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M.S. and Ph.D. Application Details

The department of Biological and Environmental Engineering seeks highly motivated applicants with excellent academic records. Each applicant's potential for successful graduate study is judged by the Graduate Coordinating Committee, made up of faculty members from the Field. We receive more applications than we have space or funding to accommodate; therefore, we must turn away some very qualified candidates.

Review the following sections for more information:

  • Criteria
  • Application Form and fee
  • Deadline
  • Application details
  • Contact


We use several criteria to judge applications, including, but not limited to:
Interests and motivation: The application requires a one- or two-page statement of purpose describing the applicant's reasons for undertaking graduate work as well as an explanation of academic interests, including how they relate to undergraduate study and professional goals.

Related work and/or research experience: Training in a work or research environment can be valuable experience for undertaking graduate studies. Applicants should include a summary of such experience in the statement of purpose.

Prior academic training and record: Applicants to the M.S. or Ph.D. programs must have a baccalaureate degree (bachelor's degree) in an area of engineering, physical science, or biological science with a strong preparation in mathematics and physics.  They should have introductory-level knowledge of biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology,  organic chemistry, physics, statistics, and computer programming plus a working knowledge of calculus and differential equations.  Course work or experience in Biological or Environmental Engineering is desirable but is not required. 

TOEFL/IELTS scores (for international applicants): High proficiency in the English language is essential for admission to our graduate program. Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam. Students who have studied full-time for two or more years at a college or university in a country in which English is the native language and where English is the language of instruction are exempt from the TOEFL or IELTS. The Graduate School has strict minimum scores for admission. Applicants must meet or exceed the minimum on the Internet-based test - Writing: 20; Listening: 15; Reading: 20; Speaking: 22.  Applicants must receive an overall band score of 7.0 or higher for the IELTS exam.

Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation from faculty members or employers who can assess the applicant's academic potential for a graduate program are required.

Interviews: We encourage students to contact perspective faculty members to ascertain mutual interaction. Depending on the time frame and individual situations, prior to acceptance, we may conduct phone interviews with promising applicants to better assess their interests and compatibility with our department as well as his or her communication skills. Successful applicants will be invited to visit the Ithaca campus (at the Field's expense in many cases) to meet with faculty, staff, and students during our spring BEE Research Symposium.  This is an opportunity for us to get to know you, but even more importantly for you to get to know us.  For applicants for whom visiting Cornell is impractical, we will possibly conduct additional phone/Skype interviews.

Application form and fee

The Graduate School uses an online application; complete instructions for the application may be found at the Graduate School application web site. The secure online form is easy to use, and applications are received immediately. The application fee is USD $105.


Fall semester, M.S and Ph.D. applications are due by December 1.

Early application is strongly encouraged. To be considered for Cornell Graduate Fellowships, Cornell BEE Academic Fellowships, and other University-sponsored fellowships, applicants for the M.S. and Ph.D. degree must submit their materials by the December 1 deadline.

Spring semester, M.S. and Ph.D. applications are due by October 1.

Below is an approximate timetable with key steps in the application and admissions process for M.S. and Ph.D. applicants:

Date Fall Semester (For M.S. and Ph.D. Applicants)
December 1 All application materials received by the Graduate School
Mid-December Review of applications by the BEE Graduate Coordinating Committee
Early-February Select applicants visit Ithaca during the BEE Research Symposium
Mid-March Notification of acceptance and offers of financial support
April 15 Applicants accept or reject offers
3rd week of August Accepted students arrive on campus for orientation and start of Fall semester.
Date Spring Semester (For M.S. and Ph.D. Applicants)
October 1 All application materials received by the Graduate School
Mid-October Review of applications by the BEE Graduate Coordinating Committee
End-October Notification of acceptance and offers of financial support
November 15 Applicants accept or reject offers
3rd week of January Accepted students arrive on campus for orientation and start of Spring semester

Application Details

Statement of purpose: The statement of purpose is submitted online following the instructions for the online application. It is not necessary to send a hard copy to the Field.

Letters of recommendation: Letters can be submitted online following the instructions for the online application. If unable to submit online, recommenders may choose to send a copy via e-mail to the Field:
Brenda Marchewka, Graduate Field Assistant

TOEFL/IELTS: TOEFL/IELTS exams must be taken no more than two years before the application is submitted. Scores are sent directly to the Graduate School. The institutional code for Cornell University is 2098; the department code is no longer required.

GRE's are not required.

Official transcripts: Official transcripts of undergraduate and graduate studies (if applicable) should be scanned and uploaded into the online application as part of the submission process. For students who are subsequently admitted and accept the offer of admission, a formal paper transcript will be required prior to matriculation.

Please note that the Graduate School will not accept official materials sent by e-mail or fax; these are discouraged by the Field as well.


Questions? At any time, questions about the application process may be directed to:

Brenda Marchewka
Graduate Field Assistant
Phone: 607-255-2173
Fax: 607-255-4449

Professor Peter Hess
Director of Graduate Studies
Graduate Field of Biological and Environmental Engineering
Phone: 607-255-2495