Graduate Admissions FAQ

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Graduate Admissions FAQ


Q: Is it possible for me to get an accurate prediction of my chances for admission?

A: No. It is impossible to accurately evaluate chances of admission before the admissions committee receives a full application and considers it in the context of that year's applicant pool.


Q: Is it customary for prospective applicants to contact faculty members or the Director of Graduate Studies by email before applying for admission?

A: No. You are welcome to contact faculty members or the Director of Graduate Studies if you have a specific question that is not answered here.


Q: What is the expected range for GRE scores and gradepoint average?

A: Please note that GRE General Test and GRE Subject Test are NO LONGER REQUIRED, effective starting with the 2020 application for graduate admissions to Comparative Literature.


Q: Does English count as one of the three required languages?

A: Yes.


Q: How do I demonstrate language proficiency?

A: Usually through the courses you have taken and years of study. If your linguistic profile is varied and complex, you may elect to supplement the application materials with a separate account detailing your language proficiency.


Q: Is it possible to study foreign languages while working towards the Ph.D?

A: Yes. Graduate students often use summer stipends to refine their command of their primary language or improve their second language. Students must, however, achieve a high level of proficiency in the primary language of study before entering the graduate program. The program is too short to allow a student to both acquire proficiency and pursue coursework and research in a new language.


Q: How many applicants generally apply and how many are offered admission?

A: It varies. We receive generally around 90 to 125 applications and make between three and six offers of admission.


Q: Do I need to have a master’s degree in order to be considered for admission into Cornell's PhD program?

A: No, a master’s is not required for application into our PhD program, nor does it necessarily increase chances of admission. A fair number of our students do come in with a master’s and it can provide a head start as the PhD program is short, with a requirement of 12 courses usually completed within two and a half years.


Q: Are applications from students with a master’s degree evaluated differently?

A: Besides a general expectation that the applicant should have a more specific research project in mind than would be expected from a recent college graduate.


Q: Does a student admitted with a master’s degree gain advanced standing and follow an accelerated schedule to degree?

A: Not necessarily. There are no fixed expectations. The student would settle his/her course to degree in collaboration with the special committee which is endowed with the authority to approve an accelerated program.