Comparing Emory University and Cornell: Which School is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

College female student learning remotely.

Comparing Emory University and Cornell: Which School is Right for You?

When it comes to making a decision about where to study, choosing between two great options can be daunting. Two schools that often come up in such comparisons are Emory University and Cornell. Both institutions stand out for their academic prowess.

Their similarities also include diverse student populations and unique campus experiences. In this article, we’ll delve into the key similarities and differences between these two universities to help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Campus Life at Emory University and Cornell: A Comparative Analysis

When it comes to campus life, both Emory and Cornell offer unique experiences. Cornell’s campus is located in Ithaca, a small city in upstate New York. With access to hiking trails, waterfalls, and other outdoor activities, the campus is surrounded by natural beauty.

On the other hand, Emory’s campus is located in the heart of Atlanta, Georgia. The university is known for its vibrant and diverse campus culture. Despite these differences, both universities offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, from sports teams and student clubs to performing arts groups and volunteer organizations.

Group of students working together and talking.

It’s worth noting that Cornell’s numerous fraternities and sororities play a significant role in campus life, while Emory has more of a focus on student organizations and community service work.

Another notable difference between the two universities is the size of their campuses. Cornell’s campus is much larger than Emory’s, with over 700 buildings spread across 2,300 acres. Emory’s campus, on the other hand, is more compact, with just over 200 buildings on 630 acres. This can impact the overall feel of the campus, with Cornell feeling more spread out and Emory feeling more intimate.

Additionally, both universities have unique traditions that contribute to their campus culture. At Cornell, the annual Dragon Day parade is a beloved tradition where students create a large dragon sculpture and parade it through campus.

Emory’s Dooley’s Week is a week-long celebration where a mysterious figure known as Dooley, who is rumored to be the spirit of a former student, makes appearances around campus and participates in various events.

Which School Offers Better Academic Programs – Emory or Cornell?

When it comes to academic programs, Cornell and Emory each have their specialties. Cornell is known for its strengths in engineering and computer science, as well as its world-class veterinary school. Emory, on the other hand, is known for its strong medical and public health programs, as well as its business and law schools.

In general, both universities offer strong academics across a variety of disciplines. Emory has a smaller student-faculty ratio overall, which can offer personalized attention and support for students, while Cornell offers a wider range of course options.

It’s important to note that both Emory and Cornell have a strong commitment to research and innovation. Cornell is home to numerous research centers and institutes, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cornell Center for Materials Research.

Emory, on the other hand, has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with centers such as the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship and the Emory Center for Ethics. Both universities offer students the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research and contribute to groundbreaking discoveries in their respective fields.

Class Size and Student-Faculty Ratio: A Comparison of Emory and Cornell

Class size and student-faculty ratio can play a significant role in a student’s education. Cornell has a larger student body overall, which can lead to larger class sizes in some cases. However, the university also has a lower student-faculty ratio overall, meaning that there are more faculty members available to support students.

Female teacher talking to her students.

Emory, with a smaller student body, also boasts a lower student-faculty ratio overall, allowing for personalized attention and support from professors. It is important to note that class size and student-faculty ratio can vary depending on the specific program or department within each university. For example, Cornell’s engineering program may have larger class sizes and a higher student-faculty ratio compared to Emory’s liberal arts program.

Additionally, while a lower student-faculty ratio can indicate more personalized attention, it does not necessarily guarantee a better education. The quality of teaching and resources available to students also play a crucial role in the overall educational experience.

Emory University vs. Cornell: Which Has a Stronger Alumni Network?

Alumni networks can be instrumental in career success after graduation. Both Emory and Cornell have strong alumni networks, with notable graduates in a variety of fields. Cornell’s alumni network is particularly strong in business and technology, while Emory’s network is strong in healthcare and law.

However, Emory’s alumni network also has a strong presence in the non-profit sector, with many graduates working for organizations such as the United Nations and the Red Cross. This network provides opportunities for Emory graduates to connect with and learn from leaders in the non-profit world.

On the other hand, Cornell’s alumni network has a strong international presence, with graduates working in various countries around the world. This global network can be particularly beneficial for graduates interested in pursuing careers in international business or diplomacy.

Comparing Extracurricular Activities at Emory University and Cornell

As previously mentioned, both Emory and Cornell have a wide range of extracurricular activities available to students. Cornell’s fraternity and sorority culture is worth noting, as is Emory’s focus on community service and social justice work.

Group of students talking in a room.

Both universities also offer robust athletics programs, with Cornell known for its successful ice hockey and lacrosse teams and Emory known for its national championship-winning swimming and diving teams.

Additionally, Emory University has a thriving arts scene, with numerous student-run theater productions, music ensembles, and art exhibitions throughout the year. Cornell, on the other hand, has a strong focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with many opportunities for students to develop their own startups and participate in business competitions.

Furthermore, Emory has a variety of cultural organizations that celebrate diversity and promote cross-cultural understanding, such as the Asian Student Organization and the Black Student Alliance. Cornell also has a diverse student body and offers cultural organizations, including the Latino Living Center and the Native American Students at Cornell group.

The Admissions Process: How to Get Accepted into Emory or Cornell?

Gaining acceptance to either Emory or Cornell can be challenging, but there are some key factors to keep in mind. At both universities, GPA and standardized test scores are important, but admission decisions also take into account extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation.

It’s worth noting that Cornell’s acceptance rate is slightly lower than Emory’s, but both universities are highly selective. Another important factor to consider is the rigor of your high school curriculum.

Admissions officers at both Emory and Cornell want to see that you have challenged yourself academically and taken advantage of advanced courses if they were available to you. Additionally, demonstrating leadership skills and involvement in community service can also make a positive impact on your application.

It’s also important to research and understand the specific requirements and expectations of each university. Emory, for example, places a strong emphasis on intellectual curiosity and a passion for learning, while Cornell values diversity and a commitment to making a positive impact on the world.

Housing Options at Emory University vs. Cornell: Which is Better for You?

Both universities offer a range of housing options, from traditional dormitories to on-campus apartments. Cornell’s campus is more spread out, meaning that campus housing options may be farther from academic buildings. Emory, with a smaller and more centralized campus, offers a variety of convenient on-campus housing options.

Two students keeping their dorm room clean.

It’s important to note that housing options at both universities can be competitive and may require students to apply for housing early in the admissions process. At Emory University, students have the option to live in themed housing communities, such as the Sustainability House or the Arts and Humanities House.

These communities offer students the opportunity to live with others who share similar interests and passions. Cornell also offers themed housing options, such as the Language House and the Ecology House, which provide a similar experience for students.

Additionally, both universities offer off-campus housing options for upperclassmen. Emory has partnerships with nearby apartment complexes, while Cornell has a database of off-campus housing options for students to search through. It’s important for students to consider their preferences and budget when deciding between on-campus and off-campus housing options.

Athletics Programs at Emory University vs. Cornell: A Comprehensive Study

As previously mentioned, both universities offer strong athletics programs. Cornell’s ice hockey and lacrosse teams are particularly successful, and the university has a strong tradition of rowing. Emory’s swimming and diving teams have won numerous national championships, and the university’s tennis and basketball teams have also seen success.

Both universities offer robust intramural sports programs as well, allowing students to participate in sports at all levels. However, there are some differences in the way the athletics programs are structured at each university.

Cornell has a larger athletics department, with more varsity teams and a larger budget. Emory, on the other hand, has a smaller athletics department, but places a greater emphasis on individual sports and has a strong focus on academic success for student-athletes.

Another factor to consider is the facilities available for athletics at each university. Cornell has a large, state-of-the-art athletics complex, with multiple fields, courts, and arenas. Emory’s facilities are more spread out across campus, but are still well-maintained and offer a variety of options for different sports.

Diversity on Campus: Comparing the Student Populations at Emory and Cornell

Both Emory and Cornell are known for their diverse student populations, with students from all over the world represented. Cornell’s student body is slightly less diverse overall, with a higher percentage of white students, while Emory’s student body has a larger percentage of international students and a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion efforts.

Students smiling at the camera together.

Emory University has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, which is reflected in its student body. The university has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, including the Emory Scholars Program, which provides full-tuition scholarships to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Additionally, Emory has a number of student organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the Black Student Alliance and the Asian Student Association.

Cornell University also has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. The university has a strong commitment to recruiting and retaining students from underrepresented backgrounds and has a number of programs aimed at supporting these students, such as the First in Class program, which provides support and resources to first-generation college students.

Additionally, Cornell has a number of student organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the Latino/a Graduate Student Coalition and the Native American Students at Cornell.

Research Opportunities Available to Students – A Look at What Both Universities Offer

Research is a key component of both Emory and Cornell’s academic programs. Both universities offer numerous research opportunities for students, with faculty-led research projects and independent research opportunities. Cornell is particularly well-known for its research in the fields of engineering and computer science, while Emory is known for its strengths in biomedical research and public health.

Additionally, both universities have established research centers and institutes that provide students with access to cutting-edge research facilities and resources. Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center is home to several research centers, including the Emory Vaccine Center and the Winship Cancer Institute.

Cornell’s research centers include the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. These centers offer students the opportunity to work alongside leading researchers in their respective fields and gain valuable hands-on experience.


Both Emory and Cornell are great universities with unique strengths and opportunities. Students who value a strong research focus and rigorous academics may find Cornell to be the right fit, while those who prioritize community service work and a vibrant campus culture may find Emory to be a better fit.

When it comes down to making a decision about which university is right for you, it’s important to consider your personal priorities and goals for your college experience. With the information we’ve provided here, we hope you’re able to make an informed decision about which university is the best fit for you.

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