Cornell vs. Dartmouth: Which College to Choose?

Cornell or Dartmouth?
May 7, 2024
6 min read
Expert Reviewed


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 1/22/24

Do you need help with choosing between Cornell vs. Dartmouth? We’ll break down their similarities and differences to help you make an informed decision.

Choosing the right college is important in a student's academic journey. At this point, most students fill their college lists with institutions that align with their values, goals, interests, and aspirations.

Cornell and Dartmouth are two esteemed Ivy League colleges, each with unique features and campus culture. They are often in the spotlight because of the world-class education they offer and their unique strengths. In this article, we will provide the overview, admissions requirements, and factors to consider for both schools. 

Whether you are a prospective student struggling to choose between the prestigious programs at Cornell or the distinct community at Dartmouth, this article will help you make a good decision that aligns with your academics and personal goals.

Cornell vs. Dartmouth: Overview

Both Cornell and Dartmouth offer distinctive academic experiences and unique environments. To help you see how they measure up to one another, take a look at this table below, which provides key information about the two colleges:

Cornell Dartmouth
Location Ithaca, New York Hanover, New Hampshire
US News Ranking #12 #18
Undergraduate Enrollment 15,735 4,458
Number of International Students 5,146 984
Student-to-Faculty Ratio 9:1 7:1
Number of Applicants >71,000 31,657
Acceptance Rate 7.90% 5.32%
Mid-50% SAT/ACT Scores of admitted students SAT: 1470 to 1570
ACT: 33 to 35
SAT: 1500 to 1580
ACT: 33-35
Undergraduate Tuition $68,380 $66,123

Cornell vs. Dartmouth: Admissions Requirements

Getting admission into Ivy League schools is a dream for many aspiring students. When deciding which school to attend, understanding the admission requirements is important. 

Admission requirements can help you plan and prepare accordingly and let the admission committee know the courses you have taken with the grades. Below are the admission requirements for each school that will help you secure your space as a freshman in any of these institutions:

Cornell Admission Requirements

Here are the admissions requirements you need to know to secure your spot at Cornell University:

GPA and Completed Courses

The acceptance rate at Cornell University is 7.90%, which means the admission process is highly competitive. Due to the competitiveness, meeting their GPA requirements is important. 

Cornell also reviews the types of courses you took in high school and typically favors students who challenged themselves with rigorous coursework. Cornell applicants typically take honors classes, participate in AP or IB programs, or select other advanced courses to demonstrate the extent of their academic capabilities.

Cornell also shows interest in students who have passed through a challenging curriculum, which includes English, mathematics, sciences, and social studies. To get a sense of your academic capabilities, an admissions officer will review your transcript, which will detail the courses you took, the grades you received, and your class rank, if available. 

Essay and Short Answers

Cornell also requires you to answer two essays for your application. These essays allow the admission committee to understand better who you are and your aspirations for the university. While writing the essay, ensure it is personalized and well-crafted to perfectly showcase your character, values, and skills.

In addition to writing essays, you will need to answer short answer responses and college-specific essays and complete them. These questions are specific to the university program you are applying to and are designed to assess your interest and fitness for the program. Letter of Recommendations

Cornell University requires you to submit two letters of recommendation and a written statement from your teachers who taught you core subjects like English and mathematics.

Supplemental Materials

To gain a deep understanding of the applicant's personality and qualifications, Cornell University may also ask you to submit other application materials like a portfolio, resume, additional test scores, or additional information about your extracurriculars.

Cornell University

Dartmouth Admission Requirements

If you’re leaning towards Dartmouth, here are the admission requirements you’ll need to apply: 

GPA and Completed Courses

To access your academic profile, Dartmouth requires all students to submit their high school transcripts. They will use these transcripts to assess the rigor of your academic program, the grades you received in each subject, and your overall GPA. 

Students who typically get accepted are known to have a strong academic record because the average GPA requirement is 4.11. A GPA above 4.11 gives you a good chance of getting accepted into the school. Also, you must have completed the coursework requirements needed for admission, which include English, Mathematics, History, and Social Sciences. 

Common Application Essay

The schools require the main common application essay and additional supplemental responses specific to Dartmouth College. This essay helps the admission committee to have a picture of the student applying to their college.

The Common Application consists of essay prompts in which your responses should provide insight into your values, experiences, characters, and background. The essay prompts change every year; it is important to check the current application for the specific prompts for the year you are applying.

Letter of Recommendations

Dartmouth College requires its applicants to submit two recommendation letters. The school counselor's first required letter is called the counselor evaluation. 

Applicants are also required to submit two teacher evaluations, which are written statements completed by the applicant's high school teacher, which address the student's academic performance, personal character, and engagement with a particular subject and other classmates. 

Additional Application Items

In addition to the application materials highlighted above, the college may ask the applicant to submit additional items, including a portfolio and resume. These additional application items help the admission committee to know the applicants better and be sure they are fit for the program they are applying for.

Dartmouth campus

Cornell or Dartmouth? Factors to Consider

Before deciding between Cornell vs. Dartmouth, there are some factors to consider to take advantage of them and increase their chances of admission. 


There are differences in the academic structure in both schools. Cornell University consists of seven colleges, with each having undergraduate programs and eighty undergraduate majors, and the requirement to apply to each major varies. The school requires students to complete two physical education courses and pass the swimming test. Other requirements are peculiar to some colleges, too.

At Dartmouth, there are different programs and departments. Education happens not only within traditional academic departments but also at the intersections between them. For example, there are about 40 departments and interdisciplinary programs for the faculty of Arts and Sciences. 

Class Profile 

A class profile shows the important aspects of the school, which include the demographics, the number of students accepted in a year, and the overall culture. These details give you insights into their last admission process. Below is the class profile for each school:

 Class Profile for Dartmouth College

The information below is for the enrolled class for 2027 at Dartmouth College:

  • Total Number of Enrolled Students: 1,209
  • Men: 614
  • Women: 571
  • Genderqueer/Non-binary/Questioning: 24

Class of 2025 Enrolling First‐Year Students at Cornell

The information below is for the enrolling first-year students at Cornell for 2025.

  • 3,765 first‐year students are expected to enroll 
  • 55.0% are women
  • 45.0% are men 
  • 62.1% attended public high schools 
  • 14.7% are descendants of Cornell alumni 
  • 19.4% are first‐generation college 
  • 6.1% are recruited athletes 
  • The average age is 18 


Dartmouth's direct charges include tuition, fees, housing, and food. The applicant will be billed for these charges about six weeks before the term starts. The tuition is $66,123, the fees are $2,145, housing is $12,018, and food is $7,981

A freshman is expected to come into campus with sufficient funds to cater for indirect expenses. These expenses include paying for your books, laundry, supplies, and toiletries.

For Cornell, the annual tuition is $60,380. The cost is for both the in-state and out-of-state students. The room and board fees will require an additional $12,296. Students should allocate about $1,226 for educational materials and about $934 for other fees charged by the university.

Financial Aid

About 51% of full-time Cornell undergraduates received grants, scholarships, and fellowships from the school or federal, local, or state government agencies. In previous years, Cornell disbursed $54,219 per student. 

For Dartmouth, there are several financial aids available to students. Below are some of them:

Grants and Scholarships

Grants and scholarships are funds students receive for their education that do not need to be refunded. All scholarship funds in this college are based on financial needs, not academic merit, ability, or talent.

Work-Study and Student Employment

Most financial aid awards available require employment eligibility. Students can take up the opportunity to work on campus and earn money to cover the indirect funds. The earnings from these works are paid directly to the student and are not applied to the tuition bill.

Student Loans

A loan is a type of financial aid that must be repaid. Dartmouth expects its students to refrain from borrowing a student loan as part of a need-based award. They can request that your EFC should be reduced or replaced.

Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

There are loans available for parents to cover the cost of the family contribution. PLUS is a federal government direct loan in which the dependent student's parent is the borrower or applicant.

Private Educational Loans

This type of loan is obtained from private banks. Your ability to get a loan from these banks depends on your creditworthiness and current indebtedness. Students will be required to use a cosigner.

Sports and Extracurriculars

Cornell and Dartmouth offer its students various extracurricular activities. These include almost all activities of interest, giving the student a good experience outside the classroom. Below are some of them:

  • Sports and fitness activities
  • Arts and culture clubs
  • Gaming clubs
  • Academic and Professional Organizations

Both schools offer many activities that allow the students to express their creativity and appreciate different art forms. Also, these activities make students passionate about music, theatre, dance, painting, and others grow in their talents. 

two female students taking notes while working on project

Choosing Between Cornell and Dartmouth: How to Decide

Choosing which school to choose between the great Ivy League schools can be exhausting. Cornell and Dartmouth are top-tier schools with plenty of good things to offer their students. The two schools have some similarities; however, some features make each institution appealing to different students. So, most students sometimes ask, is Cornell better than Dartmouth?

Using the data given above, Cornell University has a large student body. It provides its students the luxury to mix and connect with people from various cultures and interests. On the other hand, Dartmouth College has a small student body, giving its students an intimate feel with other school members.

Using their strengths, both schools have a lot of programs to offer their students. However, Cornell has programs that stand out, which include majors like computer science. On the other hand, Dartmouth has normal programs such as arts-oriented majors, including history and government.

Finally, Cornell's general education and distribution requirements are rigorous and time-consuming. On the other hand, Dartmouth allows students to choose what to study and when they want to study it.

FAQs: Cornell Vs Dartmouth

Below are some recently asked questions and answers about Cornell and Dartmouth:

1. Is It Harder to Get Into Cornell or Dartmouth?

Dartmouth has a slightly lower acceptance rate, so it is a bit harder to get into than Cornell. However, keep in mind that both schools are very competitive and typically accept less than 10% of students who apply.

2. Which College Holds Greater Prestige: Cornell or Dartmouth?

Both Cornell and Dartmouth are prestigious Ivy League schools. The perceived prestige may vary, and it depends on individual perspectives, academic programs, and professional fields. There's no definitive answer, as prestige is subjective.

3. How Do Cornell and Dartmouth Compare in Terms of Opportunities for Undergraduate Research or Internships?

Cornell and Dartmouth have a wide range of research and internship opportunities for students. At Cornell, the students can access more than 100 research centers and institutes. On the other hand, Dartmouth is strongly focused on interdisciplinary research, which includes different faculty coming together to solve complex problems.

4. Which University, Cornell or Dartmouth, Might Be a Better Fit for Students Interested in Specific Fields Like Engineering, Business, or Liberal Arts?

Cornell is a better fit for students interested in specific fields like engineering, business, or liberal arts because they have various colleges, each having its specialty. On the other hand, Dartmouth only has a few majors, with about 40 undergraduate departments.

5. Is Dartmouth or Cornell Better for Liberal Arts?

Dartmouth College has a strong focus on undergraduate liberal arts education, and it is well-known for its close-knit community. Cornell also offers the program, but the size and the research opportunities available in the school may give the student an entirely different experience.

6. Which School Has a Stronger Alumni Network, Cornell or Dartmouth?

Networking is critical in building a successful career after graduating from university. Cornell and Dartmouth have a strong alumni network with accomplished graduates in different fields. The strength of the network can be seen in the field of interest and location.

Final Thoughts

When choosing a university, it is essential to thoroughly consider the different factors that can affect your academics and career. Dartmouth College and Cornell University are top-tier schools with rich histories and good academic records, which makes them highly sought after by students.

Choosing a university should depend on your academic and personal preferences, and you have been provided with all the information needed to make an informed decision. In conclusion, these institutions have significant differences that can greatly affect your decision-making process.

Good luck!

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