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Cornell University: Academics, Admissions & Tuition Info

Learn about Cornell University. Read about its admission info, financial aid, and degree programs to make an informed education decision.

About Cornell University

Cornell University is an Ivy League school located in Ithaca, NY, and unique in that it is both a privately endowed and land-grant institution. Founded in 1865, it was once known the first American university and was the first in the nation to house industrial and labor relations, veterinary medicine, and hotel administration colleges.

Ithaca is a small city of just over 30,000 residents in upstate New York, and was named one of America's Best Green Places to Live by Country Home magazine in 2007; additional honors conferred by publications include the healthiest city and the smartest city ( Thanks to a large college population, the median age of city residents is 22 years old.

While the vast majority of Cornell University's study programs take place on the main Ithaca campus, the school also has three off-campus medical colleges: two located in New York City and one in Doha, Qatar.


Composed of 14 colleges and schools, Cornell offers over 4,000 courses in a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional study areas.

The College of Arts and Sciences enrolls 5,600 students and offers more than 50% of the courses available at the university. Its departments include government, sociology, linguistics, philosophy and mathematics. Students can major in fields of study such as physics, chemistry and chemical biology, comparative studies, Asian studies, French, and theatre.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the second largest undergraduate college at the university and was established as the Department of Agriculture in 1874. The college enrolls more than 3,000 students and houses programs in areas such as neurobiology and behavior, animal science, entomology, and landscape architecture through 19 departments. Degree options include a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in International Agriculture and Rural Development, a B.S. in Development Sociology, a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Applied Statistics, and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Plant Biology.

Engineering is also a popular undergraduate-level field of study at Cornell University. The College of Engineering houses departments in applied and engineering physics, Earth and atmospheric sciences, electrical and computer engineering, and systems engineering, among others. Undergraduate majors include civil engineering, environmental engineering, and mechanical engineering. Graduate students can find such degree options as a Master of Science (M.S.) in Geological Sciences, a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) in Computer Science, and a Ph.D. in Operations Research.

The Weill Cornell Medical College and Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City offer academic programs and training for those interested in either physical medicine or biomedical research. The medical college also has a branch in Doha, Qatar, which was the very first overseas American medical school.

Additional academic programs at Cornell University include architecture, hotel administration, human ecology, industrial and labor relations, computer and information science, law, management, and veterinary medicine.


Prospective first-year students should plan to submit their applications to Cornell University by January 2nd of the year in which they would like to begin the Fall term. Decisions are typically sent in early April, along with financial aid awards. Early decisions are also available with a November 1st application deadline and mid-December decision timetable.

Cornell University uses the Common Application for undergraduate admissions. Along with the application, students must submit a school report, their mid-year grades, two teacher evaluations, an official school transcript, the university's supplement to the Common Application, and a $75 fee or waiver. Standardized test scores must be submitted directly by the testing agency. Some schools within the university also require SAT subject test scores, an interview, portfolio, or design submission at the time of application. AP credits may be accepted.

In 2011, Cornell received a total of 36,387 applications and admitted 18% of those. Of all admitted applicants, 51% actually enrolled in the university.

The undergraduate student body at Cornell is evenly divided with a 50:50 ratio of males to females, nearly all under the age of 25. There is some racial diversity on campus, with 16% Asian, 9% Hispanic or Latino, and 6% Black enrollment; however, 46% of undergraduates are White.

Tuition & Financial Aid

Tuition rates at Cornell University vary depending upon whether the particular school is an endowed (privately funded) or land-grant (funded by the state) college.

Cornell's endowed colleges include the Colleges of Architecture, Art, and Planning; Arts and Sciences; Engineering; and Hotel Administration. The estimated basic tuition and activities fee for students of these colleges is $43,413 per year regardless of whether the student is a New York resident.

The Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Industrial and Labor Relations, and Human Ecology are programs that receive funding by the state. Permanent NY residents can expect to pay approximately $27,273 in tuition and fees, while non-residents enrolled in these programs will be subject to the same higher rate paid by all students at the endowed colleges.

All students should also expect to pay roughly $8,100 for housing, $5,500 for dining, $820 for books and class materials (more for some architecture and design programs), and an additional $1,680 for personal and miscellaneous expenses for each year of attendance.

Considering that annual tuition can total nearly $60,000 or more for many students, there are several financial aid programs available. Though Cornell University does not offer merit or athletic scholarships, students may apply for need-based grant and scholarship awards through school, federal and state, or outside programs. Loans, income-based aid initiatives, and student work programs are also available to help cover and offset tuition costs.

School Type Private, non-profit; 4-years and above**
Degrees Offered Bachelor's, master's, doctorate**
Religious Affiliation N/A**
Academic Calendar Semester*
School Setting Small city**
Student Body Nearly 14,200 undergraduate; roughly 7,000 graduate students*
Student Housing 15 residence halls (10 for first-year students, 5 for upper-level students); graduate student housing for singles and families*
Schools and Programs 14 colleges and schools; roughly 80 undergraduate degree programs, 93 graduate study fields*
Student-Faculty Ratio 12 to 1**
Most Popular Fields of Study by Degree Level (Number of Recipients) In 2011:
Bachelor's: Engineering (648)
Master's: Business, management, marketing, and related (666)
PhD: Legal professions and studies (202)**
Undergraduate Graduation Rates 85% in 4 years, 92% in 6 years, 93% in 8 years**
Admission Rate 18% of applicants in 2011-2012**
Entering Class Size Over 3,300 in 2011**
First-Year Retention Rates 97% (Full-time students)**
Average SAT Score of Admitted Students 1401 average total in 2012*
Application Due Date January 2 for regular decision applications*
Decision Notification Date Early April for regular decision applicants*
Tuition (2012-13) Undergraduate tuition for 2012-13 is roughly $27,045 for NY residents enrolled in land-grant colleges; $43,185 for non-residents and all students enrolled in endowed colleges*
Financial Aid Sources Available (Percent of Students Receiving it) In 2011: Federal grants (15%), Pell grants (15%), other federal grants (12%), state and local grants/scholarships (16%), institutional grants/scholarships (51%), federal loans (31%)**
Percent of Students Receiving Some Form of Aid 66% in 2011**

Sources: *Cornell University, **IES, National Center for Education Statistics

School Contact Information

  • Address: Undergraduate Admissions Office, Cornell University, 410 Thurston Ave., Ithaca, NY 14850
  • Phone: (607) 255-5241
  • Website:

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