Guidelines

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Choices

The College of Arts & Sciences offers you enormous choice in designing your own unique college education. A sound first-year schedule will allow you to explore your intellectual interests and gain a sense of yourself as a potential scholar, but there is no single formula or sample schedule that works for everyone. When putting together your schedule, we encourage you to choose subjects that you are excited to explore.

Here are some general guidelines to follow as you begin to make your choices: 

  • A typical first-semester schedule includes 4 or 5 courses (not counting PE) at the 1000- or 2000-level (14-16 academic credits).
  • Your course load must consist of at least 12 and no more than 18 academic credits (PE does not count). 
  • Any student can expect to earn a degree in 8 semesters by taking an average of 15 credits per semester (120 credits total).
  • You have until the end of your sophomore year to choose and enter a major: most students declare their major during the second semester of sophomore year.
  • Your choice of major does not determine your career. 

Students Said...

I have switched majors, learned a new language, and studied abroad in a foreign land. I have experienced so much and learned so many new things. Exploring diverse interests enabled me to take advantage of opportunities I could never have imagined outside of Cornell.

Michael Shyer, '15

Take your time -- to get to know the people here, to explore Ithaca, to do extracurriculars, to challenge yourself. Your years here will fly by before you know it. You've come here to get an education, not just a degree!

Tina Tianjiao Su, '15

I had a clear idea of my potential majors when I came into Cornell. Find the one thing that you are absolutely passionate about!

Yifan Zhu, '18

[Your interests] probably will change as you take classes here in the College of Arts & Sciences. It's fine not to know specifically what your path is when you first get into college. You should focus on things you find interesting and a path will soon take form.

Tamara Heath, '17

Next: Thinking About a Major