Cornell University is an Ivy League institution located in Ithaca, New York. The university was founded in 1865 and has quickly established itself as one of the leading institutions of higher education in the United States. In addition to the main campus, Cornell also operates several satellite campuses, facilities, and research centers around the world, including Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, the Cornell Tech campus, The New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Cornell Center for Materials Research in New York City.

The university offers a diverse range of academic programs and opportunities, including over 4,000 courses, more than one hundred undergraduate majors, and interdisciplinary programs. It currently has several undergraduate colleges and graduate schools.

Each department offers high-quality programs in business, engineering, computer science, hotel management, human ecology, industrial and labor relations, medicine, and veterinary medicine. Many of its programs also offer dual degree options, allowing students to pursue multiple fields of study simultaneously. Additionally, Cornell offers many research opportunities and study abroad programs for undergraduate and graduate students.

As one of the most sought-after Ivy Leagues in the USA, it is expected that countless prospective students are aiming to get admitted into the university. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to increase your chances of being selected!

Admissions Process at Cornell University

Getting into Cornell University can be pretty daunting, and the college application process for undergraduate and graduate studies can be challenging for prospective students. To help students with this process, here’s an ultimate guideline into the admissions process, including prerequisites, application procedures, and tips for getting accepted.

Step 1. Check the University’s Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for admission to an undergraduate program, students should meet the minimum GPA requirements of 3.0 on their high school diploma or equivalent. As for graduate students, candidates must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

International students are required to take English language proficiency tests. Some programs may ask for additional materials, such as a writing sample, portfolio, work experience in a related field, or research proposal. Apart from the application documents, FAFSA and CSS profiles are required for those students who need financial aid.

Step 2. Select a College or Program

Applicants must carefully research and choose the college or program that best fits their interests and goals. When applying to Cornell University, you can only select one undergraduate or graduate college to apply to. It is not possible to change the study program/college after you successfully submit your application, and the university will not consider any requests for changes. To make an informed decision about selecting a field of study that suits you, browse through the university’s course catalogs.

Step 3. Submit an Application

Cornell accepts the Common Application for undergraduate students, which you can immediately complete and submit here. When applying to Cornell University, students can choose between an early decision or a regular decision. It is important to note that the early decision option is a binding agreement. However, those students with financial aid awards who need help to afford the tuition fees at Cornell may be eligible to be released from the early decision agreement. The early application deadline is November 1, and the regular admission deadline is January 2.

Prospective students should create an ApplyWeb account and complete the application requisites to apply for graduate studies. You have to remember that you can only process one application in any graduate field for a given term. If you are not admitted, you can still contact one additional field.

There is a non-refundable application fee of $80 for undergraduate students and $105 for graduate students.

Step 4. Submit Supporting Materials

Candidates must prepare and submit the supporting materials required for the application process before the deadline. To apply, the following documents are required for undergraduate students:

  • Cornell University Questions and Writing Supplement (CA)
  • Official High School Transcript (submitted by a counselor or designated school official)
  • The School Report (submitted by a counselor or designated school official)
  • Mid-Year School Report (submitted by counselors; those students who attend schools that operate on a trimester system and do not have any updated grade information are exempted from submitting a midyear report)
  • Written Recommendation Letter from a school counselor
  • Written Recommendation Letters from school teachers

Do note that additional materials may be required by the specific college or school you are applying to, such as portfolio and design submissions.

For graduate students, the following documents are required:

It is important to check with the specific program and department to confirm the required documents and deadlines, as they may vary.

Step 5. Prepare for Possible Interviews

Some programs and colleges at Cornell University require an interview as part of the admissions process. The interview is an integral part of the application process. It serves as a way for the university to gain additional information about the applicant that may not be reflected in the application materials. It is recommended that the applicant prepare for the interview by researching the university, thinking about why they want to attend, and what they hope to gain from their college experience.

Tips to Get Into Cornell University

With the right approach, you can increase your chances of being accepted into Cornell University by simply taking the following steps:

Tip 1. Start Early

Begin preparing for the admissions process well in advance. It will give you enough time to gather all the necessary materials and ensure you can complete everything on time.

Tip 2. Show Your Interest

Showing interest in the university can increase the likelihood of admission, as the admissions committee prefers students whose interests align with those of the university. You can do this by visiting campus, attending information sessions, and reaching out to school representatives.

Step 3. Be Well-Rounded

The admissions committee wants to get to know you as a person, not just as a set of test scores and grades. Be authentic in your essays and let your personality shine through. Show your strengths and talents in a variety of areas, including extracurricular activities, community service, and work experience.

FAQs: Studying at Cornell University

What is the Acceptance Rate of Cornell University?

Although the university offers a wide selection of academic programs, the admissions process at Cornell can be highly competitive. The acceptance rate for Cornell University is 9%, and the retention rate of first-time degree-seeking students by attendance status is 97%. It is important to note that these rates can vary from year to year. Academic grades are not the only factor in determining a student’s chances of acceptance. Other factors, such as extracurricular activities, recommendation letters, and leadership qualities, are taken into consideration during the decision.


With a diverse range of programs, numerous research opportunities, and a highly selective admission process, Cornell University is a desirable destination for many students. Besides this institution, check out other top universities in the United States to increase your chances of being accepted into one of the most prestigious universities in the world.


We hope this article on the admissions process and tips for entering Cornell University have been helpful. You may also visit our Available Programs for International Students and Guide to Studying in the USA for more information about the different programs and scholarship opportunities!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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