Cornell University

#17 / #10
Global Influence / U.S. Influence
Most Desirable School
Private university in Ithaca, New York

Cornell University Featured Rankings

About Cornell University

By James Barham, PhD

Cornell University was founded in turbulent times. With the Civil War winding down, and less than two weeks after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Governor of New York signed the school’s official charter in the state capital, Albany, where only the day before Lincoln’s funeral procession had passed through the city’s streets.

Two men were behind the drive to establish a first-class university in upstate New York: wealthy businessman Ezra Cornell, the founder of Western Union, who was originally from Ithaca (where the new school was to be located), and Andrew Dickson White, a prominent historian and educator, who hailed from nearby Syracuse. Later on, White would be best remembered as the author of A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896), and from the beginning he envisioned Cornell as a rigorously secular institution with a special emphasis on the natural sciences.

This lack of an original religious orientation, as well as its geographical isolation from the American center of cultural gravity on the East Coast, make Cornell a bit of an odd-man-out among the eight schools that make up the Ivy League. However, the university’s right to a place among that elite grouping is more than justified by the intellectual firepower of its faculty. Moreover, despite its rural setting, Cornell’s sprawling campus and its total university population of over 23,000 (more than twice the size of the town of Ithaca itself) easily make it a rival of the other Ivy League schools in scale.

One of Cornell’s areas of particular strength is medicine. The Weill Cornell Medical School, located in Manhattan, is one of the most selective in the nation. Cornell also runs the Weill Cornell Medical College located in Doha, Qatar.

An astonishing 50 Nobel laureates are connected with Cornell, not to mention many other highly influential thinkers and authors. For example, among Nobel Prize– winners in physics, we many mention:

  • Hans Bethe
  • Richard Feynman
  • Hannes Alfvén
  • Kenneth Wilson
  • Steven Weinberg
  • Sheldon Glashow
  • Pierre-Gilles de Gennes
  • Kip Thorne

Cornell-connected chemistry Nobelists include:

  • Peter Debye
  • Richard Ernst
  • Manfred Eigen
  • Roald Hoffmann

In physiology or medicine, we may mention:

  • George Beadle
  • Fritz Lipmann
  • Barbara McClintock
  • Peter Medawar
  • Harold Varmus
  • Jack Szostak

Four Cornell-connected economists have won the Nobel Prize in their field:

  • Amartya Sen
  • Robert Engle
  • Richard Thaler
  • Robert Fogel

No fewer than four Nobel Prize laureates in literature have studied or taught at Cornell:

  • American novelists, Pearl Buck and Toni Morrison
  • Mexican poet, Octavio Paz
  • Nigerian playwright, Wole Soyinka

However, perhaps the most distinguished of all Cornell-connected literary figures (and one of the Swedish Academy’s worst oversights) is the great Russian émigré novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, who taught here from 1948 until 1959, when the international succès de scandale of his novel Lolita (1955) permitted him to retire from teaching.

Among other distinguished Cornell-connected individuals (in addition to the above), we may mention:

  • Physicists, Freeman Dyson & Huber Reeves
  • Novelists, Kurt Vonnegut & David Foster Wallace
  • Novelist, short-story writer, and essayist, Junot Díaz
  • E.B. White, author of the beloved children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, and co-author of the ubiquitous writer’s manual, The Elements of Style
  • Philosophers, John R. Perry & Thomas Nagel
  • Psychoanalyst, Abraham Maslow
  • Political scientist, Benedict Anderson
  • Journalist, Raj Patel
  • Television personality, Bill Nye
  • Political author and columnist, Ann Coulter
  • Actors, Christopher Reeve & Gillian Anderson
  • Indian industrialist, Ratan Tata
  • Former President of the Republic of China, Lee Teng-hui
  • President of the Republic of China, Tsai Ing-wen
  • US Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

According to Wikipedia, Cornell University is a private Ivy League and statutory land-grant research university, based in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, Cornell was founded with the intention to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 quotation from founder Ezra Cornell: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

Cornell University's Online Degrees

MS in Engineering Management
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online
MS in Systems Engineering
  • Required Credits: 30
  • Completion Time: None Reported
  • Format: Online

Cornell University Admissions, Retention, and Graduation Information

Annual ApplicationsAcceptanceGraduation RateMedian SAT ScoreMedian ACT Score

How Much Does Cornell University Cost To Attend?

Tuition (in-state)
Price by Family Income
IncomeAverage Net Cost
0 - 30K$7,484
30K - 48K$7,518
48K - 75K$11,869
75K - 110K$23,128

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

How Much Do Cornell University Graduates Make?

If you graduate from Cornell University, then you can expect to earn an average of $101,200 per year. You also have a 92% chance of being employed after 10 years.

Cornell University's Demographics

Demographic data is for full-time, on-campus students.

Student BodyUnder-GradsGraduates

Where is Cornell University?

Cornell University is located at 300 Day Hall, Ithaca NY 14853

How Safe is Cornell University?

Cornell University has a violent crime rate of less than .01% and a property crime rate of less than .01%. Ithaca has a violent crime rate of less than .01% and a property crime rate of less than .01%.

What Is Cornell University Known For?

Cornell University is known for it's academic work in the following disciplines:

Cornell University's Top Areas of Influence With Degrees Offered

Who Are Cornell University's Most Influential Alumni?

Cornell University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Computer Science, Engineering, and Physics. Here are some of Cornell University's most famous alumni:

Norbert Wiener
Norbert Wiener
An American mathematician, scientist in cybernetics and artificial intelligence.
Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow
An American psychologist .
Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
An American literary critic, scholar, and writer .
Frank Knight
An American economist .
Hu Shih
Hu Shih
A Chinese philosopher, essayist and diplomate.
Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson
A Theoretical physicist and mathematician.
Thomas Nagel
Thomas Nagel
An American philosopher.
Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon
An American novelist.
Sheldon Glashow
Sheldon Glashow
An American theoretical physicist.
Francis Fukuyama
Francis Fukuyama
An American political scientist, political economist, and author.
Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg
An American theoretical physicist .
Leonard Susskind
Leonard Susskind
An American physicist.

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