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Application FAQs

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How can I get a copy of the application? 

Cornell's application is available strictly online, either from the Admissions website or on the Common Application website.  Students are strongly encouraged to submit their applications electronically, although we will accept paper applications if you choose to download, print, and mail the application to Cornell.

Can I apply to more than one college at Cornell? 

No, you may only apply to one college at Cornell.

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Do I have to apply to a particular major?  If so, what if I change my mind later?

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.

What is Early Decision (ED)? 

ED is the application process in which students make a commitment to a first-choice institution and where, if admitted, are required to enroll. While pursuing admission under Cornell's Early Decision plan, students may apply to other non-binding institutions, but not to those with a binding Early Decision process. If you are accepted under Cornell's binding Early Decision plan, you must promptly withdraw any application(s) you have submitted to other colleges/universities, and submit no additional applications to any other college/university.    

How should a student decide on whether to apply Early Decision (ED) or Regular Decision (RD)? 

Cornell Engineering has a higher admit rate in its early decision pool relative to the regular decision pool. Therefore, if a student is head over heels in love with Cornell Engineering, he/she should consider applying via Early Decision. The potential for a student's admission rests upon the strength of his/her credentials relative to the total engineering ED pool.

What happens if I'm not admitted during Early Decision?

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 the College of Engineering in Regular Decision, nor to any of the other six undergraduate colleges/schools at Cornell University.

Can I apply Early Decision if I am applying for financial aid? What happens if I'm admitted and my family can't afford to pay for my Cornell education?

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 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, and your seat in the class will be given to another student.

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What are the minimum SAT/ACT scores required to be admitted to the College of Engineering as a freshman?

The College of Engineering does not require specific standardized test scores understanding that they are only one measurement of an applicant's preparation and aptitude. Please view a basic class profile of the most recent matriculated class for more information.

What are the SAT II requirements?

The College of Engineering requires students applying for admission to submit scores for two SAT II exams: one in math (any level) and one in science, as well as scores from the SAT General Test or the ACT. ACT scores, AP exams, IB scores or other standardized tests cannot be used to replace the SAT II requirement.

How important are my SAT/ACT scores for my application?

The admissions officers review applications holistically, which means everything is taken into consideration. Your SAT/ACT scores are considered as part of your application, but they are never used as the sole factor in a student's application. Your essays, extracurricular activities, recommendations, and academic record are all equally important to your application.

Does Cornell consider the writing portion of the SAT/ACT?

No, Cornell University will no longer consider the writing portion of the SAT or ACT when evaluating a prospective student's application.

When is the last date I can take the SAT/ACT and have my scores in time for my application? 

It is in your best interest to take your standardized tests as soon as you feel academically prepared to do so. In most years, the SAT is offered in early October, early November, early December, and mid-January. Students planning to apply Early Decision should plan to finish all tests by the October test date. Students applying through Regular Decision should plan to finish all testing by December if possible. January results are usually available in time to be considered for Regular Decision applications, but not always. Please keep in mind that Cornell Engineering requires completion of either the SAT or ACT, and two SAT II Subject tests, one in mathematics, and one in a science.

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What is the minimum high school GPA required to be admitted to the College of Engineering as a freshman?

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. Please view a basic class profile of the most recent matriculated class for more information.

What science and math courses are students expected to take in high school? 

To be a competitive engineering applicant, we ask our students to complete a minimum of four units (one unit is equivalent to a full high school class) of math (including one unit of calculus), one unit of physics, chemistry, and biology. These are minimum requirements necessary to submit an application. Calculus is extremely important given the engineering common curriculum, which includes several calculus courses during the first two years at Cornell.

If calculus is not offered at my high school, will this hurt my chances of being admitted? 

If so, should I try to take calculus at a local community college or online class? 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. You many also find classes through the Stanford University's EPGY (or similar) programs.

Is AP level coursework in the fields of math and science needed in order to apply? 

AP level coursework is not required as long as candidates receive one full unit of the required subjects (calculus, chemistry, physics, and biology) 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.

Which is more important, AP Physics 1 & 2 or AP Physics C? 

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 (a) students have exposure to at least one high level physics class in high school, and (b) 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.

Does the College of Engineering offer credit for AP, IB, and A-level scores? 

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. This chart shows what scores you need in order to be eligible for credit for different Cornell courses. You can also earn credit by taking a Cornell Advanced Standing Exam (CASE) during the fall orientation period.

Will the College of Engineering offer transfer credit for college classes taken during high school? 

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.

How do you evaluate applicants who are home-schooled? 

In order to understand and appreciate the depth and variety of the homeschool experience, and if an official high school transcript is NOT available, the admissions selection committee requires the following information for all four years prior to entering college:

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. Foreign Language: list of textbooks you have read each year; list of projects and/or papers; descriptions and dates of visits to other countries.
  4. 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).
  5. Mathematics: textbooks (covering which topics) you have used each year; any independent projects (titles and time spent).

In addition, you should submit scores from an 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.

Feel free to contact the Engineering Admissions Office if you have additional questions.

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If I already have an undergraduate degree, may I apply as a first-year student to obtain a second bachelor's degree?

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.

Are admissions interviews required?

No, interviews are not required 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.

If I need to mail application materials to Cornell, where do I send them? 

Students are required to submit their Common or Universal Application electronically. Most supporting materials, can be uploaded via this link. If you 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
East Hill Plaza
349 Pine Tree Road
Ithaca, NY 14850-2899


How can I check on the status of my application?

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 on Cornell’s website. This may take up to two weeks at peak processing times. Receiving your ApplicantID 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.

When will I find out about my admissions decision? 

Decisions for Early Decision candidates will be released in mid-December; decisions for Regular Decision candidates will be released around the first of April. Decisions are released via an online notification system. It is important to make sure your email address is current. Only admitted students will automatically receive a paper copy of their decision letter.

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