While Cornell graduate students have exceptional flexibility in shaping the direction of their studies, students should be aware of both administrative and academic requirements that may be imposed by their committee, their graduate field, or the Graduate School.
Committee requirements – The special committee works closely with students to determine which courses are recommended or required. Committees also evaluate student performance in admission to candidacy exams (also known as A exam) and in the master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation defense (known as the B exam). The committee will also be intimately involved in thesis or dissertation research and must ultimately approve the final thesis or dissertation.
Field requirements – While committees often set very specific expectations for each student, the collective faculty of a graduate field typically define their requirements in broader terms. Examples of field-level expectations may include participation in seminars, experience teaching for one or more semesters, proficiency in core subject matter, or the passing of a qualification examination (Q exam).
Graduate School – Graduate School requirements are intended to provide a framework for academic success and promote a consistency of standards across academic disciplines, but do not generally address curricular aspects of a degree program. Examples of Graduate School requirements include:
- Maintaining a registered status with Cornell.
- Defining minimum time allowable to earn a degree
- Defining maximum time allowable to earn a degree
- Composition of special committees
- Timing and format of exams for master’s and Ph.D. students
- The format and submission of a thesis or dissertation
Associate Dean for Administration