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USC vs Cornell: A Comparison of Two Elite Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

smiling woman inside university

USC vs Cornell: A Comparison of Two Elite Universities

When it comes to choosing a university for higher education, there are a lot of factors to consider. Two institutions that may be on your radar are the University of Southern California (USC) and Cornell University. USC is located in sunny Los Angeles, while Cornell is located in picturesque upstate New York. In this article, we’ll compare USC vs Cornell in terms of academics, student life, campus safety, and more to help you make an informed decision.

Location and Campus Comparison between USC and Cornell

One of the biggest differences between USC and Cornell is their location. As mentioned before, USC is located in Los Angeles, which has a warm Mediterranean climate, while Cornell is located in Ithaca, New York, where temperatures are cold with snow during the winter months. Both universities have beautiful campuses, but they are quite different.

The USC campus is spread out over 230 acres and has an urban feel, while Cornell’s campus is spread out over 2,300 acres and has a rural feel. Additionally, USC is located in a large city, so there are plenty of opportunities for internships and cultural experiences outside of campus, while Cornell’s location offers a more secluded and focused academic setting.

Three students walking in the campus.

Another difference between the two universities is the size of their student bodies. USC has a larger undergraduate population of around 20,000 students, while Cornell has a smaller undergraduate population of around 15,000 students. This difference in size can affect the overall campus culture and the types of extracurricular activities available to students.

Furthermore, USC and Cornell have different academic focuses. USC is known for its strong programs in film, business, and engineering, while Cornell is known for its strong programs in agriculture, architecture, and veterinary medicine. This difference in academic focus can also affect the types of research opportunities and career paths available to students after graduation.

Academic Offerings and Specializations at USC vs Cornell

Two elite universities like USC and Cornell offer a wide variety of academic programs and specializations. USC offers over 400 undergraduate degrees and over 600 graduate and professional degrees across 24 schools and academic units. Some of the popular programs at USC include business, engineering, and film. Cornell, on the other hand, offers over 80 undergraduate majors and over 120 graduate programs across 14 colleges and schools, including its Ivy League law and medical schools. Some of the popular programs at Cornell include agriculture and life sciences, engineering, and hotel administration.

It is worth noting that both USC and Cornell have unique academic offerings that set them apart from each other. USC, for example, has a highly regarded program in communication and journalism, as well as a strong emphasis on the arts and design.

Female students holding her books while walking.

Cornell, on the other hand, is known for its excellence in research and innovation, particularly in the fields of agriculture and veterinary medicine. Additionally, Cornell has a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental studies, with several programs dedicated to these areas of study.

Research Opportunities at USC and Cornell

Both USC and Cornell have a strong focus on research. USC receives over $850 million annually in research and development grants, and is home to the Southern California Earthquake Center and the USC Stevens Center for Innovation.

Cornell, in comparison, receives over $1 billion annually in research funding, and is known for its research initiatives in fields such as agriculture, life sciences, and engineering. Both universities also offer many research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, such as lab work and independent studies.

At USC, students have the opportunity to work with renowned faculty members who are leaders in their respective fields. The university also has a number of research centers and institutes, such as the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience and the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, which provide students with access to cutting-edge technology and resources.

Male student smiling at the camera while holding his things.

Cornell, on the other hand, has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with many of its research initiatives spanning multiple fields. The university also has a number of research facilities, such as the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source and the Cornell Center for Materials Research, which provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to conduct their research.

Student Life and Culture at USC and Cornell

One of the most important aspects of attending college is getting involved on campus and immersing yourself in the university’s culture. USC has a diverse student body of over 47,000 students, and offers over 1,000 student organizations, including fraternities and sororities. USC is also known for its strong sports culture and Trojan spirit, with its football team being particularly popular. Cornell has a smaller student body of around 23,600 students, but also offers a wide variety of student organizations and fraternities and sororities. Cornell is known for its unique campus traditions, such as Dragon Day and Slope Day, and its strong sense of community among students.

Female student smiling at the camera while holding a book.

Additionally, both USC and Cornell offer a range of cultural and artistic opportunities for students. USC has a renowned School of Cinematic Arts, which has produced many successful filmmakers and actors. The university also has a strong music program, with its Thornton School of Music offering degrees in a variety of musical disciplines.

Cornell, on the other hand, has a thriving performing arts scene, with its Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts hosting a variety of plays, musicals, and dance performances throughout the year. The university also has a number of museums and galleries, including the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, which houses over 35,000 works of art from around the world.

Admission Process: How to Get into USC or Cornell

Both USC and Cornell are highly selective universities, with acceptance rates below 15% for most undergraduate programs. USC considers various factors in its admission process, including academic achievements, extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation.

Cornell also considers academic achievements and extracurricular activities, as well as personal qualities and characteristics, in its admission process. Both universities offer need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships.

It is important to note that both USC and Cornell have different application deadlines and requirements. USC has a November 1st deadline for early action and a January 15th deadline for regular decision, while Cornell has a November 1st deadline for early decision and a January 2nd deadline for regular decision.

Additionally, USC requires applicants to submit standardized test scores, while Cornell has a test-optional policy. It is recommended that applicants carefully review the specific requirements and deadlines for each university before submitting their applications.

Alumni Networks: USC vs Cornell

Having a strong alumni network can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to finding employment after graduation. USC has a vast alumni network of over 425,000 individuals, located in over 100 countries. USC graduates include prominent figures in fields such as entertainment, business, and politics. Cornell’s alumni network is also strong, with over 250,000 alumni in over 190 countries.

two college students inside a library and smiling while looking at the camera

However, there are some differences between the alumni networks of USC and Cornell. USC’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the entertainment industry, with many alumni working in Hollywood and the music industry. On the other hand, Cornell’s alumni network is known for its strong connections in the fields of science and technology, with many alumni working in research and development for companies such as IBM and Google.

Faculty Profiles: USC vs Cornell

Both USC and Cornell have highly respected faculty members who are leaders in their fields. USC has over 4,000 full-time faculty members across its various schools and academic units, with many having won prestigious awards and honors.

Cornell has over 1,600 faculty members, also with many being highly respected and esteemed in their fields. Both universities offer students the opportunity to work closely with faculty members on research projects and independent studies.

However, there are some differences in the faculty profiles of USC and Cornell. USC has a higher percentage of faculty members who are adjunct or part-time, while Cornell has a higher percentage of tenured and tenure-track faculty members.

Additionally, USC has a larger number of faculty members who are focused on professional programs such as law, business, and medicine, while Cornell has a larger number of faculty members in the humanities and social sciences. Despite these differences, both universities have a commitment to providing their students with access to top-notch faculty members who are dedicated to teaching and research.

Athletics Programs Comparison between USC and Cornell

As mentioned before, USC is known for its strong sports culture, particularly in football. USC also offers 21 varsity sports for both men and women, and has won over 127 national championships in its history. Cornell also has numerous Division I athletics teams, including hockey, lacrosse, and wrestling. Cornell has won over 50 national championships in its history.

However, one notable difference between the athletics programs at USC and Cornell is the level of emphasis placed on academics. While both universities prioritize academic excellence, Cornell has a reputation for being more academically rigorous. As a result, Cornell student-athletes may face additional challenges in balancing their athletic and academic commitments. USC, on the other hand, is known for its strong academic programs, but may place a slightly greater emphasis on athletics in terms of campus culture and resources.

Financial Aid and Scholarships at USC vs Cornell

As previously mentioned, both USC and Cornell offer financial aid and scholarships to make a college education more accessible.

USC offers need-based financial aid, as well as merit-based scholarships, such as the Trustee Scholarship and Presidential Scholarship. Cornell also offers need-based financial aid, as well as merit-based scholarships, such as the Meinig Family Cornell National Scholars Program and the Cornell Promise Scholarship.

It is important to note that the application process for financial aid and scholarships may differ between USC and Cornell. USC requires the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile, while Cornell requires the FAFSA and the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile.

Additionally, USC has a priority deadline of December 1st for scholarship consideration, while Cornell’s deadline is February 1st. It is recommended that students carefully review the application requirements and deadlines for each school to ensure they are submitting all necessary materials on time.

Diversity and Inclusion at USC and Cornell

Diversity and inclusion are important considerations when choosing a university. USC has a diverse student body, with students representing over 135 countries. USC also has a number of diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as the Cultural Centers and the LGBT Resource Center.

Cornell also has a diverse student body, with international students representing over 100 countries. Cornell offers a number of diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives through its various offices and organizations.

One of the notable diversity and inclusion programs at USC is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force, which was established in 2020. The DEI Task Force is responsible for developing and implementing strategies to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion across the university.

View of students taking an exam.

Similarly, Cornell has a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, which outlines the university’s commitment to creating a more diverse and inclusive community. The plan includes initiatives such as increasing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty and staff, and providing resources and support for students from diverse backgrounds.

Career Services for Students at USC and Cornell

Both USC and Cornell offer robust career services for their students. USC’s Career Center offers services such as resume reviews, job search assistance, and mock interviews. USC also has a strong network of alumni who are available for informational interviews and mentoring.

Cornell’s Career Services office provides similar services, as well as career fairs and on-campus recruitment opportunities. Cornell also has a strong network of alumni who are involved in career-related initiatives.

Additionally, USC’s Career Center offers workshops and events on topics such as networking, salary negotiation, and job search strategies. These events provide students with valuable skills and knowledge to help them succeed in their job search. Cornell’s Career Services office also offers workshops and events, including career exploration programs and industry-specific panels.

Both universities also have resources for students interested in entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. USC’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies offers courses, mentorship, and funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs. Cornell’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell program provides similar resources, including a startup accelerator program and a student-run venture fund.

Prestige, Rankings, and Reputation Comparison of Both Universities

Both USC and Cornell have strong reputations as prestigious universities. USC is ranked #22 in the 2021 edition of Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, while Cornell is ranked #18. USC is also ranked #4 in Best Undergraduate Business Programs and #8 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs by U.S. News & World Report. Cornell’s undergraduate programs are highly ranked in areas such as business, engineering, and agriculture and life sciences.

Additionally, both universities have a long history of producing successful alumni in various fields. USC has notable alumni such as filmmaker George Lucas, astronaut Neil Armstrong, and actress Viola Davis. Cornell has produced notable alumni such as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, journalist Ann Curry, and actor Christopher Reeve. Both universities also have strong research programs and partnerships with industry leaders, providing students with opportunities for hands-on experience and networking.

Graduate Programs Offered by USC vs Cornell

In addition to their undergraduate programs, both USC and Cornell offer numerous graduate and professional degree programs. USC offers over 600 graduate and professional programs across its various schools, including business, law, and medicine. Cornell also offers numerous graduate and professional degree programs, including its well-respected law and medical schools.

One of the unique graduate programs offered by USC is the Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology. This program combines design thinking, business strategy, and technology to prepare students for careers in innovation and entrepreneurship. Cornell, on the other hand, offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, which is consistently ranked as one of the top programs in the country.

Both USC and Cornell also offer a variety of doctoral programs, including USC’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership and Cornell’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. These programs provide students with the opportunity to conduct original research and contribute to their respective fields.

International Student Experience: USC vs Cornell

For international students, choosing a university can be a particularly important and stressful decision. USC has a dedicated International Student Services office, which provides assistance with issues such as visa and immigration paperwork and cultural adjustment.

USC also has a number of international student organizations on campus. Cornell also has a dedicated office for international students, which provides support and assistance with issues such as visas, cultural adjustment, and language learning. Cornell also has a number of international student organizations and cultural events on campus.

However, there are some differences between the two universities when it comes to the international student experience. USC is located in Los Angeles, which is known for its diverse population and vibrant cultural scene.

This can provide international students with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in American culture while also connecting with people from all over the world. On the other hand, Cornell is located in Ithaca, a small town in upstate New York. While Cornell does have a diverse student body, the cultural opportunities may be more limited compared to USC. However, Cornell’s location also offers a more peaceful and scenic environment, which may be appealing to some international students.

Faculty-Student Ratio: A Comparative Study of USC and Cornell

One important factor to consider when choosing a university is the faculty-student ratio. USC has a faculty-student ratio of 1:9, meaning there is one faculty member for every ten students.

Cornell has a faculty-student ratio of 1:9, meaning there is one faculty member for every nine students. Both universities offer small class sizes and opportunities for close interaction with faculty members.

Campus Safety Comparison between USC and Cornell

Campus safety is an important consideration for students and parents. USC has a Department of Public Safety that operates 24 hours a day and is responsible for crime prevention, investigation, and emergency management.

USC also has a number of safety programs and initiatives, such as Campus Cruiser and Safety Escort Services. Cornell also has a Department of Public Safety, which provides similar services. Cornell also has a number of safety programs and initiatives, such as Take Back the Night and the Rape Aggression Defense program.

Future Prospects for Graduates of Both Universities

Both USC and Cornell have strong job placement rates for their graduates. USC graduates are highly sought after by employers, with over 90% of graduates finding a job within six months of graduation. Cornell graduates have similarly strong job placement rates, with over 90% of graduates finding employment or going on to graduate school within six months of graduation. Both universities have strong alumni networks that provide valuable networking and job opportunities for graduates.

Study Abroad Opportunities: A Comparative Analysis of USC vs Cornell

One final consideration when choosing a university is the opportunity to study abroad. USC offers a number of study abroad programs in locations such as the United Kingdom, Italy, and China. USC also has a number of international education initiatives and partnerships. Cornell also offers a number of study abroad programs, with opportunities in locations such as Spain, India, and the Dominican Republic.

Cornell also has a number of international initiatives and partnerships, such as the Global Health Program and the International Agriculture and Rural Development program.

Overall, both USC and Cornell are excellent choices for higher education, with their respective strengths and areas of expertise. When deciding between the two universities, it’s important to consider factors such as location, academic offerings, student life, campus safety, and career services, among others. Ultimately, the choice comes down to individual preferences and goals, but we hope this article has provided a comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision.

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