Skip to main content

Advising & Declaring

When you declare an Economics major, you will be assigned an advisor who is a member of the Economics Department.  Your relationship with your advisor is very important and we recommend that you meet regularly with your advisor --- at least once per semester.  This is your chance to develop a long-term relationship with a faculty member, who is there to provide advice, support, and potentially letters of recommendation.

You can meet with your advisor to map out a set of courses for your major and to discuss other courses at Cornell (although since Economics faculty advise only Economics majors, our knowledge of non-economics courses is limited).  You can also see your advisor to discuss career planning or to discuss any issues that you are currently dealing with. 

Your faculty advisor will not always have the answers you seek, but when they cannot, they should able to help you find someone appropriate to contact.  For more details on the advisor-advisee relationship, see the bottom section of this page.

When to Declare the Major

You are eligible to declare an Economics major once you have completed ECON 1110, ECON 1120, and MATH 1110 (or equivalents), all with grades of C or better --- for the formal procedure, see Declaring the Major

However, there is no need to rush this decision, and you need not declare the major as soon as you are eligible.  Although some students declare as early as the second semester of their freshman year or the first semester of their sophomore year, more typically, students declare at the end of their sophomore year --- often after taking one or more intermediate core courses in addition to ECON 1110, ECON 1120, and MATH 1110.  Indeed, an advantage of delaying declaring your major is that it permits you to keep communicating with your freshman advisor, who might better be able to guide you through other A&S requirements than your Economics advisor.

Before declaring the major, you are welcome to speak with the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Undergraduate Experience Coordinator to get general advice about the Economics major.  In addition, you are welcome to seek advice from the instructors of your Economics courses.

Please note that Arts College rules require you to declare at least one major—and process all the paperwork—by the end of your sophomore year (which really means by the end of sophomore summer).  If you are declaring Economics as a second major, it is perfectly fine to do so in later semesters.

Choosing Your Advisor

When you are admitted to the major, you will be assigned an Economics advisor.  On the Major Application Form, you will have the opportunity to list your top three choices for an advisor.  We suggest that you list faculty members with whom you have already developed a relationship, faculty from whom you have taken courses, or faculty who work in a field that interests you. On the Declaring the Major page, you’ll find a list of available advisors along with their research interests. 

We will do our best to meet your preferences; however, we also need to spread advisees relatively evenly across department faculty, and thus we cannot promise that you will get one of your top choices.

Please note: Faculty members of the Economics Department come from many different colleges at Cornell (Arts & Sciences, the ILR School, CALS, CHE, etc). Economics majors from the College of Arts & Sciences must have an advisor whose primary appointment is in the College of Arts & Sciences, and thus there are many faculty who teach Economics courses who are ineligible to be your advisor.  Again, for a list of possible advisors, see the Declaring the Major page.  Of course, you should feel welcome to get advice from any faculty member at Cornell, even if they are not your official advisor.

Changing Your Advisor

It is possible to change your advisor.  To do so, please email the Director of Undergraduate Studies ( with (i) a short explanation for why you would like to change your advisor, and (ii) your preferences for a new advisor.  Much as for new majors, we cannot guarantee that you will receive your top choice, so please list at least your top three choices.

Arrangements with Specific Faculty

As discussed above, because we need to spread advisees relatively evenly across department faculty, we cannot promise that you will get one of your top choices for an advisor.  However, occasionally, a faculty member who already has a full set of advisees will agree to take on an additional advisee when it is a student with whom they have already established a relationship.  If a specific faculty member agrees to take you on as an advisee, please have that faculty member send an email to the Director of Undergraduate Studies stating that they will accept you as their advisee.

Details of the Advisor-Advisee Relationship

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind as you develop your relationship with your advisor.

Faculty Role:

     Your faculty advisor will be available to meet with you, within reason. You should expect to be able to email him/her and set up an appointment, and to schedule an appointment within a reasonable timeframe, but you should not expect him/her to be in the office all the time, nor should you expect him/her to be able to meet if you stop by unannounced outside of office hours.

     Please keep in mind that many problems are better solved in person than over email. If you email your advisor with a question and s/he counters with a proposal to meet, it is because s/he knows an actual meeting will be more productive and efficient.

     If your faculty advisor does not know the answer to one of your questions, you can expect him/her to refer you to someone who can supply that answer. Most frequently, you can expect to be referred to the A&S Office of Advising in 55 Goldwin Smith or the Undergraduate Experience Coordinator, Sarah Schupp in 492 Uris Hall.

Student Role:

     Make regular appointments with your faculty advisor to discuss your progress, and contact your faculty advisor when questions or problems arise.

     Prepare for meetings with your faculty advisor: have a list of questions prepared and/or (if your meeting is about pre-enroll) prepare a list of desired and alternative courses, as well as your rationale for taking each.

     Be considerate of your faculty advisor: schedule appointments and keep them; arrive promptly.

     Know the degree requirements and other relevant academic policies and procedures. Try using this worksheet to help you check off the requirements of the Economics major.  

     Plan for your future and keep track of the planning. Check DUST at least once a term to keep track of your college requirements. Similarly, contact A&S Career Development to plan with them for your future. They can critique your resume, talk with you about possible careers, and help you with internships.

     Seek help when you need it. If you are starting to fall behind or need some other kind of academic help, see your faculty advisor --- sooner rather than later.


Related Links

Main Office
Department of Economics
404 Uris Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y. 14853
Phone: (607) 255-4254
Fax: (607) 255-2818