Jun 19, 2024  
2016-2017 Academic Catalogue 
2016-2017 Academic Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Degree and Professional Programs

General Requirements for Degree Programs

The College encourages the creative structuring of a student’s educational experiences by offering a choice of three degree programs within the framework of a liberal education. These programs, of equal validity and in accord with the aims of the College, are intended to accommodate each student’s abilities, interests, and needs. Programs range from a traditional curriculum of course requirements, designed to ensure both breadth and depth, to a non-traditional combination of courses, independent studies, and internships that meet specific goals. For the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees, the goals have been set by the Faculty. The Bachelor of Special Studies permits the student to define their own educational objectives and to select the methods best suited to achieving them. To be eligible to receive any one of the three degrees described below, students must:
  1. be admitted to degree candidacy by the Dean of Admission. All students are admitted to Cornell as candidates for the degree of Bachelor of Arts and remain B.A. candidates, regardless of their intention, until they have filed for and been officially granted admission to another degree program.
  2. file an application for graduation no later than October 1 of their senior year for graduation at the end of Block Four, Block Eight, or August of that academic year and have a conference with the Registrar. By filing this application for graduation, students formally declare their desire to be graduated during that academic year and register how they wish their name to appear on their diploma. Once the student has applied for graduation, an official audit of all credits earned and in progress will be conducted by the Registrar. The Registrar will inform the student and their academic advisor(s) of the requirements to be completed. No further check is made by the Registrar until after the start of the student’s last Block at Cornell. The student, therefore, is responsible for fulfilling the conditions stated on the audit and for consulting the Registrar before changing any of the courses for which they were registered at the time the audit was done. Students who will be off campus during all or part of their senior year must reconfirm their status and credits with the Registrar at least one month before Commencement.
  3. complete all the requirements for their degree program prior to Commencement, and settle their financial obligations to the College before the Monday preceding Commencement. Even though a student may complete the required work immediately following Commencement or during the succeeding summer, their degree will not be conferred nor a diploma awarded retroactively.
  4. earn, at the very least, eight of their final 10 course credits in Blocks taken on the Cornell College campus from Cornell College faculty members unless granted permission by the Academic Standing Committee to participate in (1) a Combined Degrees Program, (2) an off-campus program approved by Cornell, or (3) an off-campus independent study supervised by a Cornell faculty member. Students who are admitted or readmitted with senior standing (23 or more course credits) must complete at least eight course credits at Cornell. If they intend to be graduated in fewer than 10 Blocks, a maximum of two courses may be at the 100 level. (See also Credit by Transfer )
  5. be recommended by formal vote of the Faculty and approved by the Board of Trustees on the basis of their satisfactory academic achievement and good campus citizenship, in accordance with the bylaws of the college.

Although it is possible for a student to satisfy the requirements for more than one degree program, the College will not grant two degrees for programs taken concurrently. A graduate who returns and completes a minimum of eight course credits beyond whatever number was accumulated for the first baccalaureate may qualify for a different Cornell degree. For information on completing an additional major or minor after graduation, see Declaration of Degree Candidacy .

Bachelor of Arts

Cornell College is committed to sustaining a community devoted to liberal learning and democratic values. The Bachelor of Arts degree encourages Cornell students to explore liberal learning as it is practiced in different disciplines. The specific degree requirements follow a traditional, structured program, designed and approved by the faculty. The degree is best suited for students who want a broad education, or for those students who have not yet decided on a specific educational path. For this reason, all students are placed in the B.A. program when they enter Cornell until they choose another degree program. Also, the B.A. insists that the student not over-specialize in any one field by requiring that the student complete at least 17 courses outside of any one specific department.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements for Candidates who will graduate in 2017 or later. (For graduates prior to 2017, please see previous years’ catalogues.)


  1. Introduction to college-level expectations and the disciplines:
    1. A First-year Program that introduces students to college-level expectations. These courses may focus on a specific discipline, but their primary purpose is to introduce students to the kinds of questions and methods they will encounter, and to the skills they will develop, in the next four years. Both a writing and a First Year Seminar course must be taken in the first year. These courses do not count toward the distribution requirements.
    2. Distribution requirements that introduce students to the methods and practices of the arts, natural sciences, social sciences, mathematics, humanities, and language study. One or two courses cannot give students a deep appreciation and understanding of any one subject; the college expects students to use these courses as an opportunity to explore different disciplines and to develop an understanding of the different approaches to problem solving and different methods of understanding ourselves and our world. These courses may count toward major requirements.
  2. Study in depth, including at least one major field of study.
The specific degree requirements are:
  1. A minimum of 31 course credits. No more than two 100-level courses may be taken in the senior year without the permission of the Academic Standing Committee. No more than four All-College Independent Study course credits (280/380, 289/389, 290/390, 297/397, 299/399) may be counted toward satisfying the minimum credit requirement for this degree. No more than two full credits in 500-level adjunct courses may be counted toward satisfying the minimum 31 credits.
  2. Of the minimum 31 course credits, at least 17 must be outside of any single department. Students who exceed 14 credits in one department will be required to take more than 31 credits to complete their degree in order to have at least 17 credits outside that department. In the calculation of departmental credits, the following disciplines, listed for administrative purposes as divisions of single departments, are reckoned as separate departments: Anthropology, Classics, English as a Second Language, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Language and Linguistics, Latin, Russian, Sociology, Spanish, and Theatre.
  3. A cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher.
  4. At least one departmental, interdisciplinary, or individualized major.
  5. First-year Program
    1. FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR: Enrollment in any course with an “FYS” designation on the Course Schedule, during the first Block of the first year. Specific goals for these courses can be found here: http://www.cornellcollege.edu/first-year-program/first-year-seminar/index.shtml
    2. FIRST-YEAR WRITING COURSE: Any course with a “W” designation on the Course Schedule, taken in the first year. Specific goals for these courses can be found here: http://www.cornellcollege.edu/first-year-program/first-year-writing/learning-outcomes.shtml
  6. Distribution Requirements: The following general education requirements: [Courses in this Catalogue that satisfy, wholly or partially, general education requirements are identified by a parenthesis near the end of the course description, e.g., (Humanities) or (Social Science). Courses not so marked do not meet these requirements even though there may be other courses in the same department that do.]
    1. FINE ARTS: One course (or the equivalent in half or quarter credits) chosen from the disciplines of Art, English, Music, Dance, and Theatre.
    2. HUMANITIES: Two courses chosen from two of the following disciplines: English, Foreign Language, History, Philosophy, Religion, Art History, Music, Theatre, or Education.
    3. SOCIAL SCIENCE: One chosen from one of the following disciplines: Anthropology, Economics and Business, Education, Kinesiology, Politics, Psychology, or Sociology.
    4. NATURAL SCIENCE: One course chosen from one of the following departments: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Studies, Geology, Kinesiology, or Physics.
    5. MATHEMATICS: One course chosen from the disciplines of Mathematics, Statistics, or Computer Science.
    6. FOREIGN LANGUAGE: Credit for one of the following: (1) FRE 103 , GER 103 , GRE 103 , JPN 103 , LAT 103 , RUS 103 , or SPA 103 ; (2) one course above 103 in the target language if students test above 103 through an examination administered online prior to New Student Orientation; international students whose native language is other than English satisfy this requirement through completion of or exemption from the English as a Second Language program.

Bachelor of Music

Cornell offers two majors leading to the degree of Bachelor of Music: a major in Performance and a major in Music Education. The first is designed to emphasize the study of music performance within the framework of the liberal arts and is the first step in the extensive professional preparation in performance that leads to a concert career or to teaching applied music in a college, university, conservatory, or private studio. The second generally leads to the profession of pre-collegiate school music teaching. For students interested in fields such as music therapy, music ministry, or community music, a major in Music Education is strongly recommended by some graduate schools and required by others. Students interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music will find these requirements listed under “Music,” in the Courses of Study.

General Requirements for the Bachelor of Music Degree

  1. A minimum of 31 course credits. No more than two 100-level courses may be taken in the senior year without the permission of the Academic Standing Committee. No more than four All-College Independent Study course credits (280/380, 289/389, 290/390, 297/397, 299/399) may be counted toward satisfying the minimum credit requirement for this degree. No more than two full credit in 500-level adjunct courses may be counted toward satisfying the minimum 31 credits.
  2. A cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher.
  3. A minimum of 10 courses from outside the music department, to include a First-Year Seminar (FYS), a writing-designated course (W) and three humanities courses (not counting the W course) from at least two of the following groupings: (1) English and Foreign Language; (2) History; (3) Philosophy; (4) Religion; (5) Art or Theatre; and (6) Education.
  4. Music Theory: MUS 110 , MUS 210 , MUS 310 , and MUS 343 .
  5. Music History: MUS 321 , MUS 322 , and MUS 323 .
  6. One elective course credit in music history or theory, selected from MUS 215  -MUS 275 , MUS 315 , or MUS 348 -MUS 363   or MUS 370 .
  7. Receive a passing grade (P) in MUS 701  for a minimum of five semesters (see “Music Performance Seminar”).
  8. A grade of “Pass” on all parts of the Piano Proficiency Requirement. All majors are required to pass the Piano Proficiency Requirement by the end of the sophomore year. Music Education majors must pass the Piano Proficiency Requirement before application for Student Teaching placement.
  9. A grade of “Pass” on all parts of the Aural Skills Proficiency Requirement (four levels).
  10. At least one music ensemble each semester for eight semesters, as arranged by the student, the faculty advisor, and the ensemble conductor (see “Ensemble Participation”).
  11. Completion of a senior capstone experience. There are three categories from which to choose: recital (MUS 798  or MUS 799 ); student teaching; and paper/project (MUS 485 ). Students may choose more than one of these options. Students who plan to complete MUS 485  as their capstone must submit a description of the proposed project for departmental approval by October 1 of their senior year.

One of the following majors:

Major in Music Performance - Students who intend to major in Performance must audition before the Department of Music by the second semester of their sophomore year.

  1. Four course credits in a primary performance medium, either voice or a keyboard, string, percussion, or wind instrument.
  2. One course credit in piano, or another secondary performance medium selected in consultation with the department.
  3. MUS 302  or MUS 304 ; and MUS 306 ; MUS 207  and MUS 308  for voice majors; MUS 303  for organ majors; or MUS 307  for piano majors.
  4. MUS 798  (junior year) and MUS 799  (senior year).
  5. FRE 205 , GER 205 , GRE 205 , JPN 205 , LAT 205 , RUS 205 , SPA 205  or equivalent.

Major in Music Education (MUE)

  1. Three course credits in a primary performance medium, either voice or a keyboard, string, percussion, or wind instrument.
  2. One-and-one-half course credits in secondary performance media, to include MUS 703 , MUS 704 , MUS 705 , MUS 706 , and MUS 708  or MUS 774 . The remaining 1/4 credit may be fulfilled by repeating one of these courses, or (with the approval of the department) by taking MUS 761 .
  3. The following courses, according to emphasis within the major:
    1. General Music Education: MUS 207  and MUS 308 .
    2. Instrumental Music Education: at least one semester of MUS 712 .
    3. Vocal Music Education: MUS 207  and MUS 308 .
  4. MUS 306 , MUS 331 , and MUS 431 .
  5. In addition to the foregoing requirements, prospective teachers must also apply for admission to the Teacher Education Program (preferably at the start of their sophomore year) and complete coursework for elementary certification and /or secondary certification as described under Education. Prospective teachers should request a current list of the specific course requirements from the Education Office.

Bachelor of Special Studies

The Bachelor of Special Studies degree offers Cornell students the opportunity to design their own liberal arts degree program in order to meet their particular educational goals. This opportunity permits students to combine courses in an individualized fashion and to broaden or deepen their studies beyond the traditional framework of the Bachelor of Arts. Accordingly, the B.S.S. has no general education requirements and no restrictions as to either the number of courses that may be taken in any one department or the level of such courses, or even that a student complete traditional course work. Moreover, while students pursuing a B.S.S. degree may complete one or more departmental, interdisciplinary, or individualized majors, they are not required to complete an academic major.

The particular requirements for the Bachelor of Special Studies degree are:

  • complete a minimum of 31 course credits;
  • achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher;
  • file for candidacy by submitting the Prospectus at any time after October 1 of the sophomore year; and
  • complete a minimum of 12 course credits after the Prospectus is approved. (Transfer students admitted with senior standing must complete a minimum of six course credits.)

The Bachelor of Special Studies degree is defined by the Prospectus, a detailed plan outlining the student’s B.S.S. degree program. The Prospectus incorporates a narrative description of the program and a chronology of courses that will be taken by the student to fulfill the goals outlined in the narrative description. The Prospectus is to be written by the student, reviewed and signed by a faculty committee composed of a primary advisor and two readers, and filed with the Registrar, who verifies that it is complete and that it meets current academic regulations as set forth by the Faculty. The signed Prospectus is considered an agreement between the student and the College.

Course changes that involve substitution of courses accomplishing the same goals as courses originally projected require only an add/drop form as documentation of the changes. However, significant deviations from the program outlined in the Prospectus must be justified in a letter to the Registrar written by the student and approved by the student’s B.S.S. faculty committee before the student may change the agreement. Significant deviations would include:

  • a shift in emphasis or direction of the program of study;
  • the addition or deletion of a major or minor;
  • a decrease in the ratio of upper-level to lower-level courses; or
  • the substitution of three or more independent studies or internships for scheduled courses.

If you have questions concerning the Bachelor of Special Studies degree, please contact the Registrar or your academic advisor.

Instructions and General Information for Students Contemplating the Bachelor of Special Studies

  1. Obtain a copy of the guidelines for the Narrative and the Chronology at the end of your first or the beginning of your second year (available in the Registrar’s Office and on the web site at http://www.cornellcollege.edu/registrar).
  2. Discuss your proposed B.S.S. program with your advisor or one or more members of the faculty.
  3. Choose a committee of three faculty members including a primary advisor who will help you create your B.S.S. program and two faculty readers who, along with your primary advisor, will review and sign your Prospectus. The primary advisor and faculty readers must either be members of the full-time teaching faculty or part-time members who have been selected by the Department or Program to advise B.S.S. students. Some departments may choose certain members to advise all of their B.S.S. students. If you declare one or more majors, your primary advisor must be a member of a department in which you will have a major.
  4. In conjunction with your primary advisor, begin planning your B.S.S. program prior to registering for your junior year. Write a 500-1,000 word Narrative and complete the Chronology. Rewrite until your primary advisor gives initial approval to your Prospectus.
  5. Circulate your Prospectus to two faculty readers and schedule a group meeting with your primary advisor and your two faculty readers. After this review, your faculty committee may either approve and sign your Prospectus, or suggest revisions to strengthen it. If revisions are suggested, rewrite and re-circulate the revised document to each of your three committee members for their approval. Once approved, the Prospectus must be signed by each member of the faculty committee and filed with the Registrar, who will verify that it is complete and meets current academic regulations as set forth by the Faculty.
    Your faculty committee will evaluate the Prospectus according to these criteria:
    • Is it technically well-written (grammar, spelling, organization)?
    • Is it conceptually well-written (articulation of program clear, goals achievable, means reasonable)?
    • Is the Chronology consistent with the Narrative?
    • Is the plan consistent with the educational priorities of the College?
    • Are the activities outside the classroom, in BSS 690 Blocks or other experiences, consistent with the Narrative and the Chronology?
  6. File your Prospectus with the Registrar any time after October 1 of your sophomore year. If it is complete and found to conform to current academic regulations, the Registrar will notify you of its approval. The Prospectus will become part of your permanent file at the College.
  7. You must obtain the written permission of your faculty committee for any significant changes from the Prospectus before effecting such changes. If in doubt as to whether the changes are significant, consult your primary advisor or the Registrar. Further details can be found in the BSS Preparation and Submission Checklist on the Registrar’s website- http://www.cornellcollege.edu/registrar/pdf/bss-form.pdf.
  8. In the fall of the student’s senior year, the Registrar will review each candidate’s B.S.S. program to determine whether the student has registered for the same or similar courses as are listed on the Chronology of Courses included in the student’s Prospectus. (This review occurs during the senior conference, described in the Catalogue section on Degree Programs.) A student who has made significant deviations from the B.S.S. Prospectus without prior written approval of the faculty committee will not be awarded the B.S.S. degree.

Professional Programs

Degree Programs in Combination with Professional Schools

Students who can obtain admission to a professional school at the end of their junior year may petition the Academic Standing Committee to permit them to transfer up to eight course credits from the professional school to complete their Cornell degree. Admission to the professional school is not guaranteed by Cornell but is subject in all cases to the university’s acceptance of the student. Students normally apply on their own to the professional school of their choice (subject to the approval of the program by Cornell’s Academic Standing Committee) or they may select one of the programs described below with which Cornell is formally affiliated. All such programs permit students to reduce by at least one year the time required to earn their first professional degree.

Before beginning the professional program, the student must complete 24 course credits (of which at least 16 must be Block credits earned at Cornell) with a cumulative Cornell grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Candidates for the B.A. degree must also complete each of the following prior to matriculation to the professional program: First-year Program, Distribution Requirements. B.A. candidates must also complete a major. With departmental approval, B.A. candidates may complete their Cornell major at the professional school.

Cornell permits students to receive their Cornell degree at the end of their first year in professional school if they (1) notify the Cornell Registrar by March 1 of their desire to be graduated at the end of that academic year, and (2) provide the Cornell Registrar by the Thursday before Commencement with proof that they have successfully completed the requisite number of transferable credits, satisfied the requirements for their Cornell major, and are eligible to return to the professional school for the following year. Only courses graded C or higher are transferable.

Cornell currently has arrangements in these professional fields: environmental management, forestry, law, medical technology, and dentistry. For specific information and forms consult the program advisor or the Registrar.

Combined Degrees Program in Forestry and Environmental Management

Cornell students in this Three-Two Program earn a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell College and a master’s degree from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in either Forestry (M.F.) or Environmental Management (M.E.M.) after completing three years of study at Cornell and a minimum of two years of graduate work at Duke. Students should select a major in the natural or social sciences, economics and business, or environmental studies, and include courses in botany, calculus, statistics, and economics. Candidates for this program must also satisfy the requirements set forth above under “Degree Programs in Combination with Professional Schools.”

The Master of Forestry degree program concentrates on forest and associated resources, including woodlands, water, wildlife, and recreation, and their management from an ecological and economic point of view. Graduates are qualified for employment as professional foresters with government agencies, forest industries, and other organizations.

The Master of Environmental Management degree program considers natural resources in a broader context. The basic objective of this degree is to develop expertise in planning and administering the management of the natural environment for maximum human benefit with minimum deterioration of ecosystem stability. Concentrations include resource ecology, ecotoxicology and environmental chemistry, water and air resources, and resource economics and policy. Program Advisor: S. Andy McCollum

Cooperative Program in Medical Technology

In cooperation with the St. Luke’s Methodist Hospital School of Medical Laboratory Science in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Cornell offers a four-year program leading to a bachelor’s degree and to registration as a medical laboratory scientist/medical technologist. The first three years of this program are taken in residence at Cornell College, where candidates must complete 24 course credits with a minimum cumulative 2.5 grade point average in all science courses and a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher.


The fourth year is a full calendar year (12 months) and is spent at St. Luke’s Hospital under the supervision of the staff pathologist. Admission to the St. Luke’s program is not automatic but is competitive and based upon grade point average, the recommendation of the program advisor, and the approval of the Admissions Committee of St. Luke’s.

The St. Luke’s Hospital Medical Technology Program is approved by the Registry of Medical Technologists of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, which is affiliated with the American Medical Association. Candidates completing the program are examined by the ASCP for registry and, if approved, may practice in most states in the United States.

The curriculum in Medical Technology consists of one hour of lecture and seven hours of practical experience per day in the following laboratory departments: urinalysis, bacteriology, mycology, virology, parasitology, histology-cytology, chemistry, isotopes, hematology, coagulation, serology, blood bank, and laboratory management. Upon the completion of these courses with a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, the candidate will be granted four course credits in biology, three course credits in chemistry, and one unassigned credit. Program Advisor: Barbara Christie-Pope

Deferred Admit Program in Dentistry

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry’s Deferred Admit Program (DAP) is open to residents of the state of Iowa. Academically motivated students interested in pursuing a D.D.S. may be admitted to the DAP as early as the end of the first year of their undergraduate education.

Although an undergraduate degree is not required for admission, students admitted through DAP must complete the equivalent number of hours required for a degree at their institution prior to enrollment in the College of Dentistry. In 2009, nearly 99 percent of the college’s first-year dentistry students had a bachelor’s degree.

Students selected for the DAP must have and maintain a 3.6 overall grade point average and a 3.50 science grade point average. You may complete the DAP application any time after you complete a minimum of two full-time semesters at an accredited four-year institution. The DAP application deadline is November 1, at least two years prior to your anticipated enrollment. The Dental Admissions Test (DAT) must be taken by August prior to the year of your anticipated enrollment in the College of Dentistry, and scores on each section of the DAT must be at the national average (17) or above. The application for the DAP is available online at https://grad.admissions.uiowa.edu/academics/dds-program

Preparation for a Career in a Professional Field


Cornell offers a pre-professional advising program to assist students who want to enjoy the benefits of a liberal arts curriculum while preparing for a specific profession in architecture. Our students have had success pursuing advanced degrees in architecture at places such as Washington University, the University of Colorado, Iowa State University, and Penn State University. Students should complete a series of set courses and work on preparing a strong portfolio of studio work with an artistic statement.


Although students can choose any major, there is a recommended series of courses that must be completed in addition to the general education requirements. These recommendations include: two courses in General Physics (course requires a background in Calculus), two courses in the history of Western Civilization, six studio art courses (consider three-dimensional areas such as ceramics or sculpture), and one art history or history course that addresses architecture as a focus of study from the following:


Cornell College has participated in the cooperative program with Washington University in the past. This program allows a student to complete three years of study here at Cornell and transfer their fourth undergraduate-year back from Washington University. Participating in Washington University’s architecture undergraduate track will require most students to develop their own individualized major. At this point, a student may matriculate into the March program at Washington University. The cooperative program route involves 3 years at Cornell and approximately 4 ½ years at Washington University.

There are exceptions to the list of courses appropriate for pre-architecture that require consultation with the faculty. Students should contact the program advisor early in their college career. Advisor: Christina Penn-Goetsch


To prepare for a career as a teacher at the K-12 level, see the statements given under the Departments of Education, Music, or Kinesiology, and consult with that department before December 1 of your sophomore year. For a career in higher education, consult the faculty members in the field of your interest about the proper preparation, about your choice of graduate school, and about the joys and trials of earning a Ph.D. Notice also that several departments, under the description of their major, list additional courses to be taken for students interested in graduate work. Education Advisor: Jill Heinrich


Students at Cornell have several options by which to prepare for a career in engineering. The primary option is to complete a degree in Engineering Sciences at Cornell. This degree requires 16 course credits, 8 of which are math and science courses and 8 of which are engineering courses. This degree prepares students for work in engineering fields and for engineering graduate school. For more information, consult the Engineering Sciences advisor: Brian Johns.

Another option is for students to earn both a B.A. from Cornell College and a B.S.E. from a university which offers more specialized engineering degrees. Students may enter the engineering school after three years at Cornell and then complete requirements for an engineering degree at the engineering school, which usually requires an additional two years at the engineering school. To receive the B.A. from Cornell, students must satisfy all degree requirements at Cornell, including completion of a major. Course and credit requirements can be satisfied by transferring credits from the engineering school to Cornell. Some students may prefer to complete their degree in four years at Cornell and then spend two years at an engineering school to obtain the Bachelor of Science in Engineering.


The best option for a particular student depends on the intended field of engineering and on whether or not the student plans to obtain a professional engineering license. For this reason, students should consult with the Engineering Sciences advisor or the pre-engineering advisor during their first year of study at Cornell. Pre-engineering Advisor: Brian Johns


According to the Law School Admission Council,

A college education should stand on its own merits as preparation for a lifetime of active involvement in a diverse and changing society. Admission committees are usually impressed by applicants who can convincingly demonstrate that they’ve challenged their thinking and reasoning skills in a diverse course of undergraduate study. While no single curricular path is the ideal preparation for law school, you should choose courses that sharpen analytical reasoning and writing skills. Law schools prefer students who can think, read, and write well, and who have some understanding of what shapes human experience. You can acquire these attributes in any number of college courses, whether in humanities, the social sciences, philosophy, or the natural sciences. It’s not so much a matter of what you study as it is a matter of selecting courses that interest you, challenge you, and require you to use researching and writing skills. Because a lawyer’s work involves most aspects of our complex society, a broad liberal arts curriculum is the preferred preparation for law school.

High academic standards are important when selecting your undergraduate courses. The range of acceptable majors is broad; the quality of the education you receive is most important. You should acquire skills that enable you to think critically, reason logically, and speak and write effectively. Undergraduate programs should reveal your capacity to perform well at an academically rigorous level. An undergraduate career that is narrow, unchallenging, or vocationally-oriented is not the best preparation for law school.

Additional information about Cornell’s Center for Law and Society, Mock Trial, Phi Alpha Delta and preparation for law school may be found on the Cornell College Law and Society website.

Consistent with the best advice of law schools themselves, Cornell College has no formal “pre-law major” and no specific list of recommended courses. Rather we have pre-law advisors who can help you plan a curriculum to meet your personal needs while maximizing your chances of admission to law school. If you are considering a legal career, you should consult regularly with a pre-law advisor about your course of study.


Prospective law students are encouraged to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) no later than October of the year preceding their anticipated matriculation in law school. The LSAT contains sections on reading comprehension, analytical reasoning (structure of relationships), and logical reasoning (verbal arguments). Application materials and advice on preparation are available from the pre-law advisors: Craig Allin, M. Philip Lucas, Genevieve Migely, Mary Olson, and Rob Sutherland.


The requirements for admission to medical school (including osteopathy, podiatry, and veterinary medicine) and the courses which are prerequisites for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) are more or less the same. The MCAT is based upon a core of work in the sciences which should be completed before attempting the test. Consult the Dimensions web site located at http://cornellcollege.edu/dimensions/, or consult the pre-med advisors (Barbara Christie-Pope and Craig Tepper) for further information.

Physical Therapy

Cornell offers a pre-professional advising program to assist students who want to enjoy the benefits of a liberal arts curriculum while preparing for admission to graduate school in the field of Physical Therapy. After receiving a degree from Cornell, students may enter a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. Cornell can help you to be a competitive candidate and succeed in PT school. The general coursework prerequisites for physical therapy programs are similar to other pre-health programs with a greater emphasis in human anatomy and physiology. The GRE (Graduate Record Examination), as well as clinical experience are both required for acceptance into these programs. Many Cornell students interested in physical therapy double major in Kinesiology and Psychology or Biology and Psychology.


Some graduate programs may require math and social science courses not listed above. The Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) is a resource for identifying these possible requirements.

Additional information regarding preparation for entrance into a Physical Therapy program can be found on the Dimensions website or by consulting the Pre-Physical Therapy advisor, Kristi Meyer, DPT.

Social Work/Human Services

Although graduate programs in Social Work/Human Services generally accept any major, students preparing for direct entry into these fields should consider majoring in one or more of the following: Sociology, Psychology, or an individualized major designed around some particular area (childhood, family, delinquency, etc.).


Students preparing for either graduate training or direct employment should include in their programs these core courses:


Students are strongly urged to acquire experience in social work or human services as volunteers or interns. It is possible to earn credit for this kind of experience during the academic year through PSY or SOC 280 /SOC 380 , and in the summer through PSY or POL 299 /POL 399 .

Theology/Ordained Ministry

Most religious groups and denominations require a graduate professional degree from an accredited seminary or divinity school for entrance into the ordained ministry. The American Association of Theological Schools encourages prospective candidates to present a wide variety of courses in humanities, social sciences, language, and natural sciences which reflects a broad appreciation for the human community. There is no prescribed pre-theological curriculum, but students moving toward ordained ministry will find that courses in English, History, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, and Sociology provide solid background for graduate courses related to ministry. Some students create their own individualized majors combining work in several departments, capped by an internship. Students considering ordained ministry should contact the offices of their tradition to secure any special recommendations for their course of study, and the steps to follow in order to be recognized as a candidate for ordination.

Most seminaries and divinity schools expect that applicants for the Master of Divinity degree are connected with a specific denomination. It is the candidate’s religious tradition, not a school’s affiliation, that confers ordination after completion of the degree. Therefore, students are encouraged to maintain their religious life while attending Cornell and may do so by volunteer service in area congregations, campus religious programs, summer opportunities for service and/or credit internships arranged by the Chaplain and the Department of Religion. The Chaplain of the College maintains active relationships with many theological schools and arranges for students to speak with representatives who come to campus. The Chaplain is available for discussions concerning the many dimensions of ministry and to assist students seeking admission to graduate theological schools. The Department of Religion also supports and advises students preparing for theological education.