Declaration of Degree Candidacy, Majors, and Minors

  1. On or before December 1 of their sophomore year, students must make one of the following declarations in the Registrar's Office (those admitted with senior standing must make their declarations within the first three months after entering Cornell):
    1. declare themselves candidates for either the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Music degree by filing a Declaration of Major card;
    2. declare themselves candidates for the Bachelor of Special Studies degree by filing a Declaration of B.S.S. Degree card, and soon after that a completed Prospectus; or
    3. declare themselves unable to make a decision by filing for a Curriculum Advisor. Students may ask any faculty member to serve as their Curriculum Advisor. Under this arrangement, the advisor will work with the student to determine her or his academic and career goals and the best methods for achieving these.

    Sophomores who neglect to file their declarations on time will be subject to the regulations governing B.A. candidates and may be denied permission to register for their junior year. (See Degree Programs.)

  2. In all degree tracks, students are limited to some combination of majors and minors totaling no more than three. Only in the B.S.S. degree can this be a combination of three minors. Each of the other degrees requires at least one major. Students may not elect both a major and a minor in the same discipline or interdisciplinary program, though a student may complete two minors in the same department.
  3. Students may choose one or more of the departmental or interdisciplinary majors described in the central section of this Catalogue (see Courses of Instruction for particular subjects), or they may design an individualized major. Some departments offer two or more major options, one of which is a teaching major, approved by the State of Iowa and required of those intending to be licensed to teach that subject. A teaching major must always be combined with coursework leading to secondary certification.
    1. Departmental majors allow a student to study a single discipline in depth. Cornell currently offers 23 departmental majors (many of these also have teaching majors): Art, Biology, Chemistry, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Computer Science, Economics and Business, Elementary Education, English, Geology, History, Kinesiology, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Sociology, and Theatre. (There are also three teaching majors without an accompanying departmental major. They are Latin, Anthropology, and Theatre.)
    2. Interdisciplinary majors offer the opportunity for a student to specialize in a recognized academic field by taking courses from various related disciplines. Cornell's current interdisciplinary majors are: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Classical Studies, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, International Relations, Latin American Studies, Russian Studies, Sociology and Anthropology, and Women's Studies.
    3. Individualized majors are programs that students design themselves to meet their particular needs and interests. Such a major involves a minimum of nine course credits to include four courses at the 300 level or above from at least two disciplines (not counting the capstone experience); a capstone experience (e.g., a course, individual project, or internship) at the 300 level or above; and at least six courses at or above the 200 level. A narrative that explains how these courses create a coherent major and describes how the capstone experience will synthesize the courses into a cohesive program of study is to be filed with the contract for this major. This type of major is a contract between the student and a committee of three faculty members chosen by the student. The contract for an individualized major must be signed by the student, the members of the committee, and the Registrar, acting for the Dean of the College. Any changes in the contract must be approved in writing by all members of the committee. The contract and any changes must be filed with the Registrar. The student must complete a minimum of 10 course credits after initially filing this form with the Registrar. For more information, consult the Registrar.

    The requirements for departmental, interdisciplinary, and individualized majors are the same for both B.A. and B.S.S. candidates. A student is officially classified as a major only after he or she has been approved by the department or committee concerned and has filed the appropriate declaration with the Registrar.

    There is no restriction on adding majors after the sophomore year and no penalty for dropping them except that all B.A. candidates must complete at least one major and B.S.S. candidates must complete the basic contract they signed when filing their Prospectus.

    Students are expected to complete the major and minor requirements that were in effect at the time of Spring registration for their second year of courses. Transfer students who are admitted with sophomore or higher standing satisfy the requirements in effect when they begin their first course at Cornell. Students who have withdrawn from Cornell and are later readmitted follow the requirements in effect at the time of their readmission. Exceptions may be made by the department concerned in response to the student's petition, provided that such changes are feasible for and agreeable to the department.

    Cornell College alumni who wish to fulfill the requirements for an additional major after graduation must be accepted by the department (see procedure outlined above) and complete the necessary courses (there is no minimum number of credits that must be earned after graduation as long as the major requirements are met). Courses taken at another institution must be approved by the department in which the major will be granted. Financial aid may not be available, and students are advised to consult the Office of Financial Assistance before enrolling. During the last Block of attendance, the student must meet with the Registrar to confirm that all requirements are completed. At the conference, the student will request that the additional major be recorded on his or her transcript. Upon completion, the additional major along with the date of completion will be recorded on the student's transcript.

  4. A minor is a coherent collection of courses numbering at least five, with at least two of them being upper-level courses. Cornell currently offers minors in Anthropology, Art, Biology, BusinessChemistry, Civic Engagement, Classical Studies, Computer Science, English, Environmental Studies, French, Geology, German, German Studies, Kinesiology, Latin American Studies, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Religion, Russian, Sociology, Spanish, Theatre, and Women's Studies.

    When there is an overlap between courses required or accepted for a major in one department or program and a minor in another, at least two courses must be completed beyond the courses counted toward the major in order to earn the minor in the other department or program.

  5. Some departments also offer suggestions under the heading "Concentration" for students who may not wish or have time to complete the faculty-approved major but who are interested in a particular area or career relevant to the departmental discipline. Unlike majors and minors, concentrations are informal combinations of courses and are not recognized officially by the College or named on a student's transcript. Candidates for the B.S.S. degree who do not choose to have an official major may call their individually designed program of specialization a concentration.