Transfer Option Frequently Asked Questions

The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business is pleased to offer transfer options (TOs) to a select number of first-year applicants. Due to first-year enrollment restrictions and the depth of the applicant group, we are unable to offer admission to many applicants who have shown outstanding academic potential and passion for our programs.

The TO is another way for these students to enter our college.

About Transfer Options

Q: Can you tell me why the selection committee made this decision?

A: The TO allows us to continue to work with a select group of talented applicants whom we did not admit but who remain committed to Cornell and the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

Q: Is there a decision appeal process?

A: No. All decisions are final and there is no appeal process.

Q: If I accept the TO, am I obligated to complete the transfer process?

A: No. If you are not certain that you will want to transfer, we recommend that you complete the form now and withdraw later if you ultimately decide not to transfer. Saying "yes" to the transfer option is not binding and you can decide to withdraw from the transfer option at any time by communicating with the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business admissions office.

Q: Can I use this TO decision to apply to another Cornell undergraduate unit?

A: This offer is valid only for the school within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business that extended you the transfer option. Should your interests change, you must apply as an external transfer candidate to the Cornell program that best meets your current interests.

Q: What support is available for incoming transfer students?

A: All incoming students, including transfer students, participate in required orientation programming. In addition, you are assigned an advisor in your school's Office of Student Services to walk you through the onboarding process.

Q: Will I be able to study abroad or take Cornell electives?

A: Students may only fulfill their free elective credits during study abroad opportunities, so it may be very difficult to complete your core credits and study abroad. Individual circumstances will determine the opportunity to study abroad. Some transfer students may be advised to consider a summer abroad versus a semester abroad.

Q: Will I be able to participate in the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Alliance?

A: If you are interested in the CIA Alliance, we recommend that you contact Emily Franco, director of the SHA/CIA Alliance, for more information.

Transfer Credits

Q: What courses should I take?

A: Please refer to your TO letter for specific courses you should take during your year at another institution.

Q: Does it matter which college/school I attend to begin my college career?

A: We recommend you choose a school that is your next best fit and that will allow you the flexibility to take general-education and introductory-level business courses. We do not recommend attending another hospitality program, as it can be difficult to fulfill transfer credit for our hotel administration core courses through other hospitality courses. Course syllabi must receive pre-approval from our office to fulfill hotel administration core classes.

Q: How will my credits transfer?

A: Most transfer credits will fulfill non-hotel-administration (general-education) electives and free electives. While Cornell University will accept a maximum of 60 transfer credits, only 42 credits are needed to fulfill non-hotel-administration (distributive) and free electives.

Please see the guidelines (PDF) on which credits may transfer to the Hotel School.

On rare occasions, the Hotel School may accept transfer credit toward core courses in the major. Up to 18 credits may be considered for transfer toward core required courses. Suggested core courses that may be considered for transfer credits include:

Prior to enrolling in a course, please submit a syllabus and complete the Prospective Transfer Credit Application for review to This should be sent before taking the course as there is no guarantee that courses will transfer as Hotel core courses. This form is ONLY needed for courses you wish to transfer into the core curriculum. Please allow up to 10 business days for a response from the registrar. 

Q: How will Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) credit(s) transfer?

A: Hotel School students are limited to a total of 15 test (AP, IB, GCE, A-level) credits toward degree requirements. 

With qualifying scores, Hotel School students may be awarded AP credit only in Free Electives, with two exceptions:

  • AP Microeconomics-a score of a 5 will fulfill HADM 1410
  • IB Economics-a score of 6 or 7 will fulfill HADM 1410 and 3 free elective credits
  • AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition-a score of 5 will fuilfill the First-Year Writing Seminar

Q: Will both my grade point average and college credits transfer?

A: Earning a C or better will allow earned credits to transfer. Your GPA does not transfer and is not calculated in your Cornell GPA.

Q: Can I have courses evaluated if they look similar to Hotel School core courses?

A: Prospective students must complete the Prospective Transfer Credit Application to obtain pre-approval for potential transfer credit to be applied to hotel administration core requirements from schools or universities outside of Cornell University.

You only need to seek pre-approval from courses that you wish to transfer into the Hotel School core curriculum. 

Q: How do trimester- or quarter-system credits transfer?

A: In your college catalog, there will be a paragraph on the school's credit system, and it should also provide the conversion from that credit to semester hours. If not, you may want to contact the registrar of your college to ask how these credits will convert to the semester system.

For the quarter system, we generally calculate that 1 quarter-system credit = .666 semester credits. Please note that we do not round up (e.g., if the total number of credits towards graduation requirements = 15.9, you will receive 15 credits.)

Q: What happens if I do not meet the conditions of the TO? For example, what if I don't meet the GPA or grade requirement?

A: Students who have not completed the TO requirements will still be considered for transfer admission, but will be reviewed with the regular transfer applicants.

The selection committee will evaluate each application on a case-by-case basis and take into account that the applicant was offered the TO.

Q: I am considering attending a college/university outside the United States next year. Will that be OK?

A: We have found that students who attend institutions outside the U.S. often have a difficult time fulfilling the course requirements, because the content may vary greatly from what is offered at U.S. institutions.

Q: I am considering attending a school/university that uses "shadow grading" or provides only pass/fail grades (no GPA). Is that OK?

A: Pass/fail grading or written evaluations will not satisfy the TO requirements. You will be required to submit grades to the admissions committee in order to demonstrate your academic performance in the courses you are taking.

Pass/fail grades will not count for credit. To be considered a transfer student, you must complete 12 or more college credits (post-high school graduation).

Q: Can I take a required course pass/fall?

A: No. You must receive a grade in the course for it to count toward transfer requirements and to transfer for credit to Cornell. In Cornell's view, taking a course P/F is like not taking the course at all. If your institution has a policy that all grades are taken P/F, you must ask to have your grades uncovered to receive credit.

Q: How can I transfer my hospitality work experience?

A: All students must complete two units (800 hours) of practice credit to fulfill Hotel School graduation requirements.

Once you have matriculated to an accredited college or university, work experience may count towards, but will not exceed, one full unit (400 hours) of practice credit. See Practice Credit requirements and guidelines.

How to Transfer

Q: Do I need to complete a new application for transfer admission?

A: To re-apply as a TO candidate, you must submit an abbreviated TO application and required supplemental documents. The TO application will be emailed in early December.

If you did not submit the Statement of Intent form accepting the transfer option or if you declined the transfer option, you would need to begin a new Cornell external-transfer application if you re-applied.

Q: Will I need to reapply for financial aid?

A: Yes, you will need to resubmit your application for financial aid at the time of application. Please use the financial aid calculator to receive an estimated financial aid package or visit

Q: Do I have the option to complete an admissions interview?

A: No. Interviews are not required or offered for TO applicants.

Important Dates

  • December 2019: Email with link to the TO application
  • March 15, 2020: TO application and financial aid application deadline (application fee waived)
  • April – May 2020: TO decision notification
  • April – June 2020: Email with preliminary transfer credit evaluation