My time at Cornell has been essential to my growth as an academic and a person. In classes, I've both learned theory and applied it through the numerous projects I've completed in my computer science classes. These experiences gave me the qualifications to work at amazing research institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In terms of personal growth, I've become more aware and understanding of opinions and experiences different than my own. Cornell is home to people from many walks of life, and hearing various life stories always inspires me to adjust the way I act to become a little bit of a better person everyday.
We hope you will consider applying to the College of Engineering at Cornell University. Each year approximately 800 first-year students from the U.S. and abroad join our world-renowned program. We encourage you to review the information here on the requirements for applying to Cornell Engineering.
Information for First-Year Undergraduate Applicants
Individuals with a high school diploma or GED who have earned fewer than 12 college credits may apply as a first-year applicant. If you have earned 12 or more credits at another accredited college or university since graduating from high school, you must apply to Cornell Engineering as a transfer student.
Dates and Deadlines
Early decision (ED) is an option for applicants who have a clear preference for one institution. You apply to only one institution as an ED applicant. When applying ED, the applicant is making a binding commitment to that institution and, if admitted, must enroll at that school unless the financial aid package is not considered adequate by the family. While pursuing ED admission at Cornell, you may apply to other non-binding institutions but not to those with a binding ED process. If you are accepted to Cornell through ED, you must promptly withdraw any application(s) you have submitted to other schools and cannot submit additional applications to any other institution. For a student who has a definite first-choice college, applying ED has many benefits:
- a higher rate of admission relative to the regular decision pool;
- reduced stress by cutting the time spent waiting for a decision;
- saved time and expense of submitting multiple applications;
- once accepted, more time to prepare for college.
Students and parents can use the College Board's Pros and Cons of Applying to College Early to weigh their options.
- ED application deadline: November 1
- ED financial aid application for international students deadline: November 1
- ED financial aid application for U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens deadline: November 21
- ED quarter-year report due (recommended): Thanksgiving
- ED admissions decisions released: Mid-December
- Application deadline: January 2
- Financial aid application for international students deadline: January 2
- Financial aid application for U.S. citizens and eligible non-citizens deadline: February 15
- Mid-year report due: Mid-February
- Admissions decisions released: Early April
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
- A Completed Application through the Common Application.
- $80 Application Fee or Fee Waiver. To request a fee waiver, follow the instructions on the application.
- Cornell College of Engineering Supplemental Essay. This writing component is essential to your application. We want you to express your interest in engineering and Cornell Engineering specifically. All engineering applicants are required to write two supplemental essays. Essay 1 is required of all applicants. For Essay 2, you must choose between Question A and Question B.
- Essay 1 — Required response (250 word limit)
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.
- Essay 2 — Choose either Question A or Question B. (250 word limit)
- Question A: 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.
- Question B: 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?
- Essay 1 — Required response (250 word limit)
- Two (2) Teacher Recommendations. At least one of the two teacher recommendations must be from a math teacher. You are strongly encouraged to submit a math teacher recommendation from a pre-calculus or calculus teacher who has taught you in grade 11 or 12 (or equivalent years). The second recommendation may be from a teacher instructing a subject of your choice. If you are an international or ESL student, we strongly encourage that the second recommendation be from a teacher who can directly address your English proficiency. We suggest giving your teachers at least one month to write the letters, and be sure they know you and your work well.
- Secondary School Reports. This includes your guidance counselor recommendation, school profile, and official transcript. These items are submitted by your guidance counselor.
- Mid-Year Report. We strongly recommend that students provide a current senior-year grade report. For early decision, this is a quarter-year report. For regular decision, this is a mid-year report. If you are admitted to Cornell Engineering, you will need to submit your final grade report.
Standardized Testing Requirements
Cornell University has extended its suspension of SAT/ACT requirements to 2024 first-year applicants. SAT Subject Tests are not required or expected for admission to Cornell University.
English Language Proficiency Testing Requirements
Our international applicants follow the same application process as our first-year applicants and transfer applicants. All Cornell students must have a strong command of the English language to be successful in their engagement in their university studies. If English is not your native language or if you have not attended high school in a country where English is an official language for the four years prior to your planned enrollment at Cornell, you may be asked to submit results from an English language proficiency examination.
Please note that Cornell does NOT waive the English language proficiency requirement for students who have attended an English-speaking school in a non-English speaking country. We will consider and accept dozens of examinations and other qualifications from around the world to meet the English Language Proficiency requirement.
Have more questions?
See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below.
I am a Cornell Engineer
There is nothing more powerful than getting a group of people to tackle a problem. "Two heads are better than one" is a vast understatement of the power of collaborating in a group.
~Nathan (Ashland, MA), mechanical engineering
I am a Cornell Engineer
As more diverse individuals enter engineering fields, the way we make decisions about infrastructures and systems will change. I hope to inspire the next generation of black, female computer scientists.
~Destiny (East Orange, NJ), computer science
I am a Cornell Engineer
I break the rules by challenging traditional solutions, thinking critically, and charting my own unique course. My generation is ready to face challenges and solve problems in innovative ways!
~Joshua (Oakton, VA), operations research and engineering
Sofia (Aurora, CO) is a computer science major, a Meinig Scholar, and an intern in the B.A.B.Y lab. Hear how she breaks the rules by applying theories to immediate problems.
I am a Cornell Engineer
I will break the rules to create what doesn't exist. Always ask what "you can do", not what people what you to do.
~Tse Tse (Manassas, VA), electrical and computer engineering
Jamey (Bethesda, MD) is a mechanical engineering major with a passion for aerospace. Hear how his defining moment at Cornell helped shape his time as an undergraduate student and his plans for the future as an M.Eng. student here at Cornell.
Cornell Engineering Admissions Statistics*
Class of 2025
Applications Submitted: 17,284
Class Size: 890
Early Decision Enrollment: 56.2%
First-Generation College Students: 20.8%
*Data taken from PeopleSoft Frozen File on July 19, 2021
Frequently Asked Questions
Early Decision (ED)
High School Coursework and Credit
- Cornell University only allows applicants to apply to one of the seven undergraduate colleges and schools.
- No, you do not apply to a particular major; you apply to the college. When you apply to the College of Engineering, you can indicate an intended major if you wish. You do not officially select your major until the second semester of your sophomore year. It is not uncommon for students to change their minds about what area of engineering they'd like to specialize in.
Cornell University has extended its suspension of SAT/ACT requirements to 2024 first-year applicants.
SAT Subject Tests are not required or expected for admission to Cornell University.
- When we receive your application and application fee (or fee waiver request), we will email you with the information you need to establish an online application status account. This may take up to two weeks at peak processing times. Receiving your Applicant ID and PIN via email is your confirmation that we have received your application. Using this secure site, you will be able to track your application materials and update your email address as necessary.
- Students are required to submit their Common Application electronically. We strongly encourage you to upload supplemental materials using your application status portal. If your supplemental material cannot be uploaded electronically, items can be mailed to the below address if necessary.
- Please include full name, application ID#, and birthdate on all correspondence.
Cornell University Application Processing Center
410 Thurston Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850
- No, Cornell Engineering does not enroll students for a second bachelor's degree. Individuals who already hold an undergraduate degree need to apply for a graduate degree program.
- No, interviews are not required nor are they offered for Engineering. However, an applicant may be offered an opportunity to meet with a Cornell alum once his/her application has been submitted. Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network (CAAAN) members may contact prospective students in their local area to see if they would like to meet. The meetings are purely optional, but provide candidates with a chance to learn more about Cornell from an alum's perspective. If you are unable to meet with a CAAAN member or there is no one available in your area it will not adversely impact your chance of admission.
- 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, as well as transcripts from any college courses you may have taken. You should also send information on independent projects, laboratory experiences, research projects, etc. In addition, you may submit scores from any standardized examinations (state, SATs, ACTs, APs).
Early Decision (ED)
- Students who are not admitted during the Early Decision period may be deferred to Regular Decision or denied admission altogether. Deferrals to Regular Decision are only granted to a small number of students who are in serious contention for a spot in the class. Unfortunately, if a student is denied in Early Decision, he/she cannot re-apply to any of the seven undergraduate colleges/schools at Cornell University.
- You can still apply Early Decision if you are applying for financial aid. Make sure to follow the financial aid application deadlines and submit all the required forms as outlined on the Cornell University Financial Aid website. When you receive your financial aid package, we expect you to work with the Financial Aid Office to make any necessary adjustments to your package. If both sides have done as much as possible and your family is still unable to afford Cornell, we will release you from your Early Decision agreement.
High School Coursework and Credit
- Admitted students are usually those who have excelled in their studies, particularly in math and sciences, and who have grades that are generally in the A range. Most of the students admitted into the College fall within the top 10% of their high school graduating class. When considering a student's GPA, we look at the rigor of the high school curriculum, whether the GPA is weighted or un-weighted, and whether the student has taken challenging courses if they are offered at their school.
- Calculus is extremely important given the engineering common curriculum, which includes several calculus courses during the first two years at Cornell. Cornell Engineering requires one year (or one high school unit) of calculus as a component of the engineering application because our engineering curriculum is fundamentally driven by facility in calculus. Any applicant choosing to apply to Cornell Engineering without meeting this requirement would be placed at a substantial disadvantage relative to the engineering applicant pool. This is important to factor in during the college search process. Rare exceptions can be made, but may require the admitted student to come to Cornell during the summer before his/her freshman fall semester to take a college-level calculus class. If it is possible for you to gain calculus experience during your senior year at a local or community college, it will be in your best interest to do so.
- AP level coursework is not required as long as candidates receive one full unit of the required subjects (calculus, chemistry and physics) during their high school years. AP level courses are rigorous and having access to this level of coursework can strengthen candidates' opportunities for admission and potential to succeed academically in the engineering curriculum.
- No appreciable distinction is made between AP Physics 1 & 2 and AP Physics C other than AP credit is only awarded for a score of 5 on the AP Physics C test. More important is that students have exposure to at least one high level physics class in high school, and students are challenging themselves in the curricular environment that is available to them. Because physics is critically important to many fields of engineering, we prefer that students' most recent exposure to physics occur in their junior and/or senior year.
- The College of Engineering routinely offers credit for appropriately high scores on Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate Higher Level (IB), and General Certificate of Education (A-level) examinations. We will award credit for certain AP and IB classes based on your exam results. You can also earn credit by taking a Cornell Advanced Standing Exam (CASE) during the fall orientation period.
- Transfer credit for college courses taken before high school graduation may be awarded if the following criteria are met:
- Students must have received at least a grade of C (not C–) in the course, and the subject matter must be applicable to the Engineering curriculum at Cornell.
- The Engineering Registrar’s office must receive a signed statement from the high school guidance office certifying that the course was not used to fulfill high school graduation credit.
- The course must have been taught on a college campus, by college faculty and attended by college students.
- An official transcript must be received by the Engineering Registrar.
- If these criteria are met, Cornell faculty will review the course description and award transfer credit if the course is equal in scope and rigor to a corresponding course in the Engineering curriculum.
Students may also earn credit by taking Cornell Advanced Standing Exam(s) during the fall orientation period. CASE exam performance will demonstrate understanding of key subject areas (i.e. calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology) within the framework of the Cornell Engineering curriculum. While these exams are voluntary, they help place students in the appropriate coursework level.