Practice Credit Requirements and Guidelines
Purpose and Objective
The purpose of practice credit is to expose you to a variety of practical work experiences in industries you have a career interest in. This experience enhances the overall business education you receive at the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. You are urged to seek a variety of practical experiences during your time at Cornell. Ultimately, you are responsible for your career development which is shaped by the opportunities you choose to pursue.
The objective of the practice credit requirement is to ensure that your education has the essential balance between theory and practice. In attaining this objective, you will be able to:
- test your career interests and gain valuable work experience;
- recognize, develop, and practice skills necessary in your future career;
- put classroom theory into practice in the real working environment and utilize this practical experience in future academic assignments;
- compare and contrast different types of organizations, company cultures, and management styles;
- explore different departments/areas within an organization, and gain invaluable perspective regarding issues, concerns, and behaviors of employees at various levels;
- network with key people in an industry; and
- improve your marketability upon graduation.
The Office of Student Services, 180 Statler Hall, administers the Practice Credit program. The role, scope, and authority of the Practice Credit program reside with the faculty of the Cornell Nolan School.
The Office of Student Services:
- advises students on practice credit requirements, and appropriate work experiences;
- maintains all records and Employment Verification forms;
- recommends and updates amendments to the Practice Credit Requirements & Guidelines;
- approves Practice Credit Petition forms submitted;
- indicates when the Practice Credit requirement is complete.
Fulfilling and Calculating Your Practice Credit Requirement
To graduate from the Nolan School Bachelor of Science program, you must work a minimum of 800 hours (two units), paid or unpaid, in one or more industries that interest you.
- You must work a minimum of two separate employment periods, holding a minimum of two significantly different positions. No single position may qualify for more than 400 hours (one unit).
- You must be a matriculated student in college at the time you work for the position to qualify for practice credit.
- To receive two units of practice credit from the same organization, the nature of each job must be significantly different.
- Entering freshmen may not receive practice credit for positions held prior to matriculation in the Nolan School. Work experience while in high school or the summer(s) between your high school senior year and first year at Cornell, will not be considered for practice credit.
Our expectation is that you will fulfill the practice credit requirement and submit verification prior to the start of your final semester. You will not be allowed to graduate unless you:
- submit Employment Verification forms for appropriate work experiences to the Office of Student Services;
- receive an e-mail notification that the Practice Credit Employment Verification form has been processed.
COVID-19 Updates to the Practice Credit Requirement
The Nolan School has made a temporary amendment to the practice credit policy in light of COVID-19 and the resulting challenges in both obtaining internships and contacting supervisors to verify employment. The following changes are expected to be in effect until May 2022; however, the requirements for students graduating after May 2021 may be revisited as conditions change.
Reduced Practice Credit Hour Requirements
|Graduation Date||Practice Credit Hours Needed to Graduate|
|May 2020||Minimum 600 Hours (1.5 Units of Practice Credit)|
|December 2020||Minimum 400 Hours (1 Unit of Practice Credit)|
|May 2021||Minimum 400 Hours (1 Unit of Practice Credit)|
|December 2021||Minimum 600 Hours (1.5 Units of Practice Credit)|
|May 2022||Minimum 600 Hours (1.5 Units of Practice Credit)|
|After May 2022||800 Hours (2 Units of Practice Credit)|
*The requirements for students graduating after May 2021 may be revisited as conditions change
Qualifying Practice Credit Activity During This Period
- Paid work experience in any field*
- Volunteer work for any organization, with particular emphasis on those that provide food, lodging, emergency services, health services, transportation, business support, logistics, education or other social services
- Entrepreneurial activity with concrete outcomes (business plan development, website or app development, sales, etc.)*
- Applied project work (paid or unpaid) that advances hospitality industry knowledge or reach, such as but not limited to:
- academic research under the direction of a Cornell faculty member;
- industry research under the direction of a Cornell faculty member or industry partner;
- support for Cornell College of Business programs (e.g. Centers and Institutes, academic programs, etc.)
*Excludes child care, home maintenance, or similar for the student’s own family. Student’s interested in using entrepreneurial activity or work at a family business must submit a petition for approval before completing the employment verification form.
Calculating Your Practice Credit
- The smallest fraction of a practice credit unit that you may earn is one–tenth (0.1) for a period of 40 hours worked.
- Units are rounded down to the tenth unit (e.g. 387 hours = 0.967 unit; this is rounded down to 0.9 unit of practice credit).
- Working in a position for more than 400 hours earns you only one unit of practice credit (e.g. 492 hours = 1 unit).
You are responsible for obtaining employment verification from your employer. Both you and your employer must complete and sign the appropriate sections of the Employment Verification form. The Nolan School retains the right to verify the accuracy of the information submitted. Any misinformation will be considered a violation of the University’s Code of Academic Integrity.
Both the paper and electronic versions of form are available online. The paper form is also available in the Office of Student Services.
Upon receipt and processing of the completed Employment Verification form, the Office of Student Services will email you, notifying you of the specific amount of practice credit you have earned.
Submission of Employment Verification Forms
You should submit your forms as soon as possible upon completing your work experience. Summer experiences are due no later than end of September and winter experiences or any remaining credit needed for graduation for May candidates are due by end of February.
You must submit all fully completed Employment Verification Forms prior to the start of your final semester.
Remember, you will not graduate until you successfully complete this requirement. Students who wait to submit forms risk the chance that an employer or supervisor is unable to provide verification at a later date and will likely delay your graduation.
If you hold a J-1 or F-1 visa, and wish to earn practice credit for work completed in the United States, you should work closely with the International Students and Scholars Office to attain and complete the proper paperwork (Curricular Practical Training-CPT) that allows international students the opportunity to work in the US. If required, the Office of Student Services can provide you with a letter indicating that you must work as an academic/graduation requirement.
Once you have completed your practice credit requirement, the Office of Student Services can no longer give you a letter indicating that work is an academic requirement. Note that it is your responsibility to understand and comply with all immigration regulations regarding working in the United States. For more information, visit the ISSO website.
Transfer students must fulfill two units of practice credit. As a transfer student you may receive up to, but not more than, one full unit of practice credit upon matriculation if:
- you are transferring from an accredited HRI (Hotel Restaurant Institution) or culinary arts program, and that institution has a required industry practicum that is recorded on your transcript as having been completed; or
- you have completed a minimum of 400 hours of appropriate, documented work in an industry segment since matriculating in any accredited college or university.
If you qualify under (1) above, and your final transcript has been received by the Nolan School, your pre-matriculation practice credit is automatic and will show on your transfer credit allowance sheet.
If you qualify under (2) above, you must submit the employment verification form by the end of your first semester in the Nolan School.
If you do not qualify under either number 1 or 2 above, you must fulfill the practice credit requirement and submit verification prior to University registration for your final two semesters.
Receiving Practice Credit for On-campus Employment and
Jobs on Cornell University’s campus can qualify for practice credit. Experience working at the Statler Hotel will be considered for up to one unit (1.0) of practice credit. If you have questions about the eligibility of an on-campus position, other than in the Statler Hotel, you should discuss with the Office of Student Services to determine if the experience will qualify for practice credit.
The following list indicates what will/will not qualify for practice credit within the realm of the Nolan School and self–employment/family–owned business. This is not an exhaustive list.
- Hotel Ezra Cornell (HEC): 0.2 of a unit of practice credit will be offered to function managers and board assistants (must have a minimum of 80 hours), and 0.1 of a unit to volunteers (must have a minimum of 40 hours). To receive practice credit, provide the Employment Verification form to the HEC Faculty Advisor for the hours you worked and appropriate signatures, and then submit the form to the Office of Student Services.
- Professional Development Program (PDP) Managers: practice credit will be offered to those who hold a PDP Manager position (must have a minimum of 80 hours). To receive practice credit, submit the Employment Verification form to Statler Human Resources for verification of hours, receive signatures from the appropriate supervisors, and then submit the form to the Office of Student Services.
- Teaching/Research Assistants (TA): No practice credit will be given for employment as a TA in any educational institution.
- Fraternities or Sororities: To receive practice credit for your work at a fraternity or sorority, it must be a paid position (such as steward), and you must have a full-time employee complete your Employment Verification form. Volunteer work on a committee (such as event planning) will not count towards practice credit.
- Self–employment/Family–owned Business: To receive practice credit for your own business or working for a family–owned business, you must petition in advance so that appropriate verification procedures may be set in place.
Leave of Absence, Required Leave, & ROTC
- Leave of absence: If you are on a voluntary leave of absence from the Nolan School and have worked within an acceptable hospitality/service industry segment during your leave, you may apply for practice credit when you return to school by submitting an Employment Verification form.
- Required leave: If you are on academic required leave from the Nolan School and have worked within an acceptable hospitality/service industry segment during the leave, you may apply to receive up to one unit (400 hours) of practice credit when you return to school.
- ROTC candidates: If you matriculated in the Nolan School as a freshman and joined any of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) during your freshman year, you may receive up to one unit of practice credit for your ROTC required summer military training activities. If you did not matriculate as a freshman and/or you did not join a ROTC unit in your freshman year, you must petition to receive any credit for summer military activities. Any ROTC experience prior to matriculating to Cornell will not be considered.
Practice Credit Petitions
To request an exemption from the Practice Credit Program requirements you must petition the Nolan School, Office of Student Services. You may obtain a petition form online at on our academic forms web page or from the Office of Student Services.
The petition must adhere to the following requirements:
- State reason(s) for the request:
- to receive up to 800 hours from one employer
(must be done prior to employment period);
- to receive up to 800 hours from one employer
- Your petition should be submitted in advance of your employment and in writing.
You will be notified of the decision by the Office of Student Services.
If your petition is denied, you will be informed that you may appeal for a second review. In such circumstances, you must submit in writing additional material of your choosing for consideration.
Note to The Student and Employer
The Nolan School requires its matriculated students earning a Bachelor of Science degree to work in the hospitality service industry to graduate. The objective of the Practice Credit requirement is to ensure that our students’ education has the essential balance between theory and practice.
To receive Practice Credit, students should keep the following in mind:
- You must earn 2 units of practice credit. You must work a minimum of two separate employment periods, holding a minimum of two significantly different positions. No single position may qualify for more than 400 hours (one unit). If you have worked in one particular job for more than 400 hours, it will only qualify for one unit.
- To receive 2 units of practice credit from the same organization, you must obtain prior approval from the Office of Student Services by completing a petition.
- You may receive partial credit for employment if you did not complete 400 hours in one position. You may earn no less than 0.1 of a unit, the equivalent of 40 hours worked.
- You must submit all Employment Verification forms prior to registration for your final two semesters.
- You will not be allowed to graduate unless you process and submit Employment Verification forms for appropriate work experience to Career Management, and receive notification that the Practice Credit requirement has been met.
Please return your completed Employment Verification forms to the Office of Student Services, Career Management, 180 Statler Hall.