Undergraduate Admissions: Architecture

In addition to the general requirements for applying to Cornell University, admissions requirements for the five-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) program reflect the focused, professional nature of the curriculum. Applicants need to present evidence of creative ability and commitment to the field of architecture, in addition to having strong academic credentials. The interview and portfolio requirements help the faculty assess strengths in these more subjective areas. Both the interview and portfolio requirements must be met for the application to be considered.

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Required Interview

The Department of Architecture requires a portfolio interview for every applicant to the B.Arch. degree program. The purpose of the interview is to explore an applicant's interest in architecture and to understand how that interest developed. A formal portfolio need not be presented at the interview, but the interviewers do expect applicants to bring samples of their artwork.

Important: The interviews are evaluative and carry significant weight in the admissions selection process. Please request an interview only if you are certain that you will be applying to the architecture major. First-year interviews are scheduled in the fall. Transfer interviews are scheduled in the fall and spring.

Interviews can be completed by:

  • Scheduling an appointment with a Cornell architecture faculty member
  • Scheduling an appointment with an architecture alumnus near where applicants live

We are no longer taking requests for in-person interviews for first-year applicants. First-year applicants who have not already requested an interview must write and submit an interview essay by January 2, 2017.

The deadlines to complete an architecture interview are:

  • November 1 (early decision first-year applicants)
  • January 2 (regular decision first-year applicants)
  • October 1 (spring transfer applicants)
  • March 1 (fall transfer applicants)

First-year, regular decision applicants must request an interview no later than Monday, December 19, 2016. 

Interview essays must be emailed directly to aap-admissions@cornell.edu

Please note that the optional Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network (CAAAN) interview "meetings" have a different purpose, format, content, and line of questioning, as compared to the B.Arch. portfolio interview. CAAAN interviews do not satisfy the B.Arch. interview requirement.

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Portfolio Requirements

A portfolio must be submitted for an application to be considered. Applicants to the B.Arch. program may submit their portfolio either online via Cornell AAP SlideRoom (preferred) or in hard copy. The content of the portfolio remains the same regardless of the format of submission. Samples of freehand drawing are required. In addition to drawings, please include a variety of work from media such as painting, sculpture, graphics, art photography, woodworking, ceramics, or any other visual media that demonstrate interest, experience, and aptitude in creative and graphic areas.

Please submit 15–20 items and present the material in a neat, well-organized manner.

Label each portfolio item with:

  • Information on the medium used
  • Whether the project was done independently or in a class
  • The original size of the work
  • A one- or two-sentence comment about each piece

If any project, drawing, or model has been produced by several designers or if the design was produced in a professional setting, each drawing must be labeled, clearly stating the number of designers, which drawings were produced by the applicant and a list of the names of all members of the group project. If the project was produced in an office, an office setting, or as an assistant to an author, then the office name, supervisor, and all members of the team must be identified.

If submitting in hard copy, the first page of the portfolio must contain the following: "This portfolio contains the design work of [applicant's name here]." This is not necessary for online submissions. A hard copy portfolio should not include the original works. Reproductions should be high-quality photographs (minimum 3" x 5") or photocopies in a flat binder no larger than 10" x 13" with the applicant's name clearly displayed on the outside of the binder. Please include a loose piece of paper within your portfolio with the following information:

  • Date of birth
  • Type of applicant (First-year or Transfer)
  • List of other colleges/universities you are considering

Hard copy portfolios will be returned at the end of the selection process only if a stamped, self-addressed envelope or mailing packet is included.

Please submit the portfolio either online or in hard copy — do not submit both ways.

The deadlines for portfolio submissions are:

  • November 1 (early decision first-year applicants)
  • January 2 (regular decision first-year applicants)
  • October 1 (spring transfer applicants)
  • March 1 (fall transfer applicants)

If submitting a hard copy portfolio, please mail it directly to:

Office of Undergraduate Admissions
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
Cornell University
235 Sibley Dome
Ithaca, NY 14853-6701

Portfolios are added to the applicant's admissions file for review by the architecture department admissions committee.

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Secondary School Subjects/Standardized Test Requirements

Sixteen units of secondary school subjects must be completed, including four of mathematics (including plane geometry, intermediate algebra, and trigonometry), four of English, and one of physics. Recommended: One unit of calculus and three or four of foreign language (three years of one language or two years each of two languages).

  • The SAT or ACT is required
  • The TOEFL and/or IELTS is required of all international applicants whose first language is not English
  • The recommended minimum scores are:
    • TOEFL - Score of 100
    • IELTS - Score of 7

Please note: as of summer 2016, the SAT Math Subject Test is no longer required for applicants to the B.Arch. program. 

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Transfer Students

Admission to the B.Arch. program is offered to a limited number of transfer applicants who have either completed a portion of their architecture studies in other schools or have developed a strong, well thought-out interest in architecture but have no formal education in the discipline. Each applicant's case is considered individually. Placement is determined by the faculty admissions committee based on the applicant's portfolio and the amount of architecture course work completed.

Credit for many courses can be transferred, but applicants must complete a minimum of 70 credits and four terms in residence. Thirty-five of the 70 credits must be taken in the Cornell architecture department.

Transfer applicants may submit a request for either an on-campus or an off-campus interview.

Transfer application interview request deadlines:

  • For spring semester: well before October 1
  • For fall semester: well before March 1

Important information for transfer applicants:

Students considering a transfer into the B.Arch. program should be aware that, if admitted, a transfer credit evaluation will take place. This process requires syllabi from any class for which an admitted student seeks credit, as well as a portfolio of work for any studio or visual representation classes. Applicants should prepare these materials in advance so they can be submitted promptly if an offer of admission is made. Admitted transfer students will have two weeks from the date of admission to submit all transfer credit materials. AAP will not accept transfer credit materials before an offer of admission is made.

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