Undergraduate Program FAQs

The following FAQs address questions that prospective applicants have raised about Cornell's Undergraduate (B.S.) program in Operations Research and Engineering. We are happy to respond by email to specific questions not covered in these FAQs and to engage in email dialogue where clarification is needed. These FAQs are informal listings; in the event of conflicts with official publications, those documents govern.

ORIE Undergraduate Program FAQ

How should I design my academic plan?

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Students can design their academic plan by following the OR&E flowchart. Students are encouraged to seek advice from their OR&E faculty advisor, the OR&E Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies, or from the Undergraduate Coordinator in 203 Rhodes Hall.

What are major approved electives?

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OR&E major approved electives are technical courses numbered 2000 or above. “Technical” means that in a significant part of the course, students actively use their skills in mathematics, the sciences, or engineering design. 9 credits (usually 3 courses) are required. Major approved electives are categorized into Category A (Engineering, Sciences, and Mathematics) and Category B (Engineering Design, Finance, and Economic Analysis). At least 6 credits must be in Category A. The School of ORIE maintains a list of courses that may be used as Major Approved electives.

What are advisor approved electives?

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Any course mutually agreed upon by a student and his/her advisor may be used as an Advisor Approved elective. These courses (6 credits, usually 2 courses) should be relevant to the student’s educational or professional objectives.

How many credits are required to remain in good standing with OR&E?

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You must take at least 12 credits per semester to remain in good standing. However, in your final semester you may take as many credits as needed to fulfill degree requirements (may be less than 12 credits). Students need to be sure that dropping below 12 credits does not affect student insurance, financial aid or scholarships, NCAA athletic status, or your student visa.

How do I calculate my major GPA?

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The major GPA in OR&E is calculated using distribution courses, ORIE required courses (including organizational behavior), and at least 9 credits of ORIE elective courses. The major GPA is calculated and included on the OR&E checklist. Students must maintain at least a 2.0 major GPA to remain in good standing and to meet degree requirements.

If I am taking courses towards certification of a Minor outside OR&E, can I use any of those Minor courses to also satisfy OR&E degree requirements?

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Students are required to complete six courses to earn a certification for a Minor. Typically, three of those courses may be used to satisfy the OR&E degree. Consult the Engineering Handbook for eligibility and guidelines for information about Minors.

Is Cornell's Study Abroad Program available to OR&E majors?

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Yes, students can take advantage of a range of opportunities through Cornell Abroad and you can study abroad for either one semester of for a full academic year. For additional information, go to 167 Olin Hall.

What about Co-op?

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Engineering students typically go to their Co-op assignment in their first semester of their junior year. OR&E students have the opportunity to take ORIE 3150, ORIE 3300, ORIE 3310, ORIE 3500 and ORIE 3510 during the Coop Summer Session. Click here for additional information about the Engineering Cooperative experience.

Can I take Co-op courses during the summer if I am not participating in the Cooperative program?

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Yes, any student may take any course offered in the summer, providing the prerequisites have been met.

How do I know which courses can count as liberal studies?

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There are two places you can check to see if a course counts as liberal studies. You can look at the Engineering College list of liberal studies courses that were petitioned and approved or denied or you can check the Courses of Study for the liberal studies designation after the course title.

Can I transfer a course from another university/college to Cornell?

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Yes, you can transfer up to 18 credits as a matriculated student from another institution. You would need to complete the transfer credit application and attach a copy of the description or syllabus for the course and submit to the appropriate offices. (It is best to do this before taking the course.) If the course being transferred is liberal studies, it would be submitted to Engineering Advising, if it’s a major course it would be submitted to the OR&E department, if it’s part of the common curriculum (math, physics, chem., etc.), it needs to go to the appropriate department for approval prior to submission to Engineering Advising.

How can I get a copy of my official transcript?

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You can get a free copy of your transcript by going to University Registrar in B07 Day Hall or ordering it online at