2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Does intended major at Cornell affect acceptance rate?

At Cornell, you don't declare your major officially till sophomore year. Does this mean indicating a major on the common app will not affect the acceptance rate? Or will picking CS make a harder chance than picking IS? What will happen if I choose undeclared, will it lower, raise, or not change the acceptance rate?


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2 answers

2 years ago[edited]

There are 8 separate colleges at Cornell for undergraduate degrees and each of their acceptance rates is unique and different. Here is the list of colleges and corresponding acceptance rates for the last cycle of the Class of 2026.

College of Industrial Labor Relations - 18.2%

College of Human Ecology - 15.7%

Nolan School of Hotel Administration - 16.4%

College of Engineering - 6.1%

Dyson School of Applied Economics & Mgmt - 4.2%

College of Arts & Sciences - 5.4%

College of Architecture and Urban Planning - 8.1%

College of Agriculture & Life Sciences - 12.9%

The total number of applicants for the Class of 2026 was 71164 and the total admitted was 5168 for an average acceptance rate of 7.26%

If you are interested in majoring in CS at Cornell you have only 2 options. You can apply to the Engineering school as a CS Engineering major, or apply to the A&S as a CS Major. There is not much difference in acceptance rates between 6.1 vs. 5.4%. However, unless you really know 100% you want to major in CS Engineering, I think the standard CS major will give you more options if you choose to switch to something else. Within engineering, there are 14 majors (like materials science, mechanical, civil, and biomedical) and within arts and sciences, there are 64 majors to choose from.

The same argument works for IS majors as well. You can do a BA in the School of Arts and Sciences or a BS in IS in the school of engineering.

In conclusion, declaring IS or CS or A&S or Engineering will not make much of a difference in acceptance rates one way or the other. Therefore, it's more important that you pick the College and the major you feel most comfortable and eager to pursue right off the bat and hope for the best.

2 years ago[edited]

It's true that CS, being a more competitive major, will have more applicants than IS. There's a limited number of places available for each major, so it's hard to get into CS. It can help to apply for IS, since it's related to CS (I don't have in-depth knowledge of the technical differences, but you should know what different careers each of them can lead to). However, keep in mind that even though you apply for IS, you're applying to Cornell; other applicants applying to IS will also have strong academic and EC profiles.

If you're planning to change to CS after getting accepted into IS, know that changing majors is an easy process. There are certain requirements that need to be met. You should be ready to stick to IS if things don't work out as planned.

If your profile has much more CS-related stuff than IS-related (if there's a difference), it may raise doubts on whether you're actually interested in IS or not.

Choosing undeclared won't have necessarily change the acceptance rate, but it would be a waste of time as you'll be taking general classes in the beginning as opposed to CS/IS-specific classes in a CS/IS major.

Hope this helps!

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