Apply to Cornell University BFA



ashcan student work 

Cornell University’s general requirements, B.F.A.

Cornell uses the Common Application (CA) or the Universal College Application (UCA), both of which can be completed and submitted online. Students will choose one format to submit all required application materials.


In addition to the application, Cornell requires that you also submit the following forms. These forms can be found and submitted online at or

  • The School Report – Your counselor or designated school official should submit this form (or your school’s own report form) and your official transcript on your behalf.
  • Counselor Recommendation – Cornell requires a written statement from your guidance counselor or college advisor.
  • Teacher Evaluations – You are required to submit two teacher recommendations. Be sure to remind individuals writing letters for you to include your name and date of birth on all pages if they are sending them by mail.
  • Midyear Report – Submit the Midyear Report as soon after the application deadline as possible. We strongly encourage guidance counselors to submit this online too, so we can process your application faster. We understand that some students with schools on trimesters may not have any new grade information to report at the time of submission, and therefore do not need to send a Midyear Report.

Official Transcript

We require you to submit your official secondary/high school transcript(s) before the application deadline. This should be sent by your school online or can be mailed.

SAT or the ACT

• Subject Tests are not required
• International Students: TOEFL or IELTS


Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. (The application won’t accept a response shorter than 250 words.

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Portfolio Guidelines

Applicants must submit their portfolios online at Cornell AAP SlideRoom. The portfolio should consist of high-quality images of 18–20 pieces of work, including at least four examples of freehand observational drawing. The portfolio should contain examples of work from at least three of the department’s studio practice areas: drawing, digital media, painting, photography, print media, and sculpture. Applicants should choose the media that best reflects their highest level of skill and conceptual development. While there is no requirement that any particular subject or style of work be included in the portfolio, the faculty admissions committee would like to see a selection of work that has made been made both independently and in school or workshop settings. Step-by-step instructions for portfolio submission are available online at Cornell AAP SlideRoom. Acceptable file formats include image files (JPG, PNG, GIF) and video files (MOV, MWV, FLV, MP4). Portfolios will be added to all other admissions materials for review by the Department of Art admissions committee.

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)


A portfolio interview is strongly recommended but not required to apply to the Department of Art. The portfolio interview offers the opportunity to personally present work and discuss it with either a faculty member in the art department or an alumni of the B.F.A. program. Interviews with faculty are offered on campus only on Mondays and Fridays. Most are scheduled in the fall, with external transfer applicants able to schedule interviews in February as well. Learn more about visiting the campus here. Alumni interviews are coordinated between the applicant and the alumni, at the convenience of both parties.

On-campus and alumni interviews can only be requested via the online Interview Request Form, which will be available starting on August 15. Interviews will not be arranged over the phone.

The deadlines for fine arts portfolio interviews 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)

Interview requests must be made well in advance of the deadline.

About the interview:

Applicants will be expected to share their portfolio-in-progress with an art faculty member or B.F.A. alumni. The interview is also a time to discuss art and other interests. Possible topics of discussion may include your interest in pursuing art in college, your experience with and exposure to art, and your personal creative and intellectual interests.

The Department of Art admissions committee will not begin to consider an application until all requirements, including a portfolio, have been submitted.

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