Hannah Rosenberg/Sun Senior Editor

A student studies outside of Duffield Hall on Nov. 10, 2021.

March 17, 2022

College of Engineering Reduces Credit Limit, Citing Mental Health Concerns

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On Thursday afternoon, the College of Engineering Deans announced a change in the amount of credits in which undergraduate students can enroll, beginning in the fall 2022 semester. Previously, the maximum credit limit per semester was 23 credits, but under the new policy students will be limited to 20 credits.

The policy change puts the engineering college’s credit limit below that of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, which both have a 22-credit limit.

Associate Dean for Student Services Miranda Swanson and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs Alan Zehnder cited Cornell’s Mental Health Review recommendations, which were released in March 2020, as part of the reason for the change.

“The faculty have spent the last year discussing recommendation A.1.1.,” the deans wrote in their email to College of Engineering undergraduates. “One outcome of these ongoing discussions is that the College Curriculum Governing Board has updated the credit limit policy for undergraduates.”

Recommendation A.1.1 asks college and school leadership to create a centralized mechanism for institutional oversight of academic policies that may negatively impact students’s mental health. 

Some recommendations include considering a pass/fail grading basis for first-year students, use of a grading curve, transparency and fairness in attendance policies — particularly with regard to health and wellbeing related absences — and consistency and transparency in regard to the amount of time required outside of class per credit. 

Students wishing to enroll in more than 20 credits may submit an “Over 20 Credit Hours in One Semester Petition” that is available on the Engineering Registrar Forms webpage

In their email, the engineering college deans wrote that first-year students, first semester external transfers, students attempting to enroll in a combination of two or more project teams, research credit or teaching assistant credit, students pursuing concurrent degrees and students with a previous semester grade point average below a 2.0 will not have their petitions approved.

“Taking more than 20 credits in a single semester is not recommended, even for students who have a history of strong academic performance,” said Swanson and Zehnder in the announcement.  

Students will still be able to enroll in up to 24 credits with Academic Excellence Workshops or a physical education course. However, the email says that under no circumstance will students be approved to enroll in over 24 credits.