A Message from the DNS Academic Affairs Office

Dear New Students,

We are delighted to have you joining us in the Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS)! 

DNS is home to human health science majors, a Biological Sciences concentration in Human Nutrition, and several minor fields at Cornell. Our programs include students from three colleges. Each year we welcome approximately 200 new undergraduate students to our majors.

The information on this page is for students in DNS majorsNutritional Sciences (NS)Human Biology, Health, and Society (HBHS), or Global and Public Health Sciences—who are either in the College of Human Ecology (CHE) or in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS). Our colleges are committed to student success on every level. As Cornell makes decisions about the fall 2020 semester, we will update this page as necessary, and communicate with our incoming students directly, to keep you informed and supported. We will be contacting you via your cornell.edu email address, and so we ask that you be sure to activate your Cornell NetID, and regularly check your official Cornell email account for any updates.

Until you arrive at Cornell, "Scheduling Advice for Freshmen" and the FAQs below may help you to choose courses appropriate for your chosen major. Please read it carefully to thoroughly understand your different options and choices. Transfer students should contact one of the resources listed in the next paragraph for an individualized schedule consultation. All students may still make changes (add/drop) to your schedule during the first several days of classes. 

Just before you arrive on campus (before Orientation), you will be assigned an academic advisor from the DNS faculty. Any questions you have about advising should be directed to that person. In the interim, if you have any questions regarding the first term schedule, please contact either Human Ecology Advising and Counseling or CALS Student Services.

We thank you for your continued patience and understanding as Cornell University works to find the safest way for us all to begin the fall 2020 semester. And again, we welcome you to the Division of Nutritional Sciences and hope that you will let us be your HOME away from home - we look forward to working with you!

Scheduling Advice for Freshmen:

First Term Schedule: You must enroll in a minimum 12 credits, not including PE and supplementary courses (see below for more information).


  • NS and HBHS Majors must enroll in CHEM 2070 General Chemistry I (4 cr). Students who are very strong in chemistry, have a chemistry AP score of 5, and do not plan on a pre-health (e.g. pre-med) path may consider CHEM 2150 Honors General and Inorganic Chemistry (4 cr) instead of CHEM 2070.
  • GPHS Majors should enroll in CHEM 2070 General Chemistry I (4 cr), CHEM 2150 Honors General and Inorganic Chemistry (4 cr), or CHEM 1560 Introduction to General Chemistry (4 cr). Students on or interested in the pre-health path (e.g. pre-med) should take CHEM 2070 and cannot take CHEM 1560.
  • It is strongly recommended that students also enroll in the chemistry supplementary course, CHEM 1007 Academic Support for CHEM 2070 (1 cr.) (does not count in credit total)

Note: If you do not get into the CHEM class that you want, you will need to visit the Chemistry Wait List web site for information.

Introductory Biology (3-5 c r): All NS, HBHS, and GPHS majors eventually need two introductory biology lectures (several options) and the separate introductory biology lab (BIOG 1500, 2 cr). Many begin this requirement in their first semester—most often, a lecture. Options and considerations are described briefly here and in the FAQs on the bottom of this page

  • Some students may postpone to spring freshman year or sophomore year; consult with one of the resources listed above to decide if this is you, and consider replacing it with another College distribution requirement, e.g. a Humanities or Social Sciences course.
  • BIOG 1440/1445 and BIOMG 1350 (lecture options, 3-4 cr): Students interested in pre-health paths are encouraged to fulfill their lecture requirements with BIOMG 1350 and either BIOG 1440 or 1445 - the order doesn't matter. Some describe BIOG 1440 as having more application-based learning and BIOMG 1350 as being more information-heavy.
  • BIOG 1445 (lecture, 3 cr): This "auto-tutorial" class has only online lectures and no prelims throughout the semester. Students take oral and written quizzes on each unit and a lab practical and final exam at the end. Great skills for time management and self-directed learning are essential!
  • BIOEE 1610 and BIOEE 1780 (lecture options, 3 cr): These lectures are open to pre-health students, but just do not provide the same level of preparation for later pre-health coursework and testing.
  • BIOG 1500: Many students postpone taking BIOG 1500, the lab, because it is a time-intensive addition to the first semester. Most students complete this either spring semester freshman year or fall semester sophomore year.

First-Year Writing Seminar (3 cr)

  • CHE students must take one in both the fall and spring of their freshman year (for a requirement of 6 total credits).
  • CALS students generally do so as well, even though it is not required, to begin working toward meeting their 9-credit communication requirement.

PLEASE NOTE: For Fall 2020, students will enroll in an FWS using the same enrollment process as their other courses. FWS enrollment will not be conducted via ballot as in past years. See more information via the Knight Institute.

Introductory core major course:

  • Incoming NS majors: NS 1150 Nutrition, Health, and Society (3 cr, required) and NS 1160 Personalized Concepts and Controversies (1 cr, strongly recommended). 
  • Incoming HBHS majors: NS 1150 Nutrition, Health, and Society (3 cr) is a required course for the major. You may decide to take it any semester, as it is offered year round, and you should plan this carefully depending on other courses you are interested in taking. A companion course, NS 1160, is offered in fall only; therefore, if you wish to take both NS 1150 and NS 1160, fall is your only choice for this combined sequence.
  • For GPHS majors: NS 1600 Introduction to Public Health (3 cr, required). Incoming GPHS freshmen must take this in their first semester. 

Incoming students must self-enroll in their introductory major core course(s), and will not be pre-enrolled as in past years.

Physical Education (PE): Freshmen must take a PE course in both fall and spring semester.

Some students also add a social sciences (e.g. introductory psychology or sociology) or humanities course to balance out their core major and natural science courses. Visit the DNS Roadmap and talk to your College advising office (see links at the top of this page) to identify courses that might work for you!

Frequently Asked Questions About the Topics Listed Above

It is important that intro chemistry (CHEM 2070 and CHEM 2080, or just CHEM 2070 in the case of some GPHS majors) should be taken as a freshman so as to stay on track with later chemistry requirements (e.g. organic chemistry and biochemistry). 

Most students complete some or all of their introductory biology requirements—two lectures and one lab—their freshman year, but starting those courses can be postponed until spring freshman year or fall sophomore year if reasonable and warranted. Most students can complete the sequence of courses required for their majors if they take chemistry, but not biology, in their freshman year. 

However, postponing biology and/or chemistry may affect the timing of meeting the requirements needed to apply to professional, clinical (e.g. medical), and graduate schools. Students considering postponing introductory biology and/or chemistry should first discuss alternative scheduling options with advisors.

For all DNS majors, a total 8 credits of introductory biology is required:

BIOG 1500 Investigative Lab (F/S, 2 cr) AND
Choose two out of three from the following 3-credit lecture options:

  1. BIOMG 1350 Cell and Development (F/S, 3 cr)
  2. BIOG 1440 Comparative Physiology (F/S, 3 cr) OR* BIOG 1445 Comparative Physiology (Autotutorial) (F/S, 4cr)
  3. BIOEE 1610 Ecology and the Environment (F/S, 3cr) OR* BIOEE 1780 Evolution and Diversity (F/S, 3cr)

*Cannot take both to fulfill this requirement

Among three lecture options, BIOG 1440 (or BIOG 1445) and BIOMG 1350 are popular courses and recommended if you are pre-med. You can take one bio course (either lab or lecture) in each semester over three semesters OR may want to take lab plus lecture in one semester and another lecture in another semester, completing all within two semesters. If you are unsure which option might be best for you, contact one of the resources listed above.

The objectives of supplemental courses are to help students clarify course material, assist with problem analysis, in-depth questions and answers, and prepare for exams. There are supplemental courses in chemistry, biology, mathematics, economics, and physics. We strongly recommend supplemental courses, especially chemistry and biology (e.g. CHEM 1007 or CHEM 1070 for support in CHEM 2070), to students, especially those whose preparation is not strong and/or who last took those courses many years ago. Note: Supplemental course credits do not count toward the 12-credit minimum needed for full-time status or toward the 120 total credits required for graduation. Please check the Learning Strategies Center's link for more information.

Students vary in how they choose to apply their AP credits towards their degree requirements, provided they have met the minimum AP scores determined by their College and by DNS, and are responsible for making arrangements to count AP credits toward their requirements. You will need to meet with your faculty adviser and College Registrar to discuss whether and how you are able to apply your AP credits toward your degree requirements. 

Your major, career interests, areas of interest outside your major, study abroad plans, and graduation timelines will help you determine the best way for you to use your AP credits. In general, you can use AP credits in subjects that are elective for your major (such as language) and for which you do not plan to pursue advanced study, either during or beyond your time at Cornell. In contrast, you may consider forfeiting AP credit and taking the introductory course at Cornell if 1) the course is important for a potential major or career goal (e.g. biology or chemistry for students considering a pre-health track) or 2) you need to prepare for more advanced courses in the same topic area.

Major specific guidelines/rules:

  1. AP Chemistry
    • Students must take at least 4 credits of introductory chemistry at Cornell; i.e., GPHS students who do not plan on taking CHEM 2080 may not use AP Chemistry credit to fulfill the CHEM 2070 requirement.
    • It is strongly recommended that NS or HBHS students take CHEM 2070 at Cornell—i.e. not use AP Chemistry credit to meet that requirement. 
  2. AP Biology
    • DNS majors may only use one AP Biology score of 5 to fulfill one of their introductory biology lectures (3 cr). Scores of 4 are not accepted.
    • Students with an AP Biology score of 5 are required to take BIOG 1500 and one lecture course. If students earn a B- or lower in those courses, we strongly recommend continuing with the second introductory biology lecture. A student who earns a B or higher and feels confident in second lecture’s subject matter can decide to discontinue with the sequence.
    • Students with an AP Biology score of 5 who decide to continue with a second introductory biology lecture will forfeit their AP Biology credits.

Other acceptable AP scores for CHE and CALS students may be found at the links below. Please note all Cornell students are limited to 15 credits from AP/pre‐college credits and In Absentia credits (credit taken at another institution after you’ve matriculated to Cornell) combined. 

AP policies for CHE students

AP policies for CALS students

If you have questions about AP credit, please contact your college's Admissions Office.

For Fall 2020, students will enroll in an FWS using the same enrollment process as their other courses. FWS enrollment will not be conducted via ballot as in past years. See more information via the Knight Institute.

Incoming Human Ecology students are required to complete two FWS by the end of their first year (one FWS per semester). CALS students must complete three communication courses over their whole time at Cornell (two written, one written or oral), and often enroll in FWS their first year to work toward this requirement. 

Freshmen are required to take PE (1 cr) each term of freshman year. The Credit will not be counted toward full-time status or 120 graduation credits. Physical Education registration will take place on-line. Please call the Physical Education office at 607-255-4286 for questions.

For more information, check the Physical Education page.

If you have any questions about how to choose your fall semester courses, we encourage you to reach out to your College advisors in either Human Ecology Advising and Counseling or CALS Student Services. If you have questions about enrollment in NS courses (e.g. NS 1150, 1160, or 1600) or you aren’t sure where to direct a question, feel free to contact us at aadns@cornell.edu.

Welcome to the Division of Nutritional Sciences, and we look forward to greeting you at the start of the semester!

The DNS Academic Affairs Office