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Changes in Status

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In This Section:

Petitions to the Faculty

A petition is the official way to request action on academic matters that are not routine. The petition form, which may be obtained in Engineering Advising or online at, is used to notify the petitioner, the registrar, and the faculty advisor.

Petitions are required for such purposes as:

  • Amending a program of study by adding courses after the 15th calendar day of the semester or dropping courses after the first seven weeks;
  • Amending a college curriculum requirement, such as substituting a course or a stated sequence of courses in a degree-requirement area;
  • Requesting an exception to a college academic policy based on extenuating circumstances.
  • Documenting an advisor’s approval of a course towards the approved elective requirement. 

The petition should include convincing evidence that an exception is warranted. A clearly stated petition has a better chance of approval than a poorly prepared one.

Students not yet affiliated with a Major should submit their petition to the Engineering
Registrar. Affiliated students should check with their Major to determine where to submit
their petition.

Leave of Absence

Students sometimes find it necessary to suspend their studies for a while. To do this, they
must request a voluntary leave of absence in writing for a specified period of time and receive written approval.

Affiliated students request a voluntary leave through their Major. Unaffiliated students
request a voluntary leave through Engineering Advising; the first step is an interview to
establish conditions for the leave and subsequent return. Those who take a voluntary leave
while not in good standing may be given a “conditional leave”. This requires them to meet
specific conditions, established at the time the leave is granted, before they will be reinstated. Students needing to take a health leave of absence based on medical or psychological issues must initiate this leave with Gannett Health Services. The health leave policy can be found at

Voluntary leaves of absence last at least six months and are not generally granted for more
than two years. A leave of absence granted during a semester goes into effect on the
day it is requested
. Students are responsible for any outstanding tuition or other university
charges owed through that date. On-campus housing and dining charges may accrue
until the student no longer utilizes the services. Leaves granted after the seventh week of a
semester generally result in withdrawal from all course work (i.e. a “W” will appear next
to each course on the transcript). Students who owe money to the university are ineligible
for leaves of absence. Courses taken during a leave are to satisfy Cornell degree requirements and must be approved in advance through a formal transfer petition. Credit for course work completed at foreign institutions during a leave of absence will not be accepted for transfer credit unless students are returning to their countries of residence. See Engineering  Advising if you have questions. At most 18 transfer credits may be used to meet degree requirements after matriculation.

Students who intend to take a leave of absence should check with the Bursar’s Office, Office
of Financial Aid, Housing and Dining, and Student Employment to find out about financial
implications. This is especially important if they have taken out educational loans.
Eligibility for medical or auto insurance may also be affected.

Extramural Students

Students not enrolled full-time who register for individual courses through the School of
Continuing Education and Summer Sessions are called extramural students. Tuition for
extramural study is calculated according to the number of credits; no one may register as
an extramural student for more than 11 credits per semester. Extramural students do not
have the privilege of health insurance or the use of Gannett Health Services, unions, physical education facilities, or other services for which full-time Cornell students pay a fee. Engineering students on a leave of absence may not take Cornell extramural courses. In the College of Engineering, credits earned in extramural courses taken in either fall or spring semester are counted as transfer credits. Summer or winter session courses taken at Cornell are not considered transfer credit (see section on transfer credit [page 125] for details). Students may not enroll in courses extramurally during their last semester of undergraduate enrollment.

Since extramural students are not full-time, they may need to begin paying back student
loans while taking classes. The Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment has more

The School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions is located in B20 Day Hall.


Students who voluntarily withdraw from the engineering degree program sever all connection with the college. Unaffiliated students who wish to withdraw should do so through Engineering Advising. Affiliated students should contact their Major.

A student who fails to register in the first three weeks of the semester, without benefit of a
leave of absence or permission for study in absentia, will be deemed to have withdrawn.
Students who withdraw from the College of Engineering are eligible to apply for admission
to one of the other six undergraduate colleges at Cornell. The university’s internal
transfer process should be followed.

Students who have withdrawn but wish to return must make a formal appeal for readmission. This is rarely granted. It is subject to a review of the student’s academic background and depends on available space in the college and in the student’s Major.

Rejoining the College After a Leave of Absence

To return after a leave of absence, the conditions established when the leave was granted
must be satisfied and the college must be notified.

Students who wish to rejoin the college and have not yet affiliated with a Major should request permission to rejoin by contacting Engineering Advising. This must be done at least six weeks before the beginning of the semester in which the student wishes to return. Students will be asked to describe their activities while away from Cornell, detail any academic work completed during this time, and specify the courses they intend to take when they return. If permission to rejoin is granted, Engineering Advising will respond with a written confirmation. Students who are rejoining the college must see their faculty advisors to finalize course selection and should plan to return at least three working days before the beginning of classes. Scheduling an appointment is a good idea.

Affiliated students should apply to their Major for permission to rejoin the college. Majors must accept students in good standing who have successfully completed all appropriate portions of the Common Curriculum, including prerequisites for the Major, and who have met the requirements for affiliation. They are not required, however, to accept rejoining secondyear students who are not in good standing or have not made adequate academic progress. Ordinarily, students who take a leave of absence after affiliating with a particular Major return to that same Major. However, an affiliated student on leave of absence who wishes to transfer to a different Major at the time of rejoining must apply to the new Major. This process may take a few weeks, so notification of intent to rejoin with a change in Major must be received early. Majors are not required to accept a student who began the third year in another Major and later requested transfer. A student who is not accepted into the new Major must rejoin in the original Major.

Transferring from One Engineering Major to Another

Students who have affiliated with a Major program may want to transfer to a different Major. Other possible candidates for transfer are students who have been notified that they have been withdrawn from their Major (and, therefore, from the college). Such students may still be eligible to apply to another Major. Contact Engineering Advising for more information. Students who transfer from outside Cornell into the College of Engineering are affiliated with a specified Major when they are admitted and are not usually eligible to transfer to another Major for a period of one year. Therefore, transfer students who want to change Majors may find it necessary to take a leave of absence or to delay graduation.

To apply for transfer to another Engineering Major, complete a Change of Major form, which
is available through Engineering Advising (167 Olin Hall) or any Engineering undergraduate
Major office. Students must have permission from the intended Major to transfer; Majors are
under no obligation to accept students who have already begun the fifth semester with a different affiliation.

Transferring to Another College at Cornell

Students sometimes come to the conclusion that they no longer wish to remain in the College of Engineering. When this happens, it is necessary for them to reevaluate their goals and motivations. Help is available from students’ faculty advisors, Engineering Advising, and Cornell Career Services in Barnes Hall.

Students interested in transferring within Cornell should consult with the Office of Internal
Transfer, 222 CCC Building ( The staff there can
provide expert advising on the transfer process and information about each of the Cornell
colleges to help students pinpoint their interests. Students planning to transfer within Cornell should make an appointment with the Office of Internal Transfer as early in the semester as possible.

Students with satisfactory academic records may apply to the target college and, if accepted,
transfer directly. Students who do not have strong academic records and those who have
not taken courses in their target college may apply for conditional transfer.

Change of Name or Address

Students must keep the college advised of changes in their name, address, and phone number. This applies to both their home and local addresses. Important correspondence may be delayed by forwarding, and failure to receive mail on time is not a valid excuse for missed deadlines.

Students can update their addresses and phone numbers online through the Student Center
on any networked campus terminal. (Public terminals are located outside the University
Registrar’s office and in many of the campus libraries and residence halls.) Changes of
name or social security number should be submitted in writing to the University Registrar’s