Cornell University Transfer Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

The transfer student is a unique individual that simultaneously has a lot going for them and against them. 

On the positive side, transfer students have an advantage over first-year students because they have had more time to experience higher education and establish their interests. 

Even better, they may have been able to take a not-so-stellar high school academic record and bolster it with top marks during their college experience.

On the downside, transfer students have the challenge of proving their worth in a way that first-years don’t. 

For example, there is no guarantee that the courses from a previous college will transfer to the new one. Transfers also have to explain what made them leave their former college and why they plan to stick it out at the new one. 

Being a transfer anywhere comes with these ups and downs, but those looking to attend Cornell will be happy to know that it is one of the more transfer-friendly Ivy League universities. 

Its vision for diversity and inclusion opens the door to students who might find themselves more limited at other Ivy Leagues. That said, as an Ivy League university, transfer students need to enter into the application process with realistic expectations. 

Academic excellence is at the top of the list when it comes to what Cornell is looking for in applicants. Successful applicants of Cornell are those who have succeeded in their studies, have participated in their communities, and who have identified their reason for pursuing an education with Cornell. 

Transfer students are no strangers to proving themselves, and the ideal transfer student is prepared with the documentation and experience that shows they are a strong candidate. 

Keeping all of this in mind, it is also necessary to know the bare bone facts of what it takes to apply to Cornell. 

Below are the basic steps and information that students need as they start to consider a transfer path to Cornell University. 

Cornell University Transfer Acceptance Rate

Cornell University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Cornell University Arts Quad from McGraw Tower, CC BY-SA 4.0

Based on the university’s Common Data Set, the average transfer acceptance rate for the Fall Semester at Cornell is around 17%. 

According to their admissions page, Cornell accepts around 500-600 transfers a year, which may seem low but is much better odds than Princeton’s mere 13

All transfers must have a proven history of academic excellence but how they choose to demonstrate that at Cornell is diverse. 

Students have the opportunity to transfer into eight different areas; among them is one of the best engineering programs in the US as well as a top-ranked hotel administration program. 

Researching a college program should be a lot like researching for a job. 

Students need to find out the vision of their program of interest, what the research focuses are, and what alumni of the program are doing. With this information in hand, students can craft a more informed and personalized application.

Application Requirements & GPA for Cornell University Transfers

There is no specified GPA requirement, but students need to understand that their academic record can make or break their chances of admission. 

Beyond grades, students are considered transfer students if they have completed high school or their GED and if they have at least 12 credits completed from another college or are enrolled full-time at another college. 

If a student meets these criteria, then the next step is the transfer version of the Common Application. 

Like most universities and colleges, Cornell uses the Common Application

Transfer students need to make sure to fill out the transfer version of the Common Application and include the $80 application fee (or waiver), the Cornell College Questions and Writing Supplement, an Academic Evaluation, College Report, and a Mid-term Report. 

Other required material that will need to be mailed separately includes transcripts. Students need to reach out to their high school and college to send both transcripts directly to the university. 

Usually, students have to include their SAT or ACT scores as well, but Cornell doesn’t require submission of these scores. 

Every student is required to carry out the above process, but depending on the program, there may be additional documents and steps that have to be taken. 

Students will need to do careful research into the program they want to enter and determine what that program requires for their admission process. Examples of other documents needed from specific programs are portfolios, past syllabi, and even interviews. 

Finally, students need to confirm that the program they wish to apply to takes applicants during the semester they are hoping to start in. 

For example, students who are hoping to get into The College of Engineering will be very disappointed if they are trying to get in during Spring because the program doesn’t accept transfer applicants until Fall.  

Cornell University Transfer Deadline

The application deadline for Fall applicants is March 15; for Spring applicants, the deadline to apply is October 15. 

These deadlines don’t just include the application materials – they also include financial aid. Students should have their FAFSA filled out and submitted by these deadlines so that the financial aid office can tell them as soon as possible how much aid they are eligible for. 

What is the Decision Date for Cornell Transfers?

If attending in Fall, acceptance letters will go out around May and June; if attending in Spring, acceptance letters will go out around November. 

Once the acceptance letters are out, students will need to give an answer about whether they will attend by July 1st for Fall and at the beginning of January for Spring. 

Deciding Whether You Should Transfer to Cornell University

Cornell University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Balch Hall, Cornell University front view, CC BY-SA 4.0

First, students should read What Cornell is Looking For

After reading this, students will see that this land-grant institution is looking for students that meet its vision to offer students from all backgrounds a shot at an Ivy League education. 

That said, an Ivy League institution has Ivy League expectations that students will need to meet. These expectations include an academic record that shows a passion for learning, proven involvement in activities beyond school, and values that align with Cornell’s. 

Each individual student has to answer these questions for themselves, but that doesn’t mean they can’t seek support in the process. 

Reaching out for support should always be the first step a student takes in the transfer process; thankfully, Cornell offers excellent student support services to help prospective students through the decision process.

RECAP: How to Apply As a Transfer Student to Cornell University

Step One: Determine Eligibility and the Appropriate Deadline

A student is considered a transfer student to Cornell if:

  • They have graduated high school and/or completed their GED;


  • Have completed 12 college credits;


  •  Are enrolled full-time at another college/university.

There are two possible deadlines to submit applications: Fall Semester is March 15th and Spring Semester is October 15th.

Some programs only allow students to enter during a specific semester. Students need to check when their program of interest will enable transfers and then plan accordingly.

Step Two: Complete the Transfer Version of the Common Application

The transfer version of the Common Application will contain all demographic information, the Academic Evaluation, a College Report, a Mid-Term Report, and the Cornell University Transfer Questions and Writing Supplement.

The $80 application fee can also be paid through the Common Application. Students who need to waive the fee can select this option when prompted through the application process.

Step Three: Everything Else… and Then Some.

All students will be required to have their high school and college transcripts sent to the school. SAT and ACT scores are not required for admission to Cornell.

After all the general admissions information is in, students will need to check their individual program of interest to see if that program requires any additional documents for admission. Cornell has provided this helpful page to assist students with this process.  

Step Four: Financial Aid!

Don’t forget the FAFSA! It is easy to get so wrapped up in the excitement of academics that the financial is forgotten. The FAFSA and any other financial aid will need to be submitted simultaneously as the application deadline.

Step Five: Hurry Up and Wait

Once everything is in, students will need to wait until around May or June for Fall or November for Spring to find out if they have been accepted into the university. Students can track their application status through the Cornell Application Status Page.