Academic Policies

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 The Essential Guide to Academic Integrity at Cornell (which includes Cornell's Code of Academic Integrity), 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

You maintain good academic standing for each semester if you successfully complete the minimum criteria for credits and semester GPA, and are also making reasonable progress toward meeting your overall degree requirements.

To maintain good academic standing for each semester, you must:

  1. Successfully complete at least 12 academic credits by the end of the semester
  2. Attain a semester GPA of at least 2.0 or better
  3. Be admitted into a major by the end of the summer following the sophomore year
  4. Complete two First-Year Writing Seminars during the first four semesters
  5. Achieve 60 and 90 credits by the end of the sophomore and junior years, respectively (to facilitate graduating within eight semesters)

Note: courses listed under non-academic courses do not count toward good academic standing in a semester.

Students who do not meet one or more of the above academic criteria in a given semester will have their records reviewed by the Academic Records Committee at the end of the semester. This may result in an academic action such as warning or probation. Students in more serious difficulty may be put on a required leave of absence for one semester or for one year.

Adding and Dropping Courses

After the pre-enrollment period, you may not adjust your schedule until just prior to the new semester start during the general add/drop period. Both the university and college provide calendars with key academic dates for add, drop and withdrawal deadlines each semester. It is your responsibility as the student to be aware of and abide by these deadlines.

  • Adding a regular term course can be done during the first 15 calendar days of the semester (with the exception of specific courses with special deadlines).
  • Dropping a regular term course can be done in the first 57 days of the semester, if no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Dropping a course removes it from the academic transcript.
  • Deadlines for short courses will be adjusted according to the length of the courses.
  • After the 57th day, and by the withdrawal deadline (which is published each term in the college academic calendar), you may petition the college to withdraw from a course, if no issue of academic integrity is at stake. Courses officially withdrawn after the 57th day will be noted on the transcript with 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 published deadlines, except in exceptional circumstances.

Note: a student who has been charged with violating the Code of Academic Integrity in a course may not drop that course without the express written permission of the course instructor(s) unless the student has been cleared of the charges.

The effective date of all course changes will be the day the student submits all necessary and completed paperwork to the A&S Registrar’s Office.

Dean's List

Effective Fall 2023 - Spring 2024:

Cornell University is phasing out individual school and college Dean’s Lists. The Dean’s List designation will not be applicable to undergraduate students matriculating in Summer 2023 and beyond. The Dean’s List will be discontinued for all students at the end of the Spring 2026 semester.

Dean’s List citations are presented each semester to Arts & Sciences students who have exemplary academic records. For 2023–2024, the requirement is a minimum semester GPA of 3.600 (without rounding); no failing, unsatisfactory, missing, or incomplete grades in any class, and at least 15 letter-grade credits (not S/U). For students earning Dean’s List, the honor will appear on their official transcript for the corresponding term.

Students may earn Dean’s List retroactively within one-year of that term after making up an incomplete grade or by resolving a missing grade. It is the student’s responsibility to contact Arts & Sciences Student Services if any grade change makes them eligible for a prior term Dean’s List.

Overhours or Underhours

To maintain good academic standing as a full-time student, students must complete at least 12 academic credits per semester. Physical education and some other courses do not count as academic credits. See this list of courses that do not count as academic or degree credit.

  • Overhours: All students in good standing with the College may enroll in a maximum of 22 credits. Students who are on a warning or probationary status from the previous term may only enroll in a maximum of 18 credits.  If, for compelling personal or academic reasons, students who seek to be overhours and enroll in more than 18 or 22 total credits, must submit a petition to the college for approval. Students who fail to receive college approval for overhours may count only 18 or 22 credits toward the degree for that semester.

    Please note that requests for enrolling in more than 22 credits will only be approved in cases of extenuating circumstances (i.e. for a senior who requires the credits in order to graduate on time).

    In order to facilitate a successful transition to undergraduate study, it is recommended that entering first-year students take no more than 18 credits in their first term.

  • Underhours: First-semester freshmen and students experiencing unexpected personal or health challenges may end up being enrolled in fewer than 12 credits. Any student considering dropping below 12 academic credits should discuss their situation with an advisor before doing so. Students who complete fewer than 12 academic credits in a semester will have their records reviewed by the Academic Records Committee at the end of the semester. Students should be aware that enrollment under 12 credits may impact financial aid or visa status and should also consult with the appropriate offices before changing enrollment.

Leaves of Absence

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. Leaves requested prior to the start of the term incur no tuition charges and you may apply to return in the subsequent semester. If you are experiencing difficulties and choose to take a leave after the semester has begun up until the drop deadline you will incur partial tuition and other university charges, but your courses will be dropped from your record without W’s. You may apply to return in the subsequent term.

    Leaves requested after the university drop deadline will result in W’s on all your courses (with the exception of partial term courses already completed) and you will not be able to return until after one full semester away. Additional conditions may also be placed on your return.  
  • Health: To initiate a health leave you must consult Cornell Health Services. The college will readmit you from a health leave only upon the recommendation of Cornell Health. If you are in academic difficulty when you initiate a health leave, the college may stipulate additional conditions for your return. Incomplete courses should be resolved before you return.

All leaves will expire after five years and result in a permanent withdrawal from the college. 

Requesting a leave: For more information and the full leave of absence policy, please reference the Courses of Study. You may wish to make an appointment with your advising dean to discuss your motives and plans for your leave. 

To submit your request for a voluntary personal leave, please use the university online leave and withdrawal form. A leave submitted prior to the start of the term will not incur any tuition liability. Consult the Tuition Refund Policy in the Courses of Study to assess the tuition charges that would accrue if you initiate a leave after semester classes have begun.

Returning from Leave

When you are ready to request a return from a voluntary or required academic leave, please complete the Return from Leave form and, where appropriate, provide documentation that all conditions for returning have been satisfied including Bursar holds.

If you are ready to return from a Health Leave, you will need to contact Cornell Health and work with the Health Leaves Coordinator to initiate your return process.

To facilitate pre-enrollment, a request for return should be received by the college by March 1st for the fall semester or October 1st for the spring semester.

Earning credit while on leave: For information on earning credit while on leave, visit the transferring credits page.

After a prolonged time away: If you have been withdrawn from Cornell or have taken an extended break from your education that is longer than five years but want to finish your degree, Student Services staff can assist you with identifying your remaining requirements. To begin the process, please email us at