Courses are at the heart of the Cornell CAU summer program.

These weeklong, engaging noncredit classes are taught by expert instructors, including some of Cornell's finest faculty members, and give you a chance to dive into a subject of your choice in an Ivy League setting.

Choose from a variety of topics, from cooking, birding, and sailing to art, science, and world affairs. Class sizes can range from intimate writing seminars for six to ever-popular lecture courses open to 30 participants or more.

Travel guru Arthur Frommer called these classes "exciting intellectual adventures," while other participants regularly describe them as "eye-opening" and "inspiring."

View 2022 summer course roster

"Fantastic opportunity to flex your brain and learn new things. Great classes with top-notch instructors."

Kim Bixler, '91

What’s the class schedule?

All courses meet Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., take a break for lunch, and then meet again from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Most classes do not meet on Wednesday afternoons, affectionately referred to as "spring break," so you can take advantage of the other learning opportunities and optional excursions available on and off campus.

Extracurricular educational offerings are available throughout the week during the evening hours, allowing you to join friends or family for an evening of enjoyable learning outside of the classroom. See activities.

What kinds of courses do you offer?

You can choose from courses in three main areas:

Traditional courses

Many of our courses are taught in the traditional manner expected of a top-tier academic institution: lectures, discussions, and guest speakers provide you with an intellectually rigorous experience.

These seminar-style and lecture-based courses are stimulating and informative, offering you a platform to contribute to the conversation or simply listen and reflect. Out-of-class assignments in the form of supplemental readings or writing exercises are occasionally assigned, although completion is never a requirement.

Experiential courses

In addition to our traditional courses, CAU offers a range of courses that provide you with hands-on experiences.

These classes encourage you to design, construct, and experiment as part of the learning process. Instructors allow time for you to work on your projects in the studio, laboratory, or workshop space.

Field trips and excursions around campus are often integrated into these classes, along with guest speakers or visiting experts.

Active courses

Active courses are very popular at CAU. Many students look forward to mastering their golf swing or learning the fundamentals of sailing—or even fly-fishing in the many miles of inland streams surrounding the Finger Lakes..

Who will I meet in class?

Our education vacations are for everyone—students from all backgrounds and abilities are welcome to participate in any of our courses.

Around 60 percent of our attendees are alums, and the remaining participants are their spouses and families, friends of Cornell, or inquisitive people with a desire to learn and a passion for new adventures.

Approximately 100 adults take part in CAU each week, with the largest contingent recently made up of those who graduated in the 1970s, followed (in order) by the classes of the 1960s, 1980s, 1990s, 1950s and 2000s.

In classes and informal gatherings, you'll meet a great number of delightful and inclusive people.

"Best vacation in years... full of intellectual stimulation, camaraderie, good food, and relaxation. What more could you ask for?"

Doug Eng, ’76, '78

Participants with disabilities

Cornell University is committed to providing universal access to all university programs.

Please contact CAU director Lora Gruber-Hine (, 607.255.4800) to request any needed disability accommodations.

Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.