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How to Get into Cornell University: A Complete Guide

Yocket Editorial Team

With a rich legacy spanning 130 years and an impressive network of 250,000 alumni, Cornell University stands as a beacon of academic excellence in the United States. Renowned for its rigorous academics and esteemed faculty, Cornell attracts some of the brightest minds globally. As one of the most prestigious Ivy League institutions, Cornell boasts a challenging academic environment, reflected in its low acceptance rate. Ranked #13 in the 2024 QS World University Rankings, Cornell University continues to be a top choice for students seeking world-class education and unparalleled opportunities.

Join the 10,000+ successful Premium admits who have achieved their dream of studying at prestigious Ivy League colleges like Cornell University. At Yocket, we understand the aspirations of students aiming for academic excellence and global recognition. Our personalised guidance and expert insights have helped countless students navigate the intricate admissions process with confidence. Let us be your partners on the journey to Cornell and beyond. With Yocket Premium, your dream of joining the ranks at Cornell University can become a reality.

Our comprehensive guide offers invaluable insights and strategies tailored to navigate the intricacies of the admissions process successfully. Read on!

Table of Contents

Why Study at Cornell University?

Before we delve into the heart of the matter, it's important to understand why choosing Cornell University is crucial. As a top-ranked global institution, Cornell is renowned for its groundbreaking research and academic excellence, particularly in advanced fields such as AI and Computer Science.Cornell University, a renowned Ivy League institution, offers a diverse range of popular courses, from Computer Science to Business Management, providing ample academic options. With a commitment to inclusive education, Cornell embraces students from all backgrounds, embodying diversity and openness.

  • Academic Excellence: With 4,000+ classes and 100+ departments, Cornell offers a rich and flexible learning environment. Ranked 16th globally, the university's Nobel laureates exemplify its research prowess.
  • Research Focus: Cornell's USD 1 billion research budget fosters a culture of inquiry, allowing undergraduates to engage in groundbreaking discoveries.
  • Global Recognition: A Cornell degree holds global prestige, opening doors to vast career opportunities. The university's top-notch infrastructure further enriches the academic experience.
  • Vibrant Campus Life: Cornell offers a vibrant campus life with 37 varsity teams, club sports, music events, and a renowned theatre, enabling students to pursue diverse passions.

Suggested: Cornell University: Acceptance Rate, Fees & Courses

How to Get into Cornell University?

Since its founding, the school has focused on educating students who will have positive impacts throughout the world in all fields of study. If you dream of getting accepted to Cornell, you will need to earn the highest possible grades in all of your high school classes and achieve top scores on the SAT or ACT. The university is extremely selective, so you will also need to write compelling essays and participate in quality activities both inside and outside of high school.

International students applying to Cornell University must meet the following criteria:

  •  Achieve at least a 4.07 GPA while taking the most rigorous courses available. 
  • Aim for a 1540 SAT and 35 ACT.
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7.0 or a TOEFL score of 85 is necessary.
  • Write engaging essays showcasing unique traits and diversity contributions.
  • Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars.
  • Provide at least 2 professional or academic letters of recommendation (LORs).
  • Strengthen your application with relevant extracurricular activities or achievements.

Other Admission Requirements:

  • Personal essays, Statement of Purpose (SOP), or Letters of Intent are crucial for undergraduate and postgraduate applications.
  • Writing supplements assesses your interests, plans, and choice of Cornell.
  • At the postgraduate level, a professional SOP and a personal essay demonstrate your field involvement and individuality.
  • Letters of Recommendation (LOR) from relevant sources, such as academic advisors, are required.
  • A dynamic CV highlighting initiative, leadership, problem-solving, and community engagement is essential.
  • Some professional graduate programs may require proof of work experience.
  • Necessary documents for immigration and student visas, such as a passport and financial statements, are also part of the requirements.

Application Process:

  1. Choose your program: Explore Cornell's wide range of graduate programs and identify the one that aligns with your interests and career goals. Each program has its own specific requirements and deadlines, so be sure to check the program website for details.
  2. Create an ApplyWeb account: This online portal is where you'll submit your application materials and track the status of your application.
  3. Submit required documents: These typically include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume/CV. Some programs may require additional essays or portfolios.
  4. Pay the application fee: The fee varies by program, but it's typically around USD 105 (₹8,702) for international students.
  5. Submit your application: Meet the program's deadline to ensure your application is considered.

Additional Considerations:

  • Financial aid: Explore scholarship and fellowship opportunities to help finance your studies. International students may be eligible for need-based aid.
  • Deadlines: Program deadlines vary, so check the specific program website for accurate information. Early application is encouraged.
  • Interviews: Some programs may require interviews as part of the application process.

Suggested: Find Out the Top Courses at Cornell University

Tips to get into Cornell University

Tip 1: Academic Excellence:

Achieving a strong GPA above 3.0, ideally reaching 3.5 or higher, is key for Cornell's competitive Master's programs. Additionally, prepare thoroughly for standardised tests like the GRE or GMAT to surpass program averages. Beyond grades, highlight academic achievements, such as research projects or awards, to show your intellectual curiosity and commitment to excellence.

Tip 2: Showcase Your Passion:

Quantify the impact of your extracurricular activities, from leading teams to organising events, to demonstrate your leadership and initiative. Align these activities with your interests and career goals. Choose engagements that genuinely excite you and reflect your unique strengths and personality.

Tip 3: Craft Compelling Essays:

Use your essays to tell your story authentically, beyond your resume. Explain the motivations behind your choices and how you've overcome challenges. Seek feedback to ensure clarity, grammar, and a polished presentation.

Tip 4: Network and Leverage Resources:

Connect with Cornell alumni, especially Indian graduates, for insights into the application process and university culture. Attend webinars and information sessions to understand program requirements and faculty interests. Consider professional guidance for tailored advice on your application strategy.

Check out the profiles of some of Yocket’s top students who got into Cornell University at Admits & Rejects! 

Watch Atharva's journey from Mumbai to the IVY League here! With a 9.2 CGPA in his undergraduate, Atharva made it to not one, but two of the most prestigious universities in the US: Cornell and NYU! Join Atharva as he discusses how counselling made all the difference and why you should opt for it too! Watch here - 

Challenges of getting into Cornell University

Indian students aiming for Cornell's competitive Master's programs encounter tough competition, reflected in the low 7-8% acceptance rate. To stand out, they often need exceptional undergraduate GPAs of 3.5 or higher, which can be challenging due to differences in grading scales.

  • Standardised tests such as GRE, GMAT, or others, while not mandatory for all programs, require scores above program averages. These tests, with potential cultural bias, demand rigorous preparation, adding to the challenge.
  • Quantifying impactful extracurricular contributions beyond academics can be daunting for Indian students due to cultural differences and limited opportunities. Research experience, vital for many programs, may be limited in India compared to other countries, potentially putting Indian applicants at a disadvantage.
  • Letters of recommendation from Indian faculty, while valuable, may lack the international exposure of those from renowned institutions abroad.
  • High tuition fees at Cornell pose financial challenges for international students, including those from India, considering living expenses.
  • Competition for scholarships is intense, with limited opportunities available. Securing adequate funding can be a significant hurdle.

Cost of studying at Cornell University

Cornell University, renowned for its academic excellence, offers a world-class education, but the fees are considerable and must be factored into financial planning. Here's a breakdown of the approximate annual tuition fees for international students, based on 2023-24 figures:

Postgraduate Degrees

  • College of Architecture Art and Planning
  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • SC Johnson Hotel School
  • Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Cornell Law School
  • Duration: 2-5 years
  • Annual Tuition Fees: USD 29,500 (₹24,45,020)


  • Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Annual Tuition Fees: USD 76,690 (₹6,35,622)


  • Johnson Graduate School of Management
  • Duration: 1 year
  • Annual Tuition Fees: USD 118,758 (₹98,42,906)

MEng/ MArch

  • School of Engineering
  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Annual Tuition Fees: USD 62,456 (₹5,17,648)

In addition to tuition fees, it's crucial to consider living expenses. Cornell estimates annual living costs between USD 25,038 and USD 37,165 (₹2,07,199 to ₹3,08,919) , covering accommodation, health insurance, books, supplies, and other activities. While the fees are substantial, Cornell's reputation and the opportunities it offers make it a valuable investment in your future.

Remember, Cornell also provides various scholarship options for financial aid, helping students manage the costs and focus on their academic pursuits. For a detailed breakdown of available scholarships for Indian students, please refer to the next section.


Cornell University offers a range of scholarship opportunities to assist Indian students in managing the costs of tuition and living expenses. While the figures may seem daunting, these scholarships are designed to alleviate financial burdens and make Cornell's renowned education more accessible.Cornell University Grants

  • Overview: These need-based grants are awarded directly by Cornell University, tailored to individual financial circumstances.
  • Criteria: Grants are determined solely by financial need, with no consideration of academic merit or other factors.
  • Application: Students must submit a separate application to be considered for Cornell Grants.

Work-Study Programs

  • Description: Students may qualify for part-time work opportunities on campus, allowing them to earn income for educational expenses.
  • Work Hours: Typically, students can work between 9 to 12 hours per week.


  • Type: Cornell University also offers loans to eligible students, which must be repaid with interest after graduation.

Payment Plan

  • Breakdown: After factoring in grants and income from work-study, the remaining cost is divided into student contributions and parent contributions.
  • Criteria: Contributions are determined case-by-case, considering factors such as parental income, family size, and assets.
  • Student Contribution: This comes from the student's employment during their studies and personal savings.

External Scholarships

  • Additional Funding: In addition to university aid, students can explore scholarships offered by external organisations, state governments, federal governments, or home countries.

Notable Scholarships:

  • Tata Scholarship: supporting 20 Indian undergraduate students annually.
  • Fulbright Scholarship
  • JN Tata Endowment Scholarship (Graduate and doctoral levels)
  • Aga Khan Foundation Scholarship: For Indian master's degree students internationally.
  • KC Mahindra Trust Scholarship: Interest-free loans for Indian students studying abroad.

Application Process

  • Separate Procedure: Applying for scholarships requires a distinct process with specific documentation.
  • Timing: All financial aid applications must be submitted at the time of admission to Cornell.
  • External Scholarships: Each scholarship has its own application requirements and deadlines, so meticulous planning is essential.

Application Deadlines for Cornell University

Application deadlines at Cornell University vary across programs, so it is crucial to check the specific deadlines for your intended field of study. Here is a general overview:

MS/PhD Programs:

  • Typical Deadline: Most MS/PhD programs have a deadline of January 15 for the next academic year.
  • Notification Date: Applicants who submit materials before February 1 for fall admission can expect decisions by April 1.
  • Late Applications: While applications may be accepted after February 1, later submissions may not receive the same level of consideration as those received before the deadline.

MEng Programs:

  • Range of Deadlines: Deadlines for the MEng program range from January 15 to April 1 for the next academic year's applications.

It is advisable to visit the Graduate School website for your specific field of interest to ascertain the exact deadlines that apply to you. Keeping track of these deadlines ensures that your application receives the necessary consideration for admission to Cornell University.

Planning and submitting your materials on time greatly increases your chances of a successful application process. For fall admission, aim to have your application completed well before the stated deadlines to allow ample time for review and consideration.

Suggested: MEng in Electrical and Computer Engineering at CU

From the Desk of Yocket

In this comprehensive guide, we have covered the essential aspects of gaining admission to Cornell University, a prestigious institution renowned for its academic excellence and global recognition. From understanding why Cornell is a top choice for students to navigating the application process, we've provided invaluable insights. We hope this guide serves as a beacon of guidance on your journey to Cornell and beyond.

Join the 15 million+ scholars who have achieved their dream of studying at prestigious Ivy League institutions like Cornell University with Yocket Premium. Our personalised guidance and expert insights have empowered countless students to navigate the complex admissions landscape with confidence. As you embark on this transformative journey, consider scheduling a Profile Evaluation Call with our experts. Whether you have questions about your application or need clarity on specific requirements, we are here to support you.

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Frequently Asked Questions on How to Get into Cornell University

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