What are the Best Majors at Cornell?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of Cornel University during daytime.

What are the Best Majors at Cornell?

What are the best Majors at Cornell? Cornell University is a member of the Ivy League, a private institution of higher education that was established in 1865 and can be found in Ithaca, New York. Since it was first established, the institution’s primary mission has been to educate students who will make significant contributions to society in all areas of research and scholarship.

The study of agriculture was among the early programs that drew students to Cornell, and it is still one of the university’s most popular majors today. However, Cornell’s excellence isn’t limited to agriculture alone; the university boasts a multitude of graduates in biological sciences, business management, engineering, and social sciences.

front view of Cornell University surrounded by trees

With close to eighty designated majors, dual-degree offerings, and a plethora of interdisciplinary subjects that bridge traditional departmental boundaries, Cornell presents a rich academic tapestry. Below are some highlighted academic realms within Cornell University:

Civil Engineering

Civil engineers can best be described as the backbone of innovation and entrepreneurship. They not only blueprint but also bring to life infrastructures ranging from roller coasters and bridges to dams and concert stages. These engineers develop complex systems like transportation networks, water distribution, and even software for managing engineering projects. Furthermore, they are also at the forefront of designing waste remediation, water treatment, and various environmental protection structures.


Delving into economics offers a vast spectrum of courses covering areas such as econometrics, monetary systems, global economics, historical economic events, development strategies, and organizational economics. One emerging focus is behavioral economics, which enriches traditional economic perspectives by merging psychological insights. There’s also a novel seminar fostering interdisciplinary collaboration between economists and psychologists.

Computer Sciences

Computer science majors encompass studying algorithms, logical structures, programming dialects, systems, and foundational theories. Elective courses introduce students to artificial intelligence, computer imagery, encryption, database systems, and networking.

Biology & Society

This interdisciplinary field blends biological sciences with ethical and societal implications of contemporary biological discoveries. Alongside core biological knowledge, students grasp the societal aspects of modern biology and the biological nuances of today’s societal issues. This major is available to students across the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, catering especially to those eyeing careers in law, medicine, public policy, and more.

Agricultural Sciences

In our rapidly evolving world, food and agriculture are central, presenting critical challenges. The future of agriculture relies on the next wave of leaders, innovators, and educators. Cornell stands among the top-tier universities for agricultural sciences. As one of the best majors offered at Cornell, the program lets students customize their focus, offering tracks in animal science, sustainable agriculture, business policies, and more. The curriculum offers a balanced blend of agricultural system science, environmental concerns, leadership training, and hands-on experiences.


Sociology majors delve into basic sciences and explore policy impacts on education and the public. Research areas span gender disparities, economic patterns, drug trends, and institutional dynamics. The program sharpens students’ research skills, both in data-driven and qualitative areas, while grounding them in sociological perspectives and societal intricacies.


Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning champions architecture as a discipline that melds creative design with impactful outcomes. The program emphasizes design as an iterative, holistic process underpinned by research, environmental responsibility, and visionary thinking. It fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration, grounding students in a diverse set of skills including historical perspectives, structural design, environmental systems, and visual arts.


From its early days, Cornell has emphasized the study of communication as a pivotal facet of social sciences. One of the popular majors at Cornell, students gain insights into audience dynamics, message crafting, and interaction with various communication mediums. With a focus on media, science, and technological landscapes, the curriculum cultivates leadership competencies.

Communication, at its core, aims to influence and is contextualized within social fabrics – communities, corporations, nations, and global societies. Supported by advanced technology, it remains a social construct. Here, students not only gain a robust theoretical foundation but also engage in impactful, real-world research on pressing social topics.

Remember, the “best” major often depends on an individual’s career goals, interests, and academic strengths. While Cornell has numerous strong programs, it’s essential for students to choose a path that aligns with their ambitions and passions.

How Do You Decide on Your Major?

Browsing majors at Cornell or any other school is one of the most critical choices a potential college student must face early on.

Deciding on a major is an essential and sometimes challenging decision, as it can set the trajectory for your academic and professional journey. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed choice:

Three students using a laptop in a table.


  • Interests: Reflect on what you genuinely enjoy. Consider subjects you’ve loved in school or topics you like reading or learning about in your free time.
  • Strengths: Analyze your academic strengths. Are you more inclined toward arts, sciences, mathematics, or social studies? Which subjects come naturally to you?
  • Values: Think about what matters most to you in a career. Is it money, work-life balance, helping others, or creative expression?
  • Personality: Some people are naturally inclined toward certain careers based on their temperament. Tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the Holland Code (RIASEC) can help you understand your personality type and the careers that might be a good fit.

Research Potential Majors

  • Course Content: Look at the curriculum for potential majors. Which one excites you the most?
  • Career Paths: Research the typical careers that graduates from each major pursue.
  • Industry Growth: Look into industries that are growing and those that may offer ample opportunities in the future.

Seek Advice

  • Academic Advisors: They can provide insights into various majors, their requirements, and potential career paths.
  • Professionals: Talk to people who are currently in careers that you’re considering. Ask them about their day-to-day tasks, the pros and cons of their job, and their journey to that position.
  • Peers: Discuss with friends or seniors. They might provide a different perspective and share their reasons for choosing their majors.

Practical Experience

  • Internships: They offer a taste of what working in a particular field might be like.
  • Part-time Jobs: Similar to internships, they give you hands-on experience and can help you gauge your interest in a field.
  • Volunteer Work: This can be an excellent way to explore industries like non-profits, education, or healthcare.

Consider Future Study

  • Think about whether you intend to pursue graduate studies. Some careers may require advanced degrees. The major you choose as an undergraduate could affect your readiness or eligibility for certain graduate programs.

Flexibility and Double Majors

  • Some students opt for double majors or choose a major with a broad base, allowing them to keep their options open.
  • If you’re torn between two fields, a double major or a major-minor combination might be the best solution.

Reevaluate Over Time

  • It’s okay to change your mind. As you grow and learn more about yourself and your interests, you might find that a different major is a better fit.
  • Many students switch their majors after their first year, once they’ve had a chance to take a broader range of courses.

Visualize Your Future

  • Imagine your life 5, 10, or even 20 years later. Where do you see yourself? What are you doing? Sometimes this long-term vision can help pinpoint which major aligns with your aspirations.

Avoid Peer Pressure

  • While it’s good to seek advice, don’t choose a major solely based on where your friends are heading or what your parents want. It’s your journey and should align with your personal and professional desires.

Trust Yourself

  • While gathering information and seeking advice are crucial, at the end of the day, trust your gut feeling. No one knows you better than you do.

Remember, while your major can influence your career path, it doesn’t define it entirely. Many professionals end up in careers that aren’t directly related to their major. The skills and experiences you gain in college, combined with your passions and life experiences, will shape your professional journey.

What are Your Chances of Getting Into Cornell?

Cornell, being an Ivy League institution, is renowned for its competitive admission process, with its acceptance rate often dropping to single digits. While many aspiring candidates may perceive it as a highly elusive institution, it’s crucial to strategize efficiently if you aim for a spot. With an increasing number of students vying for admission to Cornell, it’s imperative to stand out with excellent grades and top-notch scores if you’re taking the Cornell SAT.

Students taking an exam on their desks in a classroom.

For the class of 2025, Cornell University set a record with an acceptance rate of just 8.7%, marking it as one of the toughest years in its recent history for admissions.

Interestingly, 84.2% of those who applied for the class of 2025 were among the top 10% of their high school graduating class.

For the same class, Cornell didn’t mandate SAT scores for admission, but if provided, they were factored into the decision-making process. The SAT scores for the 50th percentile ranged from 1450-1560, while for the ACT, the range was 33-35.

Securing a spot at Cornell is undeniably challenging. For those with a vision of attending this prestigious institution, it’s crucial to embark on this rigorous journey early. Excelling in standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, and performing consistently in high school is vital. Crafting a compelling essay and leveraging available resources, both in school and the broader community, can also bolster your application.

Cornell attracts applications from tens of thousands of hopeful students each year, but only a fraction succeed in securing a place. However, the determination and hard work invested in getting into Cornell can potentially open doors to other renowned institutions, rewarding your efforts and merits.

If you need help in choosing among the best majors at Cornell or if you need help putting the finishing touches on your college applications,  at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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