Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly competitive. Previously successful applicants generally present a grade point average above a 3.5 on a 4.0 scale, a quantitative GRE score above 160 (760) and a verbal GRE score above 153 (500). International students from non-English speaking countries are required by the Graduate School to achieve minimum scores on each of the subsections of the TOEFL exam (see below). Note that GRE scores are not being accepted as part of our MS and Ph.D. applications for Fall 2021. 

The Application

The Graduate School application must be submitted online. The application fee is $105; in cases of extreme financial need, the Graduate School will consider a request for a fee waiver please refer to the Application Fees page on the Cornell University Graduate School website. 

The Deadline

Ph.D. applications are accepted for the Fall semester only. The deadline for Fall admission is December 15. This is the deadline for the applicant to submit the application—reasonable amount of time is allowed for letters of recommendation and official test scores to be received once the application has been submitted.

Selecting a Field

The Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is home to three graduate fields: Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, and Theoretical and Applied Mechanics; you must choose one field at the time of application.

Selecting a Concentration

Each field has a number of concentrations from which to choose. Faculty members in the field can represent one or more concentrations within the field. Please refer to the Graduate School website for concentrations and faculty research interests listed in each of the fields.

Statement of Purpose

The first paragraph should be a summary (150 words) highlighting the topic(s) or area(s) you are interested in studying, naming faculty members or groups with whom you would be interested in working, and outlining academic and research experiences that distinguish you. The statement of purpose should be no more than 2 pages.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and should be sent electronically. Recommendations may be requested electronically by providing the name and email address of each recommender on the application.

TOEFL/IELTS Examination (if applicable)

TOEFL or IELTS exam is required of all international applicants from countries where English is not the official language unless the applicant has studied for at least two years in a country where English is the official language and the language of instruction was English. 

Official TOEFL scores must be sent directly from ETS to Cornell University. Do not send copies of unofficial scores. Please use University Code 2098; department codes are 68 (Mechanical), 63 (Aerospace), 69 (Theoretical and Applied Mechanics). University minimums for the iBT version of the TOEFL are: Writing, 20; Listening, 15; Reading, 20; Speaking, 22. You must receive the minimum score on each subsection.

The Graduate School requires an overall band score of a 7.0 or higher on the IELTS. Have IELTS send your Test Report Form (either by postal mail, or electronically) to Cornell University -- Graduate Admissions. Please do not e-mail a scanned copy, or mail a photocopy of your TRF.


A copy of the transcript from each college you have attended is required; electronic copies of official transcripts uploaded into your application are preferred. You will only need to send hard copies of official transcripts if you are admitted and plan to matriculate.

CV or Résumé

You are not required to submit a CV or résumé; however, if you wish, you may upload a scanned copy of your CV or résumé into your application; include a list of publications, if applicable, with your CV.

Do Not Send

Please do not send unpublished papers, CDs, or any additional materials not listed above. A writing sample is not required.

The Review Process

After the application deadline faculty will begin reviewing applications as soon as they are complete. Admission decisions are made by faculty committees taking the entire applicant pool into account.

When your application is complete that will be indicated in the online application status. You will be emailed if something is missing once the applications are processed. Please refrain from inquiring about the status of your application; inquiries will only delay the timely processing of applications.

All admitted Ph.D. applicants are invited to come for a visit weekend in March.

You will be notified of the admission decision by email, usually no later than mid-March.


For additional questions please refer to our FAQ.

Contact Information

Marcia Sawyer

Assistant Director for Graduate Affairs
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
343 Upson Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-5250