Physical Education & Swim Test

Physical Education Requirement

All incoming freshmen are required to take two credits (two courses) of Physical Education, one credit each semester of the first year on campus.  Registered participants in Cornell Athletics may receive PE credit. There are some exceptions for transfer students. All requests for accommodations to the Physical Education or Swim Test requirement due to disability must be made through Student Disability Services.

Swim Tests:

NEW INFORMATION as of 4/21/22:  As a result of COVID-19, Cornell’s swim test is currently waived as a graduation requirement for seniors who graduated Spring 2020 - Spring 2022 or are graduating this Summer 2022.  Students graduating in Fall 2022 and forward will need to fulfill the swim test requirement for graduation. Swim tests will be scheduled during Orientation Week and will be posted soon. Click this link for dates and times. All students who attend the scheduled swim test times, will have the fee (normally charged for delaying the swim test) waived. 

Swim Test Requirement

The University Faculty Committee on Physical Education has established a basic swimming competency requirement for all entering freshman undergraduates. The test is normally taken as part of the Fall orientation process and is required to be completed in the student's freshman year. The test consists of entering the deep end of the pool with a feet-first jump and making a continuous seventy-five-yard swim using a stroke or strokes of the student's choice. There is no required stroke or time limit. Any student who cannot pass the swim test is required to include swimming in his or her program of physical education before choosing electives.

If a student does not pass the swim test in their first Beginning Swimming PE class, then the student must take a second Beginning Swimming PE class. Successful completion of two Beginning Swimming classes (based on attendance requirements) with the instructor's recommendation will fulfill the University's swim test requirement.

Students who feel they require more individualized instruction may contact Brigitta Putnam, Associate Director of Physical Education at 255-7738 or  Individual lessons will be charged $25.00/session and the fees will be bursar billed to the student. Individual lesson times will be arranged with the student and will continue until the student passes the swimming requirement. Individual lessons will not be given physical education credit. Participation in individual lessons does not guarantee the student will pass the swimming test.

Students who feel they are unable to take the swim test because of a documented medical disability, must petition Student Disability Services for a swim test accommodation.  Students whose petitions are granted will be required to take one of the following Physical Education classes as an alternative to the swimming requirement: Body-Mind (PE1400) or (Wilderness First Aid (PE1625).

Swim Tests Fees:

There is a $100.00 fee for all make-up swim tests taken by sophomores, juniors or seniors except during the Fall orientation period. This fee also applies to any person who completes the swimming requirement when they are no longer registered at Cornell University.

Fees may be paid by check or charged to the student's Bursar bill.

How to take the Swim Test For Free:

1. If you are a Freshman, complete it during the Fall Orientation period or at any of the listed make-up days during the year.

2. If you are an Upperclassman, complete it during the Fall Orientation period.

3. Take a Physical Education swimming class and pass it during class time.