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Majors and Minors

Cornell University Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences Cornell University

College of Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts at Cornell University

Choosing Majors and Minors

The College of Arts and Sciences offers 40 majors, 55 minors, and more than 40 foreign languages. Students of this college have a great deal of flexibility and choice when creating their path of study.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I change my major?

If you wish to change your major after you have already declared it, you will need to go to the department and formally drop that major. Otherwise, the department and the college will assume you are still in that major and will hold your graduation until it is complete.

What is a minor?

A minor is a secondary area of interest that often complements a major. Although not a degree requirement of the college, a minor allows students to group some related electives together in a meaningful way.  Most of the minors offered in the college are interdisciplinary, such as Law and Society or International Relations. Some are offered within existing departments, such as Music or Spanish. Some out-of-college minors are available to Arts and Sciences students. Completed minors will appear on your transcript.
How Do I Find Out About the Requirements for a Major?

The best way to find out about a particular major is to consult the Courses of Study or visit the departmental website. You can also set up an appointment with the director of undergraduate studies in a particular department for more information about the major.

How do I declare a major?

Visit the appropriate departmental website to find out the prerequisites for a major and the procedure for declaring in it. In general, you’ll need to provide a copy of your transcript (available from the University Registrar’s office) and fill out an application form. You may apply for admission to a major as soon as you have completed the prerequisites and are sure about your decision. This can be as early as the end of your first year. You must have declared a major by the end of your sophomore year. If you cannot do so, you will need to see an advising dean. 

I have no idea what to major in. What can I do?

We recommend that students major in a subject that they find interesting and intellectually challenging. If you need guidance in figuring out a suitable major, you can set up an appointment with an academic advising dean. (Just call 255-5004 or 255-4833 for an appointment.) We are happy to talk about the programs of study in the college with you. You might also wish to meet with our Career Counselor, Ana Adinolfi (255-4166); she can help you assess your interests and learn how these interests can be channeled into specific majors or minors here, with an eye toward career options and opportunities for research and internships. Explore the majors here.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of double majoring?

Whether or not to double major is an individual decision. Completing two majors within eight semesters will mean losing some of the flexibility built into the Arts & Sciences degree to allow you to explore a variety of interests. If you enjoy both subjects equally, and prefer taking courses in those subjects over those in other departments or colleges, then the choice is right for you. The requirements for some majors facilitate the addition of a second, related major. Study abroad in a foreign language may make completion of a second major in that language relatively easy.

Can I choose a major in another college? Can I double major across colleges?

No, you must choose a major in the College of Arts and Sciences. Majors in other colleges are not open to our students.

Even though you must find a major in our college, you will still have freedom to do coursework in the other colleges. Most out-of-college minors, in fact, can be completed by Arts and Sciences students. You should consult with the appropriate department to determine whether a given out-of-college minor is open to you.

What is a major?

Majoring is an opportunity to study what you love most and do well - regardless of what you or others think might be "most practical." Whatever your major, through it you will hone your mind and imagination. You'll learn to think and write critically, skeptically, and imaginatively; you'll learn to recognize and address important questions; you'll learn to create and weigh evidence and make decisions about likely truth in the face of incomplete data; you'll confront basic questions about human life and mind; you'll develop your intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities. These skills will stand you in good stead in any career. You'll acquire them more thoroughly and usefully through studying a subject you care about.

Keep in mind that the major is only one component of a liberal arts education. You will have ample opportunity to take courses in a broad range of disciplines throughout the university.

 

Can I have more than one major?

You must complete one major in order to graduate, but yes, you may choose to pursue a second or even a third major. To add another major, you simply follow the department’s procedures. You will then receive a faculty advisor in that second major to guide you further in selecting your courses. Considerations about double-majoring