburn Correctional Facility and Cayuga Correctional Facility.

Earn credit, a stipend or volunteer hours by helping us build understanding and appreciation for food, fiber and natural resources produced in New York state. Students can work with our program to develop and update curriculum and school garden guides, and participate in educator trainings and literacy programs.

Naturalist Outreach Outcome is a practical course on how to do effective science outreach. The course emphasizes improving the student's oral communication, demonstration and interaction skills so that they can communicate complex scientific ideas in ways that makes sense to the public. All students participate in an outreach program emphasizing backyard biology and nature.

Education transforms people, preparing them for new thinking and action.

In the capstone for the undergraduate minor, students reflect on how their coursework and related experiences, such as internships, have prepared them for new thinking and action in the educational domain.

Students show what they’ve learned in one of two ways: By participating in a series of conversations with community members or by creating a publication for public exhibition on this site.

It was one of the best academic experiences I have had at Cornell. It allowed me to have a chance to reflect on all my fieldwork and coursework at Cornell and my life prior to Cornell. I really enjoyed the positive energy and caring environment established by the guests you invited to the program. They gave such encouraging responses and feedback and made me feel like I really accomplished something here at Cornell.
Spring 2014 graduate, Interdisciplinary Studies major
I loved the conversations event because I was able to connect with other education minors, share my ideas, and receive useful advice from seasoned educators.
Spring 2015 graduate
The Education minor capstone experience allowed me the unique opportunity to reflect on all of my teaching and learning experiences both with taking classes at Cornell and performing fieldwork in Ithaca. I was able to converse openly and reflect with peers, professors and community leaders. This culmination of my experiences provided me the chance for personal reflection. Further, it gave me valuable feedback that I will definitely take with me into the classroom next year when I teach biology as a Teach for America corps member in Connecticut.
Spring 2017 graduate, Biology & Society major