Notre Dame vs Cornell: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Three students talking while using a laptop.

Notre Dame vs Cornell: A Comprehensive Analysis

When it’s time to choose a university, it can be challenging to know where to start. There are numerous factors to consider, including location, academic programs, student life, and more. There are many factors to consider when choosing a university, and Cornell University and the University of Notre Dame are two popular choices. In this comprehensive analysis, we will compare Notre Dame vs Cornell to help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Introduction to Notre Dame and Cornell

Cornell and Notre Dame are both highly respected universities, located in the United States. Cornell University is a private Ivy League institution located in Ithaca, New York. The University of Notre Dame is a private Roman Catholic research university located in Notre Dame, Indiana.

Both universities offer a wide range of academic programs and extracurricular activities for students. Cornell is known for its strong programs in engineering, business, and agriculture, while Notre Dame is renowned for its programs in theology, law, and social sciences. Additionally, both universities have a rich history and tradition, with Cornell being founded in 1865 and Notre Dame in 1842.

History of Cornell and Notre Dame

Cornell University was founded in 1865 by Andrew Dickson White and Ezra Cornell, who were committed to providing a practical education for all students. Notre Dame University was founded in 1842 by Father Edward Sorin of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and it was designed to provide a Catholic education in the United States.

Despite their different founding missions, both Cornell and Notre Dame have become highly respected institutions of higher education. Cornell is known for its strong programs in engineering, agriculture, and business, while Notre Dame is renowned for its programs in theology, law, and the arts. Both universities have produced numerous notable alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions in their respective fields.

Location and Campus Comparison

Cornell’s location in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State offers abundant natural beauty. Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s campus features Gothic architecture, which is unique in the United States. Both universities boast extensive research facilities, libraries, and advanced computing resources.

Additionally, Cornell’s campus is spread out over 2,300 acres, making it one of the largest university campuses in the world. Notre Dame’s campus, on the other hand, is more compact, with its main buildings arranged around a central quad.

This difference in campus size and layout can impact the student experience, with Cornell students enjoying more opportunities for outdoor activities and Notre Dame students having a more intimate campus community.

Admission Process and Acceptance Rates

Both Cornell and Notre Dame are exceptionally selective schools. The admission process includes multiple application components, including transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, and recommendations. Cornell, for example, requires the SAT or ACT, while Notre Dame requires either test. Cornell’s acceptance rate is around 9%, while Notre Dame’s is around 15%.

It is important to note that while both schools have low acceptance rates, they also have different approaches to the admission process. Cornell places a strong emphasis on academic achievement and rigor, while Notre Dame values a well-rounded applicant with a strong commitment to community service and leadership.

Three caucasian students talking to each other.

Additionally, both schools offer early decision options for applicants who are certain that they want to attend their respective institutions. However, it is important to carefully consider the binding nature of early decision before applying.

Academic Programs Comparison

Cornell and Notre Dame offer a broad range of academic programs, with a particular focus on science and engineering. Both universities emphasize research and collaborate with private industry and government organizations. Cornell has a unique College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, while Notre Dame has a School of Architecture.

Additionally, Cornell offers a highly regarded program in hotel administration, which includes hands-on experience at the on-campus Statler Hotel.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, has a strong program in business, with a focus on ethical leadership and social responsibility. Both universities also offer a variety of liberal arts and humanities programs, as well as professional programs in law, medicine, and education.

Faculty and Student Ratio Analysis

Both Cornell and Notre Dame have a low faculty-to-student ratio, ensuring that students can develop close relationships with their professors. Cornell has approximately 1,650 tenure-track faculty members, while Notre Dame has around 1,200. The student-to-faculty ratio at Cornell is nine to one, while Notre Dame’s is nine to one.

It is important to note that while both universities have a low faculty-to-student ratio, Cornell has a larger number of graduate students compared to Notre Dame.

Group of students walking in the campus.

This means that undergraduate students at Cornell may have more opportunities to work closely with faculty members, as graduate students often assist with research and teaching. However, Notre Dame has a strong emphasis on undergraduate education and offers smaller class sizes, allowing for more personalized attention from professors.

Student Life at Cornell and Notre Dame

Campus life is an essential component of the college experience and serves as a key factor in the overall college experience. Cornell and Notre Dame offer students a mix of academic excellence and social engagement. Notre Dame has a wealth of student clubs and organizations, including athletic teams and performing arts groups. Cornell University has over one hundred sports clubs and teams and a vibrant music scene.

Group of students sitting on the stairs.

In addition to the numerous extracurricular activities available, both Cornell and Notre Dame also offer a variety of resources to support student well-being. Cornell has a comprehensive health and wellness program that includes mental health services, nutrition counseling, and fitness classes. Notre Dame has a similar program that includes a student health center, counseling services, and a wellness center.

These resources help students maintain a healthy balance between academic and personal life, ensuring a positive college experience.

Sports Programs Comparison

Both Cornell and Notre Dame boast exceptional athletics programs, with a particular focus on college football and other sports. Cornell is home to Division I teams, including ice hockey, wrestling, and lacrosse. Notre Dame, similarly, has a comprehensive sports program, with teams in football, basketball, and more.

However, there are some differences between the two universities’ sports programs. Cornell has a strong tradition in equestrian sports, with a highly competitive varsity riding team and a top-notch equine studies program. On the other hand, Notre Dame has a renowned fencing program, with multiple national championships and Olympic medalists.

Additionally, both universities offer opportunities for students to participate in club and intramural sports. Cornell has over 30 club sports teams, ranging from ultimate frisbee to quidditch, while Notre Dame has a variety of intramural leagues, including flag football, volleyball, and dodgeball.

Alumni Network Comparison

The alumni network is an essential resource for students during college and after. Cornell has a large alumni network, with over 250,000 alumni worldwide. Notre Dame boasts a similarly large alumni network, with alumni in over 140 countries worldwide.

However, the size of the alumni network is not the only factor to consider. The quality of the network is also important. Cornell’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the fields of engineering, technology, and business. On the other hand, Notre Dame’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the fields of law, education, and social services.

Another factor to consider is the level of alumni engagement. Cornell has a highly engaged alumni network, with many alumni returning to campus to speak with current students, mentor them, and offer job opportunities.

Notre Dame also has a highly engaged alumni network, with many alumni participating in regional clubs and events, as well as offering career advice and networking opportunities to current students.

Career Opportunities Comparison

Both Cornell and Notre Dame provide a breadth of opportunities for students to launch their careers. Cornell has a far-reaching Career Services network, while Notre Dame’s Career Center maintains connections with employers across many sectors.

Additionally, Cornell offers a variety of career fairs and networking events throughout the year, allowing students to connect with potential employers and explore different industries.

Happy female student smiling at the camera.

Notre Dame, on the other hand, has a strong alumni network that provides students with mentorship and job shadowing opportunities. Both universities also offer internship programs that allow students to gain hands-on experience in their desired field.

Financial Aid and Tuition Fees Analysis

The cost of attending Cornell and Notre Dame is a significant financial consideration. Both universities have similar median family incomes. The tuition fee for Cornell University is approximately $63,200 per year, while Notre Dame’s is around $60,301 per year. Both schools offer need-based financial aid and scholarships to qualified students.

It is important to note that the cost of attendance at both universities goes beyond just tuition fees. Students must also consider the cost of housing, textbooks, and other living expenses.

Cornell University offers a variety of on-campus housing options, including traditional dormitories and apartment-style living. Notre Dame also offers on-campus housing, but students may also choose to live off-campus in the surrounding community.

Additionally, both universities have unique financial aid programs that students should be aware of. Cornell University offers a program called the Cornell Commitment, which provides financial support and mentorship to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Notre Dame has a program called the Fighting Irish Initiative, which offers financial assistance to students who demonstrate a commitment to service and leadership.

Research Opportunities Comparison

Cornell and Notre Dame offer extensive research opportunities, with a particular emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Cornell has an extensive research budget and a world-class research library. Notre Dame offers several research institutes, including the Center for Social Science Research and the Institute for Latino Studies.

Additionally, both universities offer undergraduate research programs that allow students to work alongside faculty members on cutting-edge research projects. These programs provide valuable hands-on experience and can lead to opportunities for publication and presentation at academic conferences.

Cornell’s program, called the Undergraduate Research Program, offers funding for research projects and hosts an annual research symposium. Notre Dame’s program, called the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, provides funding and support for research projects across all disciplines.

International Student Experience at Cornell and Notre Dame

Both Cornell and Notre Dame welcome international students and have established programs to help new international students navigate the U.S. education system. Notre Dame also offers English language courses for international students.

Additionally, Cornell and Notre Dame provide various opportunities for international students to engage with the campus community and learn about American culture. Both universities have international student clubs and organizations that host events and activities throughout the year.

Prestige and Ranking Analysis

Both universities rank among the country’s top universities in several fields, including STEM and humanities. Cornell is consistently ranked in the top 20 universities in the country, while Notre Dame ranks among the top 25.

In addition to their overall rankings, both universities have also received recognition for specific programs and departments.

Furthermore, both universities have a strong reputation for producing successful alumni. Cornell has produced numerous Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and CEOs of major companies, while Notre Dame has produced several U.S. senators, governors, and Supreme Court justices.


Choosing between Cornell and Notre Dame is a personal decision and depends on various factors. Both universities provide exceptional academic programs, dedicated faculty and resources, and comprehensive student organizations.

This comprehensive analysis offers a thorough comparison to inform your choice. Take into account the factors that matter most to you and consider program offerings, campus culture, and financial aid options when making your final decision.

It is important to note that both Cornell and Notre Dame have unique campus cultures. Cornell is known for its diverse student body and liberal arts education, while Notre Dame is known for its strong Catholic identity and emphasis on community service. Consider which campus culture aligns with your personal values and interests.

Additionally, financial aid options may play a significant role in your decision-making process. Cornell offers need-based financial aid, while Notre Dame offers a combination of need-based and merit-based aid. Be sure to research and compare the financial aid packages offered by both universities to determine which option is most feasible for you.


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