Online Ph.D. application is available through the Graduate School starting September 1. The Information Science Ph.D. application deadline is December 1, 2020 for the Fall 2021 admission. No application materials will be accepted, and no submitted applications will be updated after the deadline. There are no Spring admissions. No preadmission application is required. Please direct all inquiries to: Graduate Program Coordinator Barbara Woske at



To apply to the Information Science Ph.D. program, you must complete the online application through the Graduate School. No preadmission application is required. To complete the online application, you will need the following materials - including letters of recommendation - submitted on or before December 1, 2020:

Optional Materials

The following are optional and are not required for admission into the Information Science Ph.D. program.



Your application should include complete and scanned transcripts of all previous college and university work, including any work done at Cornell. If you are submitting unofficial transcripts, the Graduate School will require that you submit official transcripts should you be accepted into the program. In this case, please make sure your transcript has your name, birthdate, and the name of the attended university.

Applicants should scan their transcripts and upload the documents into the on-line application themselves as part of the submission process. For students who are subsequently admitted and accept the offer of admission, an official paper transcript will be required prior to matriculation; students will be reminded of this requirement on the “response to offer of admission” form.

International Credentials

All transcripts or academic records must be official documents provided in the original language. If that language is not English, they must be accompanied by certified translations into English. If not issued by the college or university as original documents, they should be notarized, full-sized photocopies. They should include grades received in each subject each year, and the number of weeks and hours per week that each subject was studied. Courses must be described in detail. The general subject name (e.g., “mathematics”) is not sufficient. The particular subject (e.g., “differential equations,” “algebraic topology”) must be identified.

If you are admitted into the program and you accept our offer of admission, the Graduate School will require an official transcript. They will contact you directly about this requirement.

Grade point averages

If your school uses a GPA scale other than 0–4.0, just leave this field blank when submitting your application. If you feel you must, you may enter 0. We will review your transcript and will rate your performance on the grades you received, not the number you enter into this field.

Letters of Recommendation

Your application must include three letters of recommendation. The letters should be from professors who are familiar with your work and who can testify to your potential as a researcher in Information Science. Once you have submitted your application, a notification will be sent to your recommenders within 48 hours. These letters are a very important part of your application, and you should ensure that they are submitted into the electronic application system by December 1. We discourage mailed letters of recommendation as this delays the processing of your application.

Statement of Purpose is required of all applicants

A successful statement of purpose will address the following topics:

  • Questions and Issues you're interested in exploring as a PhD student and why they matter to you;
  • How your research interests relate to the work of Faculty at Cornell;
  • Your ultimate goal in pursuing a PhD. 

For International Students

TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

International applicants must demonstrate competency in the English language. Acceptable proof of competency is:

  1. Internet-based Test (iBT) version of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). Each section (writing: 20, Listening: 15, Reading: 20, Speaking: 22) has its own minimum score as noted. Applicant scores must meet the minimums set by the Graduate school. A cumulative score is NOT the correct measure and is NOT sufficient for an offer of admission.
  2. The Graduate School requires an overall band score of a 7.0 or higher on the IELTS. Please email for information about how to send your scores.

In some cases, international students who are admitted will be required to take a remedial course in English.

Please see the Graduate School's link for the TOEFL requirements.


The TOEFL requirement may be waived if the applicant meets at least one of these criteria:

  • is 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.
  • 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.

Optional Application Materials

Personal Statement

This will be required for those interested in being nominated for a Diversity Fellowship

  • Your Personal Statement should provide the admissions committee with a sense of you as a whole person, and you should use it to describe how your personal background and experiences influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Additionally, it should provide insight on your potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect where scholars representing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and innovate productively and positively together.
  • Your Personal Statement provides you with an opportunity to share experiences that provide insights on how your personal, academic, and/or professional experiences demonstrate your ability to be both persistent and resilient, especially when navigating challenging circumstances. It also gives you an opportunity to provide examples of how you engage with others and have facilitated and/or participated in productive collaborative endeavors. Additionally, it provides you with an opportunity to provide context around any perceived gaps or weaknesses in your academic record.
  • Content in the Personal Statement should complement rather than duplicate the content contained within the Research Statement of Purpose, which should focus explicitly on your academic interests, previous research experience, and intended area of research during your graduate studies.

Resume, Writing Samples, and Portfolio 

Additional materials such as resume, writing samples, and portfilio are not required but may be submitted if you feel this will enhance your application. 

GRE (Graduate Record Examination)

The department of Information Science does not require applicants to the doctoral program take the GRE general test.

General Information

Faculty Research Interests

For a list of faculty in the field of Information Science and their concentrations, please see our Faculty section of the website. Please feel free to contact specific Faculty to discuss in more detail their research interests. 

Please direct other inquiries to: Graduate Program Coordinator Barbara Woske at

Campus Locations: Ithaca and Cornell Tech

Though we have two campuses, each PhD student's location is determined by the location of their preferred or temporary advisor. Students considering changing their advisor should keep in mind that the change could mean a move to either the Ithaca or New York City campus, depending on where the preferred advisor is based. When applying to the PhD program, applicants may indicate a campus preference, but ultimately the advisor's location determines which campus the PhD student will be based. Further, all applicants will be evaluated by the Field as a whole regardless of their intended location. There is no requirement for students working with Cornell Tech faculty to complete a residency period in Ithaca, or vice-versa. 


Admission into the doctoral program in the Field of Information Science is based purely on academic merit. 

All Ph.D. students in Information Science are fully supported during the academic year as long as they remain in good academic standing. Support from Cornell includes tuition, health insurance, and stipend. Support is available in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and fellowships. For students entering in the Fall 2019 semester, a Teaching Assistantship (TA) or a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) covers full tuition, health insurance and pays a stipend of $27,218 for nine months. Fellowships also cover tuition and health insurance in full and pays a stipend, which is typically higher than the TA or GRA stipend. Summer support is often available but not guaranteed, and pays an additional stipend.

Students located at the NYC Tech Campus

Students who are in residence at our NYC Tech Campus are paid a higher stipend in order to offset the higher cost of living in the city. Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Graduate Research Assistantships (GRA) and Fellowships cover full tuition, student insurance and pay a stipend for nine months.

Teaching Assistantships

Each TA is assigned to a course and is tasked with helping the course instructor. The average time commitment is 15 hours per week. TA assignments typically involve grading homework, holding office hours, preparing assignments, or teaching recitations. Students who TA for the semester should make arrangements to arrive back to campus at least one week prior to the start of the semester.  For Fall TAs, this would be no later than August 22; for the Spring term, this would be no later than January 15. If students are expecting to TA for the following semester, they should make sure their summer/winter internships or other commitments end in time to return to campus earlier. 

TA assignments for Ithaca-based courses are assigned by the Director of Graduate Studies; and the Graduate Field Assistant at the Ithaca campus. TA assignments for the Tech Campus are assigned by the Student Service Assistant at the Tech Campus.

Research Assistantships

A GRA is given to a student whose research interests coincide with a sponsored research project. Typically, the work of a Graduate Research Assistant is an integral part of the student’s dissertation research. The faculty member in charge (your advisor) of the project grants a GRA. GRAs working 12 hours per week on the grant project but may work an additional 8 hours.

Cornell Fellowships

The Graduate School awards several one- and two-year Cornell fellowships to incoming graduate students. Your application for admission automatically serves as the fellowship application. However, your application and all supporting credentials must be received by December 1 in order to be considered for a Cornell Fellowship.

External Fellowships

Applicants are also encouraged to apply for external fellowships. Below is a sample listing of fellowships that our IS students may be eligible for. These fellowships are highly prestigious, and they free the student of the responsibilities of an assistantship. Whenever possible, the department helps students in the fellowship application process. In some instances, the department must nominate the applicant. The department will put a call out for nominations for these fellowships throughout the year. Students are also encouraged to look for fellowship opportunities and alert their advisor if they would like to be nominated for one.

Some of the outside fellowships that our students have been awarded include:

  • IBM – This fellowship is open for continuing students. The department nominates the candidates for this fellowship.
  • Facebook – This fellowship is open for continuing students. The department nominates the candidates for this fellowship.
  • Google – This fellowship is open for continuing students. The department nominates the candidates for this fellowship.
  • Microsoft – This fellowship is open for continuing students. The department nominates the candidates for this fellowship.