Cornell College

2014 Quick Stats
600 First Street SW

Mount Vernon, IA 52314-1098

Phone: (319) 895-4000
2013-2014 Tuition
tuition and fees
male /
Feb. 1
application deadline

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U.S. News Rankings

Ranking score and category
U.S. News rank Category Name
#97 Overall Score: 55 out of 100. National Liberal Arts Colleges

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Cornell College is a private institution that was founded in 1853. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,180, its setting is rural, and the campus size is 129 acres. Cornell College's ranking in the 2014 edition of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts Colleges, 97. Its tuition and fees are $36,430 (2013-14).

Cornell College is a small, private liberal arts school in Mount Vernon, Iowa, that utilizes a block schedule. This special academic calendar, named One Course At A Time (OCAAT), consists of eight blocks of 18 days each. In a given block, students at Cornell College attend just one class from 9-11 a.m., break for lunch and then resume from 1-3 p.m., so they focus intensely on just one area of study for a shorter amount of time. Each course under the block schedule counts as four credits in a semester system. Cornell students use "block breaks" to do whatever they want, such as interning, traveling or simply taking a break. Students at Cornell College can choose from more than 30 undergraduate programs and more than 10 pre-professional areas of study, including business and law.

Outside the classroom, students at Cornell College can get involved in more than 100 campus clubs and play intramural sports. More serious athletes can try out for the purple and white Cornell Rams varsity teams, which compete in the NCAA Division III Midwest Conference. Notable Cornell College alumni include Edgar Helms, founder of the nonprofit Goodwill Industries International Inc.

School mission and unique qualities (as provided by the school):

Cornell College is a nationally ranked, highly selective liberal arts college of 1,200 students characterized by rigorous academic immersion in a One Course At A Time curriculum. This distinctive approach enables students to gain tremendous depth and true mentoring from faculty who are creative, active scholars. Cornell's intellectual community attracts academically motivated, adventurous, and passionate students. Ninety-four percent of graduates complete their degree in four years, and 59 percent finish with a major and minor or a double major. They acquire substantial real world experience through research, travel, and internships guided through special academic centers emphasizing health sciences, law and society, literary arts, and economics, business, and public policy. The beautiful Cornell campus invites students into a unique campus culture where they develop quality interpersonal relationships with highly engaged classmates. Because Cornell faculty teach and assess the skills and essential capabilities that provide lifetime value, the result is relevant education that produces graduates who go on to lead lives of service, achievement, leadership, and personal fulfillment. Founded in 1853, Cornell was the first campus named entirely to the National Historic Register. Its location in Mount Vernon, Iowa, is an ideal setting distinguished by a vibrant local arts scene and recognized by Frommer's as one of "America's Coolest Small Towns." Mount Vernon provides a safe, college-centered community with strong connections to the Eastern Iowa Corridor. Cornell is recognized as one of 40 colleges featured in Colleges That Change Lives, was identified by The New York Times as one of 20 "stealth powerhouse" colleges, and is one of only 270 colleges in the United States to host an active chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

General Information

School type private, coed college
Year founded 1853
Religious affiliation United Methodist
Academic calendar 8 terms
Setting rural
2012 Endowment $63,666,636


When applying to Cornell College, it's important to note the application deadline is February 1, and the early action deadline and the early decision deadline are December 1 and November 1, respectively. Scores for either the ACT or SAT test are due March 1. The application fee at Cornell College is $30. It is more selective, with an acceptance rate of 52.9 percent and an early acceptance rate of 54.8 percent.

For more information about the tests, essays, interviews, and admissions process, visit the Applying to College knowledge center.

Selectivity more selective
Fall 2012 acceptance rate 52.9%
Application deadline February 1
SAT/ACT scores must be received by March 1

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Academic Life

The student-faculty ratio at Cornell College is 12:1, and the school has 69 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students. The most popular majors at Cornell College include: Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Visual and Performing Arts; Education; and Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 80.8 percent.

Class sizes
Class sizes
Student-faculty ratio 12:1
4-year graduation rate 66%
Five most popular majors for 2012 graduates
Social Sciences 16%
Biological and Biomedical Sciences 10%
Visual and Performing Arts 10%
Education 7%
Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies 7%

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Student Life

Cornell College has a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,180, with a gender distribution of 45.3 percent male students and 54.7 percent female students. At this school, 92 percent of the students live in college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing and 8 percent of students live off campus. Cornell College is part of the NCAA III athletic conference.

Total enrollment 1,180
Student gender distribution
Student gender distribution
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate men who are members of a fraternity
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Undergraduate women who are members of a sorority
Collegiate athletic association NCAA III

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Campus Info & Services

Cornell College offers a number of student services including nonremedial tutoring and health service. Cornell College also offers campus safety and security services like 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night transport/escort service, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, and controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). Of the students at Cornell College, 42 percent have cars on campus. Alcohol is permitted for students of legal age at Cornell College.

Students who have cars on campus 42%
Health insurance offered No

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Paying for School

At Cornell College, 71.9 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $20,435.

Paying for college doesn't have to be difficult or devastating. Go to the Paying for College knowledge center to get advice on raising cash and reducing costs.

Tuition and fees $36,430 (2013-14)
Room and board $8,500 (2013-14)
Financial aid statistics
Financial aid statistics

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* Overview details based on 2012 data

College Rankings

Best Liberal Arts Colleges - Narrow your search with the U.S. News rankings of Liberal Arts Colleges, schools that emphasize undergrad liberal arts education.

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