Cornell vs Bryn Mawr: A Comprehensive Look at Both Universities

July 14, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Cornell vs Bryn Mawr: A Comprehensive Look at Both Universities

Choosing the right university is a crucial decision for any student. Whether you’re searching for the best academic programs, excellent faculty members, top-notch facilities, or a vibrant campus life, it’s essential to do thorough research before making a final decision. When it comes to selecting a higher education institution, two universities that frequently get compared are Cornell and Bryn Mawr. Both universities have been providing quality education for more than a century, and each has unique features. In this article, we will compare Cornell vs Bryn Mawr on various factors to help make an informed decision.

Location and Campus Comparison: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

Location is an essential factor to consider when choosing a university. Cornell University is located in Ithaca, New York, in a serene environment surrounded by lakes, gorges, and waterfalls. The university’s sprawling campus covers over 745 acres, including several libraries, a botanical garden, a museum, and numerous art galleries.

In contrast, Bryn Mawr College is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an urban environment with easy access to cultural amenities. The campus is relatively small, covering roughly 135 acres, and is characterized by landscaped gardens and Gothic-style buildings.

McGraw Tower on campus of Cornell University

Despite the differences in location and campus size, both Cornell and Bryn Mawr offer unique opportunities for students. Cornell’s location in upstate New York provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking and skiing, while Bryn Mawr’s location in Philadelphia offers access to museums, theaters, and other cultural attractions. Additionally, both universities have a strong commitment to academic excellence and offer a wide range of majors and programs to their students.

Admissions Process and Requirements: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

The admission process for both universities is rigorous and highly competitive. To get accepted into Cornell University, applicants must submit an application, transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and an essay.

The admissions committee carefully reviews all the materials to determine the student’s academic ability and fit for the university. Similarly, Bryn Mawr College requires students to submit an application, transcripts, essays, letters of recommendation, and test scores. The college also offers a test-optional policy to make it more accessible for students to apply.

However, there are some differences in the admissions process between the two universities. Cornell University places a greater emphasis on standardized test scores, with the average SAT score for admitted students being around 1500. On the other hand, Bryn Mawr College takes a more holistic approach to admissions, considering factors such as extracurricular activities, community involvement, and personal qualities in addition to academic achievements.

Another difference between the two universities is their acceptance rates. Cornell University has a lower acceptance rate, with only around 11% of applicants being admitted. In contrast, Bryn Mawr College has a higher acceptance rate of around 39%. However, this does not necessarily mean that Bryn Mawr College is less selective, as they receive fewer applications than Cornell University.

Academic Programs and Specializations: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

Both Cornell and Bryn Mawr are renowned universities, providing world-class education in various fields. Cornell University offers over 80 majors, and more than 4,000 courses across 14 colleges and schools, including engineering, business, arts and sciences, and hotel administration. Bryn Mawr College, on the other hand, specializes in liberal arts and sciences and offers 37 undergraduate programs and a range of interdisciplinary majors, including Archaeology and Anthropology, Biology, and Creative Writing.

In addition to its undergraduate programs, Cornell University also offers a wide range of graduate programs, including professional degrees in law, medicine, and veterinary medicine. The university is also home to several research centers and institutes, such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science.

Bryn Mawr College, on the other hand, has a strong focus on women’s education and empowerment. The college offers a range of programs and resources to support women in their academic and professional pursuits, including the Leadership, Innovation, and Liberal Arts Center and the Pensby Center for Community Development and Inclusion. Bryn Mawr also has a long-standing tradition of promoting social justice and activism, with student-led initiatives such as the Bryn Mawr Feminist Collective and the Bi-Co Justice Coalition.

Faculty and Student Ratio: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

Cornell University has a faculty-student ratio of 9:1, meaning that students have access to professors both inside and outside of the classroom. The university has an outstanding faculty team of over 1,600 members who are experts in their respective fields.

On the other hand, Bryn Mawr College has a student-faculty ratio of 9:1, which allows for an excellent student-professor relationship and opportunities for research. With over 260 faculty members, Bryn Mawr instructors are highly qualified, with 96% having a Ph.D. or other terminal degree in their field.

Additionally, both Cornell and Bryn Mawr offer small class sizes, which allow for personalized attention and a collaborative learning environment. At Cornell, 70% of classes have fewer than 20 students, while at Bryn Mawr, the average class size is 15 students.

This means that students have ample opportunities to engage with their peers and professors, ask questions, and participate in discussions. Overall, both universities prioritize the quality of education and the student experience, making them excellent choices for higher education.

Campus Life and Extracurricular Activities: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

Campus life is a crucial factor that can make a massive difference in a student’s college experience. Cornell University’s student body is diverse, with students from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. The university offers over 1,000 student organizations, including sports teams, cultural clubs, music ensembles, and Greek life.

Bryn Mawr College, too, has an active student life, including over 100 student organizations, club sports, and intramural teams. The college has a strong tradition of inclusivity and student activism, making it an exciting and dynamic place to study.

professor teaching in class

One of the unique aspects of campus life at Cornell University is the presence of the Greek system. With over 60 fraternities and sororities, Greek life is a significant part of the social scene on campus. However, it is important to note that participation in Greek life is entirely optional, and there are plenty of other ways to get involved on campus. Additionally, Cornell has a robust athletics program, with 36 varsity teams competing in the Ivy League.

At Bryn Mawr College, students have the opportunity to participate in the school’s Honor Code, which emphasizes academic integrity and personal responsibility. The Honor Code allows students to take unproctored exams and complete take-home assignments, trusting that they will uphold the values of the code.

Additionally, Bryn Mawr has a strong commitment to sustainability, with initiatives such as a campus-wide composting program and a student-run farm. These programs provide students with opportunities to engage in hands-on learning and make a positive impact on the environment.

Tuition Fees and Financial Aid: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

College tuition is a significant financial investment, and it’s essential to consider the expenses before making a decision. Cornell University’s tuition fees and room and board expenses for the 2021-2022 academic year total $79,000. The university, however, provides a range of financial aid options to make education accessible.

Similarly, Bryn Mawr College’s tuition fees and room and board expenses for the 2021-2022 academic year total $76,883. The college has a robust need-based financial aid program, with more than 55% of students receiving grants or scholarships.

It’s worth noting that both Cornell and Bryn Mawr offer merit-based scholarships in addition to need-based aid. Cornell’s merit scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, leadership, and community involvement. Bryn Mawr’s merit scholarships are awarded to students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and potential. These scholarships can significantly reduce the cost of attendance for students who qualify.

Another factor to consider when comparing tuition fees and financial aid is the cost of living in the surrounding area. Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York, which has a relatively low cost of living compared to other cities in the region. Bryn Mawr is located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, which is a suburb of Philadelphia. The cost of living in the Philadelphia area is generally higher than in Ithaca. This difference in the cost of living may impact the overall cost of attendance for students attending these institutions.

Diversity in Student Body and Inclusivity Policies: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

Diversity and inclusivity are fundamental values in higher education, and both Cornell and Bryn Mawr are committed to these principles. Cornell University has a diverse student population, with international students from over 120 countries. The university has also implemented various measures to foster diversity and inclusivity, including bias awareness and training, anti-discrimination policies, and support for underrepresented groups.

Bryn Mawr College has a strong commitment to inclusiveness and social justice. The college is a member of the Consortium for Building Inclusive Societies and has various programs, such as the Diversity Leadership Group, the Office of Intercultural Affairs, and the Queer and Trans Student Alliance, to support diversity and inclusivity on campus.

two beautiful sorority members laughing and joking while embracing with hands on shoulders with copyspace


Despite their shared commitment to diversity and inclusivity, there are some differences between Cornell and Bryn Mawr in terms of their student body. While Cornell has a larger student population and a wider range of academic programs, Bryn Mawr has a smaller, more intimate campus community that allows for more personalized attention and support. Additionally, Bryn Mawr has a higher percentage of female students and a strong focus on women’s education and empowerment.

Both Cornell and Bryn Mawr also have unique approaches to promoting diversity and inclusivity in their curriculum. Cornell offers a range of courses and programs that explore issues of race, gender, sexuality, and social justice, while Bryn Mawr has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary studies and encourages students to explore diverse perspectives and ideas.

Ultimately, both institutions are dedicated to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students, and their efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity are an important part of their mission and values.

Rankings and Reputation of the Universities in the Academic World: Cornell vs Bryn Mawr

Both Cornell and Bryn Mawr have excellent reputations in the academic world. Cornell University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world, including #13 in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. Similarly, Bryn Mawr College has consistently featured in the top ten Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States and was ranked #31 in the 2022 US News & World Report Rankings of National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Despite their different academic focuses, both Cornell and Bryn Mawr have a strong commitment to research and innovation. Cornell is known for its cutting-edge research in fields such as engineering, computer science, and agriculture, while Bryn Mawr has a strong tradition of research in the humanities and social sciences. Both universities have produced numerous Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and other distinguished scholars, and continue to attract top talent from around the world.

The Future of Higher Education – How Both Universities are Adapting to Change

The world is rapidly changing, and higher education must keep pace with the shifting landscape. Both Cornell and Bryn Mawr are adapting and innovating to meet the needs of the modern student. Cornell University has launched the Cornell Tech Campus in New York City, offering programs in computer science, engineering, and business.

The university is also expanding its online offerings through the eCornell platform, allowing students to learn in a flexible and tailored way. Similarly, Bryn Mawr College has launched several initiatives to prepare students for the future, including the Nexus Curriculum, which integrates technology and innovation with liberal arts education. The college has also invested in green energy and sustainability, reflecting the students’ concerns for the environment and social justice.

In summary, both Cornell and Bryn Mawr are excellent educational institutions that prioritize academic excellence, diversity, inclusivity, and student success. By considering the diverse factors outlined in this article, students can determine which institution aligns with their academic and personal goals.

Want to learn more about getting into College? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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