The Department of Computer Science exists as a department within Computing and Information Science at Cornell. Cornell's Department of Computer Science typically ranks among the top five in the world, and it ranks fourth in the quality of the graduate education.
The Computer Science department at Cornell has led the nation in teaching, research, and discovery for more than four decades. Cornell faculty and computer scientists are at the forefront of robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, computer vision, and research into phenomenally powerful next-generation computers. Our students conduct and study research with faculty who are leaders in the field, compete in national and international competitions with fellow students, and participate in projects that help improve the lives of millions around the world.
Computer Scientists are more in demand today than ever before. In fact, more and more fields, from the arts and humanities to music, medicine, linguistics and communication, architecture, and the natural sciences rely on CS to advance their inventions and powers of discovery. And where we are today is just the beginning.
Prospective students apply to Cornell University through the Cornell Undergraduate Admissions Office and request admission to a College. Students who want to major in Computer Science can apply to either the College of Engineering or the College of Arts and Sciences. The Computer Science courses and major requirements are the same in both colleges; it's the non-CS courses and distribution requirements that vary. First year students are not admitted directly to a major. Instead, they are accepted into a College, and apply to a major after completing core requirements of the College.
Cornell Students apply to a major after completing core requirements of their College. A Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. The two degree programs are similar in that they have the same Computer Science Major Requirements.
For detailed listings of the course requirements, see the Computer Science Engineering Checklist and the Computer Science Arts Checklist.
Students usually apply to the CS major (or "affiliate") in their sophomore year. All potential affiliates are reviewed on a case-by-case basis relative to the the criteria listed at the Computer Science Affiliation Website.
To be considered, students must be in good standing and have completed the following prerequisites:
CS/ENGRD 211 Computers and Programming
CS 212 Java Practicum
CS 280 Discrete Structures
Math 112 or 122 or 192 Calculus
More complete details for getting started are at the Computer Science Undergraduate Degree Programs website.
Transfer students apply to the College of Engineering or to the College of Arts and Sciences and request admission to the Computer Science Department. Transfers are admitted directly into a College and Major when they are accepted to Cornell University.
Transfer students submit an application to the Cornell Undergraduate Admissions Office. This Office will pass it along to the undergraduate college you've applied to at Cornell, where the selection committee will review it. Each college has its own admissions requirements for transfers. If you have questions about admission to a particular college at Cornell or you would like college-specific information sent to you, the best thing to do is contact the college directly. To learn about the application process, visit the Cornell University Transfer Student website.
Applicants will have transfer credits evaluated as part of the admissions process. This evaluation usually takes place after a candidate has been accepted by one of the colleges. We are unable to evaluate transfer credits for non-applicants. In general, basic, college-level science, math, and liberal studies credits will transfer directly to Cornell. Advanced courses and specialty courses may require closer analysis. Prospective transfer students should concentrate primarily on meeting lower-level requirements for the college and the major prior to coming to Cornell. Any courses that are typically taken in the first two years are prime candidates (calculus, programming [in Java or C++], discrete math, chemistry, physics, writing seminars, humanities, etc.).
Who we admit
The undergraduate program in CS at Cornell is rigorous and challenging, and those who want to transfer into it should have strong academic backgrounds. We expect to see excellent grades in math, CS, and the sciences. Good test scores are a definite advantage, and good essays and positive background information (e.g. recommendations) can help. Since the quality of education is not the same at all colleges, we try to evaluate a student's performance relative to the overall strength of the schools they have attended. To some extent, the community college student has a greater burden proving that they can handle the challenging academic atmosphere at Cornell than does a student from MIT or Harvard.
We do recognize that not all candidates have had the benefit of equal preparedness for advanced studies. We are committed to the fair evaluation of each student's potential, even if they have not taken as many preparatory courses as some of their peers. We carefully consider all relevant pieces of a student's academic background (this is where test scores and recommendations can help, for example). Evidence of scholarship need not be limited to your transcript - publications, math and science awards, programming achievements, and other indications of standing and ability are helpful as well. Likewise, leadership activities and outside involvement may reveal important dimensions of your character and ability.
Ideally, we prefer transfer students to have taken at least a year of college calculus, to have had some programming background, and to have taken a discrete math course.
We believe that there is strength in diversity
We especially welcome candidates from under-represented groups. Traditionally under-represented groups in CS include: women and African, Latino, and Native Americans. Cornell and the CS Department strongly support the advancement of women and minorities in computer science. From the Cornell Mission Statement: "In keeping with the founding vision of Ezra Cornell, our community fosters personal discovery and growth, nurtures scholarship and creativity across a broad range of common knowledge, and engages men and women from every segment of society in this quest. We pursue understanding beyond the limitations of existing knowledge, ideology, and disciplinary structure. We affirm the value to individuals and society of the cultivation and enrichment of the human mind and spirit."
For more information, e-mail the Undergraduate Office.