English Language Proficiency (ELP)

All Cornell students, including Precollege students, must have a strong command of the English language to be successful in their engagement in their university studies.

Do I need to submit test scores?

You do NOT need to submit scores if

  • Your current high school uses English as its official language of instruction
  • OR

  • All classes at your high school are taught in English

You DO need to submit scores if

  • Your current high school does not use English as its official language of instruction
  • OR

  • All classes at your high school are not taught in English

In this case, you must have the following minimum scores to apply to Summer Residential Program classes:

  • 100 and above on the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
  • 5.5 and above on the iTEP
  • 7.5 and above on the IELTS Academic (While IELTS testing is currently suspended due to COVID-19, we will accept your IELTS Indicator score.)
  • 120 and above on the Duolingo English Test
  • 70 and above on the PTE Academic
  • 191 and above on the Cambridge English Scale
  • 650 or higher on the evidence-based reading and writing portion of the SAT test

The assessments and examinations that meet this requirement include the following:

When you apply, you must submit a complete report from at least one of the above assessments. We can't process your application without the full report(s).

Haven't taken TOEFL or IELTS English language exams? Contact your nearest test center to take the TOEFL or IELTS tests.

What if my scores don't meet the requirements?

If your scores don't meet the requirements above, we suggest that you work on strengthening your English language skills this year and apply in the following year.

I-20 forms and F-1 student visas

International students applying for online courses are not required to obtain a visa.

International students applying for on-campus courses must obtain an F-1 student visa to attend credit-bearing educational programs in the United States. To obtain an F-1 student visa, you must:

  • Be fluent in written and spoken English
  • Be enrolled for the duration of your program in at least three credits for a three-week session or at least six credits for a six-week session

Applying for a visa

To apply for an F-1 student visa, you will be required to upload a copy of your passport and complete the I-20 request form along with your online application materials.

We begin generating I-20s in late March. It can take up to four weeks after you submit payment, an I-20 request form, and a copy of your passport for us to generate your I-20, so please be patient.

When your I-20 is ready, you will receive an email with instructions on how to access and download your document, using your online application account.

As soon as you download and print your I-20, take it along with a copy of your admissions acceptance letter to your U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for an F-1 visa.

This is a lengthy process, so begin your application as soon as possible. Some countries require more time to schedule appointments and process visa paperwork. We cannot be responsible for delays in receiving visa documents or difficulties scheduling appointments with your U.S. embassy or consulate.

Requirements for Canadian citizens

Canadian citizens do not need to go to a U.S. consulate to apply for a visa stamp. However, you do need to pay the SEVIS fee, and you must request F-1 status when you enter the United States by presenting

  • Your I-20
  • Your Canadian passport
  • Receipt showing you have paid the SEVIS fee