College of Arts and Sciences

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October 8, 2019

Achieving Dean’s List Eases for College of Arts and Sciences Students

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Requirements for a spot on the Dean’s List — an honorific marker on student transcripts — changed this semester for the College of Arts and Sciences.  Now, students within the college who earn a minimum semester GPA of 3.600 and are enrolled in at least 15 letter-grade credits will make the cut.

This is a change from last year, when the college offered placement on the Dean’s List based on a multi-tiered credit system, according to Duncan Bell, Director of Administration and College Registrar of Arts and Sciences.

Through the old system, the GPA minimums depended upon how many letter-grade credits students were enrolled in: 4.05 for 12 credits, 3.95 for 13-14 credits, 3.85 for 15-16 credits and a 3.76 for 17 or more credits. Additionally, students who received a C- or lower in any letter-credit courses were ineligible.

“The change in GPA criteria for Dean’s List seems more achievable and within reason for students to attain,” Anna Brecher ’21, a government major, said. “This is motivating and rewards hard work within a reasonable level of measurement.”

Additional requirements include no failing, unsatisfactory, missing or incomplete grades for any class.

“Changing from a tiered credit and GPA system to a standard credit and GPA minimum serves to make the requirements clearer to students and more predictable while still maintaining the selectivity of the honors,” Bell said in an email to The Sun.

This change makes the requirement for the Arts college similar to six other colleges (ILR still has a tiered system). The 3.6 GPA minimum places the Arts college in the middle of the other six colleges.

Other college minimum GPA requirements include: 3.8 for AAP, 3.7 for Human Ecology, 3.5 for CALS and Engineering, and 3.3 for the Hotel School. ILR carries a tiered system based on class: 3.3 for freshmen, 3.4 for sophomores, and 3.6 for juniors and seniors.

“I think it is a positive change for the College of Arts and Sciences,” Evin Rothschild ’21, a biology and government double major, said in a message to The Sun. “The 3.6 cutoff is more in line with other colleges at Cornell, making it more even across colleges.”

The change is a victory for students who work while taking classes.

“The previous credit-dependent cut-offs created a system that made it more challenging for students to make Dean’s List who may have been working jobs to support their studies because they may have been unable to enroll in more credit hours, forcing them to achieve much higher GPA cut-offs than other students,” Rothschild said.

According to Bell, roughly the top 30% of Arts and Sciences students make Dean’s List each semester. The college expects this statistic to remain consistent with the new changes.

When asked the goal of having a Dean’s List, Bell’s answer is simple: “to recognize Arts and  Sciences students who have exemplary academic records each term.”