Cornell College application options

Cornell’s application process is strengths-based, and who knows your strengths better than you? Each application is test-optional, so whichever path you take you can choose to submit the materials that show us why you’re a great fit for Cornell.

Cornell Application
With the online Cornell Application, you submit:
Common Application

With the Common Application, you will submit:

  • ACT/SAT*, or for a no-test score application, you may submit a portfolio
  • High school transcript
  • Personal essay
  • 2 short answer questions for no-test applicants
  • Teacher recommendations (optional)

*Your composite ACT or SAT score, which may be listed on your transcript. If not, you'll need to request an official copy from the testing agency.

Test scores or no test score?

Standardized tests (ACT/SAT) can help us get a feel for how well you’re likely to perform at Cornell, but for some students they’re not the best way to tell us how you’ll fit in our community and learning environment, so Cornell has made our application process test-optional (here's what to expect if you choose the no test score option).

If you elect to apply without test scores we will be evaluating your application around the same criteria as those who enter test scores, we’ll just expect you to complete two extra questions and submit a portfolio for us to review. Our counselors pay special attention to your GPA, the coursework you’ve taken, and what your extra answers and portfolio can tell us about your personal sense of motivation and how well you’d fit with Cornell’s values.

Why portfolios?

Whether you apply using the Cornell Application or the Common Application, you have the option to submit a portfolio instead of test scores or in addition to your test scores to showcase your skills, talents, and why you’ll flourish here. Use the portfolio to show us what you do to excel—maybe it’s a photo journal of a community project you led, a portfolio of your paintings or drawings, a recording of you performing on stage, or something so creative we don’t even know it exists.

Getting started

Whichever options you choose, you have our official permission to have fun and get creative. If you aren’t sure where to start, create a personal portfolio with ZeeMee.

Scholarship consideration starts now

When you submit your application for admission to Cornell, you will automatically be considered for academic merit scholarships. Upon receiving your acceptance letter, we will also inform you of your academic scholarship.

Unless otherwise notified, Cornell will wait to receive your Free Application for Federal Student Aid to prepare your financial assistance package in March.  Please file the FAFSA as soon after January 1 as possible—our  FAFSA code is 001856. If your family does not plan to file the FAFSA, let us know and we’ll prepare your financial assistance package immediately.

Application deadlines and notification

After you have submitted all of your application materials, expect to hear from us within two weeks with a decision. 

Application Deadline Deposit Deadline
Early Decision Nov. 1 Jan. 15
Early Action
Dec. 1 May 1
Early Decision 2 Feb. 1 April 1
Regular Decision
Feb. 1 May 1
Late Applications See below

Early Decision (ED1)

If Cornell is your first choice, we encourage you to complete a binding Early Decision Agreement when you apply. By applying ED by Nov. 1, you will receive early notification of admission and scholarship consideration. If you apply ED and are admitted to the college, you must submit a $300 non-refundable deposit postmarked by Jan. 15 and withdraw any applications to other schools.

Early Action (EA)

If you would like to learn of your admission status as early as possible but are still considering other colleges, you must postmark your application by Dec. 1 to be considered as an Early Action (EA) applicant. By applying EA, you will receive priority admission and scholarship consideration. If you apply EA and are admitted to the college, your $300 deposit is due by May 1.

Early Decision 2 (ED2)

If Cornell is your first choice, we encourage you to complete a binding Early Decision Agreement when you apply. This option allows you to submit a seventh semester transcript or a later SAT/ACT score with your application materials. If you apply ED2 and are admitted to the college, you must submit a $300 non-refundable deposit postmarked by April 1 and withdraw any applications to other schools.

Regular Decision (RD)

Regular Decision applicants will be notified of their admission status no later than April 1. If you apply RD and are admitted to the college,your $300 deposit is due by May 1.

Late Applications

The Admission Office will continue to accept late applications on a space-available basis after the stated application deadlines. Please contact your admission counselor for more information.