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First-Year Applicants

Professor Nicholson having a discussion with three students

To be a successful first-year Brooks School applicant, you will need to demonstrate you have completed rigorous coursework and received a strong grade point average throughout high school and into senior year. You should have a depth of high school coursework across a number of subjects, including demonstrating exceptional competence in writing and quantitative coursework.

Academic Preparation

The Brooks School recommends sixteen units of secondary coursework, including four of English, four of mathematics (Calculus and/or Statistics recommended), and three of science. 

A foreign language is recommended as additional preparatory coursework.

How to Apply

Before you apply, please review the application instructions. We accept the Common Application. On the Common App, first select Cornell University on the “My Colleges” tab.  Then under the application questions, in the “academics” section, select the “Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy” as the school to which you are applying.   Indicate either “Public Policy” or “Health Care Policy” as your anticipated major, and complete the application prompts.

As part of your application, you will need to prepare a written response to the question: “Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals.”  Maximum word count 650 words.

Application Expectations

In addition to strong academic performance, to be a successful Brooks School applicant, you will need to show that you have engaged in meaningful extracurricular activities and volunteer work that reflects your values and interests. We seek quality participation in these activities, not just quantity of experiences.  You should demonstrate that you have reflected on your personal values and academic goals, and have considered how the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy will align with both.  Using your experiences as a foundation, clearly articulate why you are drawn to studying public policy and your chosen major at the Brooks School. For the fall 2025 Brooks School is test-recommended. We recommend you submit ACT or SAT scores with your application. Please note that applicants for fall 2026 and beyond will be required to submit test scores.


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