Code of Legislation

Download the Graduate School’s Code of Legislation April 2024 (PDF).

The Graduate School’s Code of Legislation (Code) sets forth the rules governing graduate education as overseen by the General Committee of the Graduate Faculty of Cornell University. The General Committee includes two voting student members. You are expected to be familiar with the Code as it pertains to your program and educational requirements.


  • Petitions: You may request exceptions to regulations in the Code when special circumstances warrant such a request.
  • Degree Progress and Graduation Requirements: Become familiar with Graduate School requirements for making progress on your degree through graduation, including registration, forming a special committee, scheduling and completing exams, and thesis and dissertation requirements.
  • Financial Support: Expectations for doctoral student funding and policies for fellowships and assistantships are detailed.
  • Time to Degree Expectations: Develop your academic plan based on expected time to degree for the degree type you are pursuing.
  • Conflict Resolution: You have the right to a multi-step process for filing grievances related to interactions with faculty members and engaging third parties to help reach resolution. In addition, Cornell’s Code of Academic Integrity provides detailed procedures for addressing alleged violations, and University Policy 6.4 addresses sexual harassment and assault.
  • In Absentia Status: You may petition to continue to make degree progress while conducting research or studying more than 100 miles from campus. 

In Depth

Excellent academic programs depend not only on the talent, experience, and motivation of faculty and students, but also on their shared commitment to relationships based on mutual respect, ethical conduct, and freedom of inquiry. It is the joint responsibility of faculty and graduate students to support standards of academic and research excellence, adhering to the rules governing graduate education.

The Code of Legislation (Code) sets forth these rules as established by the graduate faculty of Cornell University. The Code is reviewed and amended by majority vote of the General Committee, the administrative, legislative, and judicial board of the Graduate School. The General Committee is composed of voting graduate student members, graduate faculty representing all disciplines, and the dean and associate deans of the Graduate School.


  • Administration: Roles, selection, voting rights, and term of appointment for graduate faculty, the General Committee, Dean of the Graduate School, and Associate Deans of the Graduate School.
  • Degrees and Graduate Fields: Establishment and deactivation of degrees; establishment, name changes, mergers, and dissolutions of graduate fields; and selection, responsibilities, and term of appointment for directors of graduate studies.
  • Admissions and Financial Aid: Admissions, student status, deferral, changes to field or status, records, and funding, including assistantships and fellowships.
  • Registration: Evaluation of progress, employment and hours of work, in absentia, leaves of absence, withdrawal, and returning after a leave or withdrawal.
  • Academic Programs: Special committees for research degrees, subjects and concentrations, coursework, research, examinations, theses and dissertations, time to degree, termination, and granting of degrees.
  • Conflict Resolution: Academic integrity, sexual harassment, and grievance procedures. 

You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the policies in the Code and for adhering to all requirements related to your degree program. 

The Code also explicitly identifies other university policies that graduate students must be familiar with and follow. These include Graduate Student Assistantships, the Academic Integrity policy, and the Sexual Harassment policy



Jason Kahabka
Associate Dean for Administration