Cornell University has long been regarded as one of the top engineering schools among its peers. Ezra Cornell, the founder of the Ivy League institution, was a self-taught engineer during the second Industrial Revolution.
In the past 150 years, Cornell faculty and alumni have paved the way in eliminating greenhouse gases from the environment, extracting big data for high-level decision-making, and understanding the massive-scale complex motions of plasmas within interstellar space, to name but a few incredible achievements.
Situated within 2,000+ acres in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Cornell’s landscape is just as dazzling to potential students as its majors, minors, and 100+ interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and laboratories.
Students can hike adjacent to more than 150 waterfalls or visit the many wineries and breweries unique to the region (providing they’re 21 and up, of course).
The future is indeed bright for Cornell engineering graduates, with nearly 140,000 new jobs forecast for engineers between 2016 and 2026.
A Cornell education will undoubtedly warrant further investigation by hiring companies and executives who will be tasked with making distinctions among many talented applicants.
In the following article, we’ll share the most up-to-date available information regarding the acceptance rate of Cornell’s College of Engineering and the rankings and descriptions of their various majors.
We’ll detail each admission requirement – including the benefits of applying early decision – before concluding with a few additional reasons why Cornell may be the best school to attain your engineering degree as an undergraduate.
Cornell Engineering Acceptance Rate
The acceptance rate into Cornell for engineering is 5.2%, based on Cornell Engineering admissions statistics for the incoming class of 2025.
The department received more than 17,000 applications and accepted 890 students into the program, over 100 more than they typically admit.
More than half of accepted engineering students were admitted in Cornell’s early decision round.
Of those accepted, 27.6% are members of historically underrepresented demographics in collegiate engineering programs, and over 20% are first-generation college attendees.
Engineering undergraduates at Cornell can choose to specialize in one of 14 different majors, such as earth and atmospheric sciences, civil engineering, and environmental engineering.
That said, more than half of students enrolled in Cornell’s engineering program are “unaffiliated,” meaning that they haven’t chosen to specialize in a given concentration.
While there is the option to pursue an independent engineering major, only 14 of 3,162 undergraduates did so in 2020.
Some engineering concentrations will inevitably be more popular – and thus, competitive – than others.
According to the most recent data, the overwhelming majority of engineering undergraduates focus in computer science engineering.
Mechanical engineering and electrical and computer engineering enroll less than half of the computer science cohort, though they are the next two most popular concentrations.
Good news for accepted engineering students – Cornell’s College of Engineering regularly awards credit for high scores on AP, IB, and dual-enrollment courses completed during secondary school.
Students can earn additional credit during fall orientation by taking the Cornell Advanced Standing Exam (CASE).
Cornell Engineering Ranking
Cornell’s College of Engineering has consistently earned high spots atop major ranking publications’ lists in the past several decades.
Overall, its College of Engineering is ranked #9 in the country, while specific majors are ranked even higher!
The Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering is currently positioned as the second-best of its kind in the United States.
A leader in interdisciplinary research and education in areas related to agriculture and the environment, the department readies students for careers in agriculture, biotechnology, energy, food systems, and the environment.
Undergraduates will gain hands-on experience in areas like soil and water management, sustainable agriculture, and renewable energy.
The Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Department was recently ranked #5 in the country.
On any given day, an undergraduate focusing in this engineering major might be conducting independent research, using computer-aided design technology, and solving complex problems faced by a range of industries, such as aerospace, energy, and automotive.
This concentration is an appealing option for students who yearn to gain experience in multiple sectors instead of focusing in just one realm.
Recently ranked #13 in the nation, the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering provides exciting experiential learning opportunities for Cornell engineering undergraduates.
Classes in transport phenomena, thermodynamics, and bioprocessing keep students engaged, in addition to collaborating with faculty on renewable energy research projects.
What are the Majors Available at Cornell College of Engineering?
Before we discuss some of the available majors that we haven’t yet mentioned at Cornell’s College of Engineering, we’ll first share that admitted engineering scholars are not required to declare their major until the second semester of their sophomore year.
The COE recognizes that many undergraduates may change their minds as they encounter new branches of engineering, and having the freedom to explore multiple disciplines within the overall umbrella of engineering is an asset.
Let’s explore some of the majors that attract many students that we haven’t yet covered, starting with the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Students declaring this major will have a literal blast as they work to design modern spacecraft using the principles of robotics, propulsion, and heat transfer.
Mathematically-minded students may pursue a major at the School of Operations Research and Information Engineering (ORIE).
Drawing upon foundational skills in machine learning, statistical interference, and linear and nonlinear programming, engineering undergraduates in this area can anticipate a broad appeal to employers in finance, healthcare, and telecommunications.
We couldn’t give an overview of Cornell engineering majors without mentioning the Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, bioengineers and biomedical engineers work in a field projected to grow by 10% between 2021 and 2031.
As of last year, the average salary for a biomedical engineer was just over $97,000 – this statistic alone may cause an undeclared Cornell engineering student to do a double-take!
Within Cornell’s biomedical engineering program, students will play an integral role in developing new technology used to improve healthcare outcomes.
From regenerative medicine and diagnostic tools to biosensors and cell and tissue engineering, program participants can expect to gain invaluable hands-on experience within Cornell’s state-of-the-art facilities.
Cornell Engineering Requirements
Before we delve into the specific requirements to gain admission to Cornell engineering, we want first to emphasize the importance of applying early decision.
Cornell’s early decision program represents a binding process in which a student must enroll upon receiving an admission notification.
The early decision application deadline is November 1, and early decision applicants will receive their admission notifications before the regular decision deadline of January 2.
There are several advantages to applying early decision, with the first being that ED applicants enjoy a higher rate of admission when compared to regular decision candidates.
Knowing that you’re accepted to Cornell before your final high school semester starts can significantly reduce potential stress as seniors strive to finish with a solid academic record. Additionally, admitted undergraduates will have more time to prepare for college life and tuition expenses.
To be eligible for admission, high school graduates must have completed four mathematics units, including one calculus credit.
An additional physics and chemistry course are also required. Several classes – like biology and computer science – are recommended but not mandatory; knowing how competitive the admissions process is will likely encourage hopefuls to earn top grades in these classes.
Students apply through the Common Application and submit an $80 fee or fee waiver request. A supplemental essay is required by the Cornell COE, which is the most important component of a submitted application.
All engineering school candidates are prompted to write two essays; the first is required, and the second provides option A or B. Applicants must limit their responses to 250 words each.
Cornell applicants should submit two teacher recommendations (one of which should be from a pre-calculus or calculus instructor from grades 11 or 12). The second letter can come from a teacher instructing any subject.
There are additional items that other parties will need to submit on an applicant’s behalf, including the Secondary School Report.
This document should contain a guidance counselor recommendation, school profile, and official academic transcript.
The Mid-Year Report is required, though ED applicants can submit a Quarter-Year Report. Those who are admitted will need to share a final grade report. All of these items are submitted by the student’s guidance counselor.
SAT, ACT, or other standardized tests are not considered for admission to Cornell University. Applicants should regularly check the school’s website, as this suspension currently applies through the incoming class of 2024.
In summary, the most crucial application materials include personal essay responses and a student’s academic record.
The admissions officers are looking for top grades in advanced-level math and science coursework, as these grades generally provide the best indication that one is ready to excel within Cornell’s engineering department.
Is Cornell the Right Choice for Engineering?
With the highest-ranked engineering program in the Ivy League, Cornell is an attractive option for many high-achieving secondary school seniors.
In addition to its 14 majors, the COE offers 22 minors, with ample opportunities to blend an education in engineering with immersion in other liberal arts areas.
While females are traditionally underrepresented in collegiate engineering programs, they may find a strong sense of camaraderie and community at Cornell.
In fact, the institution is the first engineering college of its (large) size to attain gender parity – the demographic ratio is perfectly split between 50% male and 50% female enrollees.
If you’re looking to gain plenty of hands-on experience with various engineering projects, Cornell’s faculty supervise more than 30 project teams.
With over 1,400 participating engineering majors, Cornell Engineering Project Teams send students to various building and design competitions at the local, regional, national, and global levels. Service learning is often a critical component of these endeavors.
There are also six clubs dedicated exclusively to engineering students at Cornell, providing an extensive support network for those who engage in rigorous yet thrilling coursework.
AguaClara gives members a chance to build water treatment plants in different areas around the world; to date, the organization and its members have supplied clean water to more than 50,000 people.
EYES – which stands for Encourage Young Enginers Scientists – is a student-led volunteer group that is passionate about promoting STEM activities to local students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Participants regularly visit these campuses to support students in completing exciting engineering-focused projects.