International Applicants

Cornell University is a global community. Since Cornell’s founding in 1865, our campus has welcomed students and scholars from all reaches of the world. Globally, Cornell students, faculty, and alumni apply their knowledge to improve life for all on our planet. They strive to cure disease, solve food and water security issues, and alleviate poverty. We believe it takes an international, diverse community to envision and create a more sustainable, just world.

International Applicants

We define international applicants as students who are not U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, or do not have refugee/asylee status. U.S. undocumented residents with DACA or without DACA status are considered domestic students both for admissions and financial aid purposes. U.S. citizens who are living abroad or applicants who have dual U.S. citizenship are not considered international students.

English Language Proficiency (ELP)

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 one of the following English language proficiency examinations listed below. We will consider and accept dozens of examinations and other qualifications from around the world in meeting the English Language Proficiency requirement.

The following submissions and examinations that meet this requirement include, but are not limited to, the following:

Minimum score requirements for admissions consideration and to be most competitive in our review process:

  • 100 and above on the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • 5.5 and above on the iTEP
  • 120 and above on the Duolingo English Test
  • 7.5 and above on the IELTS Academic
  • 70 and above on the PTE Academic
  • 191 and above on the Cambridge English Scale
  • Note: Minimum score requirements are listed above for any and all assessments and proxies for which we have designated a minimum qualification. If no minimum score is listed above for a particular English Language Proficiency assessment or proxy, there is no minimum qualification, and assessment and proxy results will be considered during the admissions application review.

Note: We do not superscore results from these assessments.

How do I know if I need to take an English language proficiency test?

You do not need to take an ELP test if:

  • You are a U.S. Citizen/Permanent Resident and/or English is your native language.
  • You received a score of 650 or above on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing test OR a score of 30 or higher on both the ACT Reading and English Sections. Note: You must submit our English Language Proficiency Form which will be available in your application portal once you become an applicant.
  • You have studied your most recent four years in a high school, college, or university in the U.S. or other nations where English is the official language. Note: You must submit our English Language Proficiency Form which will be available in your application portal once you become an applicant.
  • You DO need to take an English language proficiency examination if you do not meet any of the criteria above.

Please note that Cornell does not waive the ELP test requirement for students who have attended an English-speaking school in a non-English speaking country.

Learn More About Applying

Map of the World showing Cornell students' permanent countries.

* The map indicates the countries outside of the United States where Cornell University students reside.

Olav '17 (Germany)

Olav is a mechanical engineering major and a true renaissance man. Originally hailing from Germany, he is a talented musician, a member of the varsity Crew team, and an avid researcher. Hear how he breaks the rules by going “beyond the quad” and making the most of his time at Cornell.

Engineering student Kompella '20 (New Delhi, India)As I sifted through my acceptances while choosing colleges, I knew I had a tough decision to make as I had not had the opportunity to visit any of the universities. After deliberating on each acceptance, my final decision was Cornell. After a year and a half I have never looked back on my decision, perhaps because Cornell offers everything a student might hope for. Cornell is a diverse, intellectual and cohesive community and is a place I proudly call home! 

Kompella '20 (New Delhi, India)

Important Statistics about Cornell Engineering

Star icon
U.S. News and World Report Rankings of Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (Schools with doctorates)
World icon
of the Cornell Engineering undergraduates are international students
Hand holding bag of money
is the average starting salary for undergraduate engineering students who graduated in May 2020
Engineering student Nicole '19 who is from Hong Kong

Surprisingly enough, there is actually a very strong international community in Cornell. There are many cultural events hosted by various culture clubs, for example, a mid-autumn festival dinner with dim sum, a Japanese summer festival, and a Holi celebration in the arts quad — all of which were extremely fun! It's one of the things that I really appreciate about Cornell — everyone here embraces other cultures and is excited to share their own traditions.

— Nicole '19 (Hong Kong)
Engineering student Chloe '20

I fell in love with Cornell right away — I loved the campus, the food, the classes and, perhaps most importantly, the people. I knew I wanted to go to a school with an amazing engineering program and also one that was large enough so that I could hypothetically meet a new person, from a different place or with a different major, every day for four years. Cornell was the perfect choice. That said, transitioning from Nigeria to America wasn't easy — whether it's missing home or struggling to understand your professor. Fortunately, there are many resources available on campus to help make the transition go a little smoother. I found that just by reaching out, many people were going through the same thing that I was and it was great to know that I wasn't alone.

— Chloe '20 (Port Harcourt, Nigeria)
Engineering student Jilly '20

The most attractive part of Cornell is the number of choices here! As an international student, I benefit a lot from the international student community. Every semester, there are many events celebrating major cultural holidays. However, with the many choices Cornell provides, this is definitely not the only way to be involved. Personally, I find a home in the Cornell Outdoor Education program (aka the “basement land”) where I meet like-minded adventurers, and my engineering project team, where I find intelligent individuals who share the same passion. With new discoveries every day, Cornell has never failed to surprise me!

— Jilly '20 (Vancouver, Canada)

Frequently Asked Questions

May I apply as an international student during early decision?

Yes, an increasing portion of the College of Engineering's early decision pool are international applicants.

May I apply for financial aid as an international applicant?

Yes, but it is limited. Cornell University provides need-based financial aid on a limited basis to a selected number of admitted international students who have applied for financial aid. For international applicants and undocumented applicants without DACA status, we are need-aware for admissions.

We do not offer merit, athletic or talent-based aid to students. Students who are admitted and demonstrate financial need will receive a financial aid package that meets 100% of their demonstrated need (Cornell University does not provide partial financial aid awards). For further information on applying for aid as an international student, please visit the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment.

I want to enroll at Cornell but I am still waiting to hear from my scholarship committee. What should I do?

Please email the Engineering Admissions Office at to let us know of your special circumstance. Include your full name, address, and when you expect to hear from the scholarship committee. Deposit extensions are granted on a case-by-case basis.

When will I receive my I-20 Form?

In order to receive an I-20, students must: be accepted to Cornell, submit their $400 required acceptance deposit, and document their ability to meet the cost of attendance by submitting the Declaration of Finances form. Visa documentation and approval will take time so please submit your Declaration of Finances form when you send your acceptance deposit. For more information, see the United States Government's Visa website and Cornell's International Services Office.

I have been admitted to Cornell Engineering but my country requires military service, what should I do?

Admitted first-year students who are required to complete military service can apply for a 1 or 2 year deferral of their enrollment. Please note that a deferral is not formally granted until the Cornell Bursar's Office has received the enrollment deposit of $400 for a 1-year deferral or $800 for a 2-year deferral.