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Cornell University Diversity Statistics

February 11, 2024
By AdmissionSight
Gen Z College Students

Cornell University Diversity Statistics: An In-Depth Overview

Cornell University is an Ivy League institution in Ithaca, New York, known for its broad range of academic programs, prestigious faculty, and diverse student body. Founded in 1865 with a mission to offer instruction in various studies, it uniquely combines private and public colleges, covering fields from liberal arts to engineering and agriculture.

The university’s scenic campus, research facilities, and active campus life enrich students’ educational experiences. Renowned for its commitment to innovation and leadership, Cornell boasts a strong alumni network and holds a prominent position in higher education.

How many students attend Cornell University?

Cornell University has a student population totaling 26,284 individuals. This comprises 16,071 undergraduate students, who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees, and 7,357 graduate students, who are enrolled in various master’s and doctoral programs.

There are 2,856 students engaged in professional degree programs, which include fields such as law, business, and veterinary medicine. These figures reflect the enrollment for the Fall 2023 term.

Cornell University Undergraduate Population

For the Fall term of 2023, Cornell University had a total of 16,071 undergraduate students enrolled in various bachelor’s degree programs across its colleges. Cornell received a total of 67,846 applications for the first-year class. Of these, 9,515 students applied through the Early Decision process, and 58,331 students applied through Regular Decision.

Out of all applicants, 5,358 were offered admission, with 1,670 acceptances from Early Decision, 3,326 from Regular Decision, and 362 from the waitlist.

The university also placed 8,282 applicants on the waitlist, and 6,166 of these students accepted a spot on that waitlist. Ultimately, 3,561 students enrolled at Cornell, with 1,626 coming from the Early Decision pool, 1,631 from Regular Decision, and 304 from the waitlist.

Engineering students talking in front of a laptop.

Cornell University Graduate Population

At Cornell University, 10,163 students are working toward their master’s or doctoral degrees, which makes up about 39.4% of the total student body. 

Looking at the attendance patterns, the vast majority of students, 25,008 in total, are enrolled full-time, dedicating most of their schedule to their studies. In contrast, a smaller group of 574 students is enrolled on a part-time basis, likely balancing education with other commitments like work or family.

Cornell University International Student Population

Cornell University has a notably diverse community, enriched by the presence of 5,146 international students.

International students at Cornell make up about 24% of its total campus population. This percentage is even more pronounced within the graduate student community, where more than half are from countries outside the United States, highlighting the university’s global appeal.

The university is a sought-after destination for students from around the world. In the context of the United States, which attracted over 1.1 million international students in 2020, Cornell stands out with its international student enrollment.

Out of these, 1,433 are pursuing undergraduate studies. This international contingent forms a part of Cornell’s overall student body of 23,620, with 14,743 of them being undergraduate students.

The international student population at Cornell has been on the rise, with an average annual growth rate of 7.4%. A significant portion of this international community is from China, which alone contributes to around 2,253 students, making it the largest international source of students at Cornell. This growing trend underscores the university’s international reputation and its capacity to attract students from across the globe.

Group of students laughing and talking inside a building.

 

Cornell University Gender Distribution

There is a diverse gender distribution among the students at Cornell University. For undergraduates, out of the total, 54.11% are female, amounting to 7,950 students. The remaining 45.89%, which is 6,743 students, are male.

Cornell Student Population

Women

Men

Undergraduate

54% 46%

Graduate

47%

53%

When it comes to graduate students, the gender distribution shifts. There are 4,385 male graduate students, making up 52.95% of the graduate population. Female graduate students number 3,897, which is 47.05% of the graduate student body.

These figures show a fairly balanced gender representation at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with a slight female majority among undergraduates and a slight male majority among graduate students.

Cornell University Age Distribution

Cornell University exhibits a high level of age diversity among its student population. A significant portion, specifically 59.85%, of the students are within the traditional college age range of 18 to 21 years old.

Age Range

Undergraduate Graduate

Total

Under 18

295 0 295
18-19 6,948 3

6,951

20-21

7,090 239 7,329
22-24 1,030 3,612

4,642

25-29

105 3,793 3,898
30-34 20 1,479

1,499

35-39

7 564 571
40-49 6 305

311

50-64

2 83 85

Over 64

0 1 1
Total 15,503 10,079

25,582

This is very close to the national average of 60%. The university’s age diversity score suggests that it successfully attracts a mix of students, not just those who are coming directly from high school, but also those who are older, bringing a variety of life experiences and perspectives to the campus community.

Students walking around the school campus.

Cornell University Diversity Statistics and Racial/Ethnic Demographics

Cornell University is known for its culturally rich and diverse student body. Around 59% of its students are minorities or identify as people of color, which shows the university’s commitment to fostering an inclusive environment. This percentage indicates a very high level of racial and ethnic diversity compared to many other institutions.

Race/Ethnicity

Men Women

Total

White

4,105 4,032 8,137
Asian 1,920 2,440

4,360

Hispanic

1,427 1,435 2,862
Black/African American 646 821

1,467

American Indian/Native American

36 33 69
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 14 9

23

Two More

457 619 1,076
Unknown 611 746

1,357

Total

12,294 13,288

25,582

A small fraction of Cornell University’s student body, around 0.3%, is composed of American Indian or Indigenous students. While this number may seem modest, it is an important part of the university’s community, representing the presence and contributions of Indigenous peoples within the diverse tapestry of Cornell’s student population.

Group of student smiling at each other while talking.

Cornell University Racial/Ethnic Diversity Among Faculty

The faculty at Cornell University is varied, though a large part of the teaching staff identifies as White.

According to the most recent statistics, the ethnic composition of the faculty is predominantly White (84.88%), followed by Asian (6.60%), Black or African American (3.37%), individuals of multiple ethnicities (1.10%), and a smaller percentage of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander faculty (0.09%).

Race/Ethnicity

No. of Faculty

Percentage

White

8,604 84.88%
Asian 669

6.60%

Black or African American

342 3.37%
Multi-Ethnic 112

1.10%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

9

0.09%

Strategies for Cultivating Faculty Diversity at Cornell University

To enhance the diversity of its faculty, Cornell has implemented several key strategies:

  • The university acknowledges the work faculty members do to advance diversity and inclusion when considering them for promotion or tenure.
  • Cornell tracks diversity and inclusion efforts and progresses through quantifiable data, like the diversity of applicant pools and faculty retention rates.
  • With programs like the Provost’s Faculty Bridge funding, the university offers financial resources to encourage the hiring of a more diverse faculty, particularly focusing on people of color and women in the STEM fields.
  • The institution has built programs like “Belonging at Cornell,” which aims for quantifiable improvements in creating an equitable and welcoming campus culture.
  • Cornell provides a certification program dedicated to cultivating an environment of diversity, equity, and belonging, enabling staff and faculty to create a space where everyone feels included and can be their true selves.

These efforts show Cornell’s proactive stance on promoting a diverse and inclusive academic environment for its faculty and the entire university community.

Students working on a library while working.

Cornell University Geographic Diversity

Cornell University has a student body that includes individuals from various regions of the United States and beyond. A majority, 64.84%, of Cornell’s students are from outside the state of New York, indicating a strong national presence.

11.04% of students are international, coming from different countries around the world, contributing to the university’s global diversity. This mix of students from different geographical locations places Cornell University high on the list for geographic diversity, ranking 91st out of 2,183 institutions.

Region

No. of Undergraduate Students

New York

5,233
Middle States

2,380

West

2,095
South

1,391

New England

1,301
Midwest

970

Southwest

536
U.S. Territories

43

Unknown U.S. Region

366
International

1,756

The graduate and professional student numbers also reflect a diverse geographic distribution, with a substantial number coming from outside New York State.

The data indicates that most students are studying on the main Ithaca campus, with 15,796 undergraduates, 6,217 graduate students, and 1,826 professional students present. A smaller number are studying off the Ithaca campus, including at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island, and a very few are registered ‘in absentia’, meaning they are approved for study away from Cornell but are still counted as enrolled.

Among the top five states represented at Cornell, beyond New York, are California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, each contributing hundreds of students and showcasing the university’s draw across the country.

Cornell University Financial Diversity

Cornell University is dedicated to ensuring financial accessibility for students from various economic backgrounds. The institution practices need-blind admissions for domestic applicants, including those with DACA status, to maintain fairness in the admission process, regardless of financial status. To assist in demystifying the financial aid process, the Diversity Outreach & Strategic Partnerships Team offers educational guidance to families navigating their options.

The university has tailored financial aid solutions, providing a mix of Pell grants, state grants, work-study opportunities, and minimal loan requirements to eligible undergraduates, reflective of their financial need.

Almost 60% of undergraduates at Cornell receive grant aid, with an average grant amount of $47,664 per person, significantly offsetting the cost of education. Furthermore, the university encourages the exploration of various funding sources, including education loans and federal grants, and provides advice for students with Veterans Education Benefits.

Cornell ensures transparency in the financial aid application process with clear timelines and deadlines. The goal is to equip students with the necessary information to secure financial assistance effectively.

The average financial aid package at Cornell amounts to $59,644, including scholarships, grants, and self-help aid options, demonstrating the university’s strong commitment to reducing student debt and making a Cornell education financially feasible for all admitted students.

Young woman standing next to a shelf full of books.

How diverse and inclusive is Cornell University?

Cornell University prides itself on its diverse and welcoming campus, where nearly half of the student body comes from multicultural backgrounds. The student community is a tapestry that includes individuals from every state in the U.S. and more than 120 countries, embodying the university’s international stature.

Cornell’s pledge to diversity extends beyond demographics, as seen in its need-blind admission policy for domestic students of all statuses and comprehensive need-based financial assistance that supports fair access to education.

To further cement its dedication to an inclusive academic and social environment, Cornell has set up programs like “Belonging at Cornell,” which seeks to foster a sense of inclusion and fair treatment for all community members.

This commitment is also evident in the variety of resources available for student support, such as identity-based groups, academic guidance, and student-led organizations that encourage a sense of community.

Supporting students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds is a focal point at Cornell. The university extends resources for financial aid education and has dedicated teams to assist families in navigating the financial aid landscape.

Cornell offers a wealth of identity-based resources, mentorship programs, and professional development support aimed at ensuring that all students find the community and assistance they need. This includes specialized offices and initiatives for underrepresented students, peer mentorship programs, and Colleague Network Groups that support minority communities on campus.

The College of Arts & Sciences also provides enhanced opportunities and funding for students from these groups. Such comprehensive support underlines Cornell’s unwavering commitment to building a supportive and equitable campus culture that values and nurtures every individual’s potential.

Is diversity important at Cornell University?

Diversity is a fundamental value at Cornell University. The university is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for all its students, faculty, and staff. This commitment is reflected in various institutional initiatives and practices, such as need-blind admissions, comprehensive need-based financial aid, and programs designed to foster belonging and support for underrepresented groups.

Cornell recognizes that a diverse educational environment enriches the learning experience, promotes personal growth and a healthy society, and prepares its graduates to lead in a globalized world. This commitment to diversity extends to all aspects of the university’s operations and is an integral part of its identity as a leading educational institution.

Female students studying in a table.

Clubs at Cornell University that promote diversity

Students from underrepresented backgrounds at Cornell University have the opportunity to utilize a range of identity-focused resources available across different campus offices and programs. These services offer a sense of community, support, and direction throughout their time at the university. There are several important channels through which these students can engage with identity-based resources at Cornell.

Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI)

The Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI) at Cornell University is dedicated to enhancing inclusivity and the success of all students on campus. It offers a variety of support services and resources aimed at the academic and professional growth of undergraduates who are part of underrepresented groups. These services are designed to ensure these students have equal opportunities to succeed in their academic journeys and beyond.

LGBT Resource Center

The LGBT Resource Center at Cornell University serves as a supportive and affirming space for LGBTQ+ students from a diversity of identities, backgrounds, and life experiences. It aims to provide a friendly and inclusive environment on campus that actively embraces social justice principles, ensuring that all LGBTQ+ students feel valued and supported.

Undocumented Student Support Office

The Undocumented Student Support Office at Cornell University offers assistance and resources specifically for undocumented students. The university acknowledges these students by offering them the same access to need-based financial aid as domestic students, ensuring they have the necessary support to pursue their education.

Young man using a laptop while sitting on a sofa.

Colleague Network Groups (CNGs)

Colleague Network Groups (CNGs) at Cornell University are identity-based communities designed to support their members by fostering a sense of belonging, exchanging tips for managing life at the university, and acting as a valuable resource network. These groups aim to help members connect over shared identities, offering a platform for mutual support and guidance.

Cornell University has a wide range of student-led clubs and organizations that promote diversity and inclusion. These clubs and organizations are as diverse as Cornell’s student body and offer opportunities for students to connect with others who share similar interests and backgrounds. Some of the student-led clubs and organizations that promote diversity at Cornell University include:

ALANA

The ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, and Native American) Intercultural Programming Board plays a crucial role at Cornell University, enriching both the university and the Ithaca community with its broad spectrum of programming that celebrates diversity and intercultural dialogue.

This board is instrumental in funding student organizations that focus on a diverse range of activities, including social, cultural, educational, and service projects. It champions events that represent a multitude of viewpoints and life experiences, significantly contributing to the multicultural fabric of the Cornell community.

Among the vibrant student groups supported by ALANA are Black Students United, La Asociacion Latina, and Native American Students at Cornell. These groups, among others within the ALANA network, provide valuable spaces for students to explore and celebrate their identities while also promoting understanding and inclusivity across different cultures.

ALANA’s efforts to nurture a welcoming and supportive atmosphere are key to fostering a sense of belonging among students from varied backgrounds. Through its dedicated support of intercultural events and student organizations, ALANA underscores Cornell’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, offering students numerous opportunities to engage with and learn from each other in a rich, supportive environment.

Students talking in the stairs.

Asian & Asian American Center (A3C)

Established in 2009, the Asian & Asian American Center (A3C) at Cornell University is a space that embraces social justice and offers a supportive atmosphere for the university community. It aims to recognize and celebrate the diverse backgrounds and contributions of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) students at Cornell.

The center is committed to creating an environment where APIDA students feel supported and included through a range of programs and events, one of which is the notable APIDA Gala & Student Organization Awards Ceremony.

The A3C operates on four foundational pillars: advocacy, education, identity, and community-building, which guide its activities and objectives. These pillars aim to affirm APIDA identities, educate the campus on relevant issues, and foster a strong sense of community among students. The center is dedicated to being a responsive and positive space where all students can find a sense of belonging and are encouraged to participate in its initiatives.

Black Student Empowerment

At Cornell University, the Black Student Empowerment program plays a crucial role in supporting Black students throughout their academic and personal development. This program is a key component of the Centers for Student Equity, Empowerment, and Belonging, situated within the Dean of Students office.

Under the leadership of the Associate Dean of Students & Director of Black Student Empowerment, the initiative provides essential guidance to Black student organizations, develops and oversees various programs, and creates a supportive network tailored to the needs of Black students.

The program is proactive in launching initiatives aimed at empowering students who identify as Black, alongside other student groups that may be underserved, by offering advice to student organizations and forging partnerships with other entities on campus to ensure comprehensive support.

This endeavor is critical to Cornell’s mission of creating a welcoming and inclusive campus culture. It underscores the university’s dedication to ensuring that every student finds a community where they feel they belong and can thrive.

Student Neurodiversity Alliance at Cornell (SNAC)

The Student Neurodiversity Alliance at Cornell (SNAC) is a vibrant student-led group committed to supporting students with neurodiverse identities and advocating for a more inclusive experience at Cornell University.

SNAC actively engages in a variety of efforts and events designed to enhance understanding, acceptance, and support for neurodivergent students. Their activities range from regular weekly meetings to monthly discussions, along with standout events like the Building Allyship Initiative, the MAC Peer Mentoring Program, the Graduate Diversity & Inclusion Fall Mixer, and the Graduate Diversity & Inclusion Renaissance Ball.

SNAC’s core goal is to create a welcoming environment that spans various academic fields, identities, and communities, emphasizing the importance of including voices from historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.

The organization also seeks to raise awareness about the capabilities of neurodivergent individuals and the positive impact they can have within academic circles and beyond. Through its initiatives, SNAC aims to empower neurodivergent students and foster a campus culture that appreciates and supports diversity in all its forms.

Graduate & Professional Student Diversity Council

The Graduate & Professional Student Diversity Council at Cornell University represents a unified group of student organizations focused on enhancing inclusivity, academic achievement, and a fair environment for all graduate and professional students.

It places a special emphasis on supporting students from communities that have traditionally been left out or underrepresented in higher education. The council is driven by values of community building, empowerment, and solidarity, striving to use its collective power to support and stand alongside individuals from historically marginalized groups.

Through a series of key events, including the Building Allyship Initiative, MAC Peer Mentoring Program, Graduate Diversity & Inclusion Fall Mixer, Graduate Diversity & Inclusion Renaissance Ball, and the Graduate Diversity & Inclusion Awards & Recognition Celebration, the council actively works to nurture a sense of equity and belonging among graduate and professional students.

These events and programs are part of the council’s broader efforts to create a nurturing and inclusive atmosphere at Cornell, ensuring that all graduate and professional students, regardless of their background, feel supported and valued within the university community.

Group of students looking at a laptop in a table.

QGrads

QGrads is a dynamic graduate student organization at Cornell University dedicated to fostering a vibrant queer community on campus. It focuses on creating welcoming environments where graduate students across a spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities can find validation, support, and camaraderie.

The group caters to students from a wide range of academic disciplines by hosting a variety of events throughout the year. These activities are designed not only for enjoyment and networking but also aim to enhance the personal and professional growth of LGBTQIA+ graduate students.

The organization’s calendar is filled with professional development workshops, engaging community discussions, and enjoyable social events, all aimed at strengthening the queer graduate community.

Furthermore, QGrads collaborates with various Cornell organizations to offer activist training sessions and to organize events that highlight social justice issues, diversity, and inclusion. This collaborative spirit helps to amplify the voices of LGBTQIA+ students and integrates their experiences and insights into broader campus initiatives.

QGrads operates under the auspices of the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement (OISE) and maintains a close affiliation with the LGBT Resource Center (LGBTRC), leveraging these partnerships to support its mission and expand its impact within the Cornell community. Through its efforts, QGrads plays an essential role in promoting an inclusive and supportive environment for queer graduate students at Cornell.

Multicultural Academic Council (MAC)

The Multicultural Academic Council (MAC) at Cornell University supports doctoral students, particularly those from backgrounds that are not widely represented in academia. In partnership with the Graduate School Office of Inclusion & Student Engagement, MAC offers the MAC Peer Mentoring Program. This initiative is designed to provide mentorship and assistance to graduate and professional students, helping them navigate the challenges and opportunities they may encounter during their studies at Cornell.

One of the key events organized by the council is the MAC Mentoring Program Keynote. This event brings in speakers to share insights on topics crucial to creating an equitable academic environment, focusing on effective mentorship and the importance of acknowledging diverse identities within academic spaces.

The MAC Peer Mentoring Program, along with other activities hosted by the council, underscores MAC’s commitment to building a nurturing and welcoming community for all graduate and professional students. These efforts are part of a broader strategy to ensure that students from historically underrepresented groups receive the support they need to thrive at Cornell University.

Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) 

Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) is a global organization dedicated to supporting women in the field of science. Originating in 1921 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, GWIS has grown to include over 1,000 members and numerous chapters throughout the United States. As a registered non-profit entity, GWIS focuses on connecting, leading, and empowering women scientists through a variety of initiatives.

These efforts include providing financial support through grants, awards, and fellowships; establishing a robust international network of female scientists; organizing annual conferences alongside other educational events and symposia; distributing a complimentary monthly newsletter; and enhancing the visibility and involvement of women in scientific forums and events.

Membership in GWIS is inclusive, welcoming individuals of any gender who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field. The organization’s National Meeting, a significant annual event held every June, rotates locations and is facilitated by one of its local chapters. The Cornell chapter continues supporting and offering resources to women scientists within the Cornell community, aligning with the broader mission of GWIS to foster an inclusive and supportive environment for women in science across the globe.

These resources and programs are designed to ensure that underrepresented students at Cornell University have access to the support and community they need to thrive during their academic journey.

Young woman reading a likely letter.

Is Cornell University The Right Fit For You?

Determining whether Cornell University is the right fit for you depends on various factors that align with your personal, academic, and professional goals. Here are some considerations to help you decide:

Academic Programs

Cornell is known for its comprehensive range of programs, including unique fields like Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR), Hotel Administration, and Viticulture and Enology, alongside strong offerings in traditional disciplines such as Engineering, Business, Arts and Sciences, and Architecture. For example, if you’re interested in a career in hospitality management, Cornell’s Hotel Administration program is one of the best in the world.

Campus Culture

The culture at Cornell is shaped by a commitment to diversity and inclusion, with numerous support services and organizations for students from various backgrounds, including the LGBT Resource Center and the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI). This culture is enriched by students from all 50 states and over 120 countries, promoting a global perspective.

Research Opportunities

Cornell is a leading research institution with cutting-edge facilities like the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) and the Cornell Tech campus in New York City. Students in fields such as engineering, life sciences, and computer science have the opportunity to engage in groundbreaking research projects.

Location

Situated in Ithaca, New York, Cornell’s campus is known for its natural beauty, including gorges and waterfalls. The city of Ithaca offers a vibrant community with a strong emphasis on sustainability and local food, appealing to those who enjoy a blend of academic focus and outdoor activities.

Two students talking in the hallway of the school.

Student Life

With over 1,000 student organizations, including Greek life, cultural clubs, and special interest groups like the Cornell Mars Rover project team, there’s a wide variety of ways to get involved outside of academics. Cornell’s Big Red athletic teams also offer spirited opportunities for sports enthusiasts.

Financial Considerations

Cornell meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for admitted students, including international applicants with DACA status. For the 2021-2022 academic year, the average need-based scholarship or grant award was over $55,000. This commitment to financial aid can significantly impact your decision if affordability is a concern.

Career Goals

The university’s Career Services provides extensive resources, including internship and job fairs, workshops, and one-on-one counseling, to help students achieve their professional aspirations. Cornell’s vast alumni network spans the globe, offering students and graduates unparalleled connections and opportunities. For instance, those interested in technology and entrepreneurship might benefit from the innovative ecosystem and industry connections available at Cornell Tech.

When considering Cornell, reflect on how these aspects align with what you’re looking for in your college experience. Visiting the campus, either virtually or in person, and speaking with current students or alumni can provide invaluable insights. Remember, the right university for you is one where you can thrive academically, socially, and personally, setting a solid foundation for your future.

Students gathered around a room and talking.

Final Thoughts

The diversity statistics of Cornell University paint a picture of a vibrant and inclusive academic community. With students hailing from a wide array of backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives, Cornell stands as a testament to the value of diversity in enriching the educational experience. This diversity fosters a dynamic learning environment and prepares students for the globalized world that awaits them post-graduation.

For those considering Cornell, these statistics are a clear indicator of the university’s commitment to creating a welcoming space for all. As we’ve seen, diversity at Cornell is building a community where every student has the opportunity to thrive, learn from one another, and contribute to a richer, more inclusive future.

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