Klarman Hall is host to the College of Arts and Sciences advising office. The college scrapped some early graduation requirements in November.

Cameron Pollack / Sun File Photo

Klarman Hall is host to the College of Arts and Sciences advising office. The college scrapped some early graduation requirements in November.

February 5, 2020

Arts and Sciences Students Looking to Graduate Cornell Early Now Face Easier Exit

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Correction appended.

Students looking to graduate early in the College of Arts and Sciences will now face fewer hoops to jump through thanks to a set of new policy changes that take effect this semester.

While the College periodically reviews various parts of its academic policies — this time, the residency police “was due for review,” said Bonnie Comella, director of advising for the College of Arts and Sciences.

In November, the College’s Educational Policy Committee started the process of updating its early graduation policy, which culminated in the committee’s elected student and faculty members deciding to eliminate a variety of acceleration requirements in order to graduate early.

Previously, students who wanted to graduate early encountered various requirements, such as course number requirements and not being allowed to receive credit while taking a leave of absence.

But many of these obstacles are set to change with the new application for early graduation.

While the College previously imposed a 34 course minimum on students looking to graduate early, now one must simply earn at least 120 credits, regardless of the number of classes taken to reach that number.

“I think it is very hard for students to plan out how many credits they are going to take,” said Gavin Martin ’21 on the previous requirement, in which a three- or four-credit courses would count as “one course” while 1- or 2-credit courses would count as “half a course.”

Martin, who plans to graduate a year early in May 2020, said he would have chosen classes differently had the more relaxed course requirements been put into place earlier.

Another requirement that has been changed is a residency rule that made it difficult for students to take advantage of study abroad or the Cornell in Washington program.

“I had really wanted to study abroad while I was in college,” said Anastasia Kavanagh ’19, a student who graduated during the winter of 2019. “That was something that was really important to me. [But] if I had studied abroad, I wouldn’t have been able to graduate early.”
Ten percent of students entering Cornell in 2012 graduated in less than four years, The Sun previously reported. According to Comella, this change is one step to remove barriers to early graduation by “simplifying the residency requirement.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated Martin’s graduation year. Martin is slated to graduate in May 2020, not December 2020.