Frequently Asked Questions


First-Year Applicants

Am I required to have an admissions interview?

An interview is not a required component of the School of Hotel Administration (SHA)'s undergraduate admissions process, although applicants may request an optional interview. Applications to SHA are considered complete with or without the interview.

How is the selection process in the School of Hotel Administration different from the other schools/colleges at Cornell?

We hold the same high standards for academic excellence as the other admissions offices at Cornell. What makes our students unique is their demonstrated passion for pursuing a career in the hospitality industry.

We look for applicants who have leadership experience, a strong work ethic, and an appreciation for the challenges of running a business in the service industry, typically demonstrated through work experience in the field.

Do I have to have work experience in order to apply?

It is not required, but it is strongly recommended. In recent years, about 90 percent of our admitted students have had experience working in the hospitality industry. Work experience will give you a better understanding of the industry and provide you with background knowledge to bring into our program.

Will I receive credit for AP courses?

Advanced Placement (AP) credit enables SHA students to exempt themselves from introductory courses and instead enroll in advanced courses. If you receive credit, you may not enroll in a similar course for credit at Cornell unless the AP or International Credential credit is waived. Please review the guidelines outlined on the university Courses of Study website.

SHA students with qualifying scores may be awarded AP credit only in free electives, with two exceptions:

  • AP Microeconomics (a score of 4/5 will fulfill HADM 1410)
  • AP English Language and Composition or AP English Literature and Composition (a score of 5 will fulfill the First-Year Writing Seminar requirement)

Please note that SHA students who receive AP Statistics credit (a score of 4 or 5) will receive credit toward free elective requirements only. All students must enroll in the SHA core course HADM 2010 - Hospitality Quantitative Analysis.

How are international credentials evaluated?

For information on how international credential credits may transfer to Cornell, please review the guidelines outlined on the university Courses of Study website.

Do all students in the School of Hotel Administration live together?

No. First-year students from all seven undergraduate colleges and schools live together on north campus. After your first year, you will have the choice of living on west campus or in a program house on north campus, or moving off campus.

How can I participate in the collaborative degree program with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA)?

Students can complete an associate's degree in culinary arts or baking and pastry arts from the CIA while earning a bachelor's degree in hotel administration. If academically eligible, you can apply to the program during your second or third year.

Will I be taking courses only in the School of Hotel Administration?

About two-thirds of your courses will be within the School of Hotel Administration (core courses and hotel administration electives). You will also take elective courses outside of the school (distributive electives). Part of your curriculum (free electives) can be from any division of Cornell.

What is a concentration and do I have to have one?

A concentration is a series of electives along a specific area of study, like a minor. Courses that fulfill concentrations are defined by the academic areas. It is optional—some students choose not to declare one.

How will I get internships to fulfill the Practice Credit requirement?

Our career management advisors assist current students in finding internship opportunities. Our alumni network of over 13,000 members across the world is one of the best resources students can use to find part-time or full-time positions. Many students choose to work in the Statler Hotel on campus.

What kinds of jobs do graduates get?

Our alumni pursue careers in all areas of the hospitality industry around the world and often start businesses of their own.


Transfer Applicants

What is the deadline for transfer applications?

You may apply to enroll in either the fall or spring semester. Spring-semester transfer applications should be submitted by October 15, and fall-semester transfer applications should be submitted by March 15.

If you are an international transfer applicant applying for financial aid, you are eligible for fall admission only.

What courses should I be taking in my current college before I apply to transfer?

We expect you to have taken chemistry (one year in high school or one semester in college), foreign language (three years in high school or equivalent in college), and either precalculus or a college-level algebra course. Otherwise, we recommend that you take courses that would fulfill our distributive electives and free electives requirements. Please contact our office with any additional questions.

Can I transfer credit from my previous bachelor's degree toward another bachelor's degree here?

We do not admit students who have previously earned a bachelor's degree for a second undergraduate degree. If you have completed a bachelor's degree or the equivalent in any field (including, but not limited to, hospitality management), we encourage you to apply to our Master of Management in Hospitality (MMH) degree program.

Am I required to have an admissions interview?

All applicants are invited to schedule an off-campus admissions interview through our admissions office. An interview is not a required component of the School of Hotel Administration (SHA)'s undergraduate admissions process, although applicants may request an optional interview. Applications to SHA are considered complete with or without the interview.

How and when will I receive my admission decision?

Admission decision letters are mailed to the mailing address listed on your application, and your completion status will be updated in your application self-service account through Cornell's Undergraduate Admissions Office website. Transfer applicants will be notified as decisions are made, on a rolling basis: spring applicants from mid-November to mid-December, and fall applicants from mid-April to mid-June.


International Applicants

I live outside the U.S.; how can I complete the optional admissions interview?

Applicants who are interested in interviewing, but are unable to visit campus, may request an off-campus interview offered by SHA alumni. These interviews are conducted virtually using Skype or similar web-based meeting platforms hosted by your interviewer.

Do all of my application materials need to be in English?

Yes. If your transcript or any other materials are not in English, please submit an original copy and an official, certified English translation.

In my country, it's very hard for students to obtain work experience. Can I still apply without formal work experience?

Yes, but we encourage you to take every opportunity to learn more about the management of hospitality-related companies in your area. Some students choose to volunteer for a business where they can shadow employees and have informational interviews. Firsthand experience will give you a better understanding of the industry and will provide you with some background knowledge to bring into our program.

What are the testing requirements for international applicants?

International freshman and transfer applicants for whom English is not the first language must submit a TOEFL or IELTS score. You may be eligible for a TOEFL or IELTS waiver if you meet certain criteria. For more detailed information on application instructions for international students, please visit the International Students page on the Cornell Undergraduate Admissions Office website.


Visiting Students

How do I apply to be a guest student at SHA?

If you meet the qualification guidelines and wish to apply to the School of Hotel Administration as a guest student, please contact us to begin the application process at sha_admissions@cornell.edu.

What are the deadlines for applying as a guest student?

The deadlines for applying to SHA as a guest student are October 1 for a spring semester start
and March 1 for a fall semester start.

Does Cornell provide financial aid for guest students?

Guest students are not eligible for financial aid from Cornell University. Talk with your home institution about financial aid options, or investigate scholarship opportunities that may be offered by your home country.

Are there special resources available for international guest students?

Cornell's Office of Global Learning provides services related to obtaining visas, student life, the international community, and even helpful tips for packing appropriately for the cold winter weather.

What courses can I take?

Guest students are admitted to SHA at the undergraduate level and are required to take all courses from SHA, with the exception of physical education classes. Once accepted, you will work with the Office of Student Services to create a customized academic plan. Course selections must be pre-approved by your home institution.

Since courses are not offered every semester, students must be flexible and willing to select alternate courses if their first choice is unavailable. After the start of each semester, students have three weeks to add classes and seven weeks to drop classes.

A minimum course load of 12 credits (not including physical education) is required to participate as a guest student, although the recommended course load is 15 credits. Guest students who successfully complete 12 credits will qualify for affiliate membership in the Cornell Hotel Society.

For more information about course content and availability, please explore the following resources:


Other Questions?

If you have more questions, please email us at SHA_admissions@cornell.edu.