An Ultimate: Cornell University Admission Requirements

Cornell University is one of among 8 Ivy League Universities. Cornell University also offers a lot of courses than most Universities. And if you're a fan of libraries, you'll be glad to know they got the best library system in the World. 

With all this, many students wish to study through Cornell. But as it's one of the most prestigious colleges, getting admitted is not so easy. However, we can help you with our ultimate guide.

In this guide, we'll explain what Cornell is looking for, score requirements, application requirements, and everything related to admission. But before this, let see an overview of Cornell University.

Cornell University Overview:

Founded in 1865, Cornell University is in Ithaca, New York, the USA, founded by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White.

As per the "2021 US news ranking", Cornell is the 18th best University in the USA. As per the "2021 QS World University Ranking," Cornell is the World's 18th best University.

The tuition fee for admitted students at Cornell is $59,316 (2020-21). The total enrollment in the school is 24,027. 9:1 is the student to faculty ratio in Cornell. For every 9 students, there's 1 faculty, which provides every student personalized attention. 56.3% of classes in Cornell consist of fewer than 20 students.

Cornell University has significant names in the World as its alumni. Some notable alumni are Ruth Bader Ginsburg (American Lawyer), Ratan Tata (Indian industrialist), Anthony Fauci (American physician-scientist and immunologist), Barbara McClintock (American Scientist). 

Cornell University

What Cornell looks for in a student?

Before you think of applying to Cornell, examine yourself closely and determine if you got what Cornell looks for in you. You can't expect to be a part of this University and realize you don't even have what they've been looking for in you. They describe more about these things here, but here they are:

  • Intellectual Potential

For this one, Cornell asks, "Have you challenged yourself with the highest-level courses? How have you demonstrated your passion for learning?". They want to see if you're the student who has the potential to grow and nurture your intellect. They also want to see just how good you are in mind.

  • Character

What Cornell wants is seeing empathy, initiative, honesty, and open-mindedness when it comes to character. They even ask if your recommendations and essays are a contribution to your reliable attributes. In a way, they want to see a character that evokes the values they describe that reflect yours well.

  • Involvement 

It's all about extracurricular activities, so they're curious how you spend your time outside of school. They even ask what skills or interests you've developed. With this, they want to see a uniqueness in you that few students have at all.

  • Reasons For Choosing Them

This factor in Cornell's selection is unique because they want to see how you can take advantage of the benefits you'll get from them. They want to know why you choose to apply to them, why you think it's the right place for you.

When you've taken the time to understand what Cornell is looking for and you're confident you got them, proceed to the next step! 

Why Cornell University 

Diversity in terms of students: 

Winemakers,  hotel managers, landscape architects, policymakers, interior designers, financiers, astronomers, and fiber experts (yes, like the clothing material)–all actively pursuing their passions. Everyone from pre-professional I-Bankers to theoretical physicists.

People from Hawaii to Ghana. People from Alaska and people who had never seen snow before getting here.

Opportunity in terms of discovering your passions off-campus:

Almost limitless opportunities exist here. Interested in government or policy? Check out the legit Cornell in Washington program, or the Capital Semester program. Aspire to99 be a filmmaker? Cornell in Hollywood is up your alley. 

The tech scene interests you? Cornell Silicon Valley and Cornell NYC Tech ensure opportunities for connections and events. Have a deep passion for marine biology? Spend a few months on Cornell’s own island, Shoals Marine Lab, off the coast of Maine. If architecture is your “dig,” you’ll enjoy Cornell in Rome.

Opportunity on-campus

Think of (just about) anything you’ve ever been interested in, and realize that Cornell likely offers an outlet to pursue it or the opportunity is there (maybe thats why the Squirrel Club exists).Want to work on a racecar? Join Cornell Racing. Like media? Join The Sun, the Social Media Club, Slope Media, or any of the otherpic1 many on-campus publications. Scientists can join the Entomology Club or the Herpetological Society.

Musicians can join the pep band, play the chimes, or join CU Winds, and business-oriented people can select from 4-5 business frats and countless finance clubs. Not to mention, if you affiliate with a specific ethnicity/religion/nationality, chances are that there’s stuff for you.

Cornell Hillel is booming Cornell University Hillel so is the Cornell Filipino Association. Don’t believe me? Take a look at last year’s comprehensive list of 800+ student organizations (warning:PDF) to appreciate the variety.


Again, any person any study rings true. With over 4000+ courses across 7 undergraduate colleges, you can take a class in almost anything. Casino Operations to Beer. Human-Environment Relations to the Ethics of Eating. Korean to iPhone App Development. History of Terrorism to Psychology of Entertainment Media to Stardom. For (your required) PE classes: Anything from Juggling to Tree Climbing, SCUBA to Birding, and Thai Massage to Handgun Safety. (Heck, You can even do a themed semester.)

Cornell SAT Score Requirements:

Cornell University is a competitive college considering scores requirements. The SAT 25th percentile score of this college is 1400. It means only less than 25% of Cornell students scores below 1400.

The SAT 75th percentile score of Cornell is 1560. It means around 75% of admitted students have scored less than 1560. The average (50th Percentile) SAT score of Cornell we could find is 1480.

You can also focus on the 25th percentile and 75th percentile in both sections. For Math, the 25th percentile score is 720, and the 75th percentile score is 800. 

For EBRW, the 25th percentile score is 680, and the 75th percentile score is 760. Here, we can see you need more marks in the Math section to achieve the same percentile score as EBRW.

If you think you are weak in one section, try to score higher than required in the other section. So, even if you get more marks than needed in one section but received less in another, you may still come to the required composite score.

Cornell university Required SAT Scores

SAT Score Policy:

College's SAT score policy decides its approach in evaluating student's scores. This policy is different for every college. In the case of Cornell University, the approach they have is the "highest section."

"Superscoring" is another name for this policy. In this policy, the college will consider your highest section SAT score from all tests.

For example, if you took the SAT exam twice, for the first attempt, the composite score is 1540. In the score of 1540, 780 is of maths, and 760 is of EBRW. In the second attempt, he again receives 1540 as a composite SAT score. But this time, he received 760 in Maths and 780 in EBRW.

Thus, your highest score for Math and EBRW are on the first and second attempts, respectively. And as Cornell has a policy of the highest section score, they will consider each subject's highest score.

Hence, Cornell will take your Maths score as 780 and EBRW as 780. It benefits the student as his score raised by 20 points, which now became 1560.

Hence as the highest section policy benefits students, it's a must to retake the SAT exam. It gives you a chance to raise your score.

Cornell ACT Score Requirements:

The composite 25th percentile score of Cornell is 32, and the 75th percentile score is 35. Cornell doesn't have any minimum score requirements. However, less score than given will make conditions difficult for you to get admitted.

The composite score of ACT is an aggregate of all 4 section scores. Hence, to get the intended composite score, you need to score around what you intended in every section.

Cornell GPA Requirements

You need a very high GPA for getting admitted to Cornell. The average GPA for Cornell is 3.9 on a scale of 4. You need a high school grade of "A" to get this much GPA. If you're sure that you are not getting this much GPA score, focus on obtaining more marks in SAT / ACT.

Also, check the below table published on Cornell University's website. The table shows the High School Class Rank of students admitted.

Cornell Application Requirements:

Application Through Common Application:

Cornell uses Common Application for application submission. You can submit your application online with Common App. While applying, you will choose only one format for all required material.

Cornell University Questions and Essay:

With all the standard information required for each college in your list, you also need to answer questions and provide an essay. Both these are necessary while applying to Cornell. Both these help Cornell to match your academic goals with the Cornell college, which you applied.

Application Fee or Fee Waiver:

While submitting the common application, you also need to submit $80 application fees. Keep in mind that Cornell will not process your application without the application fee. You can use the fee waiver guideline of the application portal to check your eligibility in fee waivers. 

If you think that your financial condition could meet the guidelines, you can request a fee waiver. You can do this by selecting the "fee waiver" option in the application.

To know more about this, go to

Standardized test:

For 2021 and 2022 applicants, Cornell has suspended the test requirements due to pandemics. You can apply without providing test scores. Although if you already attempted the test with good marks, you can submit it. You can see the score requirements above.

Application Supporting Materials:

Also, with the application, you need to submit the following forms:

The School Report and official transcript: 

The counselor or other designated school officer must submit a school report and official transcript.

Counselor Recommendation: 

Cornell University needs a written statement from a guidance counselor or college advisor.

Teacher Evaluations: You need to submit a recommendation from two teachers. There should be your name and birth date on every page of the evaluation submitted through the mail.

Midyear Report: You should submit a Midyear report soon after the application deadline. Cornell's recommendation is to submit the report online; it will help to process the application faster. You do not need to submit it if you don't have it at the time of submission.


If you are applying for an architecture program, It's required to participate in the interview. If you apply for Urban and Regional Studies or the Department of Art, Cornell recommends you to attend an interview but not required. There is no interview for applicants who apply for other courses.

Additional Requirements:

For majors like art and architecture, you need portfolios, additional documents, designed indexes. To know course requirements individually, go to

The following is the application deadline table for Early Decision:

Cornell Application Deadlines

The following is the application deadline for Regular Decision:

Cornell Regular Deadlines

Cornell Selection Process:

When it comes to determining which of the applicants they should select, Cornell does what it can to make their selection process great. They try to be fair and balanced for the students. And as more and more students apply, it'll get tougher with the acceptance rate going down steadily. 

That's why Jonathan C. Locke, Associate Vice Provost For Enrolment, can say it's a strict process. When asked about Cornell's admissions in 2018, he said it's a "highly difficult process and a very subjective and somewhat unique system." 

So how does it go? The admissions staff will go for their first review to check on a student's performance with academics. It's also where they'll see the scores, grades, and other things that make the bulk of a student's overall rating. 

When students finally pass the first review, the officers will then check on other things. They are the extracurricular activities, experiences, and other factors. These factors will give them the idea of whether they are genuinely fit for Cornell. 

But it goes beyond that: They also check on who the student is? What background they are? and other things that a lot of universities don't consider. To sum it up, Cornell takes many factors and then more to see who is worthy of Cornell.

It's a rigorous process, so it's not easy to pick who applicants. And it got Locke in a bind at times when some students who weren't accepted made some complaints. He said, "One of the things that drive us crazy is when we hear from students who [have] admitted to another Ivy school say, 'I just don't get it, if I'm good enough to go there, why am I not good enough to go to Cornell?" Yes, it's pretty severe indeed when you're the guy who has to make selections with a great staff. 

Cornell University Acceptance Rate:

It's essential for you to know the acceptance rate of the college. The acceptance rates show how many percentages of applicants get admitted. The World's top institutes are very selective while picking applicants. And as Cornell University is a leading institute in the World, the acceptance rate is low.

The current general acceptance rate of Cornell is 11%. It means, in every 100 candidates, only 11 get accepted. 

The early application acceptance rate for the class of 2021 of Cornell is 22.6%. So as we see, the early applicant's percentage chosen is high compared to regular decision. However, keep in mind that this could be because the more intelligent students apply early.

Every year, both these acceptance rates are declining. In the following years, it may go even less. 

In short: only a few get chosen. You could be among a few who get accepted to Cornell if you work hard.

What If Not Accepted? 

Suppose you got rejected by Cornell. So does it mean all lost? No, because there are two alternative options to give a try if you still want to be part of Cornell. They're not the usual options, but if you're up for them, here they are: 

Alternative Option A: Attend a different college and transfer to Cornell later

You can apply for a different college and transferring to Cornell later. The requirements are here, so you should keep them in mind when you're growing and nurturing yourself elsewhere. Take note that while doing this option would be a bit of a risk with other elite colleges. This one has a high chance for you because the transfer acceptance rate of 2019 is 17.09%. , it's as if Cornell's glad to bring in students from other colleges.

The following the table of transfer application deadlines (Spring Semester):

Cornell Transfer Application Deadlines

The following the table of transfer application deadlines (Fall Semester):

Cornell Application Deadlines- Fall Semester

Alternative Option B: Apply again after going through a gap year

Another way to gain admission into Cornell is to apply again after you've gone through one year gap. A year-long break after college to pursue other activities for development in education and other parts of life. You can think of it as having your mini-vacation after finishing high school. Stumped on how it'll work out for you? Here's something to give you the details:

But this option is riskier than the alternative option. It's because it'll show Cornell that you didn't go to any other college after rejection, and it may have them reconsider your application. But this is also where you can use your gap year with an advantage. 

You can further develop your skills in other areas tied to the course you want to apply. When you give Cornell another look, they'll see that your gap year made you even more significant than ever.


Cornell University is genuinely a great college. With its students embodying diversity, they want the other things that make them a spectacular institute. 

While it's indeed to get into this college, knowing that they're the college appreciates a background with experience. It shows that they're always looking for a student who isn't just going to be a one-time show. They want the student that's got some spike with a few excellent points here and there. 

They're looking for the kind of student that isn't well-rounded but more like the kind that never goes for the standard way of living. If you're that student, then you're ready to get into the World of Cornell!