UT Austin vs Cornell: A Comparison of Two Top Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Sorority members studying together

UT Austin vs Cornell: A Comparison of Two Top Universities

University of Texas at Austin and Cornell University are two of the most respected and prestigious universities in the United States. Both schools have established themselves as top-tier institutions in the world of higher education. Each university is distinct in its offerings, campus culture, and comprehensive pedagogy, making comparing them complicated. This article will compare UT Austin vs Cornell, so you can make an informed decision about where to continue your education.

A Breakdown of Academic Programs at UT Austin and Cornell

UT Austin is a public research university located in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 1883 and has grown into one of the largest universities in the United States, with a student population of over 51,000. The university offers over 170 fields of study in 18 colleges and schools, including the McCombs School of Business, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Cornell University is also renowned for its extensive, research-driven curriculum. The university has 14 colleges and schools, including the College of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Graduate School. Cornell offers more than 4,000 courses and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:2.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

Both UT Austin and Cornell University have a strong commitment to research and innovation. UT Austin is home to several research centers, including the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the Energy Institute. Cornell University is also a leader in research, with notable centers such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cornell Center for Materials Research. Additionally, both universities offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved in their communities, including student organizations, volunteer programs, and internships.

Student Life: What to Expect at UT Austin and Cornell

Both UT Austin and Cornell offer vibrant campus cultures that encourage student involvement in athletics, clubs, and other extracurricular activities. UT Austin is known for its diverse and creative student body, with a thriving arts scene and lively nightlife. Cornell students are encouraged to participate in the many clubs and organizations, and the school has a vibrant social scene highlighted by its Greek community.

At UT Austin, students can also expect a strong emphasis on community service and volunteerism. The university offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in service projects both on and off campus, including alternative spring break trips and local volunteer organizations. Additionally, UT Austin has a strong commitment to sustainability, with initiatives such as a campus bike share program and a focus on reducing waste and energy consumption.

Cornell, on the other hand, is known for its rigorous academic programs and research opportunities. The university has a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, with resources such as the Cornell Center for Innovative Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations and the Cornell Entrepreneurship Network. Additionally, Cornell has a beautiful campus with stunning natural surroundings, including gorges and waterfalls that are popular spots for hiking and outdoor recreation.

Admissions Rates and Acceptance Criteria: UT Austin vs. Cornell

Admission to both universities is highly competitive. UT Austin has an acceptance rate of around 32%, while Cornell has an acceptance rate of around 11%. Both universities have similar academic requirements, including high GPAs and test scores. Nevertheless, Cornell has a heavier emphasis on research experience and extracurricular involvement, while UT Austin seeks well-rounded candidates with diverse interests and strengths beyond academics.

It is important to note that both universities also consider factors such as essays, letters of recommendation, and demonstrated leadership skills. UT Austin places a strong emphasis on essays, seeking candidates who can articulate their goals and aspirations clearly and concisely. Cornell, on the other hand, values letters of recommendation highly, as they provide insight into a candidate’s character and potential for success in a rigorous academic environment.

Additionally, both universities offer various programs and resources to support their students’ academic and personal growth. UT Austin has a robust honors program, which provides students with smaller class sizes, research opportunities, and specialized advising. Cornell, on the other hand, has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, offering programs such as the First-Generation and Low-Income Student Support Program and the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives to support students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Cost of Attendance: Comparing Tuition, Fees, and Living Expenses at UT Austin vs Cornell

Both universities are expensive, and the cost of attending them is a significant factor that should be considered when deciding where to enroll. At UT Austin, tuition and fees for in-state residents come to around $11,000 per year, while out-of-state tuition and fees are around $38,000 per year. Undergraduate tuition and fees at Cornell average out to around $60,000 per year. Additionally, the cost of living in Austin is lower than in Ithaca, so students at UT Austin can save money on expenses like rent and food.

View of a woman using a laptop.

However, it is important to note that Cornell offers more financial aid and scholarship opportunities than UT Austin. This means that even though the tuition and fees are higher at Cornell, some students may end up paying less overall due to the financial aid they receive. UT Austin also offers financial aid and scholarships, but they may not be as generous as those offered by Cornell.

Another factor to consider is the quality of education and resources available at each university. Cornell is a prestigious Ivy League institution with a strong reputation for academic excellence, while UT Austin is a well-respected public university with a diverse student body and a wide range of academic programs. Students should research the specific programs and resources available at each university to determine which one is the best fit for their academic and career goals.

Research Opportunities at UT Austin and Cornell

Both universities take research seriously, and students can expect ample opportunities to be involved in various research projects. UT Austin is home to over 100 research centers and institutes, including the Texas Advanced Computing Center and the Marine Science Institute. Meanwhile, Cornell is known for its agricultural research and has been a leader in the field since the late 1800s. Students at both universities can expect to work on cutting-edge research projects and conduct experiments alongside leading academics in their fields.

At UT Austin, students can also participate in interdisciplinary research through the Bridging Barriers program, which brings together researchers from different fields to tackle complex problems. This program has led to breakthroughs in areas such as cancer research and sustainable energy. Additionally, UT Austin has partnerships with major research institutions such as NASA and the National Institutes of Health, providing students with even more opportunities to get involved in groundbreaking research.

Cornell, on the other hand, has a strong focus on sustainability and environmental research. The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future brings together researchers from across the university to address global challenges such as climate change and food security. Cornell also has a world-renowned veterinary college, which conducts research on animal health and disease. Students interested in these areas can work alongside experts in the field and contribute to important research projects.

Faculty Comparison: Which University Has the Best Professors?

Both schools have exceptional faculties, featuring some of the most knowledgeable and renowned scholars in their fields. UT Austin boasts of more than 3,000 faculty members, sixty-six of whom are members of the National Academy of Engineering or the National Academy of Sciences. The faculty at Cornell has created eight Nobel laureates and is known for its distinguished scholars, including physicist Richard Feynman and psychologist Abraham Maslow.

However, when it comes to student-faculty ratio, UT Austin has a slight advantage with a ratio of 18:1 compared to Cornell’s ratio of 9:1. This means that UT Austin students have more opportunities to interact with their professors and receive personalized attention. Additionally, UT Austin has a strong emphasis on undergraduate education, with many professors dedicating their time to teaching and mentoring students. Overall, while both universities have exceptional faculties, UT Austin’s focus on undergraduate education and lower student-faculty ratio may give it an edge in terms of professor quality.

Sports Culture at UT Austin vs. Cornell

Sports are an integral part of both universities’ campus life. At UT Austin, the Texas Longhorns compete in the NCAA Division I in football, basketball, baseball, and many other sports. Cornell has a long-standing tradition of successful athletics, and its teams compete in NCAA Division I in basketball, ice hockey, and lacrosse, among other sports. The cultural differences between Texas and New York are reflected in their school spirit and sports cultures.

A ball thrown on a basket in a covered court.

One notable difference between the sports cultures at UT Austin and Cornell is the level of fan participation. At UT Austin, football games are a major event, with thousands of fans filling the stadium and tailgating beforehand. The student section, known as the “Bleacher Creatures,” is particularly enthusiastic and often leads chants and cheers throughout the game. At Cornell, while there is still a strong fan base, the level of participation is not quite as high. This may be due in part to the colder climate in Ithaca, which can make attending outdoor sporting events less appealing. However, Cornell students still show their support for their teams in other ways, such as attending watch parties or participating in intramural sports.

Career Prospects for Graduates of UT Austin and Cornell

Both schools have a long history of producing successful graduates who excel in their fields. The universities have strong alumni networks that offer career support and opportunities. UT Austin graduates boast of impressive job placement rates, with over 85% achieving employment within a year of graduation. Cornell graduates have similar success rates, with over 90% obtaining jobs or continuing their education within a year of graduation.

Furthermore, both UT Austin and Cornell offer a wide range of career services to their students, including career fairs, job search workshops, and resume reviews. These services help students prepare for the job market and connect with potential employers. Additionally, both universities have strong partnerships with industry leaders, providing students with internship and job opportunities.

It is also worth noting that graduates from both schools have gone on to achieve great success in various industries. For example, UT Austin alumni include Michael Dell, founder of Dell Technologies, and Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil. Cornell alumni include Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former Supreme Court Justice, and Christopher Reeve, actor and activist. These successful alumni serve as inspiration for current students and demonstrate the potential for a bright future after graduation.

Alumni Networks: Comparing the Benefits of a Degree from UT Austin vs. Cornell

Both schools have extensive alumni networks and offer their graduates a range of resources and opportunities. UT Austin has a robust Career Services department that includes internship opportunities, career counseling, and networking events. Cornell’s Alumni Affairs and Development offers comprehensive career resources, mentorship programs, and support for students interested in entrepreneurship or starting their own businesses.

However, there are some differences between the alumni networks of UT Austin and Cornell. UT Austin’s alumni network is particularly strong in the state of Texas, with many graduates holding influential positions in industries such as oil and gas, technology, and healthcare. This can be a significant advantage for graduates looking to start their careers in Texas or those interested in networking with professionals in these industries.

On the other hand, Cornell’s alumni network is more global in scope, with graduates spread out across the United States and around the world. This can be beneficial for graduates who are interested in pursuing careers in international business or who want to connect with alumni in different regions of the world. Additionally, Cornell’s alumni network is known for its strong connections to the finance and consulting industries, which can be advantageous for graduates interested in these fields.

Diversity and Inclusivity: A Comparison of the Campus Communities at UT Austin vs Cornell

Both schools are committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive campus environment that embraces diversity. UT Austin has the largest Hispanic and Latino student population in the US and is well-known for its inclusive atmosphere. Cornell has a diverse student body, with students and faculty from over 100 countries. The university has numerous programs that celebrate diversity and inclusivity, such as the Diversity and Inclusion Program, which hosts guest speakers and events to encourage open dialogue around social issues.

Group of students staring at a laptop while talking.

Despite their shared commitment to diversity and inclusivity, there are some notable differences between the campus communities at UT Austin and Cornell. For example, UT Austin has a higher percentage of first-generation college students, which can present unique challenges related to access and support. In contrast, Cornell has a higher percentage of international students, who may face additional barriers related to language and cultural differences.

Both schools have taken steps to address these challenges and ensure that all students feel supported and included. UT Austin offers a range of resources for first-generation students, including mentorship programs and academic support services. Cornell has a dedicated Office of Global Learning, which provides resources and support for international students, as well as opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and learning.

International Student Experience: How UT Austin Compares to Cornell

Both schools boast of international student populations, with students from all over the world attending classes. UT Austin has over 8,000 international students from over 120 countries. The university has numerous programs and resources to help international students, including the International Office, which helps with visas and immigration issues. Cornell also has a large international student population, with around 21% of students coming from outside the United States. The university provides significant support for international students, including cultural adjustment programs, language resources, and visa and immigration services.

Despite the similarities in their international student populations, there are some notable differences between UT Austin and Cornell. For example, UT Austin has a larger number of international students, which can make it easier for students to find a community of peers from their home country. On the other hand, Cornell’s smaller international student population may provide a more intimate and personalized experience for international students.

Another difference between the two universities is the location. UT Austin is located in Austin, Texas, which is known for its warm weather and vibrant music scene. Cornell, on the other hand, is located in Ithaca, New York, which is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. International students may have different preferences when it comes to location, and should consider these factors when choosing between the two universities.

Technology Infrastructure: A Look into IT Services Available at UT Austin and Cornell

Both universities have made significant investments in technology, providing students with access to cutting-edge resources for learning and research. UT Austin has implemented a range of technology services aimed at enhancing education, including Canvas, Virtual Private Network (VPN), and Learning Management Systems (LMS). Cornell has a robust IT department that offers a range of services, including email, wireless access, printing services, and collaborative software like Zoom and DropBox.

Additionally, UT Austin has a dedicated IT support team that provides assistance to students, faculty, and staff with any technology-related issues. The team offers support for hardware and software issues, network connectivity, and cybersecurity. They also provide training and workshops on various technology tools and services available on campus.

Cornell, on the other hand, has a unique program called the Cornell Tech Campus, which is located in New York City. The campus focuses on technology and entrepreneurship, offering programs in areas such as computer science, business, and law. The campus has state-of-the-art facilities, including a high-tech classroom, a startup studio, and a product studio, providing students with hands-on experience in technology and innovation.

Sustainability Efforts: How UT Austin vs Cornell Are Making an Impact on the Environment

Both universities are committed to creating a more sustainable world and reducing their carbon footprint. UT Austin has implemented numerous programs and initiatives aimed at sustainability, such as its Green Fee program, which funds energy-saving projects and sustainable initiatives on campus. Cornell is known for its commitment to sustainability, with the university frequently ranking among the top 10 green universities in the country. The university has implemented numerous sustainability programs, including a campus-wide composting program and the creation of numerous LEED-certified buildings on campus.

Students walking in the school campus.

UT Austin has also implemented a bike-sharing program, which allows students and faculty to rent bikes for free, reducing the need for cars on campus. Additionally, the university has installed solar panels on several buildings, generating renewable energy and reducing its reliance on non-renewable sources.

Cornell has taken a unique approach to sustainability by incorporating it into its curriculum. The university offers numerous courses and programs focused on sustainability, including a minor in sustainability studies. Cornell also has a sustainability research program, which focuses on finding innovative solutions to environmental challenges. Through these efforts, Cornell is not only reducing its own carbon footprint but also educating and inspiring the next generation of sustainability leaders.


Overall, both UT Austin and Cornell University are top-tier institutions that offer students a range of academic opportunities, campus experiences, and career prospects. While the two universities are distinct in many ways, both have a commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming campus environment that fosters growth and success for every student. Ultimately, the best choice depends on a student’s goals and priorities, and we hope this comparison has provided you with a comprehensive overview of both universities.

It is important to note that both UT Austin and Cornell University have strong alumni networks that can provide valuable connections and resources for students after graduation. UT Austin has a large alumni base in Texas and beyond, with notable alumni including former First Lady Laura Bush and actor Matthew McConaughey. Cornell University also has a strong alumni network, with notable alumni including former Vice President Joe Biden and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of extracurricular activities and organizations for students to get involved in outside of academics. UT Austin has over 1,300 student organizations, ranging from cultural and political groups to sports and recreational clubs. Cornell University also has a diverse range of student organizations, including a strong Greek life presence and a variety of academic and interest-based clubs.


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