Are you wondering how to get into Cornell university? It is a question that thousands of students ask every year as they prepare their applications to this prestigious institution. The good news is that Cornell University is one of the easiest Ivy League schools to get into, but the not-so-good news is that it is still a very selective school. This blog will go over Cornell’s admissions statistics, selection factors, and everything you need to know to be a competitive applicant and maximize your chances of getting into Cornell.

Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa. 

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Article Contents
8 min read

About Cornell university Admission statistics Admission requirements Acceptance & Waitlist FAQs

About Cornell University

Mission statement:

Cornell’s mission is to discover, preserve and disseminate knowledge, to educate the next generation of global citizens, and to promote a culture of broad inquiry throughout and beyond the Cornell community. Cornell also aims, through public service, to enhance the lives and livelihoods of students, the people of New York, and others around the world.

Cornell university’s founding principle:

"I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." - EZRA CORNELL, 1868

Undergraduate programs:

Cornell offers just under 80 formal majors and over 120 minors for undergraduate studies. They also have several challenging dual-degree programs and a score of interdisciplinary majors that cross traditional departmental boundaries. These areas of study are taught through the following seven main colleges and schools: 

  1. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
  2. College of Architecture, Art and Planning.
  3. College of Arts and Sciences.
  4. Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
  5. College of Engineering.
  6. College of Human Ecology.
  7. School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR)

Admission statistics

Cornell University does not have a specific “cut-off” GPA or test score for admission. However, their acceptance rate tells us that it is a very selective school. Furthermore, one of the things that the admissions board recommends for prospective students is that they have an outstanding record of academic achievement. Cornell does not officially disclose the average GPA of its matriculants, but it is worth noting that 84.2% of them were in the top 10% of their graduating class, and 96.4% of them were in the top 25% of their graduating class. SAT scores range between 1450 to 1540, with more than half of Cornell’s admitted students having an SAT score of 1500 or above. These numbers confirm that you need to have an impressive academic background to get into Cornell University. If you are hoping to get into college with a low GPA, and you’ve decided on Cornell, then you will need to have an outstanding SAT score and excellent supplementary application components. 

Cornell’s acceptance rate: 10.7%  

Admission requirements

Eligibility & Selection factors

Cornell's admission process is highly individualized, meaning there is no magic formula for getting in. Still, there are a few key elements that this selective school pays special attention to. As mentioned earlier, a solid academic background is one of them. The admission board wants to see what your intellectual potential is and if you have demonstrated a passion for education and learning. They also look at your character and the values shown in your application. One of the things that makes Cornell a great university is its rich mix of students. To keep that going, the school looks for open-minded individuals who show initiative and have leadership potential.

As per their mission statement, Cornell is also very keen on public service and community engagement, and so they look for that too in students' applications. The admissions board wants to see what special talents or interests you have developed through extracurricular activities, community involvement, or the workplace. Lastly, they want to know why you chose Cornell. Your application should tell the school why you think you're a good match for their university, why you think it is the right place for you, and what you're hoping to get out of your time on their exceptional campus.

The main requirements for admission to Cornell are the same as most universities. You have to successfully complete your high school studies and be proficient in English. International students whose native language is not English or who have not attended high school in a country where English is an official language for the four years before their application must take a language proficiency test.

When applying to Cornell undergrad, you have to apply directly to one of the undergraduate schools or colleges, and each one has a specific set of high school subject requirements and recommendations.

The application process

Cornell is one of the many schools that use the common app for their application process. Common Application (also known as the common app) is a centralized online portal for undergraduate college applications. You will need to create an account on the platform and add Cornell University to your list of choices. The platform is divided into different sections. You will be required to enter your personal details and information about your academic background and extracurricular activities. You will also have to answer general questions that apply to all the selected colleges and university-specific questions. It is usually in the university-specific question section that you will find the prompts for the supplemental essays required by the school. 

We recommend starting your application prep by researching the different Cornell undergraduate colleges and deciding which one to apply to. Knowledge about Cornell and its various colleges will not only make it easier for you to select the right one for you, but it will also help you as you write your Cornell essays and prepare other application components. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, the colleges have different recommendations for courses, and the admission process for some of them is a bit different. So, you want to know ahead of time whether you meet the college's basic requirements for admission.

Can't remember the names of those colleges? We've got you! Check out this infographic:

Once you've confirmed that you meet the basic requirements and you know which college you want to apply to, you have to decide whether or not to apply through Early admission. If Cornell is your first choice, then you may want to consider applying under the early decision plan. With Early admission, your application has to be submitted by November 1st, and you will receive a response from the school by mid-December. However, early admission is a binding agreement. If you choose to go with this plan, you agree that if admitted by Cornell, you will enroll there and withdraw all pending applications to other schools.

When you are ready to apply, you can log onto the common app and start working on your application. It is worth noting that Cornell has suspended its SAT/CAT requirement at this time. You are still free to submit your test scores as part of your application if you feel that they make you a more attractive candidate. The College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Human Ecology, and School of Industrial and Labor Relations will consider your SAT or CAT scores if you submit them with your application. On the other hand, the other colleges will not factor them in in their decision.

When it comes to college essays, Cornell’s essay prompts are based on the specific college that you’re applying to. The questions are subject to change from year to year, but they are listed on the school’s admissions website early in the year. We recommend taking note of them and starting to write six to eight weeks before applications are due. This will give you enough time to brainstorm, write and edit your essays so that they will stand out. We'd also suggest working with a college essay advisor if you want to write the most compelling essay possible.

Not sure how to write a college essay? This video can help. Check it out:

For the next class of applicants, these are the essay prompts that have been provided: 

In addition to the standardized test scores and SAT scores (if you choose to include them), Cornell requires additional supporting materials from your high school. Namely your official high school transcripts and the following:

School Report - This form will be made available to you through the common app. It will need to be filled out by your counselor or another designated school official. They also need to be the ones who send it to the school. 

Counselor Recommendation - A written statement from your high school counselor or college advisor.

Teacher Evaluations - Cornell requires that you submit two college recommendation letters from your teachers. If your teachers are mailing these letters, you should ensure that each letter includes your name and date of birth on all pages.

Midyear Report -Cornell asks that your school counselor or school official submit a Midyear Report as soon after the application deadline as possible. Students with schools on trimesters are exempt from this as they may not have any new grade information to report at the time of submission. 

Additional material: Some majors, like architecture, art, design & environmental analysis, and fashion design & management, require additional forms, portfolios, or design indexes. If you are planning on majoring in any of these study areas, you should ensure that you have the necessary materials. 

Once you've submitted your application, it is time to wait for a response. If you applied through the early decision plan, you would hear back in December. Regular applicants will hear back from Cornell in April and have until May 1st to advise Cornell of their decision to enroll. Students who applied to the architecture program will be required to participate in a college admissions interview during this waiting period. Applicants to the Department of Art or Urban and Regional Studies are not required to do the same, but they are strongly encouraged to do so. If you're applying to one of these colleges, we recommend visiting the college's website to book your interview as soon as you submit your application and start preparing by reviewing Cornell interview questions and some common college admissions interview questions. 

Cornell Application timeline:

 To give you an idea of what to expect, here is a timeline showing the deadlines that you will need to keep in mind for your application. Keep in mind that these can change, so remember to check the school’s website for the most up-to-date information. It would also be ideal to keep deadlines in your calendar so that you can keep track of them.  

Acceptance & Waitlist

After submitting your application, you will receive an email from Cornell with instructions on how to keep track of your application on the school’s portal. For those who applied under Early Decision, there are three possible outcomes:

Accepted: This outcome means that your place is secure, pending the completion of your senior year. You must withdraw your application from any other university. 

Deferred: This outcome means that your application will be reviewed again within the context of the regular decision pool of applicants. It is almost equivalent to being waitlisted.

Denied: If you are denied admission under Early Decision, your application has been rejected. You may not reapply under the Regular Decision plan during that same year, but you are welcome to try again next year. 

Regular decision applicants will be notified of the admission board's decision by the end of April. There are three possible outcomes: 

Admitted: Congratulations! You’re in!

Waitlist: Being waitlisted can be a bit disheartening but you need to keep in mind that it is not a rejection. Students from the waitlist have been offered admission in the past, so it could still happen for you as well.

Denied: Unfortunately, this means that your application has been rejected and you won’t be attending Cornell just yet. You are welcome to reapply the following year.

Admitted students will have to notify the school of their decision to enroll on May 1st at the latest. 

Confused about how rolling admissions work? This video can walk you through it:

Contact information

Cornell University Website

Cornell University Undergrad contact form

Email: [email protected]


1. Is Cornell University a top university?

Cornell university is an ivy league school with an expansive curriculum that is consistently ranked among the best schools in the country. It’s definitely a top university, but you should look into the school to ensure it is the right school for you. 

2. Is Cornell hard to get into?

In short, yes, it is! Cornell has one of the highest acceptance rates among the ivies, but it is still very selective! For every 100 applicants, only ten get in. 

3. What GPA do you need to get into Cornell?

There is no minimum GPA required for admission, and Cornell does not share the average GPA of its current class, but most of the admitted students graduated in the top 25% of their high school class, and their SAT scores range between 1450 to 1540. 

4. Does Cornell have college interviews?

Only applicants to the architecture program are required to have interviews. 

5. How many colleges are there at Cornell?

There are seven main colleges (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Architecture, Art, and Planning, College of Arts and Sciences, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, College of Engineering, College of Human Ecology, and School of Industrial and Labor Relations). Undergraduate applicants have to apply to one college. They can’t switch colleges once they have submitted their application, so you should take your time learning about the different colleges before applying. 

6. Is Cornell a good school for international students?

Cornell prides itself on being a school where any person can find instruction in any study. It welcomes international students and admits quite a number of them every year. 

7. What does Cornell look for in undergrad applicants?

Cornell looks for open-minded applicants who show initiative, leadership potential, and strong community engagement.

8. How can I improve my chances of getting admitted to Cornell?

You can increase your chances of admission by taking the time to thoroughly research the Cornell college that you wish to apply to, giving yourself six to eight weeks to work on your college essay and other application components, and investing in college admissions consulting to make sure you have the most competitive application possible. 

Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up-to-date information. You are responsible for your own results.  

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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