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 and a verbal GRE score above 153. 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 2023.
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.
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.
The Graduate School’s official minimum sub-scores for each element of the TOEFL iBT are:
- Send scores to Cornell University Graduate School, Institution Code 2098. Department codes are not used for matching scores to applications; if ETS requires you to select a department code, you may choose “undecided” or “not listed”.
- 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.
- If you receive your test results and any sub-score does not meet the requirement, you should make arrangements to retake the test.
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.
- We do not accept paper IELTS Academic test report forms.
For additional information regarding the English Language Proficiency Requirement:
A copy of the transcript from each college you have attended is required. The online application requires you to upload an unofficial copy of each official transcript. To prepare your transcripts, follow the steps below:
- Do not upload transcripts that include a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN). Redact, cross out, or cover your SSN, if applicable, before scanning the document.
- The online application will not accept or properly display encrypted or password-protected documents. Official electronic transcripts (e-transcripts) must be printed first, then scanned and uploaded.
- Scan or save each transcript (and the English translation, if applicable) as a PDF, TIFF, JPEG, or GIF file. Combine multiple pages from the same transcript into one file; the file size for each upload cannot exceed 10MB.
- Ensure each scanned or saved image is clear and easy to read before submitting your application.
Admitted students are required to submit official electronic transcripts (e-transcripts) directly to the Graduate School Admissions Office after accepting the offer of admission and before enrolling.
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.
Assistant Director for Graduate Affairs
Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
343 Upson Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853