Student Experience

Graduate Student Experience

Current EEB graduate students have wide-ranging interests and backgrounds, and our program's culture values friendly interaction, collaboration, respectful debate, and scientific excellence. Faculty and lab group web pages are a great source of information about our community. The EEB Ph.D. Student Handbook has details about all aspects of graduate student life from admissions to grants, health insurance to department events.

Graduate Student Awards

EEB graduate students past and present have been recognized and rewarded for their excellence in teaching at both the departmental and University level; learn more on our Graduate Student Awards page.

Living in Ithaca

Ithaca is a small city, over half the residents of which are related in some way to Cornell. The city cultivates a remarkably rich cultural diversity, with regular cultural infusions from NYC and other coastal cities. Ithaca is a beautiful place to live with over 150 waterfalls and a thriving food scene with more restaurants per capita than NYC. Spring, summer and fall are ideal for the famous Ithaca farmer's market and hikes in the many natural areas near campus; winter brings rich opportunities for snow sports. There are a variety of festivals year-round including Porchfest, Apple Harvest Festival, and the annual GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance every July in nearby Trumansburg. Ithaca is also within driving distance of some great places to visit like Toronto, NYC, Philadelphia, and the Adirondack Mountains!

Cost of Living

A number of cost of living comparison tools can be found online including nerdwallet and payscale. We also recommend looking at the Graduate School Cost of Attendance webpage.


About half of our grad students live in the surrounding country-side of farms, woodlots and gorges, usually within a 15-minute bike ride. The housing market in Ithaca is infamously tight and it’s never too early to look for a place to rent. Many off-campus options go online in January and February, but apartments can still usually be found through the spring and summer (see this great site for on-campus options). Most graduate students search Craigslist for apartments, but local landlords also post on, the Cornell housing list, and other websites. Cornell also hosts an Off-campus Housing Fair in the Fall along with additional resources for off-campus living. There are several apartment complexes in Ithaca, but less expensive housing close to campus tends to be in multi-unit housing in renovated early 20th century buildings, advertised locally or on Craigslist. Wherever you choose to rent, make sure to review your tenant rights! New students frequently send roommate requests through the graduate student listserv – just contact a student in your new lab to see if they can ask around. And keep in mind that if you’re having trouble finding housing near campus that’s in your budget, rental prices do drop as soon as you get outside of the downtown area.

Many students lease with roommates, while 1-bed 1-bathrooms near campus are also available. Prices vary with location, square footage, utilities included, and amenities, but  $600 - 750 is a fairly normal price range for renting close to campus if you have roommates. Small one bedrooms can be found for approximately $ 1,000 - 1,100, and larger apartments (1 bed 1 baths or 2 bed 1 baths) usually run from $ 1,200 - 1,400. Some students rent whole houses with 3 or more bedrooms and share costs.

Things to consider when looking for a place:

  • Housing with off-street parking is more convenient but less common than on-street (parallel) parking. Many students park on-street near their apartments if they live near downtown. Ithaca has a couple on-street parking rules that are important to pay attention to: 24-hr parking and winter odd-even parking. Thankfully, this user-friendly website takes some of the guesswork out of odd-even parking.
  • As most housing in multi-unit homes consists of renovated rooms, “in-unit” laundry is uncommon (and coveted). Many houses have “in building” laundry, usually in the basement. If neither option is available, a quick search on Google Maps will show you nearby laundromats.
  • Some landlords include full or partial utilities in their rent, but some do not; look carefully at advertisements online to determine which services will be covered. If utilities are not included they can add up to more than $100 per month. Heat, cold and hot water, and electricity are utilities commonly included, while WiFi (Time Warner via Spectrum is the most common provider) usually is not.

Traveling in and out of Ithaca

Ithaca is a small city, but accessing campus from the surrounding neighborhoods can require a long (if beautiful) walk up the gorge from the downtown/Fall Creek area. Parking permits are available for purchase, but many students use the TCAT bus system as on-campus parking is fairly limited. First-year students are provided free unlimited bus rides with their Cornell ID card, so definitely take advantage!  Buses run very frequently to and from the Commons downtown. A bus ride to our department building (the stop is “Uris Hall- Across Street”) from the Commons is often less than 15 minutes. Want to use a car without buying or renting one? Cornell subsidizes memberships to Ithaca Carshare.

Ithaca has its own small airport called Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (ITH). The proximity of ITH is highly convenient, but its small size can mean delays, particularly in the winter. Other nearby airports include Elmira/Corning Regional Airport (30 minutes away) and Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), about an hour away. Cornell Cooperative Extension has a great summary of regional transportation options when trying to plan the best route for your trip. If you would like to take a trip to NYC, Cornell offers buses from campus and back via the Campus-to-Campus Bus Service with some more affordable options including OurBus, and Shortline.