Comparing Cornell University vs Emory University

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of students studying on a table.

Comparing Cornell University vs Emory University

When it comes to higher education, two universities that often come to mind are Cornell University and Emory University. Both are well-known for their academic excellence, but are quite distinct in their locations, histories, campuses, demographics and much more. In this article, we will compare and contrast Cornell vs Emory on a variety of factors to help you determine which university might be the best fit for you.

Three students smiling and eating on a table.

Location: Where are these two universities located?

Cornell University is located in Ithaca, New York, a small town in central New York State in the Finger Lakes region. Emory University, on the other hand, is in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is the capital city of Georgia and is one of the largest cities in the United States.

The location difference between these two universities is quite significant. Cornell is located in a smaller, rural area that boasts natural beauty and an abundance of outdoor activities. Emory, on the other hand, is located in a bustling, urban city that offers plenty of cultural, musical, and entertainment opportunities.

Despite the differences in location, both universities offer unique experiences for their students. Cornell’s location in a rural area provides a close-knit community feel and opportunities for outdoor exploration, while Emory’s location in a major city offers access to internships, networking opportunities, and diverse cultural experiences. Ultimately, the location of a university can greatly impact a student’s college experience and should be carefully considered when making a decision on where to attend.

History: How did these universities come into existence?

Cornell University was established in 1865 as a private research university by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White. The university was founded with the principle of “any person, any study”, which meant that Cornell was committed to offering a diverse range of programs and majors.

Emory University was founded in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia, as a Methodist Episcopal Liberal Arts college. In 1915, it moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and is now an independent, non-sectarian, and private research university.

Interestingly, both Cornell University and Emory University were founded during a time of significant change and growth in higher education in the United States. The mid-19th century saw a rise in the establishment of private research universities, like Cornell, which were focused on advancing knowledge through scientific research and discovery. Similarly, Emory’s founding as a liberal arts college was part of a broader movement to expand access to higher education beyond the traditional religious institutions of the time.

Campus: What is the size and layout of their campuses?

Cornell has one of the largest campuses in the Ivy League, spanning over 2,300 acres. The campus is split up into multiple geographic areas, including North, Central, and West Campus. North Campus is home to many freshmen and most of Cornell’s engineering program, while Central Campus is home to the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences departments. West Campus is primarily residential, offering housing options for upperclassmen.

Emory University, on the other hand, has a relatively small campus. According to US News, the university’s campus stretches over 631 acres and is divided into three different areas – the main campus, Briarcliff Campus, and Oxford College. Most academic buildings and dorms are housed in the main campus, which has a suburban feel and is just 15 minutes away from downtown Atlanta.

Another university with a large campus is the University of Texas at Austin. The campus spans over 430 acres and is home to more than 50,000 students. The campus is divided into several areas, including the Main Campus, J.J. Pickle Research Campus, and the Brackenridge Tract. The Main Campus is the heart of the university, housing most of the academic buildings, libraries, and dorms.

In contrast, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a relatively small campus, spanning over 168 acres. The campus is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is divided into five different areas – the Main Campus, West Campus, East Campus, North Campus, and the MIT Press Bookstore. The Main Campus is home to most of the academic buildings, while West Campus is primarily residential, offering housing options for upperclassmen.

Academics: What majors and programs are offered at each university?

Cornell University offers a wide range of majors and programs. According to their official website, they offer over 80 undergraduate majors and more than 100 graduate programs. Some of the most popular majors include Computer Science, Biology, Engineering, and Business.

a female student sitting and appears to be thinking


Emory University, on the other hand, offers around 70 majors and 60 minors, and students can choose from a range of programs, including business, law, journalism, and nursing. Emory also has a robust research program, and undergraduate students have opportunities to conduct research in various fields.

Additionally, Cornell University has a strong focus on agriculture and life sciences, with programs such as Animal Science, Food Science, and Environmental and Sustainability Sciences. They also offer unique interdisciplinary programs, such as Information Science, which combines computer science, social sciences, and design.

Emory University has a renowned program in public health, with opportunities for students to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health organizations. They also offer a program in Global Health, which allows students to study health issues from a global perspective and participate in international fieldwork.

Faculty: Who teaches at these universities? What are their qualifications?

Both Cornell and Emory universities have highly qualified faculty members. At Cornell, the faculty boasts multiple award-winning professors and researchers, including six Nobel laureates, while Emory is known for having many faculty members who are leading experts in their respective fields. Emory is proud of its emphasis on interdisciplinary education and research.

Additionally, both universities have a diverse faculty body, with members from various backgrounds and cultures. This diversity brings a unique perspective to the classroom and allows for a more inclusive learning environment.

Furthermore, both Cornell and Emory prioritize the professional development of their faculty members, providing opportunities for continued education and research. This ensures that the faculty stays up-to-date with the latest advancements in their fields and can provide students with the most current and relevant information.

Student Body: What is the demographic makeup of each university’s student body?

Cornell University has a diverse student body, with students hailing from all over the world and different backgrounds. According to the university’s official website, as of 2020, the student body had 23% international students and 35% of students were from underrepresented minority groups.

Emory University is also quite diverse, with students from all over the world. Despite its southern location, the university has a diverse student body with 19% international students and 50% of students from underrepresented minority groups, according to the university’s website.

In addition to its diverse student body, Cornell University is also known for its strong commitment to community service and volunteerism. The university offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in community service projects, both locally and globally. Cornell students have the chance to participate in programs such as Alternative Spring Break, which allows them to spend their spring break volunteering in communities across the country.

Emory University is known for its strong emphasis on research and innovation. The university has a number of research centers and institutes, including the Emory Vaccine Center, which is dedicated to developing new vaccines and treatments for infectious diseases. Emory students have the opportunity to work alongside faculty members on cutting-edge research projects, gaining valuable experience and contributing to important scientific advancements.

Admission Process: How do you get into Cornell vs Emory?

Getting into both Cornell and Emory is quite competitive. According to their respective websites, students must have strong academic performance, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and certain test scores. Cornell requires the SAT or ACT in addition to SAT Subject Tests, while Emory is test-optional for the class of 2025.

View of a student smiling at the camera.

However, there are some differences in the admission process between Cornell vs Emory. Cornell has a binding Early Decision option, which means that students who apply early and are accepted must attend Cornell. Emory, on the other hand, has a non-binding Early Decision option, which allows students to apply early and receive an admission decision without being obligated to attend.

Additionally, both Cornell and Emory offer need-blind admission for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, meaning that a student’s financial need is not taken into consideration during the admission process. However, for international students, Cornell is need-aware, which means that a student’s financial need may be taken into consideration when making admission decisions.

Tuition and Financial Aid: How much does it cost to attend each university? What kinds of financial aid are available?

Cornell University’s tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year add up to $61,000, while Emory University’s tuition and fees for the same academic year total to $59,908. Both universities offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, and Cornell has a robust financial aid program that is need-blind for all domestic students.

It is important to note that financial aid packages can vary greatly between Cornell vs Emory and can include a combination of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study programs. At Emory University, for example, students may be eligible for need-based grants, merit scholarships, and federal work-study programs. Cornell University also offers a variety of financial aid options, including need-based grants, merit scholarships, and federal work-study programs, as well as loans for those who need additional assistance.

Facilities: What kind of facilities do these universities offer, such as libraries, laboratories, sports facilities, etc.?

Cornell and Emory both have top-notch facilities. Both universities have libraries with vast collections of books and research resources. Cornell is known for its state-of-the-art science and engineering facilities, while Emory has some impressive facilities in health sciences and medicine.

In addition to their impressive libraries and science facilities, Cornell and Emory also offer a wide range of sports facilities for their students. Cornell has a large athletic complex with multiple gyms, swimming pools, and sports fields, while Emory has a state-of-the-art fitness center and a variety of outdoor sports facilities.

Furthermore, both universities have well-equipped laboratories for research and experimentation. Cornell’s labs are particularly renowned for their cutting-edge technology and equipment, while Emory’s labs are known for their focus on interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

Research Opportunities: What kind of research opportunities are available at Cornell vs Emory?

Both Cornell and Emory offer many opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in research. Cornell, being a research university, places a high emphasis on research, and students are encouraged to take part in research projects in various disciplines, including engineering, science, and social sciences. Emory has multiple research centers and institutes, including the Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being and the Institute for Developing Nations, which provides a platform for undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff to explore various research projects.

At Cornell, students can participate in research through various programs, such as the Cornell Undergraduate Research Board and the Cornell Research Scholars Program. These programs provide students with the opportunity to work closely with faculty members and gain hands-on experience in their field of study. Additionally, Cornell offers research funding opportunities for students, including the Engaged Cornell Research Grants and the Cornell Presidential Research Scholars Program.

Emory also offers research opportunities through its various departments and centers, such as the Emory Vaccine Center and the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship. Students can also participate in research through the Emory Scholars Program, which provides funding for research projects, and the Emory Undergraduate Research Program, which allows students to work with faculty members on research projects in their field of study.

Student Life: What kind of extracurricular activities are available for students at each university?

Both Cornell and Emory offer many extracurricular activities. Students can participate in student organizations, clubs, sports teams, and various cultural and musical activities. Cornell is known for its outdoor and nature-related clubs, while Emory offers many opportunities for community engagement and leadership programs.

Additionally, Cornell has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with many resources available for students interested in starting their own businesses. Emory, on the other hand, has a thriving arts scene, with numerous theater productions, art exhibits, and music performances throughout the year. Both universities also offer study abroad programs, allowing students to explore different cultures and gain valuable international experience.

a group os student hanging out eating apple

Career Services: How does each university help its students find jobs after graduation?

Cornell and Emory both have dedicated career services centers that offer various resources, including job-search assistance, interview preparation, and resume building. Both universities have extensive alumni networks that can help students secure employment.

In addition, Cornell offers a unique program called Cornell Career Services Diversity and Inclusion, which provides specialized support for underrepresented students in their job search. Emory, on the other hand, has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and offers resources for students interested in starting their own businesses.

Alumni Network: How strong is the alumni network at Cornell vs Emory?

Both Cornell and Emory have robust alumni networks. Cornell has a large network of over 250,000 alumni living across the world, with a strong presence in the tech, finance, and healthcare sectors. Emory has an active alumni association that provides networking events, professional development workshops, and many other resources to help alumni connect with one another.

In addition to the resources provided by the alumni association, Emory also has a mentorship program that pairs current students with alumni in their desired field. This program allows students to gain valuable insights and advice from experienced professionals, and helps to strengthen the bond between alumni and the university.

Cornell also has a strong tradition of alumni giving back to the university. Many alumni donate their time and resources to support various initiatives, such as scholarships, research projects, and campus improvements. This generosity helps to ensure that future generations of Cornellians have access to the same high-quality education and opportunities that they did.

Rankings and Recognition: How do these two universities compare in terms of national rankings and recognition?

Both Cornell and Emory are well-regarded universities and consistently rank highly in national rankings. According to the US News & World Report 2022 rankings, Cornell is ranked 17th among national universities, while Emory is ranked 21st. Cornell is also ranked 11th for Best Value in National Universities. Emory is ranked 18th for Best Undergraduate Teaching.

In conclusion, Cornell vs Emory are both excellent universities with many similarities and differences. Ultimately, which university is a better fit for you depends on your unique needs and priorities. We hope this article helps you make an informed decision about where to pursue your higher education.

It is worth noting that both Cornell and Emory have received recognition for their research and academic programs. Cornell is a member of the prestigious Ivy League and is known for its strong programs in engineering, business, and agriculture. Emory, on the other hand, is a leading research university with a focus on the humanities and social sciences. Emory is also home to the renowned Emory Vaccine Center, which has made significant contributions to the field of immunology.


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