Cornell University notably offers students opportunities to pursue a variety of classes and learning experiences through partnerships with other institutions, including study abroad opportunities, Cornell in Washington and the Shoals Marine Laboratory.
However, Cornellians can also explore their academic pursuits closer to home through the CU-IC exchange program. Cornell University partnered with Ithaca College to allow students from both colleges to take classes at the opposite institution at no additional tuition cost.
According to Eric Machan Howd, the director of Ithaca College’s Office of Extended Studies, the program started more than 20 years ago to provide students from both institutions with a more diverse array of courses.
“Both institutions wanted to work together and make some bridges between the institutions,” Machan Howd said.
To partake in the program, a student must be a full-time student at either partner institution and choose a course applicable to their field of study that is not offered at the student’s home institution. Students are only eligible to enroll in a maximum of 12 total credits through the program.
Machan Howd also mentioned that there are programs with higher demand from each institution. Cornell students tend to take health sciences and music courses at Ithaca College while most IC students take engineering and language courses at Cornell.
“We started off as a conservatory. So we have great music programs, both for undergraduates and graduates as well,” Machan Howd said. “On the other side of it in terms of our students, I’m seeing a lot more of [courses in] the specialized sciences at Cornell that are very attractive to some engineering students.”
Karen Ma ’23 is a Cornell student who is currently taking an introduction to occupational science course at IC as part of the exchange program because she is planning to pursue a career in occupational therapy, though specific courses in the field are not offered at Cornell.
“It’s cool being in environments where everyone else in the class is on the same track as me. And my professor knows what I’m talking about when I talk about my future career goals,” Ma said. “So I really enjoy it.”
Students are expected to commute to and from one institution to another on their own. Machan Howd mentioned students have to take two buses to commute through the TCAT. One of the buses goes from Cornell to the Ithaca Commons and then a second bus goes from the Ithaca Commons to IC. However, Wilfred Race ’25, an IC student, expressed that they experienced challenges with the commuting aspect of the program.
“It’s kind of hard to get from IC to Cornell,” Race said. “Luckily, the buses from Cornell to the Commons are pretty frequent. But then, the ones that go to Ithaca [College] happen more infrequently, so it’s harder to work around.”
Ma also noted difficulties with commuting.
“I don’t think it would be really feasible if I didn’t have a car,” Ma said. “So I don’t know how accessible it is to all students.”
Race noted that they took a bioarchaeology class at Cornell amid a significant reduction of the anthropology department at IC. The exchange program has proven to be an opportunity to continue their academic pursuits.
“The anthropology department at IC is going to go away. I’m going to be in one of the last classes. So there’s less professors, less classes offered,” Race said. “Getting to work with Prof. Velasco and other students [at Cornell]is definitely interesting. And there’s more opportunities.”
Despite the opportunities presented to students through the program, most students are unaware of the existence of the program. The IC office of the registrar is trying to change it.
“I’m looking to really drum up more awareness to this program as well,” Machan Howd said.
Correction, March 21, 4:47 p.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Eric Machan Howd’s title. The article has been corrected.