Cornell College Campus Building

Our block attracts a colorful community of diverse, empathetic neighbors—students, faculty, staff, and alumni—who care about each other, because we’re only as collectively strong as we are individually strong. 

But “block” is more than an expression of our vibrant campus life; it’s the innovative—some might say ingenious—foundation of every Cornellian’s education. Flexible, experiential. We’ve been living, learning, and teaching on the block plan, One Course At A Time, since 1978 when we left the traditional semester plan behind. (We haven’t missed it.)

Yeah, we’ve been doing what most would consider a new thing, investing our time and treasure, for more than 40 years and we’re virtually unique in the higher ed space. 

Benefits of the Block Structure

Why did we choose to teach on the block, where students only take one course every 3 1/2 weeks? It offers flexible and experiential learning unlike—and superior to—semester plans. 

We were able to rapidly extend our calendar to a 10-block year starting fall 2020 so that students have eight standard blocks per year, plus two additional flex blocks. No matter what happens with this pandemic, we won’t be disrupted and students will stay on track and still graduate on time, in four years or less. 

We have the infrastructure and experience that teaching on the block plan requires—our courses are all built for it, no adaptation required. Our professors all choose to teach this way—and they excel at it. It’s not just our students who focus on One Course At A Time, but faculty teach only one course per block, during the blocks they’re scheduled to teach. Our students are the kind of risk-takers who thrive when they’re challenged and supported by faculty mentors and a campus full of people cheering them on every step of the way.

We’re ready to teach on-campus or online, as the situation requires.

Students can step in and step out of their academic term as their personal situation dictates during our 10-block year. Students will have even more opportunities to work with their advisors and make their learning plans their very own. 

At Cornell, faculty don’t fit their courses to a particular schedule but instead, take full advantage of the flexibility of teaching on the block schedule. They teach what they want and what the students are interested in.

This. Is our block.


Why does the block plan work during a pandemic?


How can the block plan become even more flexible?


How did Cornell launch the block plan?


Why does the block plan work perfectly with athletics?


How does the block plan work in a virtual setting?


What facilities could help with teaching on the block?