Cornell vs Dartmouth: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a male student writing an essay to his notebook

Cornell vs Dartmouth: A Comprehensive Analysis

When it comes to selecting a university, it’s important to consider various factors that can impact your academic and career journey. Dartmouth College and Cornell University are both highly regarded institutions with rich histories and an impressive academic record, making them two highly sought after universities by many students. However, on many levels, these universities have significant differences that could make all the difference in your decision-making process. Here’s a comprehensive analysis of the notable differences between Cornell vs Dartmouth in terms of location, academics, student life, admissions, faculty, alumni networks, athletics, diversity, campus resources, career services, tuition fees and financial aid, rankings and reputation, as well as graduate school opportunities.

Location and Campus Setting: Comparing Cornell and Dartmouth

One of the significant differences between Dartmouth and Cornell is the setting of their respective campuses. The former is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, located in a small town surrounded by wide-open spaces with a distinctly rural feel, while the latter is located in Ithaca, New York, on the side of a large hill, overlooking the picturesque Cayuga Lake. Although situated in different natural locations, both universities share an intimate and cozy campus setting that offers a classic collegiate feel combined with abundant greenery. Moreover, Dartmouth’s setting provides a sense of community with its small town charm, while Cornell’s hillside location delivers a more campus-centric student atmosphere.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Another difference between the two universities is the size of their campuses. Cornell’s campus is significantly larger than Dartmouth’s, with over 700 buildings spread across 2,300 acres. In contrast, Dartmouth’s campus is much smaller, with only 269 acres and around 200 buildings. This size difference can impact the student experience, with Cornell offering more opportunities for exploration and discovery, while Dartmouth provides a more intimate and close-knit community.

Additionally, both universities have unique architectural styles that reflect their histories and traditions. Cornell’s campus features a mix of Gothic and modern architecture, with iconic buildings such as the Johnson Museum of Art and the clock tower of McGraw Hall. In contrast, Dartmouth’s campus is known for its colonial-style buildings, such as the Baker Memorial Library and the Dartmouth Hall. These architectural differences add to the distinct character of each university and contribute to the overall campus experience.

Academics: A Comparison of Programs and Offerings at Cornell and Dartmouth

Cornell and Dartmouth share a reputation for academic excellence and research innovation, but they differ in the way they approach academia and program offerings. Cornell offers a diverse range of majors, with over 80 undergraduate programs and over 100 graduate programs. Additionally, Cornell is divided into various colleges, each with its own specialized programs, including agriculture, business, architecture, engineering, and more. On the other hand, Dartmouth has fewer majors, with 40 undergraduate departments and 60 graduate programs, but their focus on liberal arts education offers a rich background into various disciplines. Additionally, at Dartmouth, there is no official separation between the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs, providing a more cohesive learning environment.

Despite their differences, both Cornell and Dartmouth offer unique opportunities for students to engage in research and experiential learning. Cornell’s extensive research facilities and partnerships with industry leaders provide students with hands-on experience in their fields of study. Dartmouth’s focus on undergraduate research and experiential learning opportunities, such as their off-campus programs and internships, allow students to apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Both universities also offer a variety of resources and support for students, including academic advising, tutoring services, and career development programs.

Student Life: How Cornell and Dartmouth Differ in Campus Culture and Extracurricular Activities

At their core, both universities offer a vibrant and active campus culture, complete with a range of student-led organizations, clubs, social groups, and events. However, they differ in their approach to campus life. For instance, Cornell has a more expansive student body, with over 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students, meaning that there is a wide variety of social groups and events to choose from. On the other hand, Dartmouth has a more tight-knit community, with fewer than 7,000 students. Such tight-knit community often leads to more camaraderie, with students forging strong bonds that last beyond their time on campus. Despite their differences, both universities offer an extensive range of extracurricular activities, including athletics, music, art, service organizations, and more.

Two college students smiling at the camera.

One notable difference between the two universities is their approach to athletics. Cornell has a strong focus on Division I sports, with a total of 36 varsity teams. The university has a rich history of athletic success, with numerous national championships in sports such as lacrosse, wrestling, and ice hockey. In contrast, Dartmouth has a smaller athletic program, with 35 club and varsity teams combined. However, the university places a strong emphasis on outdoor recreation, with its location in the scenic Upper Valley region of New Hampshire providing ample opportunities for hiking, skiing, and other outdoor activities.

Another difference between the two universities is their approach to community service. Cornell has a robust network of service organizations, with over 70 student-led groups dedicated to community service and social justice. These organizations work on a range of issues, from environmental sustainability to poverty alleviation. Dartmouth also has a strong commitment to community service, with a focus on local and global engagement. The Tucker Foundation, Dartmouth’s center for community service, offers a range of programs and initiatives that allow students to engage with communities both on and off campus.

Admissions: The Differences in Acceptance Rates, Applications, and Admissions Criteria between Cornell vs Dartmouth

When it comes to admissions, both universities are highly selective and have rigorous application processes. However, they differ in their admissions criteria, acceptance rates, and application requirements. For instance, Cornell’s acceptance rate fluctuates between 10% and 15%, while Dartmouth’s acceptance rate ranges from 7% to 9%. Additionally, Dartmouth’s curriculum emphasizes the importance of standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, in admissions considerations, while Cornell is more lenient in its test-optional policy. Additionally, at Dartmouth, the admission process comprises of a holistic review of applicants, assessing their academic achievement, extracurriculars, essays, and their potential contributions to the Dartmouth community. Conversely, Cornell evaluates its applicants by their academic performance, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities, coupled with an evaluation of their essays and other personal statements.

Another significant difference between Cornell and Dartmouth’s admissions process is their approach to interviews. While Dartmouth offers optional interviews to all applicants, Cornell only offers interviews to a select few. Dartmouth’s interviews are conducted by alumni volunteers, who assess the applicant’s fit for the college and provide valuable insights to the admissions committee. On the other hand, Cornell’s interviews are conducted by admissions officers, who use the interview to clarify any doubts or inconsistencies in the applicant’s application. Therefore, while both universities have a rigorous admissions process, their approach to interviews differs significantly.

Faculty: A Comparison of the Professors, Teaching Styles, and Research Opportunities at Cornell vs  Dartmouth

Both Cornell and Dartmouth employ highly qualified faculty members that are passionate about education and research. However, they differ in their approach to teaching and research innovation. For instance, Dartmouth has a unique emphasis on personalized teaching, requiring that faculty members prioritize close interaction with students, with class sizes averaging between 10 to 12 students per professor. On the other hand, Cornell has a more research-oriented approach to education, where students are encouraged to participate in research from their freshman year onwards. This research-centric approach explains why Cornell has produced 58 Nobel laureates, while Dartmouth has produced three.

Despite their differences, both Cornell and Dartmouth offer a wide range of research opportunities for students. At Cornell, students have access to over 100 research centers and institutes, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with faculty members collaborating across departments to tackle complex problems. For example, the Dartmouth Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion brings together researchers from the fields of medicine, public health, and social sciences to address health disparities in underserved communities.

Alumni Networks: How the Alumni Communities of Cornell vs Dartmouth Compare in Networking Opportunities

Both universities have strong alumni communities that offer extensive networking opportunities and professional development resources for students. However, they differ in the scope and nature of their alumni networks. For instance, Cornell has a much larger alumni community, with over 250,000 living alumni worldwide compared to Dartmouth’s 88,000. Additionally, Cornell’s alumni networks span numerous sectors, including finance, business, tech, and politics, providing students with a broad range of networking opportunities. On the other hand, Dartmouth’s alumni community is more tight-knit, with a stronger emphasis on building long-term relationships that benefit both current and former students.

Despite the differences in size and focus, both Cornell and Dartmouth alumni networks offer valuable resources for students. For example, both universities have mentorship programs that connect students with alumni in their desired fields. These programs provide students with guidance and advice from experienced professionals, helping them to navigate their career paths.

Another way in which the alumni networks of Cornell and Dartmouth differ is in their geographic distribution. While Cornell’s alumni are spread out across the globe, Dartmouth’s alumni are more concentrated in the Northeastern United States. This can be an advantage for students who are looking to build connections in a specific region, as they may find it easier to connect with Dartmouth alumni in that area.

Athletics: A Look at the Athletic Programs at Cornell vs Dartmouth

Both Cornell and Dartmouth offer extensive athletic programs that promote healthy living, teamwork, and community engagement. However, they differ in the range of athletics and sporting facilities available and their approach to athletic programming. For instance, Cornell has over 20 NCAA Division I teams, while Dartmouth has fewer teams but also has significant athletic success in swimming, lacrosse, and hockey. Moreover, Cornell boasts extensive athletic facilities, including the Lynah Rink, one of the most challenging hockey rinks in the country. Conversely, Dartmouth emphasizes the importance of athletics as a tool for character development and community-building, focusing more on intramural sports and fitness programs.

a female swimmer


Despite their differences, both Cornell and Dartmouth prioritize the well-being of their student-athletes. Both universities have dedicated athletic trainers and medical staff to ensure that athletes receive proper care and attention. Additionally, both schools have implemented policies and programs to support the mental health of their athletes, recognizing the unique pressures and challenges that come with being a student-athlete. Overall, the athletic programs at Cornell and Dartmouth provide students with opportunities to develop their physical and mental health, leadership skills, and sense of community.

Student Body Diversity: Comparing the Demographics of Students at Cornell vs Dartmouth

Both universities pride themselves on their diverse student bodies, ensuring that students of different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and nationalities feel welcome and supported. However, they differ in the scope and nature of their diversity initiatives, there are many differences based on geographic location. For instance, at Cornell, students come from all 50 states and over 120 countries, with a relatively even distribution of males and females. Contrastingly, Dartmouth has a more significant number of students from the Northeastern United States, with a slightly higher male-to-female student ratio than Cornell. Furthermore, both universities offer various diversity initiatives, including cultural and diversity centers, sensitivity training programs, and mentorship opportunities.

Another significant difference between the student bodies at Cornell and Dartmouth is the socioeconomic diversity. Cornell has a higher percentage of students from low-income families, with over 20% of students receiving Pell Grants. In contrast, Dartmouth has a lower percentage of students from low-income families, with only 12% of students receiving Pell Grants. This difference in socioeconomic diversity can impact the campus culture and the experiences of students from different economic backgrounds. Both universities have initiatives to support students from low-income families, such as financial aid and mentorship programs, but the difference in the percentage of Pell Grant recipients highlights the need for continued efforts to increase socioeconomic diversity in higher education.

Campus Resources: A Comprehensive Analysis of the Libraries, Facilities, Technology, and Resources Available at Cornell vs. Dartmouth

Students sitting next to each other while studying.

Both universities offer extensive resources to support the academic success and well-being of their students, faculty, and staff. However, they differ in the range and availability of campus resources, including libraries, technology, and facilities. For example, Cornell has more than 20 libraries and over 8 million volumes, which is among the best in the nation, whereas Dartmouth has roughly 3.5 million volumes and five library buildings. Additionally, Cornell’s technological resources are excellent, offering advanced networking, telecommunications, and computing systems. Conversely, Dartmouth’s approach to technology emphasizes balance and encourages unplugging and uninterrupted studies.

Another area where Cornell and Dartmouth differ is in their facilities. Cornell has a vast array of facilities, including state-of-the-art research labs, athletic facilities, and performance spaces. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a more intimate campus, with smaller facilities that foster a sense of community and collaboration. For example, Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art is a small, but world-renowned museum that offers students and faculty unique opportunities to engage with art and culture.

Finally, both universities offer a range of resources to support student well-being, including mental health services, career counseling, and extracurricular activities. However, the approach to these resources differs between the two schools. Cornell has a large and diverse student body, which can make it challenging for students to find their niche and feel connected. To address this, Cornell has developed a robust system of student organizations and clubs, which provide opportunities for students to connect with like-minded peers. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has a smaller student body, which fosters a strong sense of community and support. Dartmouth’s resources for student well-being are designed to build on this sense of community, with programs that emphasize collaboration, mentorship, and personal growth.

Career Services: How Career Services Departments at Cornell vs. Dartmouth Help Students Succeed After Graduation

Both universities aim to provide extensive career services to ensure that their students are successful after graduation. However, they differ in the approach and range of services on offer, as well as their respective career outcomes post-graduation. For example, Cornell’s career services department emphasizes employer relations and offers a range of specialized programs, including individual counseling, job-shadowing, and networking events. Conversely, Dartmouth’s career services department focuses more on character building and emphasizes skill development, resumes, and entrepreneurial activities. Both universities have an impressive percentage of students employed and in graduate programs after graduation.

A student talking to a professor.

It is worth noting that while both universities have successful career services departments, the industries in which their graduates find employment differ. Cornell graduates tend to find employment in fields such as finance, technology, and engineering, while Dartmouth graduates often find employment in fields such as consulting, healthcare, and education. This difference in industry outcomes may be attributed to the different approaches taken by the career services departments at each university, as well as the unique strengths and opportunities offered by each institution.

Tuition Fees & Financial Aid: A Comparison of the Cost of Attendance for Students at Cornell vs. Dartmouth

Both universities are expensive, with tuition fees and living expenses that are beyond the reach of many undergraduate students. Currently, Cornell’s annual tuition fee is $58,586 compared to Dartmouth’s $59,458. Both universities provide generous need-based and merit-based financial aid packages, with Cornell awarding over $250 million annually in financial aid to undergraduate students, and Dartmouth awarded $127 million in undergraduate financial aid alone in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Despite the high cost of attendance, both Cornell and Dartmouth offer various opportunities for students to reduce their financial burden. For instance, Cornell provides work-study programs that allow students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience. Dartmouth, on the other hand, offers a loan-free financial aid policy, which means that students are not required to take out loans to cover their tuition fees and living expenses.

Moreover, both universities have established partnerships with external organizations to provide additional financial support to their students. For example, Cornell has collaborated with the Posse Foundation, a non-profit organization that identifies and trains talented students from diverse backgrounds, to offer full-tuition scholarships to selected students. Dartmouth, on the other hand, has partnered with QuestBridge, a national non-profit organization that connects high-achieving, low-income students with top colleges and universities, to offer full-ride scholarships to eligible students.

Rankings & Reputation: A Look at How These Two Schools Stack Up Against Each Other in National Rankings

Both Cornell and Dartmouth are widely regarded as top-tier universities in national and international rankings, with a strong reputation for academic excellence, faculty quality, research output, and student satisfaction. However, they differ in their respective strengths in various fields. For instance, in the 2022 U.S. News and World Report rankings, Cornell is ranked 17th among national universities, while Dartmouth is ranked 13th. Furthermore, in specific categories, such as business, engineering, and computer science, Cornell ranks higher than Dartmouth, whereas in liberal arts education, research, and alumni giving, Dartmouth ranks higher than Cornell.

Young woman smiling at the camera while in front of the computer.

Another factor that sets these two schools apart is their campus culture and location. Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York, a small college town surrounded by natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. The campus is known for its diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. On the other hand, Dartmouth is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a quintessential New England town with a strong sense of community. The campus is known for its tight-knit community and emphasis on undergraduate education, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1.

Graduate School Opportunities- The comparative analysis between graduate programs offered by both universities

While both Cornell and Dartmouth are renowned for their undergraduate programs, they also offer substantial graduate degree programs, including a range of Master’s and Doctoral programs across a wide variety of disciplines. Cornell has a well-regarded graduate school with 16 colleges, and more than 100 graduate fields of study, with strengths ranging across the sciences, humanities, engineering, and business. Dartmouth also offers a range of graduate programs, including Master’s and Doctoral programs in various fields, including business, engineering, medicine, and education. Additionally, both universities offer extensive research opportunities, cutting-edge facilities, and generous funding for graduate students.

Overall, both Cornell and Dartmouth remain two of the highest-rated universities in America, with outstanding academic programs and comprehensive support networks. As with any university, choosing between them ultimately depends on your academic and personal preferences, but this comprehensive analysis should provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.


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