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

Design & Environmental Analysis ・ Fashion Design & Management ・ Fiber Science ・ Global & Public Health ・ Health Care Policy (Brooks School)・Human Biology, Health, & Society ・ Human Development ・ Nutritional Sciences ・Policy Analysis & Management (Brooks School)

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

Admissions Note: A design supplement is required of all applicants to this major as part of the application process.

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 latest D+EA curriculum sheet.

Admissions Note: A design supplement is required of all applicants to this major as part of the application process.
 

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 latest 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 latest 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 of our FS fact sheet. Review the latest FS curriculum sheet.

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. 

This major is not available for those applying as transfers from other non-Cornell University institutions. 

Read more of our GPHS fact sheet. Review the latest GPHS curriculum sheet.

As of the fall of 2021, the Health Care Policy major is housed in the Brooks School of Public Policy

Health care spending in the United States was $4.1 trillion in 2020, which was $12,530 per person, and accounted for nearly 20% of the nation’s economy. The U.S. health care system spans the public and private sectors and is regulated by policy decisions that impact individuals, families, and communities. Students drawn to understanding the complexities and potential of the health care industry—its advancements, cost, delivery, equity, and management—will find the Health Care Policy (HCP) major, offered by the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, especially compelling.

Read more of our HCP fact sheet. Review the latest 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 of our HBHS fact sheet. Review the latest 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. Undergraduate students in the Human Development major 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 of our HD fact sheet. Review the latest 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 of our NS fact sheet. Review the latest NS curriculum sheet.

As of the fall of 2021, the Policy Analysis and Management major is housed in the Brooks School of Public Policy

Public policy affects every aspect of our lives, from the prices of the goods we buy to the decisions we make about where to live, work, and go to school. The study of public policy involves understanding the politics and processes of policy creation and implementation, as well as evaluation of whether policies are improving our lives and wellbeing. Students majoring in Policy Analysis and Management (PAM) study the effects of government policies on children and families, crime, democracy, education, the environment, financial markets, inequality, public health, product markets, the workplace, and more. 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 – skills demanded by the best in government and industry.

Read more of our PAM fact sheet. Review the latest PAM curriculum sheet.