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College of Arts and Sciences

Departments & Programs

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Department or Program

Africana Studies & Research Center

Africana studies is a tradition of intellectual inquiry and study of African peoples. Using a transdisciplinarian approach, Africana scholars document the global migrations and reconstruction of African peoples, as well as patterns of linkages to the African continent (and among the peoples of the African Diaspora). Having perhaps the most international faculty on the Cornell campus, all professors represent the three regions of the African Diaspora: Africa, African America, and African Caribbean - the three foci of Africana Studies. In addition to the faculty, the Africana Studies and Research Center is comprised of nationally and internationally-recognized scholars and educators; socially-conscious intellectuals; and students representing each of Cornell's undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges.

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American Studies Program

The Program in American Studies offers an interdisciplinary study of the United States and the many ways to interpret the American experience. The program explores the themes, trends and patterns that characterize the American past and present using multiple perspectives and methodologies. You create your own path through the major, which includes courses in history, politics, popular culture, visual studies, law, literature, race and ethnic studies, etc.


Anthropology is the study of the human condition from the deep past to the emerging present. The field is unified by its commitment to engaged field research that seeks to enhance understanding across boundaries of culture, nation, language, tradition, history and identity. A holistic discipline, anthropology regards economy, politics, culture and society as inseparable elements of humanity’s complex long-term history. A bridge between the humanities, social, and natural sciences, anthropology documents the diversity of our communities and examines the consequences of our commonalities. Because it engages directly with communities around the world, anthropology has a unique capacity to bring the entire human experience to bear on vital questions of sustainability, equality, and mutual understanding that will shape the future of the planet.

Cornell’s Department of Anthropology is one of the most respected programs in the world with a long tradition of innovation and a legacy of leadership in the discipline. The work of its faculty traces the human career from the emergence of the species to the formation of 21st century post-colonialism. Our ethnographic, archaeological and biological research links empirical observations to critical theoretical approaches. Key themes in ongoing research projects and teaching profiles include: medicine and culture; politics, inequality and sovereignty; economy, finance, corporations and law; materiality and aesthetics; gender, personhood and identity; ethics and humanitarianism; humans and animals; colonialism and post-coloniality. Our students and faculty work around the globe from Ithaca, India and Indonesia to the Caribbean and Central America, from Japan, Africa and Nepal to China and the Caucasus, from the circumpolar North to the Global South. The Anthropology Collections, housed in McGraw Hall and used in a range of courses, include over 20,000 ethnographic and archaeological objects whose origins span the globe and represent over 500,000 years of human history.

Archaeology Program

The Archaeology Program was founded in 1967. Cornell is one of the few universities in the United States that offers a separate archaeology major in addition to its graduate program. The program also offers a new post doc in archaeology. Our faculty's specialties range from studies of early peoples to the historic 19th century, within the following departments and programs: American Indian studies, anthropology, classics, earth and atmospheric sciences, historic preservation, history of art and visual studies, landscape architecture, and Near Eastern studies. Archaeology at Cornell is particularly strong in the eastern Mediterranean area, and in the Americas (both pre- and post-Columbian). Some members of the program also are active participants in area studies programs, and faculty and students routinely work with other programs and departments. Faculty members are involved in long-term research projects in Cyprus, Greece, Honduras, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Turkey and in New York State.

Asian American Studies Program

At the time of its founding in 1987, the Asian American Studies Program at Cornell University was the first such program in the Ivy League. Today the program has faculty members in the humanities and social sciences in a variety of departments in the College of Arts & Sciences, teaching students from across the University. This cross-college, university-wide position accommodates the extensive teaching and research interests of the Program's faculty and reflects the breadth of the vibrant field of Asian American studies in general. In the classroom, in scholarship, and through campus and community advocacy, the Program is committed to examining the histories and experiences; identities, social and community formations; politics; and contemporary concerns of people of Asian ancestry in the United States and other parts of the Americas.

Asian Studies

The Department of Asian Studies serves as the institutional center of Cornell's diverse research and teaching interests, strengths and potentials in Asia. It is the home for instruction in the languages, literatures, religions, cultures, and intellectual histories of Asian societies and is one of the few departments in America that offers instruction in social sciences, the humanities and languages across all three regions of Asia: East Asia (China, Japan and Korea), Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore), and South Asia (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh). The professorial faculty members are a multi-disciplinary group in the humanities who conduct research and teach on topics arranged under our rubrics of "Literature & Linguistics," "Religion," and "Society & Culture," as well as offering more broad courses under the "General Education" heading and more specialized courses such as honors or graduate seminars. Associated faculty throughout the university teach courses about the politics, economics, history, culture and contemporary development of Asian regions. Faculty members at the rank of senior lecturer, lecturer and teaching associate offer instruction in 14 modern Asian languages, and the department also offers instruction in five classical Asian languages (Sanskrit, Pali, Literary Chinese, Literary Japanese and Literary Vietnamese).

The department works with Asian specialists of all disciplines across campus, who collectively comprise the East, South and Southeast Asia area studies programs. Undergraduate students can major in Asian studies or minor in East Asian studies, South Asian studies or Southeast Asian studies. The department is home to two graduate programs: Asian Studies (MA) and Asian Literature, Religion, and Culture (MA/PhD).


The Department of Astronomy is one of the leading centers for astronomical research in the world. Areas of research include cosmology, exoplanets, planetary science, the interstellar medium, galaxies and stars (including black holes, white dwarfs and neutron stars). The department places strong emphasis on the participation of students in ongoing research projects. It strives to foster an interdisciplinary approach to solving astronomical problems and maintains strong ties with other departments. Many undergraduate and graduate alumni of Cornell astronomy have become leaders in the field.

Cornell astronomers have played major roles in NASA missions to explore the solar system and distant universe. This commitment continues today, with Cornell astronomers leading the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) mission and playing integral roles in the Cassini mission to Saturn, its moons and environs. Cornell planetary scientists are intimately involved in planning and executing the next generation of spacecraft missions to explore the solar system.

Selected examples of current research topics (among many) include: the study of methane lakes on Titan, determination of the spectral signature of earth-like planets around other worlds, searching for gravitational waves by observing a network of pulsars, the migration of planets in exoplanet systems, the nature and origin of features in Saturn’s rings, and the structure and physical conditions of the earliest galaxies in the Universe.

The Department is home to the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Research (CCAPS) and the Carl Sagan Institute (for exoplanet and planetary research).

Center for the Study of Inequality

Cornell University's Center for the Study of Inequality (CSI) is devoted to understanding patterns, causes, and consequences of social and economic inequalities of many different forms. It supports cutting-edge research on inequality, trains undergraduate and graduate students, encourages the exchange of ideas among researchers, and disseminates research findings to a broader public.

CSI is based in the Sociology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences and has over 100 faculty affiliates in other departments within the College and across campus. CSI’s affiliates study and teach courses on a range of topics, including educational attainment and school-to-work transitions; inequalities in wages, income, wealth, health, and civic engagement; poverty and anti-poverty policy; intergenerational mobility and equality of opportunity; residential segregation and spatial differences in attainment; inequalities by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and identity, religion, age, disability status, and other social differences; the politics of inequality and the inequality of politics; and the relationship between global political, economic, and environmental changes and inequality.

Chemistry & Chemical Biology

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology offers a full range of courses in physical, organic, inorganic, analytical, theoretical, materials, bioorganic, bioinorganic and biophysical chemistry. The department recognizes that the link between teaching and research is a vital one in the continuously evolving field of chemistry, and ensures that students will be provided with the most advanced information and perspectives through its faculty's dual commitment to teaching and to research. In addition to facilities in nuclear magnetic resonance and x-ray crystallography, the department houses The National Biomedical Research Center for AdvanCed ESR Technology (ACERT), which develops and applies methods and theory of modern electron spin resonance.

China & Asia-Pacific Studies Program

A "revolutionary" undergraduate major at Cornell University, CAPS is a program designed to train future leaders who are equipped to address the inevitable challenges and negotiate the delicate complexities in the various domains of U.S.-China relations. With four years of intensive Chinese language training and two semesters of internships in Washington, D.C., and Beijing respectively, the unique and ambitious program offers CAPS majors unprecedented pre-professional training mapped onto a solid Cornell liberal arts education.


The Department of Classics at Cornell is one of the oldest and largest in the country. It offers training at all levels in the languages, literature, philosophy, culture, art, archaeology and history of ancient Greece and Rome.

The department promotes first-hand involvement in the ancient world, ranging from productions of ancient plays through participation in Cornell-sponsored archaeological projects. Courses involve direct engagement with material culture using Cornell's collections of ancient coins and of reproductions of sculptures, inscriptions and other ancient objects. Many students participate directly in the discovery and study of ancient material cultures by working in the dendrochronology laboratory on campus, or on material from Cornell-sponsored excavations in the Mediterranean region.

Cognitive Science Program

The interdisciplinary Cognitive Science Program at Cornell supports connections to psychology, computer science, linguistics, human development, philosophy, neurobiology, iInformation science, mathematics, computational vision, and computational linguistics.

Throughout the academic year the Cognitive Science program offers undergraduate and graduate minors; an international lecture series; Sprocket, the Cog Sci Film Series held each spring in conjunction with COGST 1101: Introduction to Cognitive Science; graduate and undergraduate travel grants; and the year-end Grad Convo luncheon, held every May.

Students and faculty are encouraged to attend our extracurricular programs in order to facilitate interesting and intellectual discussions and to gain exposure to a variety of related fields.

Comparative Literature

The Department of Comparative Literature provides a broad range of courses in European and non-European literatures, offering a full, rich, global view of world literature and cultures. In cooperation with related departments in the humanities, the departmental offerings reflect current interdisciplinary approaches to literary study, such as hermeneutics, semiotics, deconstruction, cultural criticism, Marxism, reception aesthetics, feminism and psychoanalysis.

The department benefits from close ties with Cornell's Society for the Humanities, a center of teaching, research and lectures that provides a unique, historic catalyst for critical and theoretical reflection on campus. The department also has vital connections to the School of Criticism and Theory, a six-week summer program based at Cornell that features leading figures in critical thought, as well as to the Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), a Cornell research institute dedicated to reflection on the global and plural nature of modernities.

Cornell Cinema

Cornell Cinema has been cited as one of the best campus film exhibition programs in the country, screening close to 200 titles each year, many in conjunction with academic courses. Films are shown five to seven nights a week in the historic Willard Straight Theatre, which is open to the public. Each semester-long schedule features work from the breadth of cinema: silent films with live accompaniment; cult and canonical repertory titles; contemporary Hollywood, documentary, international, art-house, and experimental work; as well as visiting filmmakers, panel discussions, and faculty & graduate student introductions.

Begun in 1970 as a university film society, Cornell Cinema has adapted to address the changing exhibition landscape and to remain vital to campus culture. Throughout its 50-year history the program's primary mission has been educational, with a secondary purpose of providing affordable entertainment for the Cornell & Ithaca communities. 

Cornell Cinema collaborates with departments and academic programs across campus, many within the College of Arts & Sciences, and has always attracted a diverse range of students studying a broad cross-section of fields throughout the University.

Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) is the study of the patterns and processes that structure ecological systems and drive evolutionary change.  Understanding the interactions between organisms and their environments is both fascinating and critical for solving environmental problems.  As ecologists, we study natural populations, communities and ecosystems and the links among them. As evolutionists we elucidate the past history of natural assemblages and how organisms respond to changing environments. And as organismal biologists we seek to understand how plants, animals and microbes function in relation to their environment. We delight in interacting with students; we integrate undergraduate and graduate education, and foster communication between science and society.

The department makes use of field research sites (from lakes to forests and fields to the ocean coast; locally, nationally and around the world), museum collections (we manage the Cornell Museum of Vertebrates), and modern laboratory facilities (we manage the Cornell Isotope Laboratory and the Evolutionary Genomics Core Facility). Undergraduates in EEB have opportunities to participate in laboratory and field-based research across a broad array of ecological and evolutionary projects.


In 2011, Cornell took the extraordinary step of creating an expanded and improved Department of Economics, combining economics and labor economics faculty from the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Industrial & Labor Relations as well as a set of distinguished senior faculty from around campus.

The economics department offers the study of human behavior in many settings—at the household, market and aggregate levels. Economics is more than a set of questions, but rather is a mode of thought, a set of precise analytical tools that can be used to study a wide variety of social science problems. Students are introduced to these tools in the core methodology courses of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics. With these tools in hand, students are then able to study a wide variety of topics including labor-market outcomes, the role of the banking sector, the economics of developing countries, international trade, the role of the public sector and of the political process, economic history and the study of health and education. In addition, students have the option for advanced methodological study in dynamic optimization, game theory and econometrics.


The Department of English embraces new approaches to literary study while maintaining traditional strengths in creative writing and the history of literature in English. In seminars and lecture courses, the department seeks to foster critical thinking, close reading, and lucid writing, while offering instruction in a wide range of genres, periods and traditions, from Medieval and Renaissance literature to contemporary US and global fiction.

The professors of English include scholars, theorists, poets, and novelists. In addition to having access to a world-class library system, students can participate in many interdisciplinary opportunities on campus. Lively series of speakers, readings, colloquia and conferences provide a context for sustained learning and debate within the humanities.

Environment & Sustainability Program

Cornell's program in Environment and Sustainability (E&S) is guided by a single principle: understanding and resolving environmental problems requires an interdisciplinary approach.  This cross-college program supports the Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (ESS) undergraduate major available in both the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. The ESS major provides environmental science and environmental studies curricula under one umbrella in two Cornell colleges.

ESS offers students breadth and depth in a wide range of courses pertaining to the environment and sustainability.  All students complete a set of foundation courses (Core Curriculum), after which students tailor their upper-division courses by selecting one of six concentrations.  Enough flexibility remains for students to study abroad, engage in research or pursue other opportunities offered by Cornell.

Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program

The Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program offers students the opportunity to study a wide range of fields from the perspectives of feminist and LGBTQIA critical analysis, in a global context and with the purpose of promoting social justice. Students will learn how gender and sexuality are socially constructed, what these terms mean in various contexts, and how these concepts are used to support social and political institutions. They will also learn how critical analysis and creative questioning of these concepts can help to reshape those institutions.

Students will use the skills they learn in our classes to engage with such disciplines as anthropology, performing and media arts, English literature, Africana studies, comparative literature, Romance studies, music, Asian studies, industrial and labor relations (ILR), science and technology studies, sociology, government, history, history of art and many more. Because of the program’s interdisciplinary focus, our majors are often double majors, and go on to pursue careers in law, medicine or public health, development and international aid, media, research and community activism.

All majors and minors take courses in three key distribution areas of the program: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies (LGBT); the study of intersecting structures of oppression including race, ethnicity and class (ISO); and global perspectives on feminism, gender and sexuality (GLO). These three areas assure that students understand a wider range of issues concerning sexuality and gender identity, the connection of human rights and social justice concerns across identities that are often represented as separate, and the global contexts for all of these discussions.

French Studies Program

The French Studies Program at Cornell, with the support of the College of Arts & Sciences, was established thanks to a grant from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy designating Cornell University as a "Centre Interdisciplinaire." The program promotes teaching and research on the French and Francophone worlds and serves as a resource center for teachers of French in upstate New York. Throughout the academic year, the program organizes lectures, colloquia, and other events dealing with various aspects of France and the Francophone countries (art, culture, thought and society). The French Studies Program actively contributes to creative and collective research from all the disciplines at Cornell. In inviting innovative and distinguished speakers from different countries, the program favors an atmosphere of intellectual exchange between undergrads, graduate students and scholars on campus.

German Studies

The Department of German Studies offers students a wide variety of opportunities to explore the language, literature and culture of German-speaking countries. Courses are offered in English translation as well as in German, with subjects ranging from medieval to contemporary literature and include studies of film, visual culture, intellectual history, music, psychology and women's studies. The department also offers opportunities to explore Dutch and Swedish language.

The department is home to New German Critique, a leading journal that is devoted to publishing research on German culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, with particular focus on the history and theory of literature, theatre, media, intellectual history and the graphic arts. Students also have the opportunity as part of Cornell's Study Abroad program to attend the renowned Berlin Consortium for German Studies. The department works closely with the U.S.A.-Interns program to provide qualified students summer internships with German companies and agencies. All Cornell students are eligible to apply for a Certificate in German Language Study, which formally recognizes their study beyond the third semester (GERST 2000) of German language in the Department of German Studies.


Cornell's Department of Government is devoted to the study of how political power is shaped by institutions, and channeled and challenged by civic engagement, in local, national and international contexts. The faculty offers students a diverse field of study ranging from the analysis of the great texts of political philosophy to game theoretical approaches to politics, and from political economy to the examination of the behavior of decision makers and publics in the United States and other societies.

The government department offers students a variety of opportunities to engage with politics and political science, beginning in the classroom with the hands-on learning of different analytical approaches such as survey research, political psychology and the close reading of texts; with the chance to work one-on-one with faculty in the honors program or as research assistants; by participating in internships in Washington, D.C. through the Cornell in Washington Program; and drawing on the department's ties with programs across the College of Arts and Sciences with a focus on regions of the world, peace studies, and ethics and public life.


The Department of History is committed to pursuing excellence in historical scholarship and teaching across many different time periods and research interests. Its outstanding faculty specializes in a wide array of historical issues and themes that transcend particular regions and periods. Courses connect undergraduate and graduate students with the excitement of historical discovery and provide a rigorous training in researching and analyzing the human past.

The department thrives on its close relationship with many other departments, centers and area studies programs in the humanities and social sciences at Cornell. The faculty includes more than a dozen prize-winning authors as well as winners of Cornell’s prestigious teaching and advising awards.

History of Art & Visual Studies

The Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University prepares students to undertake journeys into visual culture through traditional areas of study such as ancient, Medieval and Renaissance art, as well as through the integration of recent fields of theory and research. Students explore the history of cultural interactions as manifested in visual culture both inside and outside the West, from antiquity to present. The department encourages the crossing not only of geographic but also disciplinary borders through exploration of a wide range of fields including architecture, urban planning, critical and post-colonial theory, media studies, the sciences and social history.

Courses are offered in conjunction with the Herbert F. Johnson Museum, such as The Museum and the Object and the Exhibition Seminar. In addition, the History of Art Majors' Society provides undergraduate art history majors or prospective art history majors the opportunity to organize an art exhibition. The group coordinates an exhibition annually at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Students curate, work on funding and compose a catalogue. Each year the department sponsors the Visual Culture Colloquium, a research and discussion forum; the Graduate Student Symposium; and The Ruth Woolsey Findley and William Nichols Findley History of Art Lecture Series.

Institute for Comparative Modernities

The Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM) addresses the transnational scope of the modern in its multifarious engagement over centuries with capitalism, and colonialism, and follows their ramifications in the present.  With an emphasis on developments outside of the historically constituted hegemonic spaces of Europe and the United States, ICM promotes the study of multiple axes of artistic, intellectual and social movements and the struggles attending the emergence of modern institutions and forms of knowledge. Such an orientation involves both attention to counterclaims of sovereignity and resistance that constitute the extended history of decolonization, and also serious attention to conflicts and critique within the West. Crucial to the ICM’s mission is inquiry into epistemologies and paradigms emerging from non-hegemonic societies and spaces.

The Institute hopes to galvanize work in this direction by encouraging cross-disciplinary collaborative research that advances a global analysis of modernity that is also grounded in geographical and historical specificity.

The Institute brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from the humanities and the social sciences who are interested in the issue of comparative/global modernities. It aims to contribute to the intellectual environment at Cornell and beyond through seminars, lecture series, symposia, and publications, and by encouraging related on-going initiatives and research projects. While the ICM’s programming, on the whole, engages the entire Cornell community, the Institute has also developed more focused initiatives directed toward two constituencies in particular—faculty at an early stage of their careers at Cornell, and graduate students.

The Institute fosters new scholarship in the area of comparative modernities, and helps faculty advance in their academic development. In order to promote the scholarly research of collaborating colleagues and outside speakers, the ICM has developed a publication series that provides a venue for the Institute’s initiatives (conferences, workshops, etc).

The ICM also seeks to provide greater opportunities for graduate students from across the campus to engage each other through interdisciplinary and collaborative research working groups. To that end, the Institute provides meeting space as well as seed money for the establishment and the maintenance of several graduate student research working groups a year. Graduate students are encouraged to organize research working groups that include a minimum of six participants, from at least two different disciplines. The funding provided by the Institute sustains a year-long project (renewal for a second year is possible in some instances). The project culminates in a public presentation of the group’s research (the form of such a presentation is determined in large part by the group itself).

The Institute hosts international scholars and artists in an effort to foster greater international intellectual and artistic exchange. Scholars and artists are brought to campus to engage with the Cornell community either as part of an in-residence program, or as participants in conferences, workshops, collaborative projects, or formal and informal interaction with students

Institute for German Cultural Studies

The Institute for German Cultural Studies (IGCS) is a research-oriented initiative designed both to recognize extraordinary cross-disciplinary strengths in the study of German culture at Cornell University and to foster lively scholarly exchange pertaining to the interdisciplinary study of German intellectual life from the medieval era to the present. Events ranging from large conferences, bi-weekly colloquia, focal workshops, special lectures, a faculty summer seminar co-sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and an artist-in-residence program create a vibrant intellectual forum for deepening our understanding of German culture in its own right and in its broad significance for critical inquiry throughout the humanities and social sciences. Participants include scholars, students, teachers and community members engaged in diverse fields throughout the humanities and social sciences, and they additionally reflect international partnerships with selected universities in Germany. Transnational influences on German culture in earlier historical periods and our current age of globalization increasingly inform our discussions as well.

The IGCS regularly brings together thoughtful innovators and diverse audiences to advance the critical enterprise of interdisciplinary German Studies and to consider how knowledge of German-speaking cultures can enhance our grasp of cultural formations, intellectual history, literary studies, visual studies and media arts, and political constellations. Devoted in part to mentoring graduate students in their professional development, the IGCS additionally provides undergraduate students with a rich palette of activities and opportunities to expand their intellectual horizons and international perspectives through the multi-faceted study of German culture. The Institute for German Cultural Studies is above all a lively venue for serious, shared and interdisciplinary reflection on what it means to study German intellectual and cultural life.

Jewish Studies Program

The Jewish Studies Program ensures that the richness of Jewish culture and its impact on civilization are vigorously presented to the Cornell community. The program offers training in the languages, literature, and history of the Jewish people, as these developed across the globe and over thousands of years. It also focuses on the tense and productive relation between Jews and their various others. Jewish studies course offerings cover Jewish civilization from its ancient Near Eastern origins through its contemporary history. The program is interdisciplinary, and serves as a common address for faculty from an array of departments, such as Near Eastern studies, English, history, anthropology, German studies, government, comparative literature, and linguistics.

The Jewish Studies Program offers a minor, and provides instruction and specialization in the fields of Semitic languages; the Hebrew Bible; medieval and modern Hebrew literature and film; ancient, medieval and modern Jewish history; Holocaust Studies; Jewish ethnography; and Yiddish culture.

John S. Knight Institute

The John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines at Cornell University supports writing seminars and writing intensive courses in a broad spectrum of academic disciplines and at all levels of undergraduate education; it also engages in a variety of outreach activities.

The Knight Institute coordinates the First-Year Writing Seminar Program, which serves the vast majority of first-year students at Cornell. It also has developed advanced-writing initiatives: it coordinates Writing in the Majors, an upper-level program, and supports English 2880/2890: Expository Writing. The Knight Institute is also home to the Writing Workshop, which offers tutorial writing classes and tutoring services. In all, more than thirty-five academic departments and programs offer courses associated with the Knight Institute's programs.

As support for its programs, the Knight Institute offers developmental programs and training. Faculty and graduate students who will teach First-Year Writing Seminars or who will offer courses associated with Writing in the Majors may participate in the Faculty Seminar for Writing Instruction, in Writing 7100: Teaching Writing, or in Writing 7101: Writing in the Majors. Other programs are also available.

Among its outreach efforts the Knight Institute includes the Cornell Consortium for Writing in the Disciplines, an annual June gathering of nine institutions from the United States and abroad. The Knight Institute hosted the Fourth National Writing Across the Curriculum Conference.

Language Resource Center

The Language Resource Center (LRC) is a hub for language innovation and collaboration at Cornell University. Its mission is to connect, support, and empower language learners and teachers. The LRC provides flexible physical and virtual spaces, facilitates access to resources, and advocates best practices.

The LRC is a member of the Shared Course Initiative, a collaboration between Columbia, Cornell, and Yale universities to share instruction of less commonly taught languages across distance. It is also a member of the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning an association of five institutions of higher education dedicated to the study and instruction of second languages at the post-secondary level. 

In a support capacity for language programs at Cornell, the LRC offers professional development and training opportunities for faculty and students. The center supports language educators in materials development and offers grants for effective and innovative projects that enhance language instruction at Cornell. Other pedagogically-focused projects include the LRC Speaker Series and the LRC podcast, Speaking of Language. Learning-centered resources include weekly conversation hours in a variety of languages, Foreign Languages Across The Curriculum (FLAC) and Jumpstart courses in collaboration with most Colleges on campus, and online interactive learning exercises and materials.

The LRC collaborates with other units and programs on campus to support and advocate for language and culture learning on campus and in the area.

The LRC is located on the ground floor of Stimson Hall.

Latina/o Studies Program

Latinas/os are reshaping the United States, the Americas and beyond, and transforming the landscape of higher education. Humanities and social science scholars affiliated with the Latina/o Studies Program at Cornell focus on diverse Latino communities in the United States, and engage questions about community histories, im/migration, politics, labor, education, language and identity, health, literature, art and performance.

Drawn to the excitement of an emergent academic and interdisciplinary field of study, undergraduate and graduate students from many different majors are choosing to minor in Latina/o Studies. A focus on diverse U.S. Latino communities is highly relevant to many professions and careers—including medicine and health, law, social policy, education (community-based, school and adult), government, business and many other areas. A majority of Latina/o Studies Program courses are drawn from anthropology, history, government, English, comparative literature, sociology, performing and media studies, music and other departments across the university which offer courses that are cross-listed with the program.

The Latina/o Studies Program undergraduate and graduate minor is available to all students in any college at Cornell.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Studies Program

The field of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies is devoted to the investigation of the complexities of sexuality and its importance to the organization of social relations more generally. Primary among its concerns is also the study of the lives, the politics and the creative work of sexual and gender minorities. LGBT Studies is founded on the premise that the social organization of sexuality is best studied from interdisciplinary perspectives. At present, the program includes courses using a variety of methodological tools and disciplinary approaches: anthropological, psychological, sociological, biological, political, historical, literary, musical and artistic. LGBT Studies offers an undergraduate minor and a graduate minor. While LGBT Studies intersects with the critical principles of the Program in Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, courses that qualify for the LGBT minor will concentrate on questions pertaining to how sexuality and the discourse of sexual minorities and majorities, and normative and non-normative sexual practices, are mobilized in formations of power, knowledge, sociality, and subjectivity.


Linguistics, the systematic study of human language, lies at the crossroads of the humanities and the social sciences, drawing on a special combination of intuition and rigor that the analysis of language demands. With its further goal to model the cognitive mechanisms for acquiring and storing the knowledge of language, linguistics is also closely related to the cognitive sciences.

The department’s focus spans most of the major subfields of linguistics, with particular strengths in areas of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics, as well as computational linguistics, historical linguistics and language documentation. Our department integrates a strong theoretical emphasis with experimental approaches and careful attention to language description and documentation. The Cornell Phonetics Laboratory is fully equipped and provides an integrated environment for the experimental study of speech and language, including its production, perception and acquisition. The Computational Linguistics Lab supports theoretical and applied work in the area of computational modeling.


The Department of Mathematics at Cornell University is known throughout the world for its distinguished faculty and stimulating mathematical atmosphere. Approximately 40 tenured and tenure-track faculty represent a broad spectrum of current mathematical research both theoretical and applied. The faculty interests cover the core areas of algebra, topology, geometry and analysis, as well as probability theory, mathematical statistics, dynamical systems, mathematical logic and numerical analysis.

The graduate program combines study and research opportunities for more than 70 graduate students from many different countries. The undergraduate program includes a mathematics minor and a flexible mathematics major with seven different concentrations. In addition, the department offers a wide selection of courses for all types of users of mathematics.

The department also engages in community outreach, providing a variety of programs for local high school students and teachers.

Medieval Studies Program

The Program in Medieval Studies combines the best aspects of an interdisciplinary program with the focused training required for academic careers in a variety of traditional disciplines. The program’s faculty members are drawn from nearly every humanities department at Cornell, offering expertise in disciplines and area studies spanning more than a millennium of languages and cultures—from Old and Middle English literature to Byzantine monuments, from Icelandic sagas to Andalusian architecture, from medieval Latin literature and philosophy to Islamic legal history.

Work in primary archival materials—including Latin and vernacular paleography, textual criticism, and codicology—is well supported by abundant library resources, as well as by faculty dedicated to these fields. Work in gender studies, medieval and modern literary theory, and the post-medieval reception and construction of the “Middle Ages” is also well supported by program faculty and by the full array of other departments and programs at Cornell. Resources for studying Latin and most medieval vernacular languages (including Germanic, Romance, Celtic, Slavonic, Semitic and East Asian languages) are a mainstay of the program. All of these offerings are encompassed within a flexible curriculum tailored to the needs of individual students.

Our diversity of faculty attracts exceptional graduate students from all areas of medieval studies and guides them to dissertations on a broad range of literatures, disciplines, contexts, and approaches. They also enjoy the benefits of carefully mentored training in pedagogical techniques and classroom skills. Students from many other doctoral programs at Cornell are closely involved in the Program in Medieval Studies, and they contribute to a lively and varied community of medievalists that spans Cornell’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity

The Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity combines a superb liberal arts education in Cornell's College of Arts & Sciences with cutting-edge programs and courses for undergraduates at Cornell Tech, Cornell's new  graduate campus in New York City on Roosevelt Island.

Its goal is to cultivate innovative and creative leaders across a broad spectrum of fields—leaders who are both tech-savvy and steeped in humanistic values. The Milstein Program builds upon the College of Arts & Sciences' long tradition of encouraging students to pursue the disciplines they love most—even if they might initially seem to be worlds apart.

Molecular Biology & Genetics

The Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics engages in cutting-edge research, training and teaching to solve basic questions in the life sciences and to apply biological knowledge to critical medical, agricultural and environmental problems. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of scientists, teachers and communicators by providing research mentorship and classroom instruction in biochemistry, bioinformatics, cell biology, genetics and molecular biology and by initiating and participating in collaborative research across the Cornell campuses.

The explosion of genome-scale data over the last decade offers unprecedented opportunities to understand fundamental principles of biology and to apply biological knowledge to critical medical, agricultural and environmental problems. Every day, faculty in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics (MBG) engage in cutting-edge research, training and teaching to advance scientific discovery and answer basic questions in the life sciences. MBG faculty and students continuously deliver the highest standard of research because of their demonstrated excellence in linking genomes to gene and protein function in the context of cells, tissues, organisms, and the environment.

Our goal is to inspire and train the next generation of scientists, teachers and communicators by providing research mentorship and classroom instruction in biochemistry, bioinformatics, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology and related disciplines and by initiating and participating in collaborative research across the Cornell campuses.


The Department of Music at Cornell provides opportunities for the study, creation, and performance of music under the guidance of a distinguished faculty within the broader framework of a B.A. degree in the College of Arts & Sciences, or as part of a degree in another college. In addition to the music major, a minor in music is offered. The Department of Music is renowned for research and scholarship in music, represented by three graduate programs: musicology (Ph.D.), composition (D.M.A), and critical keyboard studies (D.M.A).

Our recently redesigned music major enables undergraduate students to explore music covering diverse historical periods, styles and geographical areas. Students can study subjects ranging from 18th-century and 21st-century performance practices to Asian music, jazz, rock and composition. Hundreds of students participate in large performing ensembles such as orchestras, wind ensembles, gamelan, jazz ensembles, the Glee Club and Chorus, as well as chamber ensembles of all kinds. Our world-class facilities include the Sidney Cox Library, Bailey Performance Hall and the Electroacoustic Music Center.

Near Eastern Studies

The Department of Near Eastern Studies offers courses in the archaeology, history, languages and cultures of the Middle East, a region which has influenced the development of civilization and continues to play a vital role in today's world. Covering the ancient through modern periods, classes emphasize interdisciplinary analysis of the written and material records of the entire region. Some examples of Near Eastern studies include: Egyptian Civilization, Biblical Studies, Islamic Studies, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

The department excels in ancient and modern language instruction, especially Akkadian, Arabic, Biblical and modern Hebrew, Persian, Sumerian, and Turkish. Cornell’s world-class library has several collections dedicated to Near Eastern research—the Middle East and Islamic Studies Collection, the Jewish Studies Collection, among others—and students may partake of a wide range of Near Eastern lectures, colloquia, conferences, film screenings, concerts, dinners, and other events on campus.

Neurobiology & Behavior

The Department of Neurobiology and Behavior is dedicated to exploring, teaching and understanding the neural underpinnings and evolutionary forces that shape animal behavior. The interests of our faculty and students span all levels of organization, from single neurons to complex circuits to whole organisms and societies thereof, and include the impact of hormones and stress on learning and memory, the emergent properties that define behavioral states and govern complex tasks, and the evolution of cooperation, conflict and communication from solitary to highly social organisms.

The department offers a wide range of research opportunities in cellular and molecular neuroscience, systems neuroscience, computational neuroscience, neuroethology and endocrinology, behavioral, sensory and cognitive ecology, sociobiology, sexual selection, chemical ecology and the evolution of species boundaries. Our teaching mission is to integrate most of these themes into two flagship courses, BioNB 2210 (Introduction to Behavior) and BioNB 2220 (Introduction to Neuroscience), and to explore them in greater depth in our upper level courses. These traditional strengths in research and teaching, combined with the recent hires of exciting new faculty members, have positioned NBB as a leader in the emerging science of the brain.

Performing & Media Arts

The Department of Performing and Media Arts follows a liberal arts program that emphasizes creative thought, intellectual growth, and performance skills. The faculty and staff are accomplished professionals who embrace a philosophy of training and mentoring within the context of a liberal arts education. Faculty teach courses and train students across the following areas: theatre, performance studies, acting and directing, design (lighting, sound, scene, costume), stagecraft, cinema and media studies, film and media production (analog and digital), dance, spoken word, voice and movement, and other areas in performing and media arts.

The department is housed in Cornell’s elegant Schwartz Center, which boasts three theatre performance spaces, a dance theatre and studios, film editing and production suites, film forum, classrooms, and scenery and costume shops. Opportunities abound for students to present their work through the department’s Student Laboratory Theatre Company, Dance Program and student film screenings, as well as via numerous student organizations on campus. Students can also take advantage of Cornell Cinema, which has been cited as one of the best campus film exhibition programs in the country. Cornell Cinema includes a media study library with extensive reference materials, publications, a film collection, and frequent workshops and presentations by guest artists and critics.


Founded in 1891, Cornell's Sage School of Philosophy offers students the excitement that comes from understanding intellectual problems and the satisfaction involved in finding theoretical and applied solutions. Students become familiar with classic texts and theories in the history of thought while also developing analytical skills that are valuable in academic, professional and everyday life. Small classes and a collaborative, communal atmosphere are among the distinguishing features of the Sage School. In addition to coursework, extracurricular activities and events offer abundant opportunity for philosophical exchange within Cornell and the wider philosophical community. The university's extensive library system, with its nearly five million volumes, provides excellent coverage of scholarly works in all branches of philosophy—historical, analytical, phenomenological, Continental and comparative.

The faculty of the Sage School edits The Philosophical Review, also founded in 1891, and generally regarded as the best journal in philosophy. Logos: The Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy at Cornell is run by a group of undergraduate majors who work with an advisory board of professionals to solicit papers, award cash prizes for the best submissions, provide critical comments on drafts, publish an annual volume, and organize additional colloquia and undergraduate conferences.


Physics forms the intellectual core of the physical sciences. It examines the world through an analytical lens: providing insight into the fundamental building blocks of nature, the emergent behavior of complex systems, and the laws which govern the physical world. In addition to offering an exciting array of courses, Cornell's Department of Physics features world-class research in a wide variety of specializations, from biophysics and nanoscience to high energy physics, accelerator science and string theory. Undergraduates in physics have the opportunity to conduct research in these areas, as well as participate in teaching and community outreach activities.

Program on Ethics & Public Life

The Program on Ethics and Public Life (EPL) is a university-wide initiative, based in the Sage School of Philosophy, that promotes interdisciplinary learning about morally central questions concerning public policies and social, political and economic processes. EPL brings distinguished scholars in many fields from throughout the world to Cornell to address leading issues of vital ethical and political importance in public lectures, workshops and extensive informal discussions, including semester-long visitors series on such themes as "The Politics and Ethics of the Rise of China," "Deep Issues of the 2012 Elections: Equality, Liberty and Democracy," and "After the American Century: Hopes and Fear for America's Future." EPL reaches out beyond Cornell through free online videos, both documentaries and presentations of diverse views by leading scholars, as in the video series, "Where Is China Headed?" Initiatives for undergraduates include the Law and Society minor and courses at the intersection of ethics and public policy.


The Department of Psychology focuses on the investigation of behavior and its cognitive, neural and hormonal underpinnings in the full range of environmental situations. The dominant strengths of the department lie in the three broadly defined areas of perception, cognition, and development; behavioral and evolutionary neuroscience; and social and personality psychology.

Cornell offers substantial resources for psychological research, including excellent research space and laboratory equipment; state-of-the-art computer facilities; an outstanding library system that is one of the ten largest academic research libraries in North America; and a highly skilled support staff. Research facilities include animal housing rooms, histological and chemical preparation rooms, electrophysiological recording equipment, an extensive Social Psychology Laboratory, an infant behavior laboratory, several perception and cognition laboratories and laboratory-oriented software to support empirical research.

Religious Studies Program

In the Religious Studies Program, religious traditions are explored in all of their complexity through comparative, contextual (in specific historical or cultural contexts), and thematic studies. The courses offered through the program are built on the established scholarly tradition of the study of religion as an academic, as opposed to confessional, pursuit.

The Religious Studies Program, an undergraduate program in the College of Arts & Sciences, is designed to meet the needs of three classes of students: students planning to pursue advanced degrees in the academic study of religion or allied disciplines or sub-disciplines (e.g., history of religions, religion and literature, religion and psychology, ethics, theology, area studies); students seeking courses on topics relating to religion to fulfill distribution requirements: and students desiring a more systematic exposure to the academic study of religion as a significant component of a liberal arts education.

The program offers an excellent opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the complex ways in which religious traditions inform human thought and behavior. The program hosts lectures, conferences, symposia and periodic social gatherings for faculty members and students throughout the academic year to foster a sense of intellectual community.

Romance Studies

The Department of Romance Studies gives voice to the literatures and cultures of those parts of the world where French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish are or have been spoken. It offers students a broad range of opportunities for language acquisition, as well as the chance to become sophisticated interpreters of the literature, film, philosophy and material culture produced within and influenced by the Romance languages (i.e., those languages ultimately derived from the language spoken by the ancient Romans).

The classes are intimate, idea-driven, and student-centered. The Department of Romance Studies strives to create an atmosphere of intense intellectual engagement across linguistic and textual boundaries, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the wide array of on-campus lectures, events and resources available to them (including the Language House), as well as Cornell's extensive Study Abroad programs. The department is also home to diacritics, a distinguished journal of literary and cultural theory.

Science & Technology Studies

The Department of Science & Technology Studies (S&TS) at Cornell is concerned with understanding the larger ethical, social, and political dimensions of science-intensive issues. Science and technology are at the core of many of the most important concerns or topics of our day, from the control of military technology, to the ethics of assisted reproduction, to privacy on the Internet. The thread connecting these diverse issues is a shared understanding of science and technology as inherently social activities that are best studied from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The Department of Science & Technology Studies at Cornell is recognized internationally as a leader in the field. Its faculty has expertise in both historical and contemporary social studies of science and technology, and the department offers a variety of courses on the place of science and technology in the modern world.

Society for the Humanities

Cornell's Society for the Humanities was established in 1966 as one of the first humanities institutes in North America. Located in the historic home of Cornell's first president, Andrew Dickson White, the Society brings distinguished Visiting Fellows and Cornell Faculty and Graduate Student Fellows together each year to pursue research on a broadly inter-disciplinary focal theme. In addition to participating in our legendary Wednesday Fellows seminar, Fellows offer one experimental, innovative seminar on their research topic. The Society's presence at Cornell has fostered path-breaking interdisciplinary dialogue and theoretical reflection on the humanities at large with our internationally recognized Fellows. The Society is proud to sponsor numerous internal grants, workshops and funding opportunities for Cornell faculty and graduate students in the Humanities, as well as hosting over 100 annual lectures, workshops, colloquia and conferences organized by Cornell's distinguished humanities faculty.


Cornell’s Department of Sociology explores human social organization, institutions and groups. The department is known for the cutting-edge research of its faculty and for its exceptionally strong graduate and undergraduate training programs. It has a long-standing tradition of engaging and valuing theoretically driven empirical research. This approach to sociology uses sophisticated theoretical reasoning and rigorous methodological tools, many of which are developed by Cornell faculty, to answer fundamental questions about the social world, how it is organized and how it is changing. The department’s focus on basic science is complemented by a deep commitment to informing public and educational policy, particularly on issues related to gender and racial inequality, income inequality, poverty, drug use, economic development, school funding, organizational practices and race and ethnicity.

The sociology department also has close ties with the many other research centers on campus. Interdisciplinary research touches on subjects such as inequality, economics, social sciences, nonlinear systems, politics and social dynamics.