One Course At A Time

The quality and intensity of a Cornell education is supported by the OCAAT calendar, where students take one course at a time. A general overview of Cornell's One Course At A Time program follows, with greater details provided in the Academic Information chapter.

  1. The academic year, approximately September 1 to mid-May, is divided into eight Blocks, each of which is three-and-one-half weeks (18 class days) in length. Each Block begins at 9:00 a.m. on the first Monday and concludes at 5:00 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday with the exception of Block Four, which may be adjusted due to Thanksgiving Break and/or Winter Break. A four-day break separates each Block, unless there is a winter or spring break. (See the calendar for exact dates.)
  2. Readmitted students may enroll at the start of any of the eight Blocks but should apply at least one month before–and earlier if they desire financial aid or on-campus housing. (See Readmission.)
  3. Enrolled students register in the spring for all eight Blocks of the following academic year. After registration, students may drop and add courses throughout the year. (See Registration and Adding and Dropping Courses.)
  4. Cornell offers three degree programs: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.), and Bachelor of Special Studies (B.S.S.), each of which requires a minimum of 31 course credits. (See Degree Programs.)
  5. Progress toward any of Cornell's degrees is measured in Blocks or course credits. One course credit is given for the successful completion of a Cornell course taken in a Block. Course credits include Block credits and credits from adjunct courses, music lessons and ensembles, advanced placement, and transferred work. As a unit of credit, one Cornell Block or "full course" credit is the equivalent of four semester or six quarter hours. (See Student Classification and Credit by Transfer.)
  6. Full-time students register for eight Blocks in the academic year. Except for seniors, students may not take vacation Blocks in an academic year without permission of the academic standing committee. (See Registration.) This paragraph does not apply to Continuing Education students.
  7. The maximum amount of credit that a student may earn in one Block is one "full course" credit. Conversely, students, with the exception of seniors and candidates for the degree of Bachelor of Music, are not permitted to enroll for less than a "full course" credit per Block. Some departments offer concurrent courses, each of which is worth one-half course credit. Concurrent courses must, therefore, be taken in pairs and within the same department or in a related field. Exceptions must be approved by the Academic Standing Committee.
  8. Students have many opportunities for independent research on or off campus, for internships, and for study in other countries or in other parts of the United States. Such programs vary in length from one Block to one year, and some may be arranged for the summer. (See Registration, and item 10 therein; and also Independent Study Courses and Off-Campus Programs.)
  9. Adjunct courses (numbered in the 500s) and music lessons, ensembles, and theatre participation courses (numbered in the 700s) may be taken along with principal and concurrent courses. (See Adjunct Courses.)
  10. Students declare their choice of degree program and major(s) before December 1 of their sophomore year. Students may major in one or more departments or design their own individualized majors. (See Degree Candidacy, Majors and Minors, and Bachelor of Special Studies.)
  11. Unless otherwise noted, Continuing Education students are subject to the academic rules listed above; however, there are special exceptions that apply to them. (See Continuing Education.)