Degree Requirements for Students that Matriculated Prior to Fall 2022

Bachelor’s degree candidates at the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration study all aspects of hospitality management, gaining the necessary knowledge and cultivating the skills for leadership in the world’s largest global industry.

To graduate with the BS in hotel administration, students will complete the following requirements:

Hotel Administration (HADM) Core Courses

Total Credits: 64 Credits

HADM Electives

Students must take a minimum of 14 credits of School of Hotel Administration (SHA) electives at the 3000 level or higher. All courses must be taken for a letter grade, unless the course is offered only with an S/U option.

Students may elect an optional concentration within the SHA electives.

Note: please see the updated student handbook for SHA courses that do not count toward SHA electives.

The following courses may be counted toward the SHA elective requirement:

Free Electives

Students must take a minimum of 24 credits in free electives: any course in or outside of the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration (not including PE courses). These courses may be taken for a letter grade or S/U. Note that only 4 credits in total (of all courses taken – core and electives) each semester may be taken for the S/U option (exclusive of courses that are only offered S/U).

Please see the Student Handbook for details regarding what counts toward free elective credit hours.

Non-HADM Electives

Broaden and strengthen the intellectual and analytical base of students’ thinking

Students must take a minimum of 18 credits outside the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration. The First-Year Writing Seminar (3 credits) is required for graduation and counts toward the non-HADM elective total.

Classes that are similar/duplicates in title or content of our Cornell Nolan School classes may not be counted toward non-HADM credits. Please refer to Double Dipping/Forbidden Overlaps in the student handbook for more information. If there is any question, it is important to check with an advisor in the Office of Student Services to determine to which category a course may be applied.

AP credits do not count toward distributive electives (exception is the First-Year Writing Seminar with a score of 5).

NOTE: LSC supplemental courses will appear on transcripts, but will not count toward graduation credit.

Physical Education

Cornell undergraduates are required to complete 2 credits of physical education during their first year.

It is the student’s responsibility to sign up for physical education classes by reporting to Teagle Hall during university registration. Be sure to check the add/drop deadlines for physical education classes, which often are different from the normal university course add/drop deadlines. Physical education classes taken for credit will be graded Pass/Fail. Students receive credit for only one course per term.

Note: Physical education credits are not included in the 120 credit hour minimum for graduation.

In addition, 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 swim test must include swimming as his or her physical education course before choosing any elective physical education class.  A grade of Incomplete will be issued until the swim test has been passed or the requirement has been filled by satisfactory attendance in two terms of beginning swim classes.

Note: Transfer students who have completed two or more terms of full-time study elsewhere, regardless of whether those terms included physical education courses, are not required to take physical education or the swim test at Cornell. Transfer students who completed only one term elsewhere will be required to take one term of physical education, including the swim test, at Cornell.

All students are encouraged to explore opportunities offered by the Department of Athletics and Physical Education.

Physical education requirements may be modified for the following reasons

  • Health. Either a temporary medical postponement or a permanent medical waiver, which must be officially certified by Gannett Health Center.
  • Work. If a student works 20 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.
  • Team Sport. Upon approval of the athletic director’s office, students participating in a team sport will receive credit toward the physical education requirement.

Permission for postponement of, or exemption from, the physical education requirements is issued only by the University Faculty Committee on Physical Education or the director of physical education. Final authority for interpretation and ruling on requests for exemption rests with the committee.

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.

Program Administration

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 positionsNo 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 semesterYou 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.

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).

Employment Verification

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.

International Students

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

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
Self-employment/Family Business

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);
    • other
  • 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 send PDF employment verification forms to or drop them off at Statler Hall 180. 

Students must also:

  • Complete eight terms in residence, or the requirement designated for transfer students. To satisfy a term of resident study, a student must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours. Under certain circumstances, a student may petition for early graduation.
  • Earn a minimum of 120 credits, exclusive of physical education credits.
  • Attain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 in the prescribed course curriculum.
  • Earn a minimum GPA of 2.0 in a full-time schedule of courses, in residence, in the final semester. Note: students must be on campus during the last semester. Exceptions for extraordinary circumstances may be petitioned, if all other graduation requirements—including Practice Credit, physical education, and language—have been met, and the student has a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  • Receive a final grade in any course for which an “Incomplete” was issued.