What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Cornell

What’s Covered:


Home to approximately 15,000 undergraduates, Cornell is the largest of the Ivy League schools. But don’t be fooled by Cornell’s robust student body or its motto, “I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study”—like other members of the Ivy League, admissions are highly selective and competition is fierce for a coveted spot.


Average Stats of Accepted Cornell University Students


Similar to other schools in the Ivy League, Cornell attracts ambitious students with impressive academic records. Cornell doesn’t report the average GPA of its accepted students, but it does provide the percentage of students from the 10% of their class: a stout 84.2%. Accepted students also score very well on standardized tests; the middle 50% range accepted students to Cornell scored on the SAT/ACT is 1450-1540/33-35.


Cornell’s test policy varies depending on which school an applicant applies to. The following schools practice score-free admission (test scores are not used in the admissions process):


  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
  • Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
  • Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration


The remaining schools and colleges at Cornell are test-optional (applicants can decide whether or not to submit standardized test scores with their application):


  • College of Arts & Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Human Ecology
  • Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations


It’s generally considered a smart strategy to submit test scores that fall within a school’s middle 50% range. This is especially true for scores near the top end of the range. 


Great grades and superb test scores will not guarantee admission at Cornell, however, they’re an important factor in ensuring an application is given thoughtful consideration. Highly selective colleges like Cornell use a tool known as the Academic Index to expedite the application process and weed out applicants they deem underqualified. Failure to meet Cornell’s academic standards puts an applicant at risk of getting screened out early in the admissions process.


Cornell University Application Process


Application Overview


Cornell accepts just one application, the Common Application. There is an $80 application fee, although fee waivers are available to students for whom the application fee presents a financial hardship.


Cornell has two admissions pathways: Early Decision (ED) and Regular Decision (RD). ED is binding and applicants accepted through it are committed to attending the university.


Application Path 

Application Deadline

Early Decision

November 1 

Regular Decision 

January 2


ED applicants are generally accepted at higher rates than RD candidates and Cornell is no exception. Cornell’s Early Decision acceptance rate is 21.4%, a considerably higher margin than its 8.6% overall acceptance rate. 


Application Components


  • Common Application 
  • School report
  • Counselor recommendation
  • Two teacher evaluations (engineering applicants must supply one teacher recommendation from a math teacher)
  • Midyear report
  • Official transcript
  • Cornell University Questions and Writing Supplement 
  • SAT/ACT (optional for some applicants and not required for others)
  • Interview (required for students applying to the architecture program and strongly recommended for those applying to the Department of Art and Urban and Regional Studies
  • Additional submissions (Landscape architecture, architecture, and art applicants are required to submit a portfolio)


Supplemental Essays: Cornell doesn’t have a universal supplemental essay for all applicants, rather, they’re given prompts unique to the school or program they’re applying to. 


Brooks School of Public Policy


  • Required: Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals. (650 words)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


  • Required: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals? (650 words)
  • Optional (1): At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good.  Please elaborate on an activity or experience you have had that made an impact on a community that is important to you. We encourage you to think about community broadly – this could include family, school, or local and global communities. (300 words)
  • Optional (2): The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) is dedicated to the exploration of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background in agriculture or are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. (300 words)

Select all that apply:

  • My family owns or operates a farm
  • I have experience working in agriculture
  • I have interest in pursuing a career in agriculture                              

Please feel free to share additional details below (optional):


College of Architecture, Art, and Planning


  • What is your “thing”? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours?


College of Arts and Sciences 


  • Required: Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s “any person…any study” founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College. (650 words)


Cornell SC Johnson College of Business


  • Required: What kind of a business student are you? Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Cornell Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration). (650 words)


College of Engineering


All applicants to Cornell’s College of Engineering are required to write two supplemental essays for admission. Applicants must respond to one prompt and have the option of responding to one of two prompts for their second essay. 


  • Required: How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about. (250 words)


Applicants must respond to one of the two following prompts. 


  • Prompt 1: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem. (250 words)
  • Prompt 2: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community? (250 words)


College of Human Ecology


  • How has your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology been influenced by your related experiences? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? (650 words)


School of Industrial and Labor Relations 


  • Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School. (650 words)


CollegeVine’s article, How to Write the Cornell University Essays 2022-2023, provides an in-depth look at Cornell’s supplemental essay questions along with advice on how to strategically answer these questions to stand out from a crowded field of applicants. For those who’ve already started writing their essays, CollegeVine Essay Review is an excellent place for feedback—either free from other students or from experts for a fee. 


Interview: Applicants to the university’s Bachelor of Architecture program are required to interview, either virtually with an architecture faculty member or with an architecture alum near their home. Interviews carry significant weight in the admissions selection process.


It’s strongly recommended that applicants to the Department of Art along with those to the Urban and Regional Studies interview. These provide applicants the chance to showcase their work and learn more about the programs to which they’re applying. 


Portfolio: Applicants to the Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture are required to submit a portfolio as part of their application. Similarly, art and architecture majors must also submit portfolios with their applications.


When Will You Hear Back?


The date applicants receive their admissions decision depends on the application path they took.   


Application Path 

Application Notification 

Early Decision   


Regular Decision 

Early April 


Cornell University Financial Aid


Financial Aid Generosity


Cornell is committed to removing the financial barriers that prevent students from earning a world-class education. The university practices need-blind admission and awards aid by demonstrated need—it does not award merit aid for academics, athletic ability, or any other talent. Demonstrated need is calculated using a simple equation: the cost of tuition minus family contribution. Financial need may be met with a combination of work, loans, and grants. The average Cornell grant award for a first-year student in the Class of 2025 was $43,250, and grants can be as high as $72,800


The sticker price of Cornell depends on what college a student is applying to and, in some cases, whether they’re a state resident or not.



Estimated Cost at Endowed Colleges and State Contract Colleges for Non-New York Residents

Estimated Cost at State Contract Colleges for New York Residents 




Student Activity Fee



Living on Campus



Books and Supplies 










*The cost of supplies may be higher for Art and Architecture students, as well as for students majoring in Landscape Architecture, Design & Environmental Analysis, and Fiber Science & Apparel Design.


Sticker price is just one way to understand the cost of college. For example, Cornell is one of the best colleges in the country for return on investment—it ranks 43rd out of 1,978 schools on the website Payscale’s list of best-value colleges. To get a broader idea of the actual expense of attending Cornell, check out our article What Does It Really Cost to Attend Cornell University?


How to Apply for Financial Aid


Cornell financial aid applicants are required to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with a CSS profile. The timeline for financial aid applications corresponds with the application path a student applied through.  


Application Path 

Application Deadline

Financial Aid Decision 

Early Decision   

November 21


Regular Decision 

February 15 

Early April 


What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?


As a member of the prestigious Ivy League, Cornell is home to some of the most selective admissions in the nation. However, the odds of admission vary from student to student. CollegeVine’s free chancing engine uses factors like academics, extracurriculars, and demographics to calculate your unique chances of acceptance at Cornell along with hundreds of other colleges across the country.


CollegeVine’s Cornell profile page has further information, including diversity stats, majors, and how long it should take to complete an application.

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.