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First-Year Applicants

Before you apply

You are a first-year applicant if you'll complete high school during the 2019-2020 academic year or if you've graduated from high school but have earned fewer than 12 credits at a college or university. 

If you’re considering joining CALS, there are a few things to figure out before you apply so please review the information below. We’re here to help, so please contact us if you need more information or have questions. 

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

Choose a major

At CALS we expect you to dive into your major as soon as you set foot on campus. As a result, students must apply to a specific CALS major and are chosen based upon their academic and personal fit for that course of study.

Choosing a college major that suits your interests, skills and personality is an important and sometimes daunting decision. There are a few important questions to ask yourself as you make your choice: Do you excel in a particular academic subject? What issues and subjects are your passionate about? What extracurricular and work activities have you enjoyed the most? What do you envision as your future career? In what subjects are you strongest?

Take time to explore the more than 20 majors that CALS offers, and apply to the one that is the best fit for you.

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, development sociology, entomology, environment & sustainability, international agriculture and rural 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.


  • SAT and ACT: The COVID-19 pandemic emergency has led to many SAT and ACT administration cancellations. Due to this extraordinary circumstance, students seeking to submit an application to Cornell CALS for admission in fall 2021 will not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores. This will be true for both the Early Decision and Regular Decision rounds of review. We will not use test results as a routine part of our admissions review, and instead will proceed with an increased emphasis on evidence of academic preparation in the other application materials for all applicants, whether or not test results are submitted. Suspending the SAT/ACT requirement for fall 2021 candidates currently is designed as a one-year relief for students planning on applying to Cornell CALS and whose testing opportunities were disrupted by COVID-19. We plan to conduct a comprehensive review of the changes to our reading process before registration for the 2021 testing dates begins in early spring of 2021.
  • SAT Subject Tests are NOT required by CALS
  • International Students: TOEFL (score of 100 or better) or IELTS (score of 7) required
  • Landscape architecture: Portfolio required
  • Although CALS does not conduct personal interviews as part of the application process, a campus visit is strongly encouraged.

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.

Contact Admissions

CALS Undergraduate Admissions
177 Roberts Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
Tel: 607-255-2036
Hours of Operation
Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Friday 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday - closed*

*Closed during Cornell University breaks and university observed national holidays.
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