CALS imparts a passion for life-long learning and discovery.
CALS imparts a passion for life-long learning and discovery.

The Academic Experience

The CALS Approach

CALS selects students who are ready to dive into their major as soon as they set foot on campus. As a result, students apply to a specific CALS major and are chosen based upon their academic and demonstrated personal fit for that particular course of study. At CALS, there is no “undecided” major.

For students who have identified their academic interests and goals, CALS offers unparalleled educational opportunities.

What You Will Study

You will need 120 credits to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree from CALS. Cornell courses are typically 3 - 4 credits, so most students take 4 courses each semester.

The CALS Curriculum

A third of the curriculum includes requirements for your selected major.

Another third fulfills CALS distribution requirements, which are focused on the following academic areas:

  • Physical and Life Sciences, the key to CALS’ educational focus
  • Social Sciences and Humanities, in preparation for ethical decision-making
  • Written and Oral Expression, to ensure clear and confident articulation of ideas

The final third? Those courses are entirely up to you. Flexibility has been built into the curriculum, so you can be creative and take advantage of everything CALS—and Cornell—has to offer. Some ideas:

  • Double major in any other CALS major.
  • Declare a minor. Although you are welcome to choose a minor in CALS, take note: minors can be in a Cornell department outside of CALS. You may choose a Food Science major with a minor in Italian, a Natural Resources major with a minor in Law & Society…the possibilities are endless.

In and Out of the Classroom: What to Expect

  • World-renowned faculty who are committed to undergraduate teaching. In classes, during office hours, and on the Ag Quad, you will find professors who will inspire, challenge, and mentor you.
  • Classes that range from large, auditorium-filling lectures to one-on-one individualized courses. Most undergraduate courses at Cornell have fewer than 20 students.
  • Top notch faculty advising: You will not face the Cornell academic experience alone. At CALS, each student is paired with a faculty advisor before they even set foot on campus. Additionally, expert guidance on everything from preparing for pre-professional programs to time-management is available through CALS Student Services.
  • Teaching that extends beyond classroom walls. Do not be surprised if you are asked to put the theory you have learned in the classroom into practice: CALS believes in hands-on connections to real-world issues. You will be working in labs, greenhouses, the Cornell Botanic Gardens, livestock pavilions, etc., to gain valuable experience through research, internships and studying abroad.
  • Read more about Undergraduate Learning Outcomes