Graduate students present their posters at the 2017 Center for Materials Research (CCMR) Symposium.

The Code of Legislation sets forth the rules governing graduate education as established by the graduate faculty of Cornell University. Students should familiarize themselves with the content of the Code and how it pertains to their programs. The complete Code is available for download.


The General Committee, which is the faculty governing board of the Graduate School, may grant exceptions to specific legislation within the Code of Legislation if it feels such actions are in accord with the Graduate School’s fundamental educational principles. Under extenuating circumstances, you may request an exception, but you must submit convincing evidence that an exception is warranted.

The General Committee may delegate the handling of routine student petitions to the dean. If the dean refuses to grant a petition, you have the right to have the case reviewed by the General Committee.

Getting Administrative Help

Directors of Graduate Study (DGS)

The faculty members in each field appoint a director of graduate studies (DGS) to represent them to the Graduate School and coordinate activities of the field. The DGS is the primary liaison between the field and the Graduate School. He or she helps establish academic priorities and allocate resources for graduate students. The DGS strives to enhance the quality of graduate education and general student welfare. These individuals also oversee the admissions process and may be the most familiar with you when you arrive. You will need to have your DGS sign any documents required by the Graduate School.

Graduate Field Assistants (GFA)

The graduate field assistant (GFA) helps students, faculty members, and the DGS in many ways. The GFAs serve as liaisons between students and faculty members. They are familiar with campus resources and can answer many questions about the degree process. Your GFA also can help you with paperwork and clarify your student status.

Graduate School Contacts

In addition to your GFA and DGS, the staff of the Graduate Student Service Office are available to assist you. They can help explain degree requirements or special procedures for circumstances such as traveling abroad, taking a leave of absence, or applying for fellowships and research grants. You should feel free to contact the Graduate School staff with problems that members of your special committee are unable or unwilling to help you solve.

If you have questions, contact the Student Service Office ( You may visit during office hours, which are 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. The phone number is 607-255-5820. 

If the staff cannot help, you will be referred to an appropriate dean. If you feel you have a special problem, please make an appointment to see an associate dean as soon as possible.

The following is a list of the Graduate School’s senior leadership:

  • Kathryn Boor, Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education
  • Jan Allen, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs
  • Sara Xayarath Hernández, Associate Dean for Inclusion and Student Engagement
  • Jason Kahabka, Associate Dean for Administration
  • Janna Lamey, Senior Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Life

The dean is responsible for promoting the quality of graduate education and the well-being of graduate students. Associate deans of the Graduate School are academic administrative officers who assist the dean and act as the principal administrative officers of the Graduate School in the dean’s absence.