Admissions Details & Requirements

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MSE Graduate Programs Application/Admissions Information

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) | Master of Science (M.S.) | Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)

  • Applications for Fall 2023 admission for PhD and MS programs open September 15, 2022
  • Applications for Fall 2023 admission for MEng opens September 1, 2022
  • Application for Spring 2023 admission for MEng is OPEN.

Application Deadlines

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) January 2 at 11:59pm EDT

Master of Science (M.S.) February 1 at 11:59pm EDT

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) Rolling through June 1 with priority deadlines:

  • Spring admission: October 15
  • Fall admission: January 15

All required materials must be uploaded into your online application prior to submission. Applications with missing materials after the deadline may not be reviewed. This includes letters of recommendation, so please communication this deadline and give your recommenders plenty of time to submit prior to the deadline.

GRE Requirements

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)GRE optional. Due to ongoing challenges related to COVID-19 and testing access, the GRE will be optional again for the 2023 admissions season for the MSE Ph.D. program. However, you may submit GRE results to us (see below for submission instructions), particularly if you feel that your GRE results help to demonstrate math ability that is otherwise not demonstrated in your academic records.

Master of Science (M.S.) GRE optional. Due to ongoing challenges related to COVID-19 and testing access, the GRE will be optional again for the 2023 admissions season for the MSE M.S. program. However, you may submit GRE results to us (see below for submission instructions), particularly if you feel that your GRE results help to demonstrate math ability that is otherwise not demonstrated in your academic records.

Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) GRE required. Typical GRE scores of qualified candidates are: Quantitative (165+), Verbal (155+), Analytical (3.5+). GRE is not required for Cornell undergraduate applicants.


Applicants for programs requiring or suggesting GRE scores should both:

  • Upload self-reported GRE scores into the online application themselves, AND
  • Have official GRE scores sent to Cornell University by the Educational Testing Service

The Graduate School must receive all scores prior to the field’s application deadline.

  • Institution Code: All official test scores should be reported directly to Cornell University’s institution code 2098. Department codes are not needed for matching scores to applications. If ETS requires you to select a department code, you may choose “0000 undecided.”
  • Be sure to use the exact spelling and formatting of your name on both your application and test score report. Name punctuation and spacing must also be the same. If your name is misspelled, misformatted, or inverted, your scores will not be matched and your application may remain incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
  • Score expiration: GRE test scores are valid for five years from the test date.
  • GRE contact information: Educational Testing Service (ETS), Graduate Record Examinations

English Language Exam Requirement

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Note: policy changes and testing accommodations related to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in the COVID-19 section of our FAQ.

With very few exceptions, international applicants for all three MSE graduate programs must demonstrate English language proficiency by submitting IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Academic or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores to the Graduate School. Exceptions are noted below.

If you receive your test results and any sub-score does not meet the requirement, you should make arrangements to retake the test to achieve the minimum scores.

Be sure to use the exact spelling and formatting of your name on both your application and test score report. Name punctuation and spacing must also be the same. If your name is misspelled, misformatted, or inverted, your scores will not be matched and your application may remain incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

The Graduate School does not accept Duolingo (DET) scores, Pearson PTE scores, or any other alternatives.

An application cannot be considered for admission until Cornell receives official IELTS Academic or TOEFL scores. If your official IELTS Academic or TOEFL scores are not received, are no longer valid, or do not meet the minimum score requirements, we cannot issue a student visa document.


TOEFL

You must meet the below subject minimums AND a total TOEFL score of 100+ to be reviewed. Applications submitted with scores less than any of the below will not be reviewed. MSE does not accept the "My Best" TOEFL score. Instead, we recommend submitting all scores from all TOEFL exams taken. 

  • Reading (20)
  • Writing (20)
  • Listening (15)
  • Speaking (22), AND
  • Total (100+)

Send scores to Cornell University Graduate School, Institution code 2098. Department codes are not needed for matching scores to applications. If ETS requires you to select a department code, you may choose code 99 “undecided.”

The TOEFL score must be dated within two years of your program’s application deadline. Photocopies of TOEFL score reports will not be accepted.

Take the TOEFL early enough to have the results submitted at the time of your application. Exam dates are posted on the TOEFL website. Please note that we cannot confirm receipt of test scores until an applicant has submitted an online application. 


IELTS Academic

The Graduate School requires an overall band score of a 7.0 or higher on the IELTS Academic exam. 

When you register for the exam, you may select up to 5 institutions to which you would like to have your scores sent. Cornell University has multiple IELTS accounts so please be sure to select Cornell University Graduate Admissions when registering for your IELTS test date.

You may also submit a request to your test center to have additional score reports sent to institutions not originally listed on your test registration form. Scores must be sent electronically (e-delivery) to the Cornell University Graduate Admissions, Caldwell Hall e-download account. E-delivery may also be referred to as an e-TRF by your test center.

The IELTS score must be dated within two years of your program’s application deadline. Scores must be delivered electronically through the IELTS E-Delivery service to the Cornell University Graduate Admissions e-download account.


Exceptions

The English language proficiency requirement may be waived if the applicant meets at least one of these criteria:

  • is a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, or a citizen of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada (except Quebec). Applicants who are citizens of India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, Nigeria, Ghana, etc. are not exempt from the requirement.
  • at the time you enroll at Cornell, you will have studied in full-time status for at least two academic years within the last five years in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, or with English language instruction in Canada or South Africa. Even if English was the language of instruction at your school, if you did not study in one of these countries you are not exempt from the requirement. You must submit a transcript that shows you attended college in one of the approved locations, and that your academic program was at least two years in length.

More information: https://gradschool.cornell.edu/admissions/prepare/english-language-proficiency-requirement/ 

Letters of Recommendation

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All three Cornell MSE graduate programs require three (3) letters of recommendation to be submitted electronically through the ApplyWeb application system.

Letters of recommendation should include appropriate letterhead and come from company or institutional email accounts.

You should choose your letter of recommendation writers purposefully, identifying individuals who can provide a detailed description of your academic, professional, and/or research experiences and motivations.

Statement of Purpose

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All three Cornell MSE graduate programs require a statement of purpose to be submitted electronically through the ApplyWeb application system.

Read our suggestions for writing a statement of purpose here.

Transcripts

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All three Cornell MSE graduate programs require the electronic self-submission of unofficial transcripts through the ApplyWeb application system. 

For more information please visit the Cornell Graduate School’s transcript requirements pages link.

Application Materials Submission & Updates

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All application materials must be uploaded into your online application. Paper copies of application materials will not be accepted.

If you request updates to materials included in a previously submitted application, please email: mse-admissions@cornell.edu

Once we have received all of your materials, your application status will change from "in progress" to "complete". If the deadline has passed and review has begun without us receiving all of your required documents, you will see a status change to "incomplete". Please view your checklist to see what you are missing and submit immediately. We will not review incomplete applications.

NOTE: the more frequently you correspond with us about your materials, the less efficient we are in processing applications in general, including your own. The best insurance for having your application processed in a timely manner is to follow the process outlined on the Graduate School website and the recommendations spelled out in this FAQ.

Fellowship Eligibility & Requirements

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Though fully funded through TA/GRA appointments, it is highly encouraged that Ph.D. applicants be aware of and/or apply for additional fellowships:

  • Fellowships in support of Diversity
    • To be considered for nomination for a diversity fellowship, eligible applicants must respond “yes” to the question on the admissions application asking whether they would be interested in being considered for a diversity fellowship. Applicants must also submit a supplemental personal statement (if a personal statement is not already required by their graduate field) that addresses the provided statement prompt and how the above criteria apply to them.
  • Presidential Life Sciences Fellowship (no additional application required beyond the MSE graduate program application)
  • External Fellowships
  • NSF GRFP Fellowship

Master of Science (M.S.) Though self-funded, it is highly encouraged that M.S. applicants apply for external fellowships.


Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) Though self-funded, it is highly encouraged that M.Eng. applicants apply for College of Engineering fellowships.


Please visit: Financial Support for additional information

Assistantships Requirements & Eligibility

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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) 

  • Required to serve as a TA (teaching assistant) for one semester during the PhD program, generally in the 2nd year or later.
  • TA opportunities beyond one semester are not guaranteed.
  • Generally funded as a GRA (graduate research assistant) for the remainder of the guaranteed funding (as detailed in admission letters).

Master of Science (M.S.) Though self-funded, it is highly encouraged that M.S. applicants apply for external fellowships. Paid assistantships are not guaranteed. M.S. students may serve as graders or hold assistantships in departments external to MSE.


Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) Though self-funded, it is highly encouraged that M.Eng. applicants apply for College of Engineering fellowships. Paid assistantships are not guaranteed. M.Eng. students may serve as graders or hold assistantships in departments external to MSE.


Please visit: Financial Support for additional information

Faculty Correspondence

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Applicants are not required to contact faculty prior to submitting an application.

If offered admission, Cornell MSE graduate matriculates will match with an advisor during their time at Cornell, not before.

While not required, applicants or prospective applicants who wish to contact faculty in field of Materials Science and Engineering are welcome to; however, all questions regarding applications, the application process, or an applicant's status should be sent to mse-admissions@cornell.edu.

Current Cornell Undergraduates

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We have not policy that prevents current Cornell undergraduate students from applying or being admitted to the Cornell MSE graduate programs, although it is most beneficial for them to apply to other programs as well.

Current Cornell undergraduate students have two additional options when applying to Cornell MSE graduate programs. GRE scores are NOT required for Cornell undergraduate students.

  • Early admission Master of Engineering (M.Eng.): current Cornell undergraduates who will have between 1-8 required credits remaining in their undergraduate program may apply to the early admit M.Eng. program. This program turns the final semester of the undergraduate program into a hybrid undergraduate/MEng semester. Upon completion of the required credits during the hybrid semester, these students transition to MEng students in the following semester, generally completing their MEng effectively in one additional semester. More information
  • Accelerated Master of Science (M.S.): The accelerated M.S. program is a one-year thesis based master's program for Cornell MSE senior thesis undergraduates who applied for and were accepted into the accelerated program specifically. More information

Still have questions? Contact us!

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If you have questions about our graduate programs after reviewing the above information, and the additional graduate school information, please contact our admissions representative: mse-admissions@cornell.edu