Jun 19, 2024  
2017-2018 Academic Catalogue 
2017-2018 Academic Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Academic Information


Policies on class attendance are the responsibility of individual professors. Faculty are encouraged, however, to accommodate students who participate in a college-sponsored trip, encounter an emergency situation (student illness or family death), or participate in religious observances.  Students shall miss no more than one full class day or two half days per block for college sponsored competitions where any missed class time from either a morning or afternoon session will count as a half day.  Students may miss additional time as required for conference, regional, or championship competitions.

Student Health Services or other health professionals will issue verifications of absence for sufficient medical reasons. Student Health Services will not issue a verification for missing one day of class, but may provide documentation if a health withdrawal is needed. Students who know that they will be absent should notify their instructors in advance. Those who are unable to do so because of illness or personal or family crisis should notify their instructors as soon as possible. Instructors will decide on the basis of their explanations whether or not to accommodate them and in what way.

Students who participate in College-sponsored trips or will be absent due to religious observances are expected to secure the permission of their course instructors in advance of their absence and to arrange with their instructors to make up the work they will miss. Students who fail to make arrangements with their instructors in advance are subject to whatever penalties the instructors would normally impose for unexcused absences. In case of doubt as to a student’s participation in the trip, the instructor may consult the college sponsor.

Academic Honesty

Cornell College expects all members of the Cornell community to act with academic integrity. An important aspect of academic integrity is respecting the work of others. A student is expected to explicitly acknowledge ideas, claims, observations, or data of others, unless generally known. When a piece of work is submitted for credit, a student is asserting that the submission is her or his work unless there is a citation of a specific source. If there is no appropriate acknowledgment of sources, whether intended or not, this may constitute a violation of the College’s requirement for honesty in academic work and may be treated as a case of academic dishonesty.

The College considers Cornell students to be responsible persons whose maturity will develop in a community that encourages free inquiry. The College expects the highest degree of personal integrity in all relationships. Any form of dishonesty is a violation of this spirit and of College rules.

Dishonesty in academic work includes both cheating and plagiarism.

Cheating refers to the use of unauthorized sources of information on examinations or any attempt by students to deceive the evaluator of an examination, paper, or project.

Plagiarism is the act of taking the work of another and presenting it as one’s own, without acknowledgement of the original source.

There is not one set of rules for the acknowledgement of sources that is appropriate across all disciplines. For this reason, students are always encouraged to consult their professors and guidelines included in their syllabi. However, in general the appropriate acknowledgement of sources involves meeting the following requirements:

Quotations and Paraphrasing

All direct quotations, even if mingled with original words and ideas, must be placed within quotation marks and accompanied by a specific citation for the source of the quotation. Unless the information is generally known, all phrases that are not original to the author - even two or three words - must be placed in quotation marks and cited. If an existing idea is used but paraphrased or summarized, both the original author’s words and sentence structure must be changed and a specific citation for the source must still be made. It is always the responsibility of the student to provide precise sources for all ideas, information, or data he or she has borrowed or adapted. Simply listing sources in a bibliography is not sufficient. Students who use information from the World Wide Web are expected to follow these same guidelines for the citation of sources.

Failure to cite sources properly constitutes academic dishonesty, whether the omission is intentional or not.

Ideas and Data

All students are required to acknowledge the ideas of others. Every student is expected to do her or his own work in the completion of an assignment or an examination unless either (a) the sources for these ideas are explicitly cited, or (b) the instructor explicitly allows such collaboration. In addition, a person giving unauthorized assistance to another on an examination is just as guilty of cheating as the person who accepts or solicits such aid.

Submitting revisions of academic work previously submitted, either in the current course or in previous courses, qualifies as academic dishonesty unless the student obtains the explicit permission of all of the instructors involved.

All data sources must be cited accurately. It is dishonest to fabricate or alter research data included in laboratory reports, projects, or other assignments.

A safe guide is to provide a full citation for every source consulted. Sources may include, but are not limited to, published books, articles, reviews, Internet sites, archival material, visual images, oral presentations, or personal correspondence. In addition, students should always keep previous drafts of their work in order to provide documentation of their original work. Finally, due to disciplinary differences, students should consult their professor, a librarian, and/or the Center for Teaching and Learning for specific instructions on properly providing citations for sources.

Procedures for Dealing with Dishonesty in Academic Work

If an instructor judges that a student has violated the College’s policies on academic honesty, the student may be charged with academic dishonesty and assigned an F either for the particular examination, paper, report, or project, or for the course. The instructor shall notify the student in writing of the charge and the penalty and shall include a statement of the circumstances which precipitated the action. A copy of the instructor’s letter along with a copy of the paper shall be sent to the Registrar. The Registrar shall then advise the student in writing of the right to appeal. Within ten (10) days of notification, the student may appeal the charge and/or the penalty by submitting a letter to the Dean of the College requesting that he or she appoint an ad hoc committee consisting of three (3) faculty members, one of whom may be nominated by the student. The recommendation of this committee is advisory only and is not binding upon the instructor.

All material and information relative to the charge of academic dishonesty shall be kept by the Registrar in a special file during the period in which the student is enrolled at Cornell College, serving only as a statement of record if the student is charged a second time with academic dishonesty. In the case of an appeal after the first offense, the file shall be destroyed if the committee finds the student not guilty and the instructor concurs; otherwise, the recommendation of the committee shall be inserted into the special file. If there are no further charges, the file will be destroyed at the time of the student’s graduation from Cornell.

Should a subsequent charge of academic dishonesty be brought against a student, the Registrar shall again advise the student in writing of the aforementioned right to appeal under the same procedures. Should the second charge be sustained by the instructor, the Registrar shall notify the Dean of the College who shall convene a committee consisting of the Dean of the College, the Dean of Students, and the Chair of the Academic Standing Committee, who shall determine the status of the student. The normal penalty for a second offense is indefinite suspension from the College.

Confidentiality of Student Records

Cornell College, in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended (FERPA), protects the confidentiality of student records and the individual student’s right to privacy. For more detailed information, see The Compass under the heading “Confidentiality of Student Records”.

Students with Disabilities

Cornell College is committed to compliance with federal law regarding students with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states: “No otherwise qualified individual in the United States, as defined in section 706(7) of this title, shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” (29 U.S. Code, paragraph 794).

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that a handicap shall be defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities.” (42 U.S. Code, paragraph 12102[2]).

The Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education, states that any postsecondary education program which receives Federal financial assistance “shall make such modifications to its academic requirements as are necessary to ensure that such requirements do not discriminate or have the effect of discriminating, on the basis of handicap, against a qualified applicant or student” (34 Code of Federal Regulations, paragraphs 104.41 and 104.44[a]). In addition to academic adjustments, “a recipient … shall take such steps as are necessary to ensure that no handicapped student is denied the benefits of, excluded from participation in, or otherwise subjected to discrimination … because of absence of educational auxiliary aids for students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills” (34 Code of Federal Regulations, paragraph 104.44[d]).

The concept of academic adjustments is not aimed at giving students with disabilities undue special advantages in order to help them pass, nor does it require that they be graded on a different scale from their classmates; it requires educational access and opportunity, not a guarantee of success.

A student qualifies for disability services at Cornell when the student provides current documentation of the disability from a medical doctor (M.D.), educational or school psychologist (Ph.D.), or other individual licensed by the state of origin to diagnose learning or physical disabilities, to the Office of Academic Support and Advising, where it is placed on file as a confidential record. Cornell College reserves the right to determine what constitutes appropriate documentation. The student must also request appropriate accommodation from the instructor of each course within the first three days of each Block.

More information about accommodations for students with learning disabilities is available on the Cornell web site under “Disability Services.”

Academic Advisor

Cornell students and faculty have a long tradition of working closely together both in and out of the classroom, and this friendly and mutually beneficial association continues to be a vital part of a Cornell education. When possible, entering students are assigned an academic advisor on the basis of the interests indicated in the admissions application, but Cornell advisors are qualified, whatever their teaching disciplines, to assist new students in preparing for any of the degree programs and majors in the College. Advisors are useful sources of information about many things, including College regulations and programs, career planning, and adjusting to Cornell. Students should always feel free to discuss their thoughts and concerns with their advisors and are expected to inform their advisors as soon as they encounter a problem. Advisors are able to refer students to administrators or faculty who can provide good advice and effective assistance, especially when given sufficient time.

Students who wish to change advisors may do so at any time by conferring with the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising. Normally students remain with their first advisor until they declare their degree program and major(s) in their sophomore year. At this time they either select an advisor in each of their major departments or are assigned major advisors by the department chairs. If a student has more than one advisor, the student must indicate to the Registrar which of them is to be their principal advisor. The principal advisor is the person who will meet with the student about course registration, receive all academic information about the student, and endorse any petitions the student may file.

If for any reason a faculty or staff member ceases to be a student’s advisor, the student, in order to remain enrolled and to receive credit for any work in progress, must secure another advisor and record the change in the Registrar’s Office. Students may not register without first meeting with their academic advisor. The Academic Standing Committee will not consider a petition unless it is endorsed by the student’s academic advisor.

Much of a student’s business with the College is conducted in writing by means of forms or petitions requiring the signatures of faculty and staff members. Any form or petition that is submitted without the appropriate signatures or that contains a signature that is not genuine will be deemed invalid and the benefit for which it was proffered will be denied or rescinded. In this event a student may be asked to leave the College.


  1. A registration or change of registration becomes official upon being recorded by the Registrar’s Office in accordance with the regulations and procedures explained below.
  2. Enrolled students register in the spring for all Blocks of the following academic year. Students admitted at the start of the fall semester with more than 7.0 course credits register for the entire year before arriving on campus. All other admitted students register for Block One before arriving on campus, Blocks Two through Four on campus during orientation, and in November for Blocks 5-8. Readmitted students and students admitted after Block One should consult with the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising. After registering, students may drop and add courses as described under “Adding and Dropping Courses.”
  3. Registration follows a first-come, first-served process based on number of credits earned. Students with at least 21 credits register first, followed by students with at least 11 credits, and finally students with 10.99 or fewer credits register last.
  4. Failure to register will be interpreted as a tacit declaration of intent to withdraw from the College, and the student will become ineligible to return to Cornell for the next academic year and to qualify for College housing or Cornell financial aid.
  5. Full-time degree candidates must register for eight Blocks and must earn at least seven Block credits every academic year during their first, sophomore, and junior years in order to remain in good standing. Students with senior class standing should register for needed courses and for vacation blocks in the remainder of the Blocks that semester. Students who enter after Block One must register for all the Blocks remaining in that academic year in order to be considered as making satisfactory progress. For an exception to this rule, see “Reduced Programs.” This paragraph does not apply to Continuing Education students.
  6. Students must register for off-campus programs, independent studies, and internships in the same way that they register for regular courses.
  7. Occasionally courses are taught over two consecutive Blocks (36 class days) under the Parallel Format, which permits students to carry two courses concurrently or to take one Parallel Course along with an independent study. No credit is given for completing only the first Block of a Parallel Course. The regulations and procedures for registering for Parallel Courses and for changing such registrations are the same as for single-Block courses with the exceptions noted under “Adding and Dropping Courses,” item 9. It is not possible to combine a Parallel Course with a single-Block course.
  8. Other courses may be taught in an alternate format, e.g., two courses offered concurrently and as co-requisites or two courses taught consecutively with related topics. Registration information for these courses will be available at the time of registration.
  9. Before registering for and entering any course, the student is responsible for reading the description of that course in this Catalogue or in the registration system. If there is a prerequisite, the student must satisfy it before the course begins or must obtain the permission of the instructor before entering. Instructors have the right to drop a registered student from their course if he or she has not satisfied the prerequisites.
  10. Independent study courses and internships numbered in the 200s and 300s, whether on or off campus, are open only to students who have completed the required minimum number of courses in the same department/interdisciplinary major, and for Independent Studies, a writing-designated course. Off-campus programs numbered in the 900s have special prerequisites and limits. (See Independent Study Courses and Off-Campus Programs .)
  11. Students are not permitted to enroll in or to receive credit for a lower-level course if they have already passed or been given credit for a course in the same department for which the lower-level course is an expressed prerequisite, unless written permission is granted by the department and filed with the Registrar.
  12. A student who is registered for a course must be present at all class meetings during the first three days of the Block or risk being dropped from the class and having their place given to another student. Students who are unable to be present should be in touch with the instructor in advance to see whether he or she will hold their places. Instructors are not, however, required to hold places or to admit students at the door.
  13. If, at the close of registration, a student is unable to gain admission to a course and the instructor and department chair are willing to extend the course’s enrollment limit (cap), the student may be admitted to the closed course. Permission will be granted only in cases of genuine hardship and provided the extension of the cap does not exceed four. The student must demonstrate that the course is needed to fulfill a degree or major requirement for which there is no alternative in the same or a different department, and that the course or its alternative cannot be taken in a different Block or in a later year.
  14. Courses are normally capped at 25. Some courses have lower caps.
  15. To aid students in course selection, please see the Courses of Instruction section of this Catalogue where you will find a complete listing of courses and descriptions by department. In addition, Cornell College publishes course information online. Information for all staffed courses can be found on the Registrar’s web page at http://www.cornellcollege.edu/registrar. Course information for the following academic year will be posted no later than one month before the first day of spring registration. Course information and syllabi may be adjusted until the first day of a course, and even during a course, and as such may differ from the version found online. Students should report any missing information to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Adjunct Courses

Adjunct courses numbered in the 500s are highly focused mini courses that complement regular OCAAT offerings and, like Music Lessons, Ensembles, and English or Theatre participation activities (numbered in the 700s), may be taken along with principal courses.

500-level adjunct courses normally span 2-4 consecutive Blocks and entail a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5 hours of work per week (including contact hours) for a total of 25-30 hours to earn ¼ course credit.

Students may enroll in a maximum of two 500-level adjunct courses (.25 credits each) in any one semester, and no more than two full credits in 500-level adjunct courses may be counted toward satisfying the minimum 31 credits required for the B.A. or B.Mus. degree. The College expects, however, that a student’s primary responsibility be to their principal courses. The rules governing registration, grading, and withdrawal are:

  1. For 500-level adjunct courses students register directly with the instructor at the beginning of the semester. At some point before the end of each semester the instructors report to the Registrar’s office the names of students who are enrolled in the adjunct course. For 700-level courses, students register directly in self-service prior to the beginning of the adjunct course (Blocks One and Five for Music courses). Admission to some of these courses may be by audition; therefore, interested students should confer with the instructor or conductor for details before the first meeting of the course.
  2. Students who register, attend for the entire length of the course and satisfactorily complete the course requirements will receive at the end of the semester a quarter of a credit and a grade of CR, with the exception of MUS courses in which a letter grade will be assigned.
  3. Adjunct courses, music lessons and music ensembles may be repeated for credit every semester, unless stated otherwise in their course descriptions.
  4. Students in courses numbered in the 500s who cease to attend or do not fulfill the course requirements will automatically be dropped from the course at the end of the semester and no record of the course will be posted on their transcript. Grades of F, NC, W, WH, and WR are not assigned for these adjunct courses.
  5. Students enrolled in MUS courses numbered in the 700s who cease to attend or who do not fulfill the course requirements will receive the grade of F unless granted a W or WH. Students have one month from the start of the lessons or ensemble to drop without any record of the course or grade being posted on their transcript. (See Department of Music, “Music Lessons at Cornell” and “Ensemble Participation.” )

Auditing Courses

Full-time students who wish to attend a course without receiving academic credit or a grade may, with the approval of the instructor, audit the course without charge. The student registers for a vacation Block, and the instructor and the student determine at the start the requirements for attendance and participation, and whether or not the audit is to be recorded on the student’s transcript. If the audit is to be recorded, during the first three days of the Block the student files with the Registrar the appropriate form signed by the instructor to certify that the student intends to fulfill the requirements of the audit. At the end of the Block the instructor certifies that the audit has been fulfilled and the student receives the grade of AU on the transcript. If the student has not fulfilled the requirements, then the Registrar records a vacation Block. Audited courses, whether recorded or unrecorded, may not be used to satisfy degree or major requirements.

Repeating Courses

  1. Any course for which a student has received a grade of F or NC may be repeated. In such cases, the second grade earned in a repeated course does not replace the previous grade of F or NC and does not erase it from the transcript. Both the first and the second grades will be calculated when computing the student’s grade point average.
  2. A student who has passed a course with a low grade may wish to take the course again, especially if the course is one in a sequence, e.g., CHE 121  or GER 102 , where a solid command of the material in the lower-level course is essential for success in the higher-level course. The simplest way for students to repeat course material is to retake the course as an Audit (see “Auditing Courses”). In special cases a student may wish to repeat a course for credit and grade. Unless the course specifically states in its description that it may be repeated, e.g., ART 291  or BIO 485 , the student must first petition the Academic Standing Committee. The original grade earned remains on the transcript and is not replaced by the subsequent grade, as in [1]. A repeated course does not gain the student an additional course credit toward graduation, unless the course description indicates that it may be repeated.
  3. Adjunct courses, music lessons and music ensembles are exceptions to the above rule and may be repeated every semester unless it is stated otherwise in their descriptions.
  4. Students who have received credit by examination or transfer will lose this credit if they take a course at Cornell that is the same as or similar to the examination or transferred course. In general, all introductory courses in the same academic discipline are considered to be similar even though their titles or actual contents may vary. Students who believe that their two courses are significantly different should consult the department chair for permission to receive credit for both.

Two Course Credits in One Block

Students are not permitted to earn credit for more than one full Cornell course or two half Cornell courses per Block. Exceptions to this rule may be granted by the Academic Standing Committee to seniors who can demonstrate that they will have a minimum of 31 course credits without the credit for which they are petitioning, and will otherwise qualify for graduation at the end of the academic year. The additional course must be one needed to complete the student’s major or professional program. No more than two Block credits may be earned in this way, and neither of these credits may be used to make up course deficiencies in order to yield the minimum 31 course credits required for graduation. Students granted permission to earn two Cornell course credits in one Block may not take a vacation Block within that academic year. Should they do so, the second Block credit will be disallowed and the course will not be recorded on their transcript.

Adding and Dropping Courses

  1. After registration but before the beginning of the Block in which the course is taught, a student may drop that course and add another before 4:00 p.m. on the Friday immediately preceding that Block. Students are encouraged to discuss course adds/drops with their academic advisor before making changes to their schedules.
  2. During the first three days of the Block in which the course is taught, a student may drop that course and add another course by (1) obtaining the Drop/Add Form from the Registrar’s Office, (2) securing the signatures of the instructor of the course being dropped, the instructor of the course being added, and the academic advisor, and (3) returning the form to the Registrar’s Office before 4:00 p.m. of the third day (normally the first Wednesday) of the Block. Students who drop a course after the first day and cannot add another must petition for a reduced load. However, this may impact progress toward graduation (see “Satisfactory Academic Progress”). Instructors are not required to add students after the course has begun, and permission to add a course is more difficult to obtain after the first day, so students should not delay in contacting instructors of courses they wish to add.
  3. If a student does not attend or ceases to attend a course for which he or she is registered and does not add another course in its place before the end of the third day of the Block, the student will be given the grade of WR. Students who receive a grade of WR are charged tuition for the course, but they are not eligible for institutional financial aid or VA benefits for that Block. Any federal or state financial aid eligibility will be reviewed on a case by case basis per federal and state regulations.
  4. Students who attend a course for which they are not registered must petition to request to add the course late; such permission is not necessarily granted.
  5. Students who wish to audit a course must declare their intention to the instructor at the very beginning of the Block (see “Auditing Courses”).
  6. Withdrawal between the 4th and 14th day of the Block is possible only when recommended by the instructor. The instructor may release a student if the instructor believes that the student, when compared with the others in the class, has not had adequate preparation or is deficient in a skill essential for success in the course. The instructor must describe the student’s problem in a petition to the Academic Standing Committee and also certify that the student attended faithfully and tried to do the work assigned. The student receives a grade of W.
  7. On the 15th day of the Block (normally the third Friday) in which the course is taught, a student may withdraw and receive a grade of W for a course by (1) obtaining the Drop/Add Form from the Registrar’s Office, (2) securing the signatures of the instructor and the academic advisor, and (3) returning the form to the Registrar’s Office before 4:00 p.m. that day. The instructor should agree to sign the form if and only if the student (a) has complied fully with the instructor’s attendance policy, (b) has taken all the tests and turned in all the papers or projects that were due by the 15th day, and (c) has made, in the opinion of the instructor, a determined effort to learn the material, complete the work, and participate in the class.
  8. Students on Probation or Strict Probation, however, are not permitted to withdraw from a course without permission from the Academic Standing Committee. They must file a petition with their Drop/Add Form on the 15th day, but continue in the course pending the Committee’s decision. The Committee will evaluate the petition not only on the grounds listed in item 6 above for a particular course, but also on the basis of the student’s entire academic record.
  9. A withdrawal for health or family emergency (grade of WH) may be given by the Academic Standing Committee upon petition, or by the Registrar acting as the Committee’s agent, when a student is ill or has a personal crisis or family emergency, such that completing the course by taking an Incomplete (see “Grades,” item 4) would not be feasible. The student should submit a petition for a WH. The course instructor and the academic advisor must sign the petition, acknowledging that they have been notified of the student’s intention. Both the course instructor and academic advisor are encouraged to submit a statement indicating whether they support the petition or not, and why. For a WH, a signature alone shall not be interpreted as endorsement of the petition.
    1. Any petition based upon medical or psychological conditions must be supported by a written statement from an appropriate health professional stating the problem; the dates when the student was examined, treated, or counseled; and the recuperative difficulties, if any.
    2. Students who claim a personal or family emergency may be asked to provide documentation and to account for the entire time during which they say they were, or will be, unable to attend classes or to study.
    3. Cornell counselors and health professionals will not normally issue a recommendation for a withdrawal unless the student has consulted them at or near the onset of the problem.
    4. Such recommendations, however, do not automatically constitute grounds for aWH. The Committee will in all cases consider the instructor’s evaluation of the student’s work in the course before the onset of the illness or emergency as well as the circumstances on which the student has based their petition. The Committee reserves the right to consult with anyone whom the student offers as a recommender or corroborator. Students on Probation or Strict Probation do have the right to petition for a WH, and their petitions will be considered in the same way as any other student’s.
  10. Students may add and drop parallel courses as follows:
    1. During the first three days of the first Block, a student may replace parallel courses with one single-Block course.
    2. Between the 15th and 21st days (normally the third Friday and the fifth Wednesday) as in item 6 above, if the student retains one of the parallel courses, he or she may add in the second Block of the parallel sequence only a half-credit independent study or a vacation Block. If the student drops both parallel courses, the student may add one single-term course in what would have been the second Block of the sequence.
    3. On the 33rd day (the 15th day of the second Block) as in item 6.
  11. Students who register for a course that requires an additional fee, e.g., a course taught off campus or one that involves field trips or special provisions, and later decide not to enroll must notify the instructor and the Registrar before the instructor’s final deadline or, if no such deadline has been announced, then at least 60 days before the course is scheduled to begin. Students who drop after this deadline are liable for payment of the full cost of the program. Instructors calculate the cost of a trip, make reservations, and order materials based on anticipated enrollments. The loss of even one student may result in higher costs for the other participants or in the College being charged a penalty by hotels, airlines, and cooperating agencies.
  12. Courses offered through Cornell that differ in length from the standard 18-day block (not including adjunct, independent study, or parallel courses) will have add/drop dates determined in similar proportion to the standard block course by the Registrar in consultation with the academic regulations committee.

Reduced Programs

Students, other than those with senior class standing and those in the Continuing Education Program, who wish to enroll for fewer than eight Block credits in an academic year must obtain the permission of the Academic Standing Committee. Permission is usually granted if the student will (1) gain additional educational or professional experience related to the major or field of concentration, or (2) resolve physical, psychological, personal, or financial problems that may otherwise prevent her or him from continuing at Cornell, or (3) had reason to drop a course on day 2 or day 3 and could not add another, so long as this will not impact a student’s satisfactory academic progress. The petition must also contain a description of how and where the student plans to spend the Blocks when he or she will not be taking classes at Cornell. Students on reduced programs surrender, during those Blocks when they are not taking courses, the privileges of regularly enrolled students and are, therefore, not necessarily permitted to live in College housing, to use College facilities, and participation in any Cornell-sponsored extracurricular activities in ways that are not also open to the general public may be restricted. The financial aid of students on reduced programs will be affected and such students should discuss the implications with the Financial Assistance Office.

(See also Leave of Absence; see Other Off-Campus Study [999] for Academic Leaves of Absence.)

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Policy

The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, requires that each student maintain satisfactory progress in the course of study the student is pursuing in order to receive Federal Title IV financial aid. Students receiving financial assistance are required to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) during their enrollment at Cornell.  The SAP policy is used for determining federal, state and institution financial aid eligibility.  Merit and Fine Arts scholarships may have further maintenance criteria beyond SAP requirements.  Academic policies that relate to probation and dismissal from Cornell College may differ.

SAP standards apply to a student’s entire degree program including terms for which financial aid was not applied or for which enrollment was less than full-time. SAP for federal financial aid recipients is measured at the end of each semester of the academic year for which a student is enrolled. The specific criteria of SAP and the consequences to the student if progress is not achieved, is outlined in the SAP Policy listed below. Students should contact the Office of Financial Aid with questions regarding the intent or the interpretation of these standards.

Cornell College has developed standards for Satisfactory Academic Progress cited in the academic catalogue under “Academic Review.” Satisfactory academic progress is based on the quality of your academic performance, which is represented by your GPA, and a quantitative review of progress, defined as “Pace”, which is represented by the total number of credits successfully completed toward your degree compared to the total credits you have attempted.

The Academic Standing Committee conducts academic reviews of all students and determines a student’s status based on criteria outlined under “Academic Review.” Some categories of Academic Review have implications for a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid. At Cornell, these standards are also applied to state and institutional aid programs.

The Cornell College Satisfactory Academic Progress standards apply to all students who wish to establish or maintain financial assistance eligibility. It is the responsibility of all students to be familiar with these standards. The standards apply to each student’s entire academic record at Cornell, whether or not the student received financial assistance for previous terms of enrollment. All federal and state grants, loans, work-study, and Cornell College scholarships and grants, are subject to the following Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.

Required GPA (Qualitative Measure) 
At the end of each semester students must have a 2.00 cumulative GPA.  Students who do not have a 2.00 cumulative GPA are granted one warning semester in which to raise their GPA to the 2.00 level. 

Required PACE (Quantitative Measure)
In addition to maintaining the GPA specified above, students must be progressing toward completion of a degree program within a specified time frame.  In order to meet these minimum requirements for SAP, a student must meet the following percentages of their attempted credit hours [on a cumulative basis]:

Class Level Minimum Percentage of Attempted Credits Successfully Completed
First year 62.5%
Sophomore year 67%
Junior year 67%
Senior year and all future years 70%

Pace and GPA are prorated for less than full-time students.  The college does use standard rounding rules when calculating percentages for PACE.  For example, 66.5% would be rounded up to 67%.

Failure to earn credit for courses due to receiving an F, W, WH, WR, NC, I, or IP are included as attempted hours for determining “Pace” toward graduation for purposes of Satisfactory Academic Progress [SAP].   Pace and GPA are prorated for less than full time students.

The calculation of GPA for purposes of Academic Review and subsequent determination of federal financial aid eligibility does not include grades of Incomplete (I), Withdrawal (W), Withdrawal for Health (WH), Registrar’s Withdrawal (WR), or grades for courses that have been transferred to Cornell College

Transfer credits, accepted by Cornell, are counted as both attempted and completed hours for purposes of SAP.

For repeated coursework, the original grade earned remains on the transcript and is not replaced by the subsequent grade.   A repeated course does not gain the student an additional course credit toward graduation, unless the course description indicates that it may be repeated.

Maximum Timeframe - 150% Rule
The college’s published program length is 31 credits to complete a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Special Studies or Bachelor of Music degree. The time frame to complete your degree is 150% [47 credits].  Cornell College aid is not available beyond eight semesters of full-time attendance.  

Specific financial assistance programs may require higher minimum standards for GPA and pace; additionally, an individual Cornell department may require the student to earn more credit hours or maintain a higher grade point average than required by minimum standards.

SAP Policy and Procedures
Financial Aid reviews the decisions of the Academic Standing Subcommittee at the end of each semester to determine if the student should be placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING, FINANCIAL AID SUSPENSION, or FINANCIAL AID PROBATION.

The following policy and procedures will be followed in determining satisfactory academic progress for the purpose of establishing eligibility for financial aid.

Financial Aid Warning
At the end of a semester, a student placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION by the Academic Standing Committee (or a student continuing on ACADEMIC PROBATION if placed on that status during the semester) will be placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING. A student placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING remains eligible for financial aid in the subsequent semester. The Financial Aid Office will send letters to all students placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION stating that they have also been placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING. For the purpose of this policy Strict Probation is considered a subcategory of ACADEMIC PROBATION.

  1. At the end of the following semester, a student who has been placed on FINANCIAL AID WARNING at the end of the previous semester s/he will be reviewed. If the Academic Standing Subcommittee
    1. removes him/her from ACADEMIC PROBATION, s/he will be removed from FINANCIAL AID WARNING. The Financial Aid Office will send letters to all students removed from ACADEMIC PROBATION stating that they have also been removed from FINANCIAL AID WARNING.
    2. continues him/her on ACADEMIC PROBATION, s/he will be placed on FINANCIAL AID SUSPENSION and will be ineligible to receive financial aid in the following semester. S/he can file an appeal to be placed on FINANCIAL AID PROBATION by meeting the following conditions:

Financial Aid Suspension
If a student is placed on Financial Aid Suspension a Student must appeal in writing, noting extenuating circumstances, such as the death of a family member or an illness or injury to the student if applicable. 

Requirements of the Appeal:

  1. All appeals MUST include information regarding why the student failed to make SAP, and what has changed in the student’s situation that will allow the student to demonstrate SAP after the next academic term of enrollment.
  2. The appeal MUST include an academic plan established with the Academic Support and Advising Office. The plan MUST demonstrate how the student will progress both GPA and cumulative credits to get back on track in seeking his/her degree.  This academic plan must include details for each term/semester from the time of the appeal until the student will meet SAP or graduate with their intended degree program.  The student must be able to demonstrate that it is reasonably likely to get back on track towards successful program completion while staying within the 150% rule. 

The Academic Support and Advising Office will review the student’s appeal and academic plan and notify the Financial Aid Office of its completion.  An appeal committee will review the student’s request and notify the student of their decision in writing within one calendar week of receipt of the appeal. 

If a student is granted an appeal, they will remain on SAP warning and the Academic Support and Advising Office will monitor the student’s academic plan. The SAP warning will be in effect until either the student is removed from Academic Probation or the student does not achieve the goals set forth in their academic plan, which may result in suspension.

Financial Aid Suspension
If the student strays from the academic plan, he/she will again have all financial assistance suspended for the following academic term.
Students will have the option to submit an appeal and recreate an academic plan, if appropriate at that time.  The same requirements for the appeal, as described above, must be met.  If a student does not submit an appeal, or their appeal is not approved, they will not be eligible to receive financial assistance the following academic term.

 Re-establishing Eligibility
A student whose financial aid has been rescinded as a result of the preceding policies and procedures reestablishes eligibility when removed from ACADEMIC PROBATION by the Academic Standing Committee.  A student who has lost financial assistance eligibility can regain eligibility by making up deficiencies while not receiving aid.  It is the student’s responsibility to notify the office of Financial Planning and Assistance to request aid reinstatement when this has been accomplished.

Students that have left the college may re-establish financial assistance eligibility after spending one semester or more away from Cornell while attaining credits somewhere else that are transferrable toward the completion of their degree at Cornell with at least a 2.5 GPA.

A flow chart outlining this process can be found on the Registrar’s website. The chart is a tool; the official procedure is contained in this policy.

Veterans Administration

Students receiving VA benefits should consult with the Financial Assistance Office for information and assistance. VA benefits recipients have the same rights and responsibilities as all other Cornell students and are subject to the regulations and policies described in this Catalogue except where the Federal Government has established laws or guidelines that are at variance with Cornell’s rules. In such cases, the VA recipient is held accountable for satisfying both the College’s and the Government’s regulations.

Specifically, the points of difference are: (1) VA recipients will not be paid for a vacation Block. (2) VA recipients will not be paid, or will be billed for overpayment, for any course from which they withdraw, i.e., receive a grade of W, WH, or WR, unless the VA approves their appeal on grounds of mitigating circumstances. (3) VA recipients who are placed on Probation by Cornell College will be given two semesters (eight Blocks) to remove themselves from academic review. If, at the end of this probationary period, the recipient fails to demonstrate satisfactory progress, the recipient may have their benefits discontinued. The VA will not pay for any course numbered in the 900s (off-campus programs). Permission may sometimes be granted by the VA for a non-traditional educational experience upon petition in advance of the start of the project.

Military Called to Active Duty Policy
This policy is written as an exception to our normal refund policy for the purpose of calculating refunds for students who are impacted by a call to active duty during the academic year as a result of military mobilization. 

Cornell College recognizes the importance of supporting the students who are serving in the armed forces. We have based our refund policy on the belief that Cornell College should attempt to remove any financial hardships caused by military mobilization on Cornell students. 

If the student who is a member, or the spouse of a member, or has a dependent child who is a member, of the National Guard or US reserve forces and is called to active duty during the semester you must submit a copy of the activation orders in order to be considered for this policy.

The withdraw date for each student will be determined by the Student Affairs Office according to the date of notification of call to active duty. This policy does not pertain to weekend training commitments.

Financial Aid
Federal regulations require that all schools must perform the Return of Title IV Funds calculations that are required by statute and regulations (34 CFR 668.22). Cornell College will return funds to the Department of Education and to the Iowa College Student Aid Commission as required by this calculation.  The calculation will be completed using the later of the activation date or the last date of an academically related activity.

Student Account

If the student/spouse is deployed by the military for active duty and the student withdraws from registered course(s), 100% of the tuition charges and mandatory fees for the respective withdrawn courses will be reversed off of the student’s account.  If the student owes a balance as a result of returned financial aid, the outstanding balance for the current term will be waived. 

If the student is a fulltime resident student of the campus, room and board charges will be refunded on a prorated basis. The student will be responsible for paying all other charges unless specifically requested by the issuing department to reverse all or part of the charges.  Any credit balance resulting from action taken on the student account as a result of being called to active duty will be refunded to the student.

Academic Credit Enrollment
The student will be dropped (no grade will be recorded) from his/her course, unless an arrangement to take an incomplete in the course has been made with the instructor.  The student would use the same process for an incomplete as outlined in the catalogue, by utilizing the request for an incomplete form. If the student ends up not finishing the incomplete, they will be charged for the course and given the grade earned. 

Declaration of Degree Candidacy, Majors, and Minors

  1. On or before December 1 of their sophomore year, students must make one of the following declarations in the Registrar’s Office (those admitted with senior standing must make their declarations within the first three months after entering Cornell):
    1. Declare themselves candidates for the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music or Bachelor of Science degree by filing a Declaration of Major card;
    2. Declare themselves candidates for the Bachelor of Special Studies degree by filing a Declaration of B.S.S. Degree card, and soon after that a completed Prospectus; or
    3. Declare themselves unable to make a decision by filing for a Curriculum Advisor. Students may ask any faculty member to serve as their Curriculum Advisor. Under this arrangement, the advisor will work with the student to determine their academic and career goals and the best methods for achieving these.
    4. Sophomores who neglect to file their declarations on time will be subject to the regulations governing B.A. candidates and may be denied permission to register for their junior year. (See Degree Programs .)
  2. In all degree tracks, students are limited to some combination of majors and minors totaling no more than three. Only in the B.S.S. degree can this be a combination of three minors. Each of the other degrees requires at least one major. Students may not elect both a major and a minor in the same discipline or interdisciplinary program, though a student may complete two minors in the same department.
  3. Students may choose one or more of the departmental or interdisciplinary majors described in the central section of this Catalogue (see Courses of Instruction  for particular subjects), or they may design an individualized major.
    1. Departmental majors allow a student to study a single discipline in depth and some departments offer concentrations (also called tracks) within the major that prepare students for a specific set of careers or graduate study programs. Cornell currently offers departmental majors in: Art History, Studio Art, Biology, Business, Chemistry, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Computer Science, Economics and Business, Elementary Education, Engineering, Engineering Sciences, English, Geology, History, Kinesiology, Mathematics, Managment, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Sociology, and Theatre & Dance.
    2. Interdisciplinary majors offer the opportunity for a student to specialize in a recognized academic field by taking courses from various related disciplines. Cornell’s current interdisciplinary majors are: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Classical Studies, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, International Relations, Latin American Studies, Russian Studies, and Sociology and Anthropology.
    3. Individualized majors are programs that students design themselves to meet their particular needs and interests. Such a major involves a minimum of nine course credits to include four courses at the 300 level or above from at least two disciplines (not counting the capstone experience); a capstone experience (e.g., a course, independent study, or internship) at the 300 level or above; and at least six courses at or above the 200 level. A narrative that explains how these courses create a coherent major and describes how the capstone experience will synthesize the courses into a cohesive program of study is to be filed with the contract for this major. This type of major is a contract between the student and a committee of three faculty members chosen by the student. The contract for an individualized major must be signed by the student, the members of the committee, and the Registrar, acting for the Dean of the College. Any changes in the contract must be approved in writing by all members of the committee. The contract and any changes must be filed with the Registrar. The student must complete a minimum of 10 course credits after initially filing this form with the Registrar. For more information, consult the Registrar.
    4. The requirements for departmental, interdisciplinary, and individualized majors are the same for both B.A. and B.S.S. candidates. A student is officially classified as a major only after he or she has been approved by the department or committee concerned and has filed the appropriate declaration with the Registrar.
    5. There is no restriction on adding majors after the sophomore year and no penalty for dropping them except that all B.A. candidates must complete at least one major and B.S.S. candidates must complete the basic contract they signed when filing their Prospectus.
    6. Students are expected to complete the major and minor requirements that were in effect at the time of Spring registration for their second year of courses. Transfer students who are admitted with sophomore or higher standing satisfy the requirements in effect when they begin their first course at Cornell. Students who have withdrawn from Cornell and are later readmitted follow the requirements in effect at the time of their readmission. Exceptions may be made by the department concerned in response to the student’s petition, provided that such changes are feasible for and agreeable to the department.
    7. Cornell College alumni who wish to fulfill the requirements for an additional major after graduation must be accepted by the department (see procedure outlined above) and complete the necessary courses (there is no minimum number of credits that must be earned after graduation as long as the major requirements are met). Courses taken at another institution must be approved by the department in which the major will be granted. Financial aid may not be available, and students are advised to consult the Office of Financial Assistance before enrolling. During the last Block of attendance, the student must meet with the Registrar to confirm that all requirements are completed. At the conference, the student will request that the additional major be recorded on their transcript. Upon completion, the additional major along with the date of completion will be recorded on the student’s transcript.
  4. A minor is a coherent collection of courses numbering at least five, with at least two of them being at the 200-level or above. Cornell currently offers minors in American Politics & Public Policy, Anthropology, Applied Mathematics, Art History, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Civic Engagement, Classical Studies, Computer Science, English, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, French, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, Geology, German Studies, History, International Relations & Comparative Government, Kinesiology, Latin American Studies, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Political Thought, Psychology, Religion, Russian, Sociology, Spanish, Studio Art, and Theatre & Dance.
  5. When there is an overlap between courses required or accepted for a major in one department or program and a minor in another, at least two courses must be completed beyond the courses counted toward the major in order to earn the minor in the other department or program.
  6. Some departments also offer suggestions under the heading “Concentration” for students who may not wish or have time to complete the faculty-approved major but who are interested in a particular area or career relevant to the departmental discipline. Unlike majors and minors, concentrations are informal combinations of courses and are not recognized officially by the College. Candidates for the B.S.S. degree who do not choose to have an official major may call their individually designed program of specialization a concentration.

Assessment of Student Experiences

An essential aspect of the mission of Cornell College is the evaluation of student experiences, perceptions, and academic achievement. Each student will be expected to participate in College and departmental assessment activities such as surveys, focus groups, tests, and personal interviews. Students will be asked to participate beginning with matriculation and continuing through graduation. Student involvement in these assessment activities will assist Cornell in providing current and future students with high-quality, satisfying experiences in keeping with the mission of the College.

Student Classification and Class Rank

  1. All degree candidates are promoted at the end of each semester according to the following scale:
Number of Course Credits Earned Class Standing
0 - 6.75 First Year
7 - 13.75 Sophomore
14 - 22.75 Junior
23 - Senior
  1. At the end of each semester, the Registrar’s Office ranks students within their class according to their cumulative grade point average, e.g., a senior ranked “10/200” would be the 10th highest in a class of 200 seniors. A student’s class rank is available upon request. Students who are graduated with fewer than 16 credits earned in courses taken for grade point credit at Cornell will not be ranked. Also, students who participate in Commencement and later graduate will not be ranked.

The student’s final cumulative grade point average and class ranking (if applicable) is determined at graduation and will not be affected by any grades subsequently earned should the student return to Cornell.

Credit by Transfer

Cornell College accepts transfer credit for work completed by a student at an accredited institution or program. The following guidelines are used in the transfer and awarding of academic credit:

Institutions and Transcripts

Transfer credit must come from a regionally accredited, degree-granting college or university (including community colleges) or an international university of comparable accreditation. The Registrar is responsible for evaluating all transfer credit completed prior to matriculation at Cornell.

  • The credit must be documented on an official college transcript sent directly from the credit-granting institution to the Registrar at Cornell College. Course descriptions/syllabi for each course may also be requested.
  • Transfer credit is always evaluated on a course by course basis, unless the transferring institution has entered into an articulation agreement with Cornell College.
  • Evaluation of a course for transfer credit shall not be based on the method of course delivery. Any course taught in a traditional classroom setting that is accepted for transfer must also be accepted if delivered online. Any course taught in a traditional classroom setting that is accepted by a department as satisfying a general education or major or minor requirement must also be accepted if delivered online.
  • Courses taken while a student is still enrolled in secondary school (e.g., dual enrollment) must meet the guidelines outlined in this policy.


  • 4 semester hours (s.h.) or 6 quarter hours (q.h.) equal 1 Cornell credit.
  • Only transfer courses of 3 or more s.h. or 4 or more q.h. may be used to satisfy a major or general education requirement for the B.A. or B.Mus. degree.
  • The following caps are placed on transfer credits:
Credit Type Maximum Number of Credits Accepted Cornell Equivalent
Community college 64 semester hours or 96 quarter hours 16 course credits
Dual enrollment* 24 semester hours or 36 quarter hours 6 course credits

* Includes Post-Secondary Educational Opportunity (PSEO) credits.


  • A letter grade of “C” or higher is required to earn transfer credit. Grades of “C-” and below will not earn transfer credit.
  • Grades do not transfer to Cornell College and are not used in the calculation of a student’s Cornell grade point average.


  • Transfer work must be relevant to the curricular program at Cornell College.
  • To receive specific course credit, transferred courses must be substantially similar to Cornell College courses.
  • Transfer courses must be significantly different from previous coursework and must not regress from previous coursework.
  • Courses accepted by transfer do not necessarily satisfy the requirements for a major unless they are approved by the Cornell department concerned. Students should confer with the chair of their major department to determine whether their transferred courses may be applied to their major.

Transfer Policy for students from Harper College or Kirkwood Community College with an Associate of Arts Degree

Transfer students admitted to the college prior to 2022 from Kirkwood Community College and Harper College who have earned an Associates of Arts degree will be admitted to Cornell College with all BA general education requirements having been met.  On a case-by-case basis, Academic Affairs and the Registrar’s Office shall be permitted to extend the AA degree approval to students earning an AA from other community colleges when their curricula similarly reflect the broad range of general education requirements at Cornell College.  To complete a Cornell degree, transfer students will need to earn at least 16 credits at Cornell and fulfill all other applicable graduation requirements.
Transfer students admitted to the college prior to 2022 from Kirkwood Community College who have earned an Associates of Science degree and whose coursework at Kirkwood includes a total of 9 credits in Humanities courses and 6 credits in History-Cultures will be admitted to Cornell College with all BA general education requirements having been met.
Transfer students admitted to the college prior to 2022 from Harper Community College who have earned an Associates of Science degree and whose coursework at Harper includes a total of a total of 12 credits in Group 4 Humanities and Fine Arts will be admitted to Cornell College with all BA general education requirements having been met.

On a case-by-case basis, Academic Affairs and the Registrar’s Office shall be permitted to extend the AS degree approval to students earning an AS from other community colleges when their curricula similarly reflect the broad range of general education requirements at Cornell College and they have taken courses comparable to those taken by students from Kirkwood and Harper Community college who are admitted under this agreement.

Post-Matriculation Transfer Credits

In addition to the above guidelines, the following stipulations apply to students after they have begun coursework at Cornell:

  • Advance approval for transfer credit is required. Approval must be secured prior to taking the course via the Petition for Transfer of Credit form available from the Registrar.
  • To ensure that work to be completed elsewhere will be accepted as a course (or credit) counting toward graduation, toward a major, or toward fulfillment of a general education requirement, students should consult with the relevant academic department.
  • Students are permitted to receive credit for courses taken at other institutions during Cornell’s academic year (September through May) only if they have:
    1. junior or senior standing,
    2. a grade point average of at least 2.5, and
    3. filed a Petition of Transfer Credit form with the registrar prior to enrollment in the course.
    4. A maximum of two of these transfer credits can be counted toward the minimum 31 course credits required for a Cornell degree.
  • Students who at the end of their senior year have earned at least 16 course credits at Cornell may transfer up to 2 course credits (8 s.h. or 12 q.h.) from another institution to complete their Cornell degree. Seniors with fewer than 16 Cornell course credits are not permitted to complete their degree by transferring courses. The senior year is defined as the 8 blocks preceding students’ completion of their final course at Cornell College. Students are reminded that they must earn 8 of their last 10 credits at Cornell. (See also General Requirements for Degree Programs , Item 4.)

Exemption, Advanced Placement, and Credit by Examination

In all cases, the final decision as to exemption or advanced placement, with or without credit, rests with the Cornell departments concerned and the Dean of the College.

Exemption without credit from a prerequisite for any course listed in this Catalogue may be granted by the instructor.

Exemption without credit from one or more of the general education requirements for the B.A., B.Mus. or B.S. degree is granted by some departments for superior achievement on certain examinations. (See Bachelor of Arts , Paragraph 6.)

Credits granted to new students from examinations cannot be counted towards the total credits needed to exempt a student from a First Year Seminar. Even if a student has more than 7 credits from examinations, they must still take a First Year Seminar.

Cornell accepts the following examinations. The exemption, placement, or credit involved must be requested by the end of the student’s eighth Block at Cornell.

  1. Cornell College accepts scores of 3 or higher from most of the College Entrance Examination Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations. The exemption and/or credit awarded for various exams and scores can be found on the Registrar’s website.
  2. The Oxford and Cambridge A-Level Examinations or their equivalents. One or two course credits, depending upon whether the exemption is for one or two courses, are granted for scores of 3 or higher.
  3. The International Baccalaureate. Two course credits are granted for each score of 5 or above on a Higher Level examination, and one course credit for each score of 5 or above on a Standard Level examination, for a maximum of nine course credits. The exemption and/or credit awarded for various exams and scores can be found on the Registrar’s website.
  4. Examinations prepared and administered by Cornell departments at their option are an additional means of earning credit or exemption, subject to the following conditions:
    1. Exemption or credit by examination may be given only for courses listed in this Catalogue.
    2. Credit by examination may not be given for any independent study, internship, group project, tutorial, seminar, special topic, or research course.
    3. A student who audits a Cornell course or who is tutored by a Cornell faculty member is not eligible to receive credit by examination for such work. A Cornell independent study course (see Courses 290/390 and b. above) is the appropriate vehicle for such work.
    4. Credit by examination is an option offered to students who have mastered Cornell’s course material through study by themselves, in high school or elsewhere (but not for a course for which the student also receives transfer credit), or through some life experience.
    5. Students desiring credit by examination must first receive permission from the department concerned. A student may receive credit by examination for a maximum of seven courses (no more than two such credits may be in any one department). The examinations must be completed by the end of the student’s eighth Block at Cornell.
    6. Credit will not be granted twice for passing two relatively similar topics. Students who believe that the two are significantly different should consult the department chair for permission to receive credit for both. If granted, the chair(s) must notify the Registrar in writing.

Credit by examination granted by another institution will not automatically transfer to Cornell; but where the examination is one that is used by Cornell, credit will be given if the student’s performance meets Cornell’s standards.

A student who receives credit for a course by examination and repeats that course at Cornell will have the examination credit subtracted. Also, students are not eligible to receive credit by examination for a lower-level course after they have completed or begun a course for which the other is a prerequisite.


  1. Passing grades are A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, P, S, and CR. Failure is denoted by F, NC, and U.
  2. W, WH, or WR are recorded when a student withdraws from a course (see “Adding and Dropping Courses”).
  3. P indicates satisfactory performance and is given to indicate completion (complete or partial) of fine arts participation activities that carry no course credits, e.g., MUS 701 (Music Performance Seminar).
  4. The notation I is given only for work of satisfactory quality that is incomplete because of illness or emergency (supported in the same way as requests for withdrawals for reasons of health; see “Adding and Dropping Courses,” paragraph 8). Permission to receive an Incomplete in any course for any reason must be secured from the Registrar before the instructor may record it on the final grade sheet. The petition for requesting an Incomplete is available from the Registrar’s Office. Students are required to indicate the length of time they and their instructor need to complete the course. The Registrar will normally approve any reasonable contract. An Incomplete which has not been removed by the end of the period specified in the contract will automatically be converted to an F if the student is still enrolled or will remain an I if the student has withdrawn from Cornell.
  5. AU indicates a course audited for no credit (see above, “Auditing Courses”).
  6. IP indicates a course in progress or one for which a final grade has not been submitted by the instructor.
  7. Only courses taken for grade point credit at Cornell College, exclusive of those graded CR, S, P, I, IP, AU, NC, W, WH, and WR, are used to compute the student’s cumulative grade point average. For the student’s convenience, this average is printed on the unofficial transcript available online. Grade points are assigned according to the following scale:
  A = 4.0000 B = 3.0000 C = 2.0000 D = 1.0000  
  A- = 3.7000 B- = 2.7000 C- = 1.7000 D- = 0.7000  
  B+ = 3.3000 C+ = 2.3000 D+ = 1.3000 F = 0.0000  
  1. Cornell offers a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option to encourage students to explore new academic disciplines, but departments and interdepartmental programs are permitted to exclude specific courses from the S/U option by so stating in the course description. The S/U option is available to students who have completed a minimum of eight credits and must be declared when registering for a course or within the first three days of the course. On the 15th day of the Block (normally the third Friday), the student may rescind the declaration; if the S/U option is rescinded, the student will receive a grade for the course. No more than two full S/U credits may be counted toward satisfying the 31 credits required for graduation.
    To exercise this option, students must complete the S/U Form available at the Registrar’s office or on the Registrar’s office website and return the form to the Registrar’s Office before the end of the third day of the block. When this option has been selected, grades of C or above become Satisfactory (S), and grades of C- or below become Unsatisfactory (U). A satisfactory performance ensures credit toward graduation but does not affect grade-point averages. An unsatisfactory performance does not confer credit, nor does it affect the grade-point average. For students who have selected the S/U option, instructors will submit grades and the Registrar changes the grade appropriately.
  2. The cumulative grade point average is calculated by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of courses taken for grade point credit (including courses graded F). The cumulative grade point average is calculated to four decimal places and is not rounded. The student’s final cumulative grade point average is determined at graduation, and will not be affected by grades subsequently earned, should the student return to Cornell.
  3. Certain courses of the type listed below are graded either as Credit (CR) if the instructor certifies that the student has done work of “C” quality or better, or as No Credit (NC) if the student fails to achieve the minimum standard. All work transferred from other institutions, all credits earned by examinations or advanced placement, all courses numbered in the 900s, and certain other courses identified in this Catalogue by the notation (CR) at the end of their description are automatically recorded as Credit/No Credit. A few courses offer the student, with the approval of the instructor, the choice of a regular grade or Credit/No Credit, and these are marked with (OP) at the end of their description.
  4. The grades earned in off-campus courses numbered in the 900s are recorded on the student’s transcript as CR/NC, but are never computed into the student’s Cornell grade point average.
  5. Grades are reported by the Registrar to the student and the academic advisor. At the end of each Block, the student’s grade report is available on-line.
  6. Students may authorize access to their grades to their parent(s)/guardian through the Student Shared Information page (https://helpdesk.cornellcollege.edu:8443/display/KBPublic/Student+Information+Sharing). In order for a parent to see anything, the student must log into the system and set the parent up to have access. Authorizing access to grades in the self-service system does not change a students’ FERPA status. (See “Confidentiality of Student Records.”)
  7. Students who believe that there is an error in the information reported on their grade report or that an injustice has been done them in the grading process should consult the Registrar immediately. After a lapse of one Block from the issuance of the report, the information becomes a permanent part of the student’s official transcript. A student who disputes a final grade should appeal first to the instructor. If not satisfied, the student should consult the department chair and then, if need be, the Dean of the College. Although the department chair and the Dean may act as mediators, the decision of the instructor is final.
  8. For an instructor to change a grade, the instructor must submit a request to the Academic Standing Committee and explain the circumstances prompting the change, e.g., that he or she miscalculated or has re-evaluated the student’s academic performance up through the close of the Block. After a lapse of one Block from the issuance of the grade report, the information becomes a permanent part of the student’s official transcript. The Committee does not permit an instructor to change a final grade because of work submitted or revised after the instructor reported the original final grade to the Registrar.
  9. An instructor must report final grades to the Registrar by noon on the first Monday of the following block, with the exception of blocks 4 and 8. Block 4 grades are due 12 days prior to the start of Block 5. For Block 8, grades for Seniors are due the day after the end of the block at noon and non-Senior grades are due one week after the end of the Block at 8:00am. Although a Block technically ends at 5:00 p.m. on the 18th day of the course (normally a Wednesday), an instructor may, but is not required to, grant a student an extension of one or more days. In such cases, students are responsible for turning in their work early enough to allow the instructor to grade it and submit the grade to the Registrar by the Monday noon deadline. If the assignments are not finished and graded by this deadline, the instructor must issue a final grade based upon the work that the student has actually completed. No subsequent change of grade is permitted unless the student has been granted an Incomplete by the Registrar.
  10. Credits and grades are posted on the student’s transcript at the end of each Block. Unofficial transcripts are available on-line to current students. Information regarding ordering official transcripts is available on the Registrar’s Office web site.

The Dean’s List

Twice each year - at the end of January and the end of May - the Dean of the College recognizes those students who have earned superior grades during the previous semester and enrolls them on the Dean’s List based upon their semester grade point average.

Highest Honors 4.0000
High Honors 3.8000 - 3.9999
Honors 3.6000 - 3.7999

To be considered for the Dean’s List, students must earn grade point credit in at least four Blocks during the semester (Blocks One through Four for the first semester, Blocks Five through Eight for the second semester) and must not earn any grades of F, NC, W, or WR, nor have an unresolved Incomplete on their record at the time the Dean’s List is calculated. Grades earned in music lessons and ensembles are also calculated (except that the grade in MUS 701  is not calculated).


The College confers degrees in May, August, and at the end of block 4; Commencement exercises, however, are held only in the spring following Block Eight. All candidates for graduation are required to attend the Spring Commencement unless granted permission by the Dean of the College to be graduated in absentia.

Students must file an application for graduation (see “General Requirements for Degree Programs ,” Paragraphs 2 and 3). Transcripts of work taken at other schools before September of a student’s senior year and statements of confirmation or exemption requested during the Senior Conference must be received by the Registrar before December 31 if they are to be credited toward the student’s graduation during that academic year.

Candidates who are not enrolled in the year in which they expect to receive their degree must notify the Registrar’s Office before March 1 of their intention to be graduated. If there are any transcripts or other kinds of documentation needed to complete their degree requirements, the Registrar will specify the deadline. Seniors in off-campus programs that do not issue final grades before Cornell’s deadline must necessarily postpone their graduation until August. Even though a student may complete their requirements immediately after Commencement, the degree will not be conferred, nor the diploma awarded, retroactively.

Participating in Commencement as a Non-Graduate

Students may request to participate in Commencement activities if, at the end of Block 8 of their senior year, they:

  1. (a) are within 2 courses of completing their degree requirements, or (b) have only student teaching and their education seminar remaining;
  2. Have earned at least 29 course credits;
  3. have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher; and,
  4. have paid in full the balance on their Cornell accounts.

In such cases the student receives a blank diploma jacket and is not considered a graduate. Students will be awarded their diplomas on the degree conferral date immediately following completion of their degree requirements. Students who participate in the Commencement exercises as non-graduates may not participate again when their degree is actually conferred. To apply for permission from the Academic Standing Committee to participate as a non-graduate and to be graduated in August, after Block Four, or the following spring, consult the Registrar before March 1.

Students who elect to participate in Commencement as non-graduates do so with the understanding that they will not be ranked within the graduating class of that or any other year and may not be eligible for certain honors or for election to honorary societies that elect members from those seniors scheduled to be graduated in the spring. A student who believes that he or she may qualify for such honors should postpone graduation until the following spring and thereby retain their eligibility.

Non-graduates who elect to participate in Commencement have 16 months in which to complete their final requirements, either by returning to Cornell or by transferring the final credit(s) to Cornell. If the credits are not completed within that time period, students are considered to be withdrawn and, if they wish to complete their degree at a later date, must apply for readmission through the Registrar’s Office and meet the requirements in effect in the Catalogue at that time.


Students who during their academic career at Cornell have distinguished themselves by their outstanding scholarship may be eligible for either or both of the following categories of Commencement Honors:

All-College Honors, based upon a cumulative grade point average for all courses taken for grade point credit at Cornell College, provided that such courses total 20 or more (16 or more for transfer students), are indicated on the diploma as follows if the student’s average is within the indicated range:

summa cum laude 3.9000 - 4.0000
magna cum laude 3.7000 - 3.8999
cum laude 3.5000 - 3.6999

Honors in the Major, with the words “with distinction” printed on the diploma, may be awarded by a major to graduating seniors who have successfully completed (1) a major with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in all courses taken within that major; (2) a project or paper judged to be of honors quality by the faculty of the major; and (3) a public oral examination on the project or paper (reviewed by at least three faculty representing two different departments and selected by the major advisor in consultation with the student) or a public exhibition or recital of artistic merit. Each major may specify further requirements and establish its own procedures for evaluating the project or paper. Students interested in earning Honors in the Major should confer with their department or program chair by the beginning of their senior year.

Graduation Rate

Student Consumer Information, including graduation rates, are available on the Institutional Research and Assessment website.

Transcripts and Verification of Enrollment

The Registrar’s Office is responsible for issuing transcripts and verifying the enrollment of students. Fees and procedures related to ordering official transcripts can be found on the Registrar’s Office web site. Currently enrolled students can print unofficial copies of their transcript from Self Service under the “Grades” tab at no charge.

The Registrar’s Office will verify the enrollment of students for insurance, employment, or other purposes as requested. In reporting enrollment status to organizations or agencies outside the College, students enrolled for a minimum of three Block credits (12 semester hours) per semester will be reported as “full-time.” Students enrolled for two Block credits (eight semester hours) per semester will be reported as “half-time,” and students enrolled for fewer than two Block credits per semester will be reported as “less than half-time.” Students can print enrollment verifications through the Registrar’s Office secure web site.

Academic Review: Warning, Probation, and Suspension

The Academic Review Process is intended to help students meet the standards required for graduation. The Academic Standing Committee regularly reviews the academic record of all students enrolled in the College. Students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 or higher, and to enroll in one course credit every Block, so that they may graduate in four years. Students may only lose one course credit over their four years and still graduate at the end of four years. Students are also expected to earn at least 7 course credits during their first year, at least 15 by the end of their sophomore year, and at least 23 by the end of their junior year. Students must earn 31 credits to graduate. Transfer students and students who withdraw from Cornell and then re-enter are assigned a class standing (e.g., sophomore) and are expected to keep up with their class. When students fall below or are at risk of falling below GPA expectations or falling behind on course credits necessary for graduation, they are subject to academic notifications and sanctions. (See also Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for consequences related to financial aid)

Students who are in academic difficulty are expected to work with their instructors, their academic advisors, the Coordinator of Academic Support and Advising, members of the counseling staff, the Center for Teaching and Learning, the Registrar, and others as needed to identify and resolve the problems that are causing their academic difficulties. Students in academic difficulty should also give serious thought to revising their registrations to include courses in which they have a greater chance of success. Failure to heed these notifications and to seek appropriate help may lead to continued academic difficulty which may result in suspension and dismissal.

The gradations of notifications and sanctions issued by the Committee are described below. These notifications and sanctions are arranged in order of seriousness. The phrase “subject to suspesion” below means that the Academic Standing Committee may place students on Suspension or Strict Probation at its own discretion.


Academic Warning is an indicator that the student may become liable for a more serious academic sanction, including Suspension, if grades do not improve or the student does not earn academic credits. Students on Warning have no restrictions on their right to take courses and participate in all the activities of the College. However, they need to monitor their activities to make sure that they do not fall into greater academic difficulty.

A student on Warning may be subject to suspension at the end of a semester for an extremely poor academic performance (see 2.a.vi). A student on Warning may be required to draw up, sign, and fulfill a Learning Contract. The Contract will bind the student to additional conditions in order to continue as a student at Cornell.


Academic Probation is an indication that, unless improvement in a student’s academic performance can be demonstrated, that student is subject to suspension from Cornell. Students on Probation have no restrictions on their right to take courses and participate in all the activities of the College. However, they need to bring up their semester or cumulative GPA to 2.00 and/or make up lost credits as quickly as possible. They may need to curtail their non-academic activities to make sure that they do not fall into even greater difficulty. A student on Probation is required to draw up, sign, and fulfill a Learning Contract. The Contract will bind the student to additional conditions in order to continue as a student at Cornell. Students who do not fulfill the items in their learning contract are subject to suspension from the college.

Strict Probation

Students whose academic record is such that they are subject to Suspension at the end of a semester are given the opportunity to submit a statement to the Committee where they (a) explain factors affecting their academic performance, (b) outline a plan for improving their academic performance, and (c) discuss their commitment to following through on this plan. This plan should in most cases include ending participation in college sponsored activities that are hindering the student’s academic progress.

Students must submit this information to the Academic Standing Committee prior to the scheduled time when the Committee will conduct its academic review of students for the semester. These students may be placed on Strict Probation (instead of being suspended) if they present a plan for improving their academic performance that the Committee deems compelling and if the Committee concludes that the student has a reasonable chance to graduate from Cornell. If the Committee determines that the student has failed to meet the obligations of their plan for improving their academic performance (as described in their previous learning contract required as a part of being put on Probation), the student will normally be suspended from the college. The actions of the Committee are not subject to appeal.

Students who are on Strict Probation are considered as failing to make satisfactory progress towards graduation. Therefore, in accordance with NCAA rules, students on strict probation may not compete on any intercollegiate athletic team. Other college affiliated organizations, offices or programs, may impose their own restrictions on members failing to make satisfactory progress towards graduation.


An individual who is suspended for unsatisfactory academic performance will have their status as a student revoked and will be denied permission to continue to attend classes, to enroll in subsequent terms, to reside in College housing, to receive Cornell-funded financial aid, and to participate in Cornell-sponsored extracurricular activities in ways that are not also open to the general public. The student must leave the campus within three days after notification unless granted an extension by the Dean of Students. The individual may apply for readmission to the College once they have met stipulations laid out in their suspension letter.


Students are academically dismissed if they have been suspended once before in their career at Cornell, have been readmitted, and are now being suspended for a second time. Such students are not permitted to apply for readmission to the College.

The Academic Standing Committee reviews students’ records after each Block. The conditions under which students are liable for a notification or sanction are described below.

  1. After each of Blocks 1-3 or 5-7 (see Fig. 1) students are:
    1. Given an ACADEMIC WARNING
      1. If their cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 (Note: first-Block students are allowed one C- before this category applies to them.), or
      2. If the average GPA of their four most recent courses falls below 1.25.
      1. If they receive a second grade of F or NC within a semester.
      2. If their cumulative GPA is below 2.00 and the average GPA of their four most recent courses falls below 1.25.
  2. After each semester, students are:
    1. Reviewed for grade performance (see Fig. 2) and
      1. Given an ACADEMIC WARNING if their cumulative GPA is above 2.0, but their semester GPA is between 1.25 - 1.99.
      2. Placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION if their cumulative GPA is above 2.0, but their semester GPA is below 1.25.
      3. Placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION if their cumulative GPA is below 2.0 and semester GPA is between 1.25 - 1.99.
      4. Continued on ACADEMIC PROBATION if their cumulative GPA is below 2.0 and their semester GPA above 2.0.
      5. Subject to SUSPENSION from the College if they have been on ACADEMIC PROBATION for a semester and their semester GPA is below 2.0.
      6. Subject to SUSPENSION from the College if their cumulative GPA is below 2.00 and their semester GPA is below 1.25.
    2. Reviewed for earned credit (see Fig. 3) and
      1. Given an ACADEMIC WARNING if they will be unlikely to be graduated in four years (32 Blocks). (See Fig. 4)
      2. Placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION if they will be unlikely to be graduated in four and one-half years (36 Blocks). (See Fig. 4)
      3. Placed on ACADEMIC PROBATION, at the Committee’s discretion, if they have lost two course credits during that semester (note - the first vacation Block taken in any academic year is not counted as a lost course credit). Students are considered to have lost a course credit if they:
        1. take more than one vacation Block per year;
        2. receive a grade of F or NC; or
        3. withdraw from a course with a grade of W or WR. The words “withdraw” and “withdrawal” refer to those situations in which students receive a W or WR notation on their transcripts.

Leave of Absence

A non-academic leave may be granted by the Dean of Students because of medical, financial, personal, family, or other problems that are best treated away from Cornell. A student who takes an approved non-academic leave of absence is considered to have withdrawn from Cornell and Cornell’s withdrawal policy applies. A non-academic leave of absence is approved if

  • the student has made a written request to the Dean of Students; and
  • the Dean of Students has determined that there is a reasonable expectation the student will return from the leave, and has granted written approval. Failure to return by the agreed upon return date will result in the student being officially withdrawn from the College.

Cornell College policy restricts leaves of absence to a maximum of 90 calendar days or 2 consecutive blocks, whichever comes first, unless an extension is granted by the Dean of Students.

During a leave, the student will be considered withdrawn from Cornell, thus, ineligible for Title IV (federal) financial assistance during that time.

During a leave of absence, the student surrenders the privileges of regularly enrolled students, and is, therefore, not permitted to live in College housing, use College facilities, or to participate in any Cornell-sponsored extracurricular activities in ways that are not also open to the general public.

Conditions for return include the student continuing to fulfill payment arrangements with the College while on a leave of absence.

The student should consult with their insurance carrier regarding potential insurance claims or medical expenses that may be acquired during a planned leave of absence.

This Leave of Absence policy does not refer to the Federal Title IV definition of a Leave of Absence, but is a Cornell College policy.

For information on requesting an academic leave of absence for the purpose of participation in off-campus study programs not affiliated with Cornell (see “Other Off Campus Study ”).

Withdrawal from the College

To withdraw from Cornell College, a student must apply to the Dean of Students. Should a student leave without official permission, he or she will have the grade of F recorded for each course in progress. Students who have not attended classes for 60 calendar days and have not filed for a Reduced Program (see Reduced Programs) or a Withdrawal will be dropped from the College.  Students who attend fewer than 5 class days per block and do not earn credit for 2 consecutive  blocks without a Leave of Absence, Health Withdrawal, or other identified reason within one semester may be withdrawn from the College.

Students must vacate residence hall rooms within 48 hours of initiating the withdrawal process unless permitted otherwise by the Dean of Students.

Students who are recipients of financial aid or who hold Cornell scholarships or campus employment should, before withdrawing, discuss with the Office of Financial Assistance the consequences if they later wish to return to Cornell and need aid.

Students who plan to finish an academic year but not return the following fall may not register for classes, participate in room selection, and must notify the Dean of Students of their intended withdrawal by the first Wednesday of Block Eight or the student’s enrollment deposit will be forfeited.


A student who withdraws voluntarily, who is dropped for non-attendance, or who is suspended for academic, disciplinary, or financial reasons is not guaranteed readmission. Such persons may, however, apply for readmission to the Academic Standing Committee by sending their request to the Registrar at least one month before the start of the Block in which they wish to re-enroll. A Cornell student who leaves and is later readmitted returns under the Catalogue in effect at the time of readmission. In the case of a student who was suspended, the appropriate conditions, as stated in the letter of suspension, must be satisfied before the Committee will act upon the request. Students, regardless of the type of withdrawal or suspension, will be evaluated for readmission on their academic achievement, good citizenship, and satisfactory discharging of their financial obligations to the College while at Cornell and subsequently.

A student who has been classified by the College as a “readmitted student” is not eligible to receive transfer scholarships offered by Cornell. Consult the Office of Financial Assistance with any questions or concerns.

At the time the student withdraws voluntarily, is dropped for non-attendance, or is suspended for academic, disciplinary, or financial reasons, the student forfeits any financial assistance that was previously awarded. This includes any scholarship, grants, loans, or work study the student may have had.

If the student is readmitted, their financial assistance, including previous academic and fine arts awards, will be reviewed at that time and based upon current academic and financial information.

Please contact the Financial Assistance Office if you have questions.