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Graduate Application Process

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How to Apply

Deadline:  December 1

Identify a Faculty Sponsor
The vast majority of successful applicants to the Field of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology have identified a potential major professor long before the applications are due. Identify a faculty member with whom you're interested in working and send them an email initiating a dialogue regarding your interests and background. For suggestions on how to reach out to potential advisors, please see our tips. Please follow this link to locate our list of Graduate Field Faculty.

Cornell Graduate School Application
Students who wish to apply for graduate study at Cornell must do so using the Cornell Graduate School online application. The deadline to submit the application and all supporting materials is December 1.

Application Fee Waiver
We encourage applicants for whom the fee is a financial hardship or who participated in certain pipeline programs to request a fee waiver.

Statement of Purpose
Please submit a statement of purpose that outlines your reasons for pursuing graduate research and explains your academic interests. General suggestions are available by following this link to the Cornell Graduate School admissions website: In addition, we request that you use headings for the following sections:
(1) Motivation (250 word limit): Introduce yourself, what are your personal motivations to come to graduate school, your short and long-term professional goals, and how did you get here?
(2) Academic background & preparation (400 words): Describe your academic training, skills, research experience, and accomplishments relevant to your future graduate work.
(3) Future research (400 words): What research questions would you like to explore as a graduate student? This is in no way binding, it is only intended to give us an indication of where your research interests and approaches are headed. If you have written a proposal for future research (e.g., NSF predoctoral fellowship), those ideas should be included here.
(4) Resiliency and overcoming challenges (250 words): Graduate school often requires independence, persistence, and resilience in the face of challenges; please share your perspectives or experiences in this regard.
(5) Importance of community, diversity, and inclusion (250 words): We strive to build a diverse and inclusive community, which strengthens our intellectual and collaborative department. We value hearing your perspectives or experiences in contributing to such efforts at any scale.

Please upload unofficial copies of your transcript(s) from each college or university previously attended. Include an English translation of your transcript if applicable. Unofficial copies are all that is required at this stage in the application process. For more information, go to the Graduate School’s Transcript Requirements page at:

Letters of Recommendation
Three letters of recommendation must be submitted from people who are likely to comment on your academic aptitude and research abilities. You will indicate who they are and their contact information when you complete the application. They will be contacted automatically and provided with instructions on how to submit their recommendation letter online.

GRE Scores
GRE scores are not required and are not considered in the admissions process and in fellowship considerations.

English Language Proficiency Requirement
All international applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the English language. International students demonstrate proficiency by submitting official IELTS (International English Language Testing System) Academic or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam scores. Cornell does not accept PTE Academic scores or any other alternatives. An application cannot be considered for admission until Cornell receives official IELTS Academic or TOEFL scores. If your official IELTS Academic or TOEFL scores are not received, are no longer valid, or do not meet the minimum score requirements, we cannot issue a student visa document. For more information, go to the Graduate School’s English Language Proficiency Requirement page at:

Admissions Process
An Admissions Committee, consisting of the Director of Graduate Studies and 3-4 additional faculty, review all applications and expressions of interests from faculty. Usually 15-20 students are invited to attend a Prospective Graduate Student Weekend in late January/early February. The Field of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and faculty hosts will defray all or most travel costs.

The purpose of the Prospective Graduate Weekend is to provide applicants with a chance to see the program and meet faculty and current graduate students, and for us to meet you. You will have the opportunity to talk to faculty and graduate students in both formal and informal settings. To get the full experience of life in the department, students invited to the weekend are strongly advised to attend, as opposed to visiting individually at other times.

Following the weekend, the Admissions Committee, with input from faculty and students, makes decisions on acceptances. Usually 8-10 students are admitted each year from a pool of about 125-150 applicants.

If you have any questions about application procedures or your application status, contact the Graduate Field Assistant, Patty Jordan. If you have questions about the overall graduate program, contact our co-Directors of Graduate Studies; Alex Flecker or Monica Geber.