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Undergrad Profile

Education at the Speed of Life

In his college rating book Colleges That Change Lives, Loren Pope wrote, “Cornell is refreshing. Professors, students, administrators, and staff work for a common purpose: to educate and equip Cornell graduates for lives of work, leadership, and fulfillment. You won’t find even a hint of Ivy envy, and people here are absolutely sure that this Cornell sets the standard for learning and teaching. They’re right.”

Maybe Cornellians are a little smug about their achievement—they have a right to be. Our students tackle the same deep concepts, challenging course work, classroom presentations, and debates that students cover in a traditional semester school, but they learn to complete the work and process those concepts in 18 days on the One Course At A Time curriculum.

Education at the speed of life
In July 2016 a panel of five Cornell alumni researchers came back to campus to share their experiences and career trajectories with the current group of summer research students. Each of them, unprompted, related how One Course and the rigor of their studies prepared them for graduate school deadlines and requirements that made their peers from traditional schools sweat. Some shared how their ability to hustle and complete a project in the workplace distinguished them from co-workers as strong performers in their first career-track jobs.

Learn without boundaries
Studying One Course At A Time opens a whole new sense of flexibility for students in their course work, since there are no schedule conflicts with other courses. Professors can take students off campus for field work, investigative study, or immersive experiences for a day, a week, or the whole block. Cornellians engage with local businesses to model and solve business problems. They gather geological lab samples and observe wildlife in local parks, the boundary waters, or in coral reefs in Belize and the Bahamas. They gain an understanding of Roman art by touring the Colosseum, learn more about Zapotec culture by diagramming ruins in Oaxaca, or see water scarcity issues firsthand in rural Tanzania.

Learning through experience
Cornellians tackle internships and research projects with the same intensity as their course work—for 18 days they are fully a part of the culture of the organization, they work to solve real-world problems, and they give the work their full attention. Without course conflicts they have the freedom to travel anywhere in the world for an internship or research opportunity, whether it’s a local business, a graduate-level laboratory study at a partner university (domestic or abroad), the political scene in Washington, DC, or a prestigious law firm. Recent examples include a museum in Puerto Rico, the US Embassy in Argentina, a law office in Jamaica, and a research station in Madagascar.

With One Course At A Time, students can take advantage of multiple experiences before graduating, and an average of 93% of Cornell graduates complete their degrees in four years.

A day at Cornell
The One Course curriculum, where each professor teaches just one course, means that most classes meet for two hours each morning, break for lunch and activities, then reconvene for two hours in the afternoon. At 3:00 pm gears shift and students have the rest of the evening for study, athletics (19 Division III teams), campus-wide activities, student groups (83), guest lecturers, and performances in music, theatre, and dance. 

Sound like how the world works? That’s education at the speed of life.

To understand it, it’s best to experience it for yourself—visit campus and see what makes us Cornellians:




• Anthropology
• Art (Studio)
• Art History
• Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
• Biology
• Business
• Chemistry
• Civic Engagement
• Classical Studies
• Computer Science
• Economics & Business
• Education, Elementary
• Education, Secondary
• Engineering Sciences
• Engineering, Dual Degree
• English & Creative Writing
• Environmental Studies
• Ethnic Studies
• Forestry & Environmental Management
• French
• Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies
• Geology
• German Studies
• History
• International Relations
• Kinesiology
• Latin American Studies
• Mathematics & Statistics
• Medical Laboratory Science & Medical Technology
• Music
• Philosophy
• Physics
• Politics
• Psychology
• Religion
• Russian
• Russian Studies
• Sociology
• Sociology & Anthropology
• Spanish
• Theatre
• Pre-architecture
• Pre-dentistry
• Pre-health Administration/Management
• Pre-law
• Pre-medicine
• Pre-occupational Therapy
• Pre-pharmacy
• Pre-physical Therapy
• Pre-physician Assistant
• Pre-public Health
• Pre-social Work/Human Services
• Pre-theology
• Pre-veterinary