decorative image that says 4-Year Graduation Guarantee

Beginning with entering first-year students in fall 2020, Cornell College guarantees that undergraduate students getting a Bachelor of Arts, who complete the requirements outlined below, will graduate in four years—or Cornell College will waive tuition for the remaining coursework.

The guarantee applies to graduation requirements for the pursuit of one academic major in one academic degree (the Bachelor of Arts).

  • A student enrolled in a program such as education who must take an additional semester(s) to meet certification requirements does not qualify.

  • A student who, because of a change of major, is required to go beyond four years to meet their major and/or degree requirements does not qualify.

  • With careful planning, students may very well be able to graduate in four years with multiple majors and/or minors. However, the College cannot guarantee this result, as scheduling conflicts between programs may possibly occur.

Cornell College’s responsibilities

  • Assign you to a faculty or staff advisor providing individualized advising to guide your progress toward on-time graduation. 

  • Inform you about Cornell degree and major requirements, and any changes to those requirements, in a timely manner. 

  • Provide the necessary course sequencing and scheduling for you to fulfill the requirements for your degree and one major within four years. 

Student’s responsibilities

  • Matriculate as a first-year, degree-seeking Cornell College student.

  • Sign the Cornell 4-Year Graduation Guarantee during the first four weeks of your first fall semester at Cornell. You do not need to commit to a major at the time you sign the guarantee; however, some majors may require you to begin coursework in the first two semesters (first eight blocks). Failing to follow the recommended course sequencing guidelines such that you do not meet your major requirements in 4 years voids this guarantee.

  • Respond promptly to all communication from academic advisors and the registrar’s office.

  • Maintain progress through your major and B.A. requirements, completing at least the required minimum number of credits and maintaining at least the required minimum cumulative GPA each year, including completing a total of 31 Cornell credits and a 2.0 cumulative GPA at the end of your four years. See Table 1 for the definition of “minimum academic progress,” prior to graduation, which is dependent on the number of credits you have earned at Cornell. Failing or withdrawing from courses (including health withdrawals and leave of absence) such that you do not meet your major or degree requirements, including failing to meet the 31 Cornell credits, voids this guarantee.

Table 1: Minimum Academic Progress 

First Year Second Year Third Year Fourth Year
Credit hours completed 7 15 23 31
Cumulative GPA 1.7 1.8 1.9 2.0
  • Meet with your assigned academic advisor prior to each registration period to select courses that meet all degree requirements, including major requirements.  

  • Register for courses that you discussed with your assigned academic advisor during your designated registration period. Inform your academic advisor of any changes to your schedule made during or after registration. 

All account holds must be settled prior to the designated time for registration.

  • Work closely with your academic advisor to ensure that courses taken from an institution other than Cornell College, including semester abroad programs, will be accepted as credit to keep you on track for graduation. 

  • Declare an academic major by the end of the third semester. 

  • Review your academic progress through your unofficial transcript in Self-Service at the start of each semester. 

  • Be in good academic standing with the College at the time of registration and degree completion.

  • Apply for graduation by the published deadline. 

Process of Applying for Guarantee

In their fourth year at Cornell (prior to the end of Block 4), if a student believes they will not be able to graduate at the end of the academic year, and they believe they have met all the criteria set forth in this policy, they should submit a petition to the Registrar and explain the circumstances that led them to not be able to graduate in four years.


If you fulfill all the requirements of the guarantee and do not graduate in four years, then Cornell will waive tuition for the courses you need to graduate.