International Students at Cornell

December 13, 2022
By AdmissionSight

International Students at Cornell

How Does An International Student Get Into Cornell?

International students at Cornell largely contribute to the great diversity and globalism of the university. This prestigious institution continuously invites students to discover what it is like learning at Cornell and living on the historic, beautiful campus in Ithaca, New York.

International applicants come from a diverse range of backgrounds, including international students who have attended multiple universities or moved across countries, Americans who have spent most of their lives living abroad, and non-American citizens completing school in the U.S.

How does an international student get into Cornell? The admissions committee read applications based on where you are currently attending school, rather than on your citizenship status. Your application will be reviewed along with others from your school and among those from the same state (U.S.) or country.

Picking a College

Decide which undergraduate college or university you want to attend before you begin filling out your application. Cornell only allows you to apply to one, so be sure to research which school best fits your interests and career goals before you decide. There are eight colleges or schools to which you can apply at Cornell. Keep in mind that you want to be sure of your decision because Cornell does not allow applicants to change their selection after their application is submitted.

View of college students studying in a room with a table.

Application and Supporting Materials

Cornell uses the Common Application (CA), which can be completed and submitted online.

In addition to the application, Cornell requires that you submit the following forms and writing supplements. These can be found and submitted online at the Common App website.

  • School Report – Your counselor or assigned school official should fill out and submit this form (or your school’s own report form) and your official transcript.
  • Counselor Recommendation – Cornell requires a written statement of reference from your school counselor or college advisor.
  • Teacher Evaluations – Two teacher recommendations must be submitted. Make sure to remind anyone writing you a letter to put your name and birthdate on every page if the evaluations will be sent through the mail.
  • Midyear Report – Submit the Midyear Report as soon as it is available. School counselors are encouraged to submit this online too, so the admissions officers can process your application faster. Cornell acknowledges that some students who attend schools that operate on a trimester system might not have any updated grade information to report by the time of submission of the application and are exempt from submitting a midyear report in those cases.
  • Cornell Questions and Writing Supplement (CA) – The Cornell Questions and Writing Supplement is required for all applicants. It includes Cornell-specific questions and required essays which is important for admissions officers to match your academic objectives with the specific Cornell college or school that you’re applying to.
  • Transcript – Before the application deadline, you must send your official secondary or high school transcript(s). This should be sent by your school online or through the mail.

Standardized Test Scores (SAT/ACT)

SAT or ACT scores are not necessary for applicants to Cornell for the 2021 and 2022 admissions cycles. However, some of its undergraduate colleges are “score-free” while others are “test-optional.” Cornell does not include the essay section on the SAT or ACT in the admissions process.

Unidentified student writing on a table.

Application Fee

Your application will not be completed without the payment of an $80 application fee. However, you can ask for a fee waiver if paying the fee will be difficult for your family financially.


Cornell’s interview process is unlike other universities in the US. Only applicants to the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning are required or encouraged to take part in an interview based on their chosen department. If you apply to the Department of Architecture, you are required to participate in an interview, while applicants to the Department of Art or Urban and Regional Planning are encouraged to have the interview.

View of group of people talking in a room.

Additional Submissions

You may need to provide additional materials in your Cornell application depending on what college or school you’re applying to.

Carefully check the specific requirements of the school or college of your choice to make sure you do not overlook any necessary elements, such as additional “forms, portfolios, or design indexes,” if you’re interested in a major in art or architecture.

English Language Proficiency (ELP)

To succeed in their university studies, all international students at Cornell must have a solid command of the English language. You might be required to submit the results of one of the following English language competence tests if English is not your first language or if you did not complete high school in a nation where English is an official language for the four years before your intended admission at Cornell.

Numerous exams and other credentials from all around the world will be considered and accepted in meeting the English Language Proficiency criteria.

The following are language proficiency test suggestions to satisfy this requirement:

  • TOEFL iBT (Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test)
  • iTEP (International Test of English Proficiency)
  • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System)
  • Duolingo English Test
  • PTE Academic (Pearsons Test of English Academic)
  • C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency (Cambridge English: Advanced or Proficiency)
  • Initial View (IV) Assessment
  • Vericant Assessment

To be most competitive in Cornell’s review process and to be considered for admission, you must reach or go beyond the following minimum scores:

  • TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition: 100 and above
  • iTEP: 5.5 and above
  • Duolingo English Test: 120 and above
  • IELTS Academic: 7.5 and above
  • PTE Academic: 70 and above
  • Cambridge English Scale: 191 and above

Note: Cornell does not superscore results from these assessments.

The school must submit all academic credentials and school documents in English. English translations prepared by a teacher or other school employee are acceptable. The translated document must be submitted with a copy of the original (untranslated) document. All documents must be mailed in if an official translation service is being used.

What Percentage Of Cornell Students Are International?

Wendy Wolford, Vice Provost of International Affairs, shared during the Cornell Leadership Week lunch on March 26, 2022, “Our international community is robust and impressive. We have 6,000 international students and many more visiting scholars, staff, and faculty who are international by origin. We also have a significant number of international alumni who live abroad.”

A man working with his classmates on a library.

So, what percentage of Cornell students are international? For the Fall of 2022, international students at Cornell make up 24% of the student body, representing 121 countries around the globe. The breakdown of the percentage per program is shown below.

Program International Students Percentage
Undergraduate 10%
Graduate 53%
Professional 32%

The Class of 2026 consists of incoming first-year students from 67 nations. About 364 international students matriculated which accounts for 10.3% of the new freshman students at Cornell.

Do International Students Get Financial Aid At Cornell?

Do international students get financial aid at Cornell?  Cornell University has a need-based approach to international admissions and offers financial help to admitted students as well as undocumented students with demonstrated financial need. If admitted, international students who stated on their applications that they will not be seeking financial help will not be permitted to do so at any point while enrolled as undergraduates at Cornell. Those who plan to enroll at Cornell as undergraduate students and anticipate needing financial support must submit an aid application along with their admissions application.


Take note of the following deadlines since late applications may not be considered.

  • Spring Transfer – Not available for Spring 2022 (for international transfer applicants only)
  • Early Decision – November 1, 2022
  • Regular Decision – January 2, 2023
  • Fall Transfer – March 15, 2023

Required Information for International Students at Cornell

Complete the College Scholarship Service CSS Profile

  • CSS Profile can be found at
  • Cornell’s undergraduate CSS Code is 2098
  • A separate CSS Profile must be filled out by your non-custodial parent if your parents are divorced, separated, or were never wed. Each parent will use a unique set of College Board log-in information to access their CSS Profile.
  • The CSS Profile application should be started initially by the student and the custodial parent as College Board suggests. The non-custodial parent cannot finish the application until the student chooses a college that requests the CSS Profile from the non-custodial parent.
  • The student and parents should not share their College Board account passwords with one another in order to protect the privacy of financial information.
  • Fill out the Noncustodial Parent Waiver Petition if you don’t know where your non-custodial parent is or if there are other unusual circumstances affecting your case.
  • College Board has prepared interactive instructions to assist you.
  • Applicants should get in touch with the financial aid office through email at [email protected] in advance of the specified application deadlines if they are unable to submit the online CSS Profile.
  • Requests for CSS Profile fee exemptions must be submitted to [email protected] by the deadlines for submission of applications.

If Cornell requests more information, applicants should be prepared to provide supporting documents. This information may include but is not limited to: parent and student 2018 and/or 2019 income information, non-custodial parent income and asset information, and a photocopy of your passport or citizenship documents.

If you are a non-resident alien and are not qualified for a tax exemption under a tax treaty, Cornell is required to withhold 14% in taxes from your grant aid because the Internal Revenue Service deems grant aid above tuition and obligatory fees as taxable income.

Is Cornell Good For International Students?

Cornell University is a private institution that receives state funding due to its statutory land-grant status. Although tuition is more than $60,000 per year, almost all students who apply for need-based financial aid are granted the funds they require. About half of the students get financial aid, including international students at Cornell.

More than 4,000 different course options are available at Cornell University. The eight colleges provide more than 120 different minor options in addition to approximately 80 separate majors.

The annual undergraduate enrollment at Cornell University is more than 15,000, and there are nine students for every faculty member. Approximately, only thirteen percent of its courses have classes with more than fifty students, while most of its classes have fewer than twenty students each.

Young woman smiling at the camera.

Any undergraduate degree can be earned at Cornell University. For students interested in architecture, engineering, agriculture, or the life sciences, it is particularly important to consider. Outdoor-loving students will certainly like the vibrant campus culture and picturesque surroundings.

The main campus of Cornell is in Ithaca, New York, where undergraduate programs are offered. With Cornell perched above the 38-mile-long Cayuga Lake, Ithaca is situated in the Finger Lakes. Students enjoy using the neighboring swimming holes and hiking trails in the State Parks.

Views of the city and Cayuga Lake may be seen from the East Hill campus. The academic buildings and laboratories are housed on the university’s Central Campus, whereas most of the living halls are found on its West Campus.

Students in their first and second years are assured housing on campus in one of the lovely residence buildings. The main campus features twenty libraries, including one of the largest research libraries in the country, and over thirty dining facilities, with food that has been ranked among the top ten among American institutions.

In addition to the main campus, the institution owns 2,800 acres nearby where the Cornell Botanical Gardens is located. An arboretum, herb gardens, ponds, flower gardens, and even waterfalls may be found in this lovely outdoor area.

Cornell University offers approximately 1,200 active student groups and 35 varsity sports teams in addition to a sizable and stunning campus. Dance groups, bakers, brewers, gamers, and of course organizations with an academic or professional focus are all examples of student organizations.  Both the Model UN squad and the Cornell University Mock Trial Association are among the top in the country.

International students considered these factors for sure upon deciding to attend Cornell. They took a big leap and moved away from home to pursue higher education. Studying in another country is extremely challenging as you need to adjust not only to the different curriculum and academic systems but also to another culture and the unfamiliarity of a certain place.

Now, you might wonder “Is Cornell good for international students?” In 1936, Cornell created the nation’s first university office for international students. The office, known as International Services, aims to help students and scholars from around the world thrive at Cornell. Staff members can assist you with your visas, applying for jobs, locating your niche in Ithaca, discovering campus resources, and other things you might be curious about or encounter during your stay at Cornell.

Meanwhile, an organization for international students at Cornell was established in 1981 named the International Students Programming Board (ISPB), an umbrella student organization that fosters global awareness and intercultural communication by planning, funding, and supporting international activities.

In addition to changing its name to International Students Union (ISU) in 2015, it also made its General Body division open to the whole Cornell community. Since that time, ISU has not only continued to serve as a funding organization but has also taken proactive measures to address the needs and worries of international students at Cornell, particularly by fostering internationalism and supporting international causes on campus.

If you are one of those students who are prepared to make a brave decision and study college in another country, particularly in the US, you might be needing professional help for your application. AdmissionSight has assisted students every year to get into their dream schools with the various programs and counseling services we offer. Feel free to contact AdmissionSight and set up a schedule for an initial consultation today.


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