To enroll in online courses

International students wishing to enroll in online courses may skip the steps below. Instead, you may select your online course and either enroll by mail or in person or enroll online (available for summer study only).

How to enroll in on-campus courses

1. Review language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide proof (see step 5) that you have taken the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and received the following scores:

  • A TOEFL score of at least 100 on the internet-based test or 600 on the paper test
  • —OR—

  • An IELTS score of at least 7

These required scores reflect the minimum level of English proficiency you need to take Cornell courses.

Adequate command of written and spoken English is critical to your success at Cornell. Courses are taught in English, and you must be able to effectively communicate with faculty members, your fellow students, your roommate, and others to attend Cornell.


If your score is less than 100/600/7, you may want to take the English for International Students and Scholars program before beginning your other studies.

2. Review visa requirements

Most international students in on-campus courses will need an F-1 student visa to study at Cornell. You cannot study at the university on a tourist visa.

The F-1 student visa requires that students studying in the United States be fluent in written and spoken English. This proficiency is also critical to your success at Cornell.

In addition, you must be enrolled for the duration of your program in

  • At least three credits for a three-week session
  • At least six credits for a six- or eight-week session
  • At least 12 credits for a 15-week semester

Obtaining the F-1 visa may take a number of weeks. Therefore, we ask you to submit your I-20 Request Form along with your course-enrollment form (see step 5) at least six weeks before the start of your session.

3. Review enrollment deadlines

See the academic calendar for your session for term dates and enrollment and registration deadlines:

4. Select your course(s)

Review prerequisites and credit limits, check the visa requirements in step 2, then select your course(s).

Fall/Spring courses

If you wish to enroll in Fall/Spring courses, you must request permission to register for 12 credits or more in order to meet visa requirements.

This request must be submitted by mail or email to the Cornell SCE registrar at least at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the session for which you are enrolling. The request should address your specific reasons for wanting to study at Cornell for a semester, including how this study will help you achieve your academic goals.

Along with this request, you must also submit the following:

  • A course enrollment form (PDF) indicating the classes in which you want to enroll if you receive permission to do so. (You do not need to obtain the requested instructor's and college registrar's signatures at this time.)
  • All of your college and university transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation from professors who know you well
  • A copy of the biographical data page of your passport

You might also be required to meet with a Cornell SCE dean.

5. Submit an I-20 request & related materials

To ensure receipt of an I-20 form before the start of your study, you should submit all required forms and documents at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the session for which you are enrolling.

To get started, download and complete

  • An I-20 request form (PDF)
  • A course enrollment form (PDF)
    You do not need to obtain the requested instructor's and college registrar's signatures at this time. We ask that you do that when you arrive on campus. Be sure to make a copy of your form and bring it with you to campus.

Also, gather the following materials:

  • Documentation showing that you've met the TOEFL or IELTS test score requirements (see step 1)
  • A copy of the biographical data page of your passport
  • A current statement from a bank guaranteeing sufficient funds to cover study if personal funds are being used. (If the funds are coming from a scholarship or grant, submit a copy of the letter of award.) The amount must be shown in U.S. dollars and must equal tuition of $1,520 per credit, fees, plus $450 per week or $1,800 per month for living expenses.

Submit all of the above materials, including your course enrollment form, at the same time and as soon as possible, in person or via mail to:

Cornell University
School of Continuing Education
B20 Day Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853

Next steps

Upon receipt of your I-20 request form (PDF) and related materials, our office will issue you an I-20 form (Certificate of Eligibility for F-1 Student Visa).

You may then take the I-20 form to the U.S. Consulate in your home country and apply for the F-1 student visa.


6. Submit payment before or on registration day

See tuition and how to pay.

In addition to the payment methods listed on the how to pay page, international students who are visiting Cornell may also pay by credit card (this exception does not apply to full-time Cornell students).

You are not officially registered until you have submitted your full tuition and fee payment and have no outstanding Bursar indebtedness.

7. Complete Cornell's health requirements

Review the health services page and complete the requirements, including immunizations, by the time you begin your class(es).

8. Finalize your registration

Finalize your registration by completing the steps on the SCE onboarding page.

These requirements include activating your Cornell NetID and familiarizing yourself with important policies.

In addition, review the general orientation information and determine if you need to set up housing or dining plans.

When you arrive on campus

  • Obtain the requested instructor's and college registrar's signatures on your course enrollment form and bring it to B20 Day Hall as soon as possible.
  • Once you arrive at Cornell and are within five days of your Cornell start date, you must complete the Office of Global Learning International Services (IS) online check-in procedure.

IS provides many useful services and programs to international students, including a quick guide to life at Cornell.