Undergraduate Admissions: Architecture

The Department of Architecture seeks to bring together a cohort of students that reflects a dynamic cultural environment, reflective of a diverse body of students and faculty that continuously exchange ideas and blend new perspectives. Architecture is a broad, dynamic, and continuously evolving discipline that includes research and creative practice drawing from design, history, theory, technology, fabrication, sustainability, social justice, community engagement, spatial policy, building construction, architectural practice, representation, urbanism, landscape design, and ecology, among many others. Cornell architecture faculty are characterized by their wide range of disciplinary research interests and expertise, often collaboratively working across disciplines with other researchers, community partners, clients, or policymakers. Unsurprisingly, as a whole, Cornell architecture faculty represent and cover a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, careers, degrees, areas of expertise, and geographies. Our students are equally diverse in their personal backgrounds, educational experiences, research interests, and their attitudes towards architecture.

The B.Arch. program combines the intensity and rigor of a five-year professional education with access to the resources of a renowned research university that offers a broad field of study. In our applicants, we value and are looking for one or more of the following attributes:

  • Expressive Designers: convey legible design intent through the synthesis of diverse inputs.
  • Creative Thinkers: articulate and give form to innovative ideas and concepts.
  • Spatial Changemakers: critically and passionately challenge the status quo of buildings and cities. 
  • Cultural Innovators: seek new forms of individual or collective design.
  • Rigorous Makers: proactively develop and refine thorough technical and creative abilities. 
  • Empathic Individuals: care to co-create a just and sustainable built environment. 
  • Broad Thinkers: interests span from the sciences to the humanities and beyond.  

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 portfolio requirements help the faculty assess strengths in these more subjective areas. The portfolio requirements must be met for the application to be considered.

Portfolio Requirements

A portfolio is a required and critically important component of the application. All B.Arch. applicants must submit their portfolio online via Cornell AAP SlideRoom. The portfolio should contain several examples of freehand drawings, including sketches as well as fully developed work. In addition to drawing, a range of artistic media needs to be demonstrated, but each applicant should emphasize the work where their skills and passion are expressed most strongly. Painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, video, woodworking, and other crafts can convey artistic experience and aptitude.

Please submit 15-20 slides with no more than two dedicated to the same project. Images must be clear, with no text on the page unless it is integral to the artwork. A carefully crafted caption for each slide should state the intent, elaborate on the process and method, and reflect on the outcome. Include a note that lists the size and medium of each piece, as well as whether the work was completed in class or independently. Any group projects should be credited accordingly, and the task performed by the applicant noted specifically.

The deadlines for portfolio submissions are:

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

Portfolios are added to the applicant's admissions file for review by the architecture department admissions committee. An application is not considered complete until all requirements have been received, including the online portfolio submitted through Cornell Slideroom.


Transfer Applicants

Please note: Cornell AAP's B.Arch. program admits a limited number of transfer applicants to the five-year professional B.Arch. program as space allows. Applicants transferring from another accredited five-year professional B.Arch. program are given priority consideration.

When available, 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 coursework 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

  • External transfer application deadline: March 15
  • Portfolio deadline: March 1

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.

  • Internal transfer application deadline: December 1 (spring) and May 1 (fall)

Internal transfer is an option for current Cornell students who wish to transfer between colleges at Cornell.  It is also an option for current AAP students who wish to transfer into a different AAP program. 

Students interested in transferring into an AAP program must follow a college-specific internal transfer application process. All questions regarding the process for transferring can be emailed to the Office of Admissions at aap-admissions@cornell.edu.


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