Admission Requirements & Deadlines

The deadline for fall admission is December 1; there is no spring admission. We encourage applicants who are interested in the program to complete their application and have all credentials, including letters of recommendation uploaded before this date if possible. The application for Fall 2018 will be available online in August 2017.

The success of our program is dependent on the quality of the graduate students enrolled. Applicants who are admitted are fully-funded. Therefore, we take great care in the selection of potential students; our admissions committee is made up of four faculty and a current graduate student representative who read and evaluate all applications. Top domestic candidates will be invited for an on-campus interview; top international applicants are typically interviewed via Skype.

Rather than relying on inflexible admissions criteria, we look for applicants who we believe can flourish in our program. Applicants are judged on academic credentials (GPA, GRE scores), their statement of purpose and, especially, on letters of recommendation. Prior research experience is considered particularly useful; however, it is not a prerequisite.

There are no simple mathematical formulas that can be used to evaluate an application. Each application is evaluated as a whole rather than assessed on any one part. However, North American students with a grade point average below B are rarely admitted; the median undergraduate grade point average for admitted students is about 3.5. Similarly, verbal GRE scores below 153 (or combined verbal and quantitative GRE scores below 308-310) usually preclude admission, unless there is substantial evidence of potential for academic excellence (for example, superb grades or outstanding research productivity).

The Graduate School provides a useful application overview for the process. Please note that applicants are required to adhere to the Grad School’s application policies.

Applicants to the Field of GGD will be required to supply the following items:

  • Statement of purpose within the application (Please note: The Field of GGD does not require a supplementary writing sample). :  In their statement, applicants should describe their prior research experience (including brief descriptions of the question being addressed, the methods used, and the outcome of the research).  Applicants should additionally describe the research areas they are particularly interested in and would like to pursue as graduate students.

  • Current transcripts for all colleges attended should be uploaded into the application (Note: Official transcripts are not required at time of application).

  • Official GRE scores: Scores should be sent from ETS to Cornell University, university code #2098 (department code is not required). We highly encourage applicants to self-report scores if they are known; the admissions committee can use these scores for evaluation prior to receipt of official scores.

  • Three (3) letters of recommendation

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS test are required for applicants whose native language is not English. This is a university requirement and the Graduate School has set minimum scores for each section of the test: Reading - 20; Writing - 20; Listening - 15; Speaking - 22. To be considered for admission, an applicant must receive at least the minimum score on each individual section of the test. Official scores should be sent from ETS to Cornell University, university code #2098 (department code is not required).

    Those taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test must score 7.0 or higher. Direct the IELTS test center to send electronic scores to Cornell University Graduate Admission at 143 Caldwell Hall; paper score sheets cannot be accepted.

    Applicants should self-report their scores in the application if possible; these scores can be used for evaluation prior to the official scores being received.

  • GRE Advanced Subject Test (generally in the areas of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, or Biology) is highly recommended but not required. (Applicants who demonstrate mastery of relevant subjects by means of high grades in upper level courses do not need to have an Advanced Subject GRE test score. However, a strong advanced GRE score provides an advantage in the admissions process.)

Application Fee Waivers: The Cornell Graduate School will consider requests for fee-waivers for applicants who are experiencing financial hardship and also applicants who have participated in specific pipeline programs. More information on application fee waivers can be found on the application fee portion of the Graduate School web site. Please note: the Field of GGD cannot issue fee waivers.

Diversity & Inclusion:
Cornell University and the Graduate School are committed to providing an inclusive environment for all Cornell students. The Field of GGD strongly supports this mission and, as a result, our graduate student community is a vibrant and diverse one. GGD students come from all areas of the globe and all walks of life. We are committed to the equality of educational opportunity and success for all students. The Field actively seeks individuals from underrepresented ethnic groups and participate in many programs on campus to recruit and retain under-represented minorities and diversity students (including first-generation college students).

Students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. The Field of GGD has established a partnership with the Cornell University Student Disability Services Office. Any student who is invited to our recruitment events and requires special accommodations to participate, should contact the GFAs to request necessary arrangements.

Admissions Decision Timeline: The GGD Admissions Committee will meet weekly starting in late November to evaluate completed applications. A select number of applicants will be invited to interview at our on-campus Recruitment events in February. Invitations are extended in December. Those who are unable to attend our Recruitment events (i.e. some international applicants residing outside the U.S.) are offered Skype interviews. Admissions decisions are made by mid-to-late March, once all interviews have taken place.

Applications from international students are screened by the admissions committee starting in February. International applicants who reside in North American may also be invited for an interview.

If you have questions about the administrative aspects of the program, please feel free to contact the Graduate Field Assistants (Phone: 607-255-2313; e-mail: ). Questions that relate to research, should be directed via email to Robert Weiss, Director of Graduate Studies, at