Cornell University

Graduate Degree Programs

218 Ives Hall, 607-255-1522

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a list of frequently asked questions. To view an answer, click on the question. To hide the answer, click on the question again.

  • What is the application deadline?

    Fall - Round 1: January 1; Round 2: February 15

    Spring - October 15

    MS/PhD applications are not accepted for spring admission. All MS/PhD applications must be submitted during Round 1 (January 1 application deadline).

  • What is the difference between the MILR and MS degree?

    The MILR is designed as a practitioner based program. Instruction is theory-based with practitioner application, which prepares students to work in human resources, labor relations, with labor organizations, federal agencies, and NGOs globally. The program works best for students with 1-4 years of experience. There is a 1-year option open to qualified students with an MBA or JD. The graduate committee would decide whether you qualify for this option.

    The MS/PhD program is a research-based program designed to prepare students to teach at the college level and conduct and publish basic research. Students interested in this track are accepted into one of the following departments: Department of Labor Relations, Law and History; Department of International and Comparative Labor; Department of Human Resource Studies; and the Department of Organizational Behavior. Because the MILR is not a research-based degree, it is not an appropriate program for those who hope to do a PhD at ILR or elsewhere. The JD and MBA also are not adequate preparation for the PhD for the same reason.

  • Do you have an online or distance learning program?

    At this time, we do not have any online or distance learning programs.

  • Can I arrange a campus visit?

    Although we don't require a formal interview, campus visits are encouraged and welcomed. During the academic year, student visits should be planned for weekdays primarily to take full advantage of the opportunities to interact with current students, faculty and staff.

    To schedule your visit, please complete the Campus Visit Request Form.

  • How much work experience should I have?

    The MILR program is intended for students with 1-4 years of work experience. We accept a limited number of students directly from undergrad, but encourage you to apply if you have a strong foundation and meet our other criteria.

  • What is your acceptance rate?

    Admission to our graduate program is considered highly competitive.

    • The acceptance rate for the MILR program is typically between 35% and 40%.
    • The acceptance rate for the MS/PhD program is between 5% and 10%.
  • Is there a difference between the first and second round of admission?

    The ILR Graduate Office recommends that international applicants who expect to have difficulty applying for or obtaining a visa apply for the first round of admissions if possible. This will provide you with sufficient time to make plans if you are admitted to the program. We will accept all applicantions from all students during both rounds.

    Applicants should be aware that the majority of funding will be offered during the first round of admissions. Some funding may be available during the second round, but in general applicants applying for the second round deadline should be prepared to make other plans (such as loans) to fund their first year of the program.

    The admissions committee will review all applications according to the same standards. The committee reviews each application carefully and considers how each applicant would fit with the program itself and as part of the class they are putting together.

  • Can I mail my applications materials to you?

    No. Please do NOT send any application items, such as resumes, transcripts, etc., through regular mail because we cannot include them in your application for the committee. ALL items must be submitted/uploaded through the online application system.

  • Can I use credentialing services or other forms of paid professional assistance?

    No. Cornell University expects all applicants to complete their application materials without the use of paid agents, credentials services, or other paid professional assistance. The use of such services violates University policy, and may lead to the rejection of application materials, the revocation of an admissions offer, cancellation of admission, or involuntary withdrawal from the University.

  • What should my statement of purpose say?

    That's up to you. The statement of purpose explains your reasons for undertaking graduate work and clarifies your academic interests. It is also an opportunity to tell the admissions committee anything about you as an applicant that is not already conveyed through your resume, transcripts, or test scores. You may also address any questions or discrepancies in your materials in your personal statement.

  • Should I submit a writing sample?

    MS/PhD applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a writing sample. MS/PhD applicants who have already completed a master's degree must submit a copy of their master's thesis.

    MILR applicants are not required to submit a writing sample.

  • Should I submit a transcript from every college/university I attended?

    Yes. You must submit unofficial transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended. If you are accepted into the program you will be required to submit official copies of all of your transcripts to the Graduate School.

  • I have been working for several years and am no longer in touch with any of my professors from my undergraduate school. Can I submit professional letters of recommendation instead of academic ones?

    The admissions committee will be interested to know what kind of student you are, which is why submitting 2 academic letters of recommendation is considered important. If you are unable to submit 2 academic recommendations, we strongly encourage you to submit at least 1 academic reference with 1 professional reference. However, if it is not possible to submit an academic reference, you may choose to submit 2 professional recommendations.

  • What should my GRE or GMAT score be?

    The ILR School Admissions Committee takes test scores very seriously, but they are only one part of your application. Each application is reviewed individually, and each component of the application is considered to be only one piece of the big picture. Therefore there is not a "cut-off" score. View the current MILR class profile, including mean GRE and GMAT scores.

  • When do my GRE and GMAT scores expire?

    GRE and GMAT scores expire in 5 years. The Cornell Graduate School will only admit students who submit a valid (i.e. not expired), GRE or GMAT score. ETS and GMAC don't retain expired scores.

  • Do I have to request that the testing service send my score to Cornell University?

    Yes. Scores are only considered valid if they are sent from the testing service. Use the institution codes below. The department code for ILR is 4204.

    • 2098 for GRE and TOEFL scores
    • 2144 for GMAT scores
  • What are the minimum sub-scores for each element of the TOEFL?

    Cornell's official minimum sub-scores for each element of the TOEFL are:

    • Listening: 15
    • Reading: 20
    • Speaking: 22
    • Writing: 20

    There are no exceptions to the minimum scores.

  • Are there exceptions to the TOEFL exam requirement?

    The TOEFL requirement may be waived if the you meet at least one of these criteria:

    • You are a native citizen of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada (except Quebec). Applicants who are citizens of India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, or Singapore, are not exempt from the TOEFL requirement.
    • You studied in full-time status for at least two academic years within the last five years in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand, or with English language instruction in Canada or South Africa. You must submit a transcript that shows you have attended college in one of these approved locations.
  • Can I submit IELTS scores instead of TOEFL scores?

    No. Cornell does not currently accept IELTS scores as an alternative to the TOEFL.

  • When do my TOEFL scores expire?

    The TOEFL score must be dated within two years of the time the application is reviewed by Cornell.

  • How can I check the status of my application?

    Go to the Graduate School's website

    • Click "Review Your Activity"
    • Sign in to your account
    • Click the application you submitted. This will show a "Checklist" link which you may need to expand using the arrow
      1. The checklist will indicate your application status as complete or incomplete.
      2. If your application status is incomplete, use the checklist to determine what materials are missing from your application

    Note: If you submitted GMAT scores instead of GRE scores, it will still show your GRE scores as "pending", please disregard this.

  • I have been placed on the waitlist. Why? What do I do?

    Placement on the waitlist means that the admissions committee would like more time to consider your application and assess how your particular strengths will fit into the class they are building.

    There are also a limited number of places for our applicants. Unfortunately, the best thing to do if you have been placed on the waitlist is to wait. We can promise to notify you of the committee's final decision by May 1, but we cannot offer further information until that time. You may withdraw your name from the waitlist if you choose. Contact us if you have additional questions.

  • If I'm admitted this year can I defer until next year?

    Deferrals can only be granted for specific reasons. If you are considering your options after being accepted to the program, you should contact our office.