I have been on multiple project teams, in multiple research labs, and held an internship at a top aerospace company. However when I think about my time at Cornell what stand out to me are the people that I've had the opportunity to meet and befriend. Those people have helped me grow and succeed as a student and engineer.
Considering Cornell Engineering
The Right Fit
Cornell Engineering is a dynamic, inclusive community of problem solvers and innovators. While there is no magic formula for admission into our program, we look for applicants who are well-prepared for the rigor of Cornell academics and will bring something unique to our community. As we assemble the incoming class of Cornell Engineers, we seek students strong in math and science with wide-ranging personal backgrounds and interests, who are creative, empathetic and desire to make positive, substantive changes in the world. We encourage you to consider: What do you bring to Cornell Engineering?
How to Prepare in High School
The curriculum at Cornell Engineering is demanding, and we want to make sure our students are prepared for the challenge. We look for students who have increasingly challenged themselves in high school while maintaining a strong GPA. We have math and science requirements to ensure you will enter our program prepared for the core curriculum. You are also required to take either the SAT or ACT. Plan ahead—you should complete your testing requirements by the time you apply. Admissions counselors will look at your coursework, grades and test scores to determine whether you are ready for Cornell Engineering.
Cornell Engineering requires the completion of the following math and sciences classes prior to high school graduation. A unit is equivalent to one academic year of study.
- 4 units of mathematics, including 1 of calculus
- 1 unit of physics (Taking physics in the latter part of your high school career is beneficial as you will be required to take one semester of physics in your first year at Cornell.)
- 1 unit of chemistry
The following courses are recommended but not required:
- computer science
- 1 unit of biology
Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Dual Enrollment Classes
If your school offers Advanced Placement (AP) courses or has an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, we encourage you to take advantage of these classes. If you are successful in these courses, you are likely to be successful at Cornell Engineering. We will award credit for certain AP and IB classes based on your exam results.
Increasingly, high schools partner with local colleges to offer dual enrollment courses (courses taught at the high school but are awarded college credit). This is another opportunity for you to challenge yourself although Cornell Engineering will not award credit for these classes.
Some enterprising students take courses at their local colleges and universities as non-matriculating students in order to broaden their academic experience and gain insight into the college experience. Cornell Engineering will consider awarding credit for courses taken at local colleges if the classes are part of our required curriculum. Credit evaluation for these classes happens only after you have been accepted and matriculated into Cornell Engineering.
Standardized Testing—Plan Ahead
We require all applicants take either the ACT or SAT standardized tests. You should take the test with which you feel the most comfortable; we do not have a preference. There are no required minimum test scores to be admitted. We do not require or consider the optional writing portion of the ACT or SAT. The SAT Subject Tests are not required and will not be considered during the 2020 or 2021 admission cycles.
Additional testing information:
- Cornell University and the College of Engineering participate in Score ChoiceTM. You may elect to submit your highest scores from multiple test dates, putting your best foot forward in the submission of your testing results.
- For the SAT, Cornell considers the highest section scores across test dates. For the ACT, Cornell considers the highest composite score across all ACT test dates. As a reminder, ACT does not create new records by combining scores from different test dates.
International applicants must take the TOEFL or IELTS. A TOEFL waiver may be granted, if a student achieves a score of 670 or higher on the Critical Reading section of the OLD SAT 1 exam, a NEW SAT Reading Test score of at least 35, or for students who have been in the U.S. (or other nations where English is the primary language spoken) for at least 4 years. Please note that Cornell does NOT waive the TOEFL/IELTS test requirement for students who have attended an English-speaking school in a non-English speaking country.
All standardized testing must be completed by the time of application. The latest test date for ED applicants is October and for RD applicants it is December.
High School Information
We know no two high schools are the same, and your ability to take advanced courses may be limited by the school you attend. Worry not — our counselors are familiar with the schools in their assigned regions. Additionally, each school provides a school profile that explains what courses are offered, any limits on the number of advanced classes you can take, and information about grading. We assess your work within the context of your high school and the resources available to you.
Engagement outside of the classroom is just as important as your performance in school. On your application, your involvement in extracurricular activities acquaints us with your passions and your ability to balance work and play — it gives us a clearer picture of who you are. There is no right or wrong activity. Do what you love. Pursue what is interesting to you. Our students represent an unlimited breadth of interests — building rockets and robots, bagpipe playing, teaching Sanskrit, championship logrolling, managing theater companies and more! If you are genuine in your pursuits, your sincerity and originality will shine through on your application.
Each year a small percentage of applications come from homeschooled students. In order to understand and appreciate the depth and variety of the homeschool experience, the admissions selection committee requires the following information for all four years prior to entering college:
- English: list of books (including all textbooks and other anthologies) you have read each year; how many papers and how long (indicate which are creative and which are expository writing); any research papers (list titles and length of each).
- Social Studies: list of textbooks and books you have read each year; how many papers (topics listed) and how long; independent research projects (titles and lengths).
- Foreign Language: list of textbooks you have read each year; list of projects and/or papers; descriptions and dates of visits to other countries.
- Science: textbooks you have used each year (description of topics covered if you did not use a textbook or only used part of the book); list of experiments and/or field trips; any projects or research done (titles and time spent).
- Mathematics: textbooks (covering which topics) you have used each year; any independent projects (titles and time spent).
We ask that applicants provide an official high school transcript if available. In addition, you should submit scores from any standardized examinations (state, SATs, ACTs, APs) and any transcripts from any college courses you may have taken. You should also send information on independent projects, laboratory experiences, research projects, etc.
Are you currently attending another institution of higher education? If you have graduated from high school and have earned twelve or more credits, or have matriculated, at a college or university then are considered a transfer student. We encourage you to review our transfer pages, which will guide you through the classes required and application process for transferring to Cornell Engineering.
College choice is, of course, more than a matter of rankings and statistics. You must ask yourself, “Where could I be happy for the next four-years?” Whenever possible, try to visit the schools that you are considering. Unfortunately, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus is closed and staff are working remotely. We hope to resume normal operations soon. Please check the University's visit page periodically to see if you have resumed our regular visit schedule.
Explore our Website
We understand not everyone can visit, so there is a wealth of information available on our website. We invite you to spend some time exploring.
I am a Cornell Engineer
My advice? Ask for help when you need it, it hurts no-one and could make all the difference.
~Saleh (Alexandria, VA), electrical and computer engineering
Jehron (Baldwin, NY) is a computer science major in the College of Engineering. Hear how his defining moment as an intern during the summer after his freshman allowed him to gain crucial real world experience before the start of his second year.
I am Cornell Engineer
I want the world to know anyone can be an engineer. Engineering is a mindset about how to tackle any problem.
~Emma (Blacksburg, VA), biomedical engineering
Jordan (Tampa, FL) is a chemical engineering major and captain of the Cornell ChemE Car project team. Hear how her defining moment at Cornell has given her opportunities to experience hands on application within the chemical engineering field in new and innovative ways.
I am a Cornell Engineer
Engineering is the reason why most of our lives are easier today. Not only do companies want engineers, the world needs engineers.
~Jai (Marietta, GA), operations research and engineering
Nicolette (Auburn, NY) is a civil engineering major. As a site engineering intern and a member of the Student Assembly Infrastructure Fund, her contributions to the field of civil engineering have already made a tremendous impact on campus and in the community. Hear how she breaks the rules to make great things happen.