Human Ecology's applied, pre-professional curriculum is organized around contemporary social topics and issues - Design and Technology; Development and the Life Course; Economic and Social Well-being; and Human Nutrition, Health and Genomics - not simply academic disciplines. 

Interdisciplinary curriculum

Our academic majors are firmly grounded in the social, natural and physical sciences, and design to create dynamic, interdisciplinary fields of study. This allows our students to explore their interests in a broader context and to understand and analyze issues from multiple perspectives. All of our undergraduate majors are Bachelors of Science programs. Review the most current curriculum sheets by major to see how required and elective coursework from the College and across the University work together.

Pre-professional preparation

While our majors are focused on pre-professional study, there is no prescribed way to prepare for careers in business, health/medicine, or law, or just one way to be creative in the college or at Cornell University. Any major allows students to take prerequisite courses for professional and graduate school.

Fact sheets: read more about our majors

Our undergraduate majors are represented below with a link to the major's fact sheet. We encourage you to spend time with the fact sheets as they provide a more in-depth overview, sample courses, and information about research, experiential opportunities, and career pathways. Click away!

Majors

Design + Environmental Analysis (D+EA) combines innovative design thinking with insightful research to understand how emerging technologies and the physical environments where people live, work, and play impact our daily lives. D+EA is composed of designers, environmental psychologists, and technologists who study and design evidence-based environments that are aesthetic, compelling, and responsive to the human condition. Themes of Design Innovation and Strategy, Emerging Technology, Health and Well-being, and Sustainable Futures further define the knowledge base and develop robust skill sets. 

D+EA students learn to tackle problems from a systems perspective by addressing people, process, and place. Our graduates are changing the world in the design and technology industries across user experience, healthcare, industrial, and interior.

Read more from our D+EA fact sheet. Review the D+EA curriculum sheet

Fashion Design and Management (FD&M) encompasses the creative, technical, marketing, and communications aspects of the fashion industry. Students pursue the art of creative fashion design, functional aspects of clothing, and technical aspects of product development, as well as applying business principles to the global fashion industry through a multidisciplinary, liberal arts-based approach. 

The Fashion Design option prepares students for careers as designers through studio courses that explore concepts and techniques of creating fashion. Review the Fashion Design curriculum sheet

The Fashion Design Management option teaches students to solve problems of a broadly defined fashion industry in the practical situations of business management. Review the Fashion Design Management curriculum sheet

Read more from our FD&M fact sheet. 

The Fiber Science (FS) major focuses on the unique physical properties of fibers and the distinct process to develop and characterize specialized fibers. Students study the physical, chemical, biomedical, and engineering properties of fibrous materials, advanced engineering composites, geotextiles, nanofibers, and textiles. Students also consider the human component and societal impact of the advances being developed through a curriculum that includes the social sciences and humanities. The major can be complemented by an aesthetic perspective for those interested in the fashion or performance apparel industry. 

Students can focus on individual interests, for example, the development of reinforced composite materials, conductive fibers for smart/protective clothing and wearable technology, or arterial grafts for medicine.

Read more from our FS fact sheet. Review the FS curriculum sheet.

This major is for freshmen applicants only.

Sustained improvement of the health of communities requires a multidisciplinary approach that involves the biomedical, social, behavioral, political and environmental sciences, and consideration of the cultural context. The Global and Public Health Sciences (GPHS) major applies this comprehensive perspective to public health research, problems, and solutions. The population-level work of public health professionals is distinct from that of clinical professionals who typically treat individuals after they have become sick or injured. Public health actions often involve educational and/or governmental approaches that influence many people simultaneously to address issues such as obesity and chronic disease; food insecurity; health disparities; HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases; and access to health care. 

Read more from our GPHS fact sheet. Review the GPHS curriculum sheet.

The United States health care system spans the public and private sectors and is regulated in large part by policy decisions that impact individuals, families, and communities. Students drawn to understanding the complexities and broad implications of the healthcare industry—its management, delivery, cost, equity, and advancements—will find the Health Care Policy (HCP) major, offered by the Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) Department, especially compelling. With a foundation in demography, economics, econometrics, statistics, writing, and mathematics, and depth in the natural sciences, the major integrates analytical thinking and research skills with quantitative data analysis skills. The curriculum examines health care from behavioral, cross-cultural, policy, and social perspectives.

Read more from our HCP fact sheet. Review the HCP curriculum sheet.

The Human Biology, Health, and Society (HBHS) major provides a strong background in human biology while preparing students to investigate health issues from a social science perspective. The biological bases of health and illness of individuals are critically examined in the context of how social, psychological, economic, cultural, design, and policy aspects affect individuals, communities, and populations. In addition, coursework in Nutritional Sciences allows students to comprehensively and holistically focus on health and wellness. Innovations in health and a changing approach to its management are redefining the healthcare industry and the roles of health professionals. The breadth and depth of the HBHS major prepares students for work in this complex and dynamic environment. 

Read more from our HBHS fact sheet. Review the HBHS curriculum sheet.

Human Development (HD) is a multidisciplinary field that provides a strong foundation in the behavioral sciences while exploring the social, cultural, biological, and psychological development of humans across the life course. Students study the processes and mechanisms of growth and change throughout the life cycle and how experiences and social factors affect development. Coursework is organized into five areas of specialization: Aging and Health; Cognitive Development; Human Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience; Psychology, Law, and Human Development; and Social and Personality Development. An important emphasis is placed on the role that social factors such as schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and culture play in human development, as well as the influence that developing humans have on their environment. 

Read more from our HD fact sheet. Review the HD curriculum sheet.

The Nutritional Sciences (NS) major provides a thorough foundation in the life sciences and teaches students how the relationship between food and nutrition affects the health and well-being of individuals, families, and populations. In addition to studying nutrition from a molecular level, students study the cultural, political, economic, and social components that determine how people and communities access, afford, are educated around, and make decisions about nutrition. NS majors learn to critically interpret research and apply it to societal issues, government policies, and people’s everyday lives. 

Read more from our NS fact sheet. Review the NS curriculum sheet.

Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) students and faculty study the effects of government policies on individuals and families, public health, education, crime, product markets, financial markets, and a variety of other social impacts. The major’s unique strength stems from the research tools learned and used – robust theory, rigorous empirical quantitative skills, analytical thinking and planning, practical applications to real world policy issues.

Developing and implementing appropriate legislation is crucially important to individuals, communities, and society at large. PAM majors employ theories and methods from economics, sociology, demography, and psychology to understand the theoretical effect of government policy. Using data analysis techniques, students learn how to measure the magnitude of policy effects. 

Read more from our PAM fact sheet. Review the PAM curriculum sheet.