Cornell Early Decision Acceptance Rate & Decision Date

Founded in 1865, Cornell University is one of the few private land-grant institutions. Cornell also belongs to the even more rarified group of Ivy League schools, that elite conference that includes heavy-hitters like Yale and Harvard.

While not quite as famous as these prestigious sisters, Cornell University has a stellar reputation for training the best in the arts and entertainment. 

Alumni of Cornell include Nobel laureates such as Pearl S. Buck and Toni Morrison, and actors Christopher Reeve and Wizard of Oz star Frank Morgan.

Don’t be fooled by this reputation. Cornell also does first-class work in the sciences. In fact, Cornell sends more undergraduates into STEM Ph.D. programs than any other program in the world. To that end, Cornell spends $984.5 million on research yearly.

Cornell has worked on unmanned Mars missions and high-powered telescopes for deep-space observation with that funding.

With such amazing resources, it’s no wonder that thousands of people apply to attend Cornell University every year. 

But for even these high-functioning students, it can be hard to wait. That’s why Cornell offers an Early Decision application.

Early Decision applications are exactly what they sound like. They let students hear the school’s decision earlier than normal. 

While this can be a great benefit, it also requires certain special circumstances, explained below.

Cornell Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Cornell University
Dantes De MonteCristo, Cornell University, CC BY-SA 4.0

The early decision acceptance rate at Cornell University is 23.8%.

For the Fall 2021 semester, 6,615 applicants took advantage of Cornell University’s Early Decision option. Out of that group, 1,754 received offers of admission.

To be sure, that is a high number. But the number should not come as a surprise. After all, Cornell tends to be less competitive than its Ivy sisters.

Overall, Cornell accepted 5,889 of the 47,038 of those who apply for an acceptance rate of 12.5%, the least exclusive among the Ivies.

Why does Cornell have a higher Early Decision acceptance rate than its regular acceptance rate? Is it because Early Decision applicants are smarter?

Not really.

Applying to any college, but especially an Ivy like Cornell requires much work and preparation. Those who manage to complete that work at a high level and early must be among the most dedicated and focused.

Do not take this to mean that those who apply at the regular deadline or somehow lazy or unprepared. 

However, the Early Decision deadline tends to have a higher percentage of top-level students, while those not suitable for Cornell are more likely to apply at the regular deadline.

However, no one should worry that the competition in Early Decision applications is too high or that they’ll be perceived as lazy if they use the regular decision deadline. In nearly every case, your application will stand on its own, regardless of when you apply.

Cornell Early Decision Decision Date

Cornell University informs its Early Decision applicants of acceptance, denial, or deferral sometime in mid-December. For the Fall 2021 semester, Cornell made its decisions available via its application portal by 7 pm EST on December 17th.

Unsurprisingly that decision date comes much earlier than those for regular decision applicants. Those applying on the standard timeline receive an answer from Cornell in early April, several months later.

This difference underscores the key advantage of Early Decision applications: you get a much quicker decision answer.

But the other advantage is less obvious. Those accepted during the Early Decision application have far more time to submit their own decisions.

Regardless of which application method you use, you must confirm acceptance by May 1st. With more than five months before that date, Early Decision applicants can consider all of their options. 

This is especially helpful for the fortunate few who have several potential schools to choose from.

Cornell Early Decision Deadline

Cornell University
LBM1948, Cornell University Arts Quad view, CC BY-SA 4.0

The deadline for applying for Early Decision admission at Cornell University is November 1st each year.

As you can probably see, the advantage of applying for Early Decision is that hopefuls don’t have to wait as long before they get an answer from the school. 

However, the downside to the process is the shortened window to prepare application materials.

For that reason, anyone considering an Early Decision application must know what is expected of them. 

Cornell doesn’t cut any breaks for you just because you want to do an Early Decision application. You’ll be expected to do the same as a regular admission applicant, just on a much shorter timeline.

At Cornell, regular admission applicants have until January 2nd to submit their materials. On paper, there may not seem like much difference between November 1st and January 2nd. After all, it’s just three months.

But when you are gathering materials, writing your application essay, or waiting on other schools to provide the necessary paperwork, you’ll want all the time you can get.

Those three months can feel like a year. If you’re rushing to get everything together by the earlier deadline, you run the risk of making a mistake, which could sink your chances.

The stakes are even higher when you remember that this is your one chance to apply. If Cornell denies your Early Decision application, you may not then fill out a regular application. You only get one shot.

Does Cornell Have Early Decision 2?

No, Cornell does not have an Early Decision 2 option.

Some schools offer an Early Decision 2 option. This option involves a second deadline, usually closer to the regular deadline, by which students can apply and still receive an early decision. 

In most cases, the Early Decision 2 option results in a later decision announcement, only slightly earlier than the regular decision announcement.

For example, at NYU students who submit their paperwork by January 1st, only four days before the standard January 5th deadline, are considered Early Decision II applicants. 

They will learn of the school’s decision by February 14th, well before the standard decision date of March 15th.

While it is easy to imagine the benefits of such an option, the risks may outweigh to reward. It is certainly nice to learn the school’s decision a month in advance. But because the application must be finished early, hopefuls run the risk of making a mistake and putting their position in jeopardy.

For those reasons, Cornell only offers one Early Decision option.

Cornell ED Deferral Rate

Cornell University Risley Hall
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Risley Hall, Cornell University, CC BY-SA 4.0

In 2021, Cornell University had an Early Decision deferral rate of 23.6%.

A deferral occurs when the university decides to wait on making a decision about an Early Decision applicant. 

At Cornell, deferral means that an Early Decision application is treated as a regular admission applicant. Thus, they will not receive their decision announcement until mid-December.

To be sure, those who are deferred feel some disappointment. 

After all, they went through all of the hard work of applying before the regular deadline, but they don’t get to enjoy any of the benefits. 

Actually, those who get deferred from Early Decision have it even worse, as they wait the longest of any group applying to Cornell.

But it’s important to remember why Cornell has deferred the decision. If the school cannot decide if a student should be accepted or denied, they move them into the regular applicant pool for more evaluation.

To put it another way, deferment is a second chance for Early Decision applicants. Rather than deny their application, the admissions committee looks to see if fewer strong candidates come in through the regular deadline pool. 

If there is still enough room for the deferred student, then they will get accepted into the school.

How to Apply to Cornell for Early Decision

To apply for Early Decision at Cornell University, you must submit all of your application materials by November 1st.

Every college application takes a lot of work, regardless of what type of decision you’re applying to get. Fortunately, those hoping for an Early Decision need not do any extra work. As long as they submit all of their materials by November 1st, they will be considered for Early Decision.

However, that isn’t as easy as it might seem at first. To get admission into an Ivy League institution, even one as open as Cornell, you have to prepare excellent materials.

Cornell requires hopefuls to complete an online Common Application and pay the $80.00 application fee. Students must also send to the school transcripts, a mid-semester report, and a recommendation from the school counselor.

Cornell further requires two evaluations from teachers as well as a supplemental essay.

While Cornell does not require standardized tests from applicants, they must be submitted by the November 1st deadline from anyone who would like to include them.

For some programs, you must also provide a portfolio or audition materials. These must be submitted by their own deadlines, provided by the specific school or department.

In short, Early Decision applications demand a lot of high-quality information in a short amount of time. But if you’re a dedicated student and highly organized, then Early Decision may be the best option for you.