Professor talking with students at the chalk board

Faculty Advisors

Faculty advisors help students translate their interests into an appropriate course of study, evaluate their curriculum and workload, monitor their progress toward a degree, and take advantage of the diverse opportunities available at Cornell.

Students are assigned a faculty advisor when they begin their course of study in the College of Engineering. They usually keep that advisor until they affiliate with a major, even though the advisor may not be in the major in which they intend to specialize. Once students officially affiliate with a major, they are assigned a faculty advisor from that major. Throughout their undergraduate career students can access supplemental advising and support through Engineering Advising and Undergraduate Coordinators within each major department.

Students should consult their faculty advisor when they have questions about the academic requirements of the university, the college, or the schools and departments. Faculty advisors evaluate each semester’s program, approve course changes, and approve courses to be used as approved electives. Students must see their faculty advisor whenever they consider adding or dropping a course. Students who wish to petition for an exception to college rules should discuss the matter first with their faculty advisor, who must sign any petition before it can be considered.

Faculty Advisor Responsibilities

  • Meet with individual students (office hours/appointments) to provide guidance related to college and major curriculum requirements;
  • Advise students on substitutions for required courses, and on the process for gaining approval for any deviation from curricular requirements;
  • Provide guidance on College and University resources supporting students’ goals and challenges.

What to Expect

  • Advice. Students should use their faculty advisor as a resource for planning their academic program, identifying academic and career goals, and general advice on graduate degrees and careers in engineering and science;
  • Assistance and Referrals. Faculty advisors may provide general information about and referrals to special programs including Engineering Co-Op, study abroad, and concurrent degrees. They may also be helpful in obtaining tutoring services or evaluating transfer/advanced placement credit, as appropriate. Students often ask their faculty advisors to provide letters of recommendation for scholarships, study abroad, employment, or graduate school;
  • Availability. Students should expect to have ready access to their faculty advisors.  Most faculty advisors set aside several hours each week for advising and will usually make appointments outside those hours if necessary.

What Not to Expect 

  • Assessment of Effort or Study Time Required for Specific Courses. Faculty advisors may help you determine the appropriateness of a given course in your curriculum plan, but they cannot predict how difficult the course will be or how much effort or study time it will require for individual students;
  • Tutoring/Study Skills. Faculty advisors may help you identify the need for tutoring, remedial course work, or improved study skills but should not be expected to provide the necessary assistance. Students in need of such assistance are generally referred to other resources, such as Engineering Learning Initiatives, the Learning Strategies Center or Engineering Advising;
  • Help with Personal, Financial or Housing Issues. Students are encouraged to make their faculty advisors aware of problems that may interfere with academic progress, but faculty advisors are not trained to provide counseling for personal problems, nor should they be expected to resolve housing or financial issues. However, they will refer students to the appropriate university office or program;
  • Internship/Job Search Assistance. While students are encouraged to discuss their career interests with their faculty advisors, it is not the faculty advisor’s responsibility to provide assistance for employment searches. Students should contact Engineering Career Center in 201 Carpenter Hall or Cornell Career Services in 103 Barnes Hall for help in finding employment.