Physical Education Requirement

First-year students are required to complete 2 credits of physical education (Phys Ed) during their first year. Students may not take two Phys Ed classes in the same semester for credit without the approval by Phys Ed; however, the same Phys Ed course (with the exception of marching band) may be taken for credit two semesters in a row. It is the student’s responsibility to sign up for Phys Ed classes during university registration periods. Be sure to check add/drop deadlines for Phys Ed classes, which often are different from the normal university course add/drop deadlines.

Transfer students who have completed two or more terms of full-time study elsewhere, regardless of whether those terms included Phys Ed courses, do not need to take Phys Ed or complete the swim test at Cornell. Transfer students who completed only one term elsewhere must take one term of Phys Ed, and complete the swim test at Cornell.

Phys Ed requirements may be modified for the following reasons:

  1. Health Reasons: Either a temporary medical postponement or a permanent medical waiver, which must be officially certified by Gannett Health Services.
  2. Work: If a student works twenty or more hours per week, he or she may qualify for postponement or a waiver, which must be approved by the athletic director’s office in Teagle Hall.
  3. Team Sport: Upon approval of the athletic director’s office, students participating in a team sport will receive credit toward the Phys Ed requirement.

In addition to the above requirements, students must pass a basic swim test to graduate. The test, conducted during the first week of classes, consists of a continuous 75-yard swim using front, back, and optional strokes. Any student who cannot pass the test must include swimming as his or her Phys Ed before choosing any Elective Phys Ed class.

All students are encouraged to explore opportunities offered by the Department of Athletics and Physical Education, 607.255.4286. More information also is available on the web at

Note: The credits of Phys Ed are not included in the 120-credit graduation requirement or in the minimum 12-credits-per-semester requirement