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First-Year Applicants

Before you apply

You are a first-year applicant if you'll complete high school during the 2023-2024 academic year or if you've graduated from high school but have earned fewer than 12 credits at a college or university. 

If you are an international applicant, see additional information for international students.

Choose a major

Choosing a college major that suits your interests, skills, and personality is an important decision. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself as you begin to make your choice:

  • Do you enjoy a particular academic subject?
  • What issues and subjects are you passionate about? 
  • What extracurricular and/or work activities have you enjoyed the most?
  • What do you envision as your future career?
  • In what subjects are you academically strongest?

Because you apply directly to a major at CALS, you'll dive into your major as soon as you set foot on campus.  Successful applicants are selected based on their academic and personal fit for that course of study.

To help you answer these and other important questions you may have, take some time to explore the more than 20 majors that CALS offers.  The CALS Admissions Team is here and eager to help. Please contact us if you need more information or have specific questions. The best way to reach us is through email. Our email address is:  cals_admissions [at] cornell.edu

Review the Admission Requirements for CALS

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement.

  • 4 Units of English
  • 4 Units of Mathematics* (including pre-calculus)
  • 3 Units of Science (biology, chemistry and physics recommended)
  • Also recommended: an additional unit of science

*For applicants in the following majors an additional quantitative math course is recommended (e.g.  Statistics): agricultural sciences, animal science, communication, entomology, environment & sustainability, global development, landscape architecture, plant sciences, and viticulture & enology

*Calculus also required for atmospheric science, biological engineering, biological sciences, biology & society, biometry & statistics, earth & atmospheric sciences, environmental engineering, food science, global & public health sciences, information science, and nutritional sciences.

 

  • For students applying to enroll for fall 2025, Cornell CALS will continue operating under a score-free policy. This means we will not use standardized test results as part of our admissions review.
  • For students applying to enroll for fall 2026 and beyond, applicants to all Cornell undergraduate colleges and schools will be required to submit standardized test scores. In addition to test scores, we will consider both the context provided by the rest of a student's application materials and the context of where they are applying from—their high school, personal circumstances, and background. This will be true for both the Early Decision and Regular Decision rounds of review. Please see https://admissions.cornell.edu/policies/standardized-testing-policy for more information.
  • SAT Subject Tests are NOT required or expected by CALS.
  • Additional Testing Information for International Applicants
  • Landscape architecture: Portfolio required
  • CALS does not conduct personal interviews as part of the application process.

Choose Between Early Decision and Regular Decision

Is Cornell the perfect fit for you? Consider applying under the early decision option. 

A majority of first-year students apply under the regular decision plan. However, if you have completed a thorough college search and are certain that Cornell is your first choice, you may consider applying under the early decision plan. Early decision at Cornell is a binding commitment. While you may apply to other, non-binding early admissions programs, you may only apply early decision to one school. Early decision means you have committed to enroll at Cornell if accepted, and you must withdraw any applications sent to other schools and send your acceptance deposit by the date specified in your acceptance letter. About a third of each entering class is admitted by early decision.

Scheduling test dates, completing essays and balancing everyday responsibilities can get very hectic. Stay organized by reviewing application deadlines and planning ahead.

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