Academic Policies

Registration Dates & Instructions

You will find registration dates listed on the Academic Calendar on Compass. The Office of Admission assigns new student appointments. The Registration & Records Office assign continuing student registration periods. You will register online using Compass—it is recommended you register as close as possible to the start of your registration period. If you have any difficulty registering using Compass, you can contact the Registration & Records Office. The last day to register is the eighth calendar day of the semester. 

If you are a continuing student or you are returning from a Leave of Absence, you must contact your Department Chair for an advising session prior to registration. At this time, you will receive clearance to register online on your priority registration date. Please refer to the degree requirements listed in the Cornish catalog and your degree audit report to assist with choosing classes. Be sure to choose alternative courses in case your first-choice classes are full. Remember, you will not be allowed to register until you receive registration clearance from your advisor.

If you want to sign up for classes outside your major that are designated as “Open to In-Majors Only or by Departmental Authorization,” you will need to have a course authorization issued by the Department Chair or Coordinator of the department offering the class. This authorization will enable you to add the course online.

If you are planning on signing up for a class with the requisite “Open to Non-Majors after Advance Registration,” you will not be able to sign up for the class until after advance registration is over. You will be notified by email when departments release space to non-major students. Any space available at this time will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

Adding & Dropping Courses

Once you are registered, you can view your schedule online via your Compass account. You are responsible for completion of the courses listed on your schedule. 

You may add or drop courses or change sections online until the eighth day of the semester. The Academic Calendar shows deadline information about making schedule changes. These deadlines also apply to courses that meet for only the second part of the semester or those that meet for fewer than 15 weeks. It is not possible to add courses after the eighth day of the term, regardless of the start date of the course. To drop courses after the eighth day of the term, students will need to come to the Registration & Records Office. Making schedule changes may result in a recalculation of your financial aid awards by the Student Accounts Manager.

Independent Study

The College assumes that the department curricula provide a complete training path. However, sophomores, juniors and seniors may be permitted to pursue a maximum of six credits of Independent Study. These credits must consist of research outside the established curriculum and be otherwise unavailable in any Cornish department.

Independent Study is defined as student-performed research and study. Cornish faculty are limited to a total of six hours of instruction over the course of a semester to consult with students pursuing independent study and to provide evaluation at the conclusion of the study. Students responsible for turning in completed Independent Study contracts to the Registration & Records Office before the add/drop deadline.

Pass/Fail Credit Option

You may choose to take courses for the College Elective degree requirement for a pass/fail grade option. You may take no more than these six credits on a pass/fail basis to complete your baccalaureate degree. You may not take Humanities and Sciences requirements and/or major requirements on a pass/fail basis unless the course is only offered with this grade option.

Incomplete Grade

An instructor may choose to award an incomplete grade when a student who has performed satisfactorily in a course cannot complete all assignments before the end of the semester because of illness or other serious circumstances beyond the student’s control. If the instructor determines that an incomplete grade is appropriate, then the student and instructor must submit an Incomplete Contract to the Registration & Records Office. Contracts are available to both faculty and students on Compass. Instructors must submit the final grade for the incomplete by the 9th week of the following semester.

Withdrawal Notations

If you drop a course or withdraw completely from the College during the first eight days of a semester, no withdrawal grade will be recorded on your academic transcript. 

If you withdraw or drop classes after the eighth day of the term, you will receive a “W” withdrawal grade on your academic transcripts. The “W” grade does not impact grade point average (GPA).

You may not drop courses or withdraw from the College after the eleventh week of the semester. Please note: Ceasing to attend a class does not constitute withdrawal. You must follow official course withdrawal procedures. Failure to complete a semester does not cancel your obligation to pay tuition, fees and other charges in full.

Complete Withdrawal From Cornish

If you find it necessary to withdraw from Cornish  after the eighth day of a semester, you must follow the steps outlined below: 

  • Fill out a Complete Withdrawal form.
  • Schedule exit interviews to obtain signatures from your Department Chair, a financial aid representative, and a student accounts administrator.
  • Submit the completed and signed form to the Registration & Records Office.

The date the form is signed by the Registrar is the effective date of your withdrawal. That date becomes the basis for any tuition refund and/or financial aid recalculation. Official withdrawal does not cancel your obligation to pay tuition, fees and all other charges in full. Check with Student Accounts for information about the full refund policy.

If you must withdraw prior to the eighth day of a semester, you may drop all of your classes on Compass. You are responsible for conducting any closing business with your Department Chair, Student Accounts and the Office of Financial Aid. 

Leave of Absence

Only students in good academic standing are eligible to be granted a Leave of Absence. If you intend to return to Cornish to complete your degree, you may apply for a Leave of Absence from the College for a period of up to two semesters (one academic year). You may pick up a Leave of Absence Application from the Registration & Records Office. You will need to schedule appointments with your Department Chair, the Office of Financial Aid, Student Accounts, the Library and the Registration & Records Office to complete your application.   You will receive written notification from the Registration & Records Office telling you if the application has been approved or denied.

Graduation Requirements

Candidates for the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Music (BMus) degree must meet the criteria listed below: 

  • Completion of total credit requirements in degree program, ranging from 120 –130. These credits must be distributed as follows:
    • 84–94 credits in the major area of study
    • 30 credits in Humanities & Sciences coursework
    • 6 credits of arts electives outside the major area of study
  • Completion of at least 60 credits and final two semesters as a matriculated student-in-residence at Cornish. 
    • Credit by Exam, Prior Learning Experience, AP/CLEP/IB, and transfer credit are not considered credits completed in residence.
  • Minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0.
  • Completion of  all degree requirements.
  • Conversion of all incomplete grades to final grades.
  • Submission of graduation application.

Graduation applications must be submitted online to the Registration & Records Office via Compass by October 1 (for spring and summer graduates) and April 1 (for fall graduates). Once graduation applications are submitted, Registration & Records will complete degree audits and will notify students of missing degree requirements.

Curriculum Revisions

If degree requirements change during the time you are enrolled at Cornish, you may elect either to complete your baccalaureate degree under the new requirements or complete your degree under the requirements that were in effect at the time you became a matriculated student. You may not combine provisions of the old and new programs.