Key Terms

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Class Roster

The Class Roster provides detailed information on the meeting times and room location of all Cornell courses (including the different lectures, labs, and/or discussion sections for each course). You can browse courses by subject, or use the search function to find a particular course.

Courses of Study

Courses of Study catalogs Cornell’s academic programs and policies. It contains information about colleges, departmentsdegree requirements and policies, and course offerings. Browse the Arts & Sciences section of the website here.

Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS)

Each department at Cornell has a Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) – a faculty member who is available to advise students interested in that department’s major. Department websites will list the DUS’s contact (and sometimes, office hour) information.

Faculty Advisor

Every new student in the College of Arts & Sciences will be assigned to a faculty advisor and meet with him or her at the start of the semester. Faculty advisors help students plan programs of study and advise them about ways to achieve their academic goals – many students consult their faculty advisor throughout the semester. After you declare your major, usually as a sophomore, you will be assigned a faculty advisor in your major field who will advise you on the shaping and completion of your major. See also the "Your Advisors" section of this website.

Peer Advisor

Every new student in the College of Arts & Sciences will also be assigned to an A&S peer advisor, who will help you get settled and answer your questions about student life on campus.

Advising Dean

Advising deans are available in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Advising to help you define your academic and career goals and to assist you with academic problems.  Students are assigned to their advising dean by last name: find yours here.

Prerequisites ("Prereqs")

Most majors in the College have prerequisites or “prereqs” – one or more courses required, sometimes with minimum grades, before you may enter the major. Use department websites to familiarize yourself with the prereqs for the major(s) you want to explore.


Students make adjustments to their schedule by adding and dropping classes at the start of each semester. The “add deadline” falls in the 2nd week of the semester, and the “drop deadline” falls in the middle of the semester (this does not include PE classes, which must be dropped earlier). After the “add deadline” you must petition your advising dean to add a course. After the “drop deadline,” you may withdraw from a class by petition only until the week before the last day of class, and a “W” will appear on your transcript. You will be made aware of these deadlines during Orientation and throughout the semester – mark your calendar!

Grade Options

Most (but not all) courses at Cornell may be taken either for a letter grade or “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” (“S/U”). The "S/U' option allows students to explore unfamiliar subjects or take advanced courses in subjects new to them. Students generally should not take courses counting toward the major for 'S/U.' A grade of "S" is equivalent to a grade of 'C-" or higher (i.e. 'S/U" is not the same as “pass/fail”).

Good Standing

Students are in good academic standing for the semester if they:

  • Successfully complete at least 12 academic credits (See "Over/Underhours")
  • Attain a semester GPA of at least 2.0 (equivalent to averaging a C grade) on academic credit-bearing courses.
  • Make reasonable progress toward completion of college and university requirements. This means:
    • declaring a major by the end of the summer following the sophomore year;
    • completing First-Year Writing Seminars during the first four semesters;
    • and typically achieving 60 and 90 credits by the end of the sophomore and junior years, respectively (to facilitate graduating within eight semesters).

Students who are not in good academic standing will be considered for academic action by the college’s Academic Records Committee or by the advising dean.

Next: Some advice from our students