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Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the heart of intellectual life — both in learning and in research. As members of the university community, all of us must support each other's efforts to master new material and discover new knowledge by sharing ideas and resources, respecting each other's contributions and being honest about our work. Otherwise, the university will fail to accomplish its most central and important goal.

You've already received a copy of Cornell's Code of Academic Integrity and policy and it's your responsibility to understand your rights and responsibilities under the code. Read it carefully because you need to understand exactly what professors mean when they talk about integrity and cheating. Plagiarism, the use or adaptation of another person's words or ideas without acknowledgement, is the most common form of academic integrity violation at Cornell. We will hold you to a professional standard of integrity, which means that you must acknowledge and cite ideas you adopt from others and any help you receive from peers. 

Academic Standing

At the end of each semester, advising deans review students’ transcripts to identify students who are not in good academic standing. You are in good academic standing for a semester if you:

If you aren't in good academic standing, the faculty Committee on Academic Records or one of the college's advising deans may give you a warning or take academic action, asking you to explain your poor performance and submit corroborating documentation.

If you're in serious academic difficulty, you may be required to take a leave of absence, normally for a full year. Before being allowed to return to campus and reregister, you must document what you did on leave, how you resolved your problems and what your plan is for completing the degree.

Adding/Dropping Classes

After course enrollment (also known as “pre-enrollment”), students may not adjust their schedules until just before the new semester begins. During the first 15 calendar days of the semester, students may change courses without petitioning.

  • After fifteen days, students must petition their advising dean to add courses. They may drop courses through the 57th calendar day of the semester if no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Between the 7th and  12th weeks, students may petition to withdraw from courses, if (1) the instructor approves; (2) the advisor approves; (3) an advising dean approves; (4) the drop does not result in fewer than 12 credits; and (5) no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Students must meet with an advising dean to obtain petition forms.
  • Courses officially dropped after the seventh week will be noted on the transcript by a “W” where the grade would normally appear. This is a matter of record and cannot be petitioned. Petitions to withdraw from courses may not be submitted after the end of the 12th week in the semester. Deadlines for short courses will be adjusted according to the length of the courses.
  • The effective date of all course changes will be the day the student submits all completed paperwork to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising.

Dean's List Requirements

  • Minimum 12 letter-grade credits
  • No failing grades (i.e., "F," "U," "UX"), with the exception of courses that do not count toward the degree and "UX" for physical education courses
  • No grade "C-" or lower
  • Minimum GPA requirements: 12 Credits - 3.95 or higher; 13 or 14 credits - 3.85 or higher; 15 or 16 credits - 3.75 or higher; 17 or more credits - 3.65 or higher
  • S/U credits DO count for graduation but do NOT count towards Dean's List.
  • Students with incomplete grades will be evaluated after the incomplete grade is made up. The student must have qualified for the Dean's List before and after the incomplete grade was made up.

Graduating Early/Acceleration

We encourage you to think carefully about the decision to accelerate your education. Your undergraduate education allows you the opportunity for depth and breadth of study, as well as advanced, seminar and independent or honors work. If you feel that you can complete this in-depth journey in less than eight semesters, you can apply to accelerate by one semester and in rare cases two, compressing your first four semesters into three (or two), and completing the prerequisites for the major in time to spend four full semesters in the major. To determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements for acceleration, fill out this worksheet.

Leaves of Absence

About 10 percent of Arts & Sciences students will take a leave of absence for one or more semesters. Taking a leave does not forfeit your eligibility for eight semesters of financial aid. Students request leaves for various reasons: career experience in an internship or job; experience in community or political action (volunteer or paid); time for a special project; new academic direction or re-kindled faith in academic study; financial reserves or renewed self-confidence and health.

Different types of leaves include:

  • Personal: You may take a personal leave of absence if you are in good academic standing. You must apply for a personal leave for an upcoming semester before classes begin for that semester and you must return from the leave within five years.
  • Conditional: If you are experiencing difficulties or choose to take a leave after the semester has begun, you can apply for a conditional leave. You must (normally) remain on leave for at least two semesters; advising deans or the faculty Committee on Academic Records stipulate additional individual conditions for returning from a conditional leave.
  • Health: To initiate a health leave you must consult Gannett/University Health Services. The college will readmit you from a health leave only upon the recommendation of Gannett. If you are in academic difficulty when you initiate a health leave, the college may stipulate additional conditions for your return. Incomplete courses must be resolved before you return.

Requesting a leave, returning and earning credit while on leave: See your advising dean to discuss your motives and plans for your leave and to fill out the appropriate forms. Be sure to schedule a personal leave before the term begins. Consult the Tuition Refund Policy in the Courses of Study to assess the tuition charges that would accrue if you initiate a health or conditional leave after semester classes have begun. To return from a leave, contact your advising dean and apply for readmission by June 1 if returning for the fall semester or October 1 if returning for the spring. For information on earning credit while on leave, visit the transferring credits page.

After a prolonged time away

If you've taken a break from your education but want to finish your degree, advising staff can help you sort out the courses you'll need to take and create a plan. To begin the process, make an appointment with Tammy Shapiro, 172 Goldwin Smith Hall, 607-255-4833.

Over/Underhours

Students are required to carry at least 12 academic credits each semester to remain in good standing. Physical education and some other courses do not count as academic credits. See this List of Courses that Do Not Count.

  • Overhours: First-semester freshmen and students whose GPA the previous semester was less than 3.0 cannot take more than 18 credits without college approval.  To receive approval,  students must petition their advising dean. Students whose GPA the previous semester was 3.0 or higher may take up to 22 credits without petitioning. To take more than 22 credits, they must petition the Academic Records Committee.
  • Underhours: First-semester freshmen and students experiencing unexpected personal or health challenges may petition the college to be enrolled in fewer than 12 credits. Any student considering dropping below 12 academic credits should discuss their situation with their advising dean before doing so. Any student who goes underhours without college approval is not in good standing and will receive a dean’s warning at the end of the semester. Being underhours without permission will disqualify a student from inclusion on the Dean’s List and may adversely affect financial aid or visa status.