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Course Enrollment

All first-year students will request courses for the spring semester during the enrollment period — November 8-10. Before then, your college will send you information about creating your schedule, which may include information like college requirements, course recommendations, and advising contacts.

Your schedule will be chosen in several steps. A complete schedule should consist of:

  1. Your Program of Study
    Your college will send specific information on how to choose courses. Some of your courses may have been added to your schedule for you and you may not be able to change (drop) them.
  2. A First-Year Writing Seminar (FWS)
    New students are required to take one First-Year Writing Seminar during their first semester. The First-Year Writing Seminars, administered by the John S. Knight Institute for Writing in the Disciplines, offer 100 different courses each semester through more than 30 departments. While the subjects may vary from cinema to ancient history, you will be expected to write.
  3. A Physical Education Course
    Cornell requires students to complete two semesters of Physical Education, one in each term their first year on campus, and a Swim Test. If you can swim, you will complete the test in April and may enroll in any physical education course. If you cannot swim, or do not feel confident about your swimming skills, enroll in Beginning Swimming (PE 1100) during your course enrollment period. More information on the physical education requirement.

Placement Exams

Some students will be required to take placement exams online or during Orientation.  These exams help the university know where to place you for certain course requirements. You may also wish to take optional exams to increase your academic flexibility. 

AP/IB and Transfer Credits

If you have taken AP or IB exams, or courses at another college or university, you will want to know if you get credit for them, and how it will impact your academic requirements. Please send all transcripts from test scores and other institutions to your college registrar, if you did not already submit them during the admission process. This will give the university time to process them, so that you can resolve any questions regarding transfer credit when you arrive on campus.  Detailed information on AP and IB credit is provided in the Courses of Study on a subject-specific basis.

Textbooks and Materials

The Cornell Store compiles lists of required textbooks and supplies each semester. Personalized textbook lists and textbook lists by course are available online several weeks before classes start. If the store has received an order from the professor, course materials for your registered courses will be listed on your personalized booklist. Your list will include required and optional materials, the formats available (new, used, rental or digital versions), and current prices from The Cornell Store and other online retailers for comparison. Course materials are available for purchase at and in the store throughout the semester. The Cornell Store also provides kits for art and architecture courses and stocks art supplies year-round.

Additional Considerations

Cornell's diversity extends to nearly 80 fields of study and 9,000 courses. Electives (and some distribution requirements) provide an opportunity for you to explore the breadth and depth of offerings both within your college or school and across the university. Students are encouraged to broaden their academic interests by taking courses outside their major and school, in cross-college courses, learning where you live courses, or university courses.  These experiences will provide an opportunity to engage with faculty and students in different areas of study and provide exposure to the perspectives of multiple disciplines.