One Course At A Time

With the distinctive One Course At A Time curriculum, Cornell students immerse themselves in just one academic discipline per three-and-a-half-week block. This focus makes it possible for professors to go beyond the traditional lecture format through extended discussions and labs, all day simulations, and off-campus learning for an afternoon or an entire block without competing with other classes. Over the past four years, Cornell faculty taught 70 off-campus courses. And students can easily take a block to gain experience through internships.

National recognition

  • Cornell is one of the original 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s book “Colleges That Change Lives.”
  • U.S. News and World Report ranks Cornell in the top 100 national liberal arts colleges, with our rank improving each year for the past 6 years, we're currently ranked #68 for 2020 which tracks with implementation of our strategic objectives.
  • Cornell was ranked 64th in U.S. News' list of Best Value Schools
  • 16 Cornellians have been awarded Fulbright scholarships in the past 12 years. In addition two Cornell faculty received Fulbright Awards for scholarship travel in 2016 and 2017.
  • Cornell’s campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Programs of study

The college offers more than 40 academic majors and pre-professional programs, and an unlimited number of individualized majors. In addition, the Cornell Summer Research Institute provides a summer living-learning community fostering research in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences.


The college is located in Mount Vernon, Iowa, a town whose urban fringe atmosphere brings the best of the city into a small town venue with art festivals, popular local restaurants and cafés, and quirky boutiques. Mount Vernon’s mix of historic buildings and creative flair earned it accolades as one of “America's Coolest Small Towns” by Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel magazine.

Commitment to the liberal arts

In a world where graduates will be employed in roles that don't yet exist, liberal arts learning is more practical than training in a specific skill that may become obsolete. A liberal arts education emphasizes forming independent thought, articulating convincing arguments, and developing tools for lifelong learning.


Admission to Cornell is selective and based on academic ability and preparedness, personal character, and meaningful extracurricular involvement. The Class of 2021 had middle 50% scores of 3.12-3.89 GPA, 23-29 ACT, and 1108-1328 SAT.

Costs & financial aid

Tuition for 2019-2020 is $43,550, and the total for all fees, including room and board, is $53,736. A majority of our students receive need-based financial assistance in the form of grants, loans, and jobs. Scholarships are awarded, regardless of need, to students with high academic ability or special talents in music, theatre, or art.


Cornell professors are accomplished researchers, scholars, and above all, mentors. Ninety-eight percent of the college's tenure-track faculty hold the highest degree in their fields. The faculty-student ratio is 1:11, and many students work closely with faculty members on research or other projects.


Cornell's student body includes 1,000 students from 42 states and 17 foreign countries. The college actively cultivates diversity among its student population, and 21 percent are students of color.

Class size

The average class has 16 students, though many upper-level courses are significantly smaller. Most classes are capped at 25 students.


Campus life

Life at Cornell is active and diverse. Students participate in numerous clubs, organizations, and special-interest groups. 19 percent of students participate in the fine arts. 36 percent of students participate in intercollegiate athletics. 

A residential campus

92 percent of students live on campus. All first year residence halls were renovated in 2015 and include spacious community areas with different themes in each hall. Upperclassmen stay on campus and join Living & Learning Communities, live in suite-style halls, and more.


Students dine at the nationally recognized Hilltop Café and Zamora’s Market, featuring food from Bon Appétit, a food management company dedicated to health and sustainability.  Cornell's dining was ranked #20 by in 2016, and was the only Iowa college service given an "A" grade on PETA's Vegan Report Card.


Cornell is a founding member of the Midwest Conference of NCAA Division III, and approximately one-third of the student body competes in one or more of 19 sports