Exception to M.Eng. S/U limit for spring 2020 semester

In light of the significant impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Master of Engineering (MEng) student population in recent weeks, the College of Engineering has laid out an exception to the Master of Engineering degree requirements for the Spring 2020 semester. Specifically, we will raise the limit on the number of S/U-graded credit hours that may be counted toward the MEng degree for the Spring 2020 semester.

This policy is intended to balance the need to provide relief to currently enrolled MEng students (including Early Admit students taking MEng-eligible coursework) with the necessity of maintaining the quality and integrity of Cornell University’s Master of Engineering degree.


Of the 30 technical credit hours needed (at a minimum) for the MEng degree, section VII.B.7 of the RULES & POLICIES FOR THE MASTER OF ENGINEERING DEGREE (p. 16) stipulates that:

A maximum of two credit hours graded on an S/U basis, such as seminars or their equivalent, may be included provided they are participatory in nature.

We establish conditions under which a student enrolled for the Spring 2020 semester will be allowed to count up to 8 additional credit hours of approved S/U coursework toward the MEng degree.   

This exception is intended to apply to courses that are not already admitted for S/U credit under the current rules.  Courses that are intentional elements of an individual field’s MEng degree curriculum (e.g., colloquia, professional development courses) or could otherwise count for S/U credit under the existing two-credit rule are separate from and not affected by this exception.

Moreover, all other MEng degree requirements as outlined in the RULES & POLICIES and by the individual MEng programs remain in place, including good standing and minimum GPA requirements, regardless of a student’s decision to exercise this exception policy. 

For a student to designate a course to be degree-eligible as S/U, all of the following must be met:

  • The course cannot be “essential” to the student’s MEng degree, as defined by the individual MEng degree field.  (See table below.)  Courses that are deemed essential to the student’s degree are not eligible to count towards the MEng degree on an S/U basis.
  • The student must be enrolled in the course during the Spring 2020 semester and must switch to the S/U grading option prior to the designated deadline for the Spring 2020 semester.  Spring 2020 courses that had already concluded by March 10th (e.g., 7-week – First) are not eligible.
  • The course must be offered on a letter-graded basis on the Spring 2020 course roster. 
  • The course must be among those that, according to the individual field, would count towards the student’s MEng degree if taken for letter-graded credit during the Spring 2020 semester.

MEng students who wish to petition for more than 8 S/U credits should consult with their academic advisor and MEng Director, who may forward the petition to the MEng Directors Board for consideration on a case-by-case basis.