Ph.D. Admissions Process

Application Deadline: Fall, January 2 

The GRE has been made optional for the 2021 admission cycle.

Requirements Summary:   

Ph.D. Program FAQ

Included below are a number of commonly asked questions about the Cornell MSE Ph.D. program. If you have a question not covered below, please contact the graduate field representative at map457@cornell.edu or schedule a virtual meeting.

Graduate Programs (PhD, MS, MEng)

Marissa Porter
Graduate Field Representative
Materials Science and Engineering
Cornell University
210E Bard Hall
Ithaca, NY  14853-1501
map457@cornell.edu

What is the deadline for the application and all accompanying materials?

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The deadline for submitting all application elements (online application form, transcripts, GRE scores, TOEFL scores (if necessary), letters of recommendation) is January 2.

May I send photocopies of transcripts, GRE and TOEFL scores, and letters or recommendation?

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Applicants can scan their transcripts and upload the documents into the online application themselves as part of the submission process. If you are unable to upload official transcripts into the online application, we must receive official copies of transcripts in sealed envelopes. For students who are subsequently admitted and accept the offer of admission, a formal paper transcript will be required prior to matriculation. If you send photocopies of these documents, they must be notarized or they will not be accepted. We accept the official GRE & TOEFL scores sent to us electronically by the Educational Testing Service. We recommend using the online recommendation process provided within the Graduate School’s online application system. If this method will not work for you, original letters of recommendation must come directly from the applicant's recommenders in sealed and signed envelopes. Cornell graduates are not required to provide us with GRE or TOEFL scores.

Where do I send my application materials?

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Cornell now requires applicants to complete an online application with statement of purpose.  Your supporting documents should be uploaded into your application online. If you are unable to do this, mail all supporting materials (letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc.) directly to:

Materials Science & Engineering Department
Graduate Field Representative
210 Bard Hall
Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-1501

What code should I use to have the Educational Testing Service send my GRE and TOEFL scores to Cornell University?

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Use only the following codes: 

  • GRE: Institution Code: 2098; Department Code: 1499
  • TOEFL: Institution Code: 2098; Department Code: 69

Departmental codes are not used to match scores to applications.  If you are unable to provide a Department Code, it is not a problem.

How will I know that Cornell has received all of my application materials?

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If there are any missing application materials, we will contact you. If you do not hear from us, please assume that we have all necessary information. 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.

What are the minimum GRE and TOEFL test scores considered by the MS&E admissions committee?

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TOEFL score minimum requirements as outlined by the Graduate School: reading (20), writing (20), listening (15), and speaking (22).

The GRE has been made optional for the 2021 admission cycle.

How can I ensure that my application will be competitive with other applicants?

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Complete and submit your application, including all supporting materials. Ensure they arrive at Cornell University before the deadline of January 2. Take your GRE and where applicable, your TOEFL tests well in advance of submitting your application. Provide ETS with the following code to forward your scores to Cornell: 2098. Exception: Cornell graduates do not have to take the GRE test to apply for graduate studies. Make sure those who write your letters of recommendation send them to us well ahead of the deadline. If all application materials are received by the deadline, then that application is in the best possible position to compete with all other applicants. Making our decisions as early as we can provides our applicants with the best possible service; applicants know what our decisions are early in the admissions process.

May I contact MSE Faculty about my application?

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If applicants or prospective applicants wish to contact faculty with specific questions about research, then contact with faculty is encouraged. However, all questions regarding applications, the application process, or an applicant's status should be sent to the Materials Science & Engineering Graduate Field Assistant for response.

Are MSE Ph.D. students required to work as Teaching Assistants (TA)?

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Service as a TA is an important component of the MS&E Ph.D. program. We require Ph.D. candidates to serve as a TA for at least one semester – usually during the second year. All prospective TA's are required to complete Teaching Assistant training (typically in the second semester).

If I’m accepted into the Ph.D. program, will I receive support?

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Currently, all candidates accepted into the MSE Ph.D. program receive funding in the form of a graduate research assistantship (GRA) for the duration of the candidate’s program. A GRA includes tuition, stipend, and health insurance. Ongoing support is contingent upon the candidate remaining in good academic and research standing and upon satisfactory performance in the candidate's assistantship responsibilities.