Program Admissions

The MS/PhD program at ILR is very selective, with less than 5% of applicants accepted. Applications are accepted once a year, for a fall matriculation. Students apply through the Graduate School. Instructions for the application can be found on the Graduate School website.

Many applicants have an undergraduate or Master’s degree in the social sciences (e.g., anthropology, economics, government, history, psychology or sociology), although this is not a prerequisite.

Graduate Admissions Committee

The Graduate Admissions Committee, composed of representatives from each of the areas of academic specialization within the ILR School and the Director of Graduate Studies, makes admissions decisions for the MS/PhD program. These decisions reflect consideration of both applicants’ academic record (grades and standardized test scores), and whether applicants’ academic interests, as expressed in their statement of purpose, can be pursued effectively at ILR, given the interests of faculty members.

Application Materials

The MS/PhD application is currently open. Applicants must submit their application, including all supporting documentation, in time for us to receive it by December 15, 2019. Decisions are usually made by early March, and applicants are notified in a letter from the Director of Graduate Studies.

  • Transcripts
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Recommendations - Two academic letters of recommendation are required.
  • Writing Sample - Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a writing sample. Applicants who have already completed a Master's degree may submit a copy of their Master's thesis.
  • GRE or GMAT Scores - There is no defined GRE or GMAT score performance requirement.
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores - The Graduate School does have requirements for performance on TOEFL or IETLS scores for non-native English-speaking applicants.

More information can be found at Cornell's Graduate School website:

Financial Support

Admitted students receive full funding for up to five years by serving as teaching or research assistants to the faculty, which covers tuition ($20,800 per year), health insurance (SHP), and a stipend ($27,218 per year). MS/PhD students are still responsible for the student activity fee ($85.00 per year) for finding their own housing and working out additional costs of living expenses beyond what the stipend provides. There may be opportunities for advanced PhD candidates to teach their own class, under faculty supervision, before they graduate.