Cornell University Review

Cornell University offers a single online master's degree in systems engineering. While electives and core courses can largely be completed online, the program involves project and face-to-face components.

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The Good

Stellar school reputation

Cornell University is one of the most elite academic institutions in the world, and the Ivy league experience is accessible to students in all geographic locations with the school’s online graduate engineering degree. Cornell’s college of engineering has aligned with five other world-class institutions, and the online systems engineering degree offered at the school is the most cutting-edge available in the industry. Becoming an online engineering student at Cornell not only gives you the opportunity to earn a prestigious degree, you will also mingle among a group of peers from top companies and a set of full-time, dedicated faculty.

Online master's in systems engineering available

The college of engineering at Cornell University offers an online master’s of engineering degree in systems engineering. The online degree requires you complete just 30 credits, and a minimum of six credits must be dedicated to a faculty supervised design project. There are only three core courses, a few elective requirements, and the majority of your degree is made up of a practical, team-effort design projects. The school currently only offers this one engineering degree option in an online environment, but if it fits your career interests there is an advantage to pursuing an advanced degree from a highly prestigious institution such as Cornell.

Design project helps you gain experience

The capstone, or design project, is a major component of the online systems engineering degree, which is a great opportunity for practical application of the concepts covered in your graduate engineering coursework. The project requires you to have a Cornell faculty member as a project supervisor and to work in a team environment for successful completion. While some online engineering programs may require you to complete a thesis, a practical project-based experience gives you the opportunity to refine your engineering expertise, technical skills, and communication abilities.

The Bad

High tuition cost and fees

Cornell’s online engineering degree program has the highest tuition rate compared to all other similar online programs. The school is an Ivy league institution and any degree earned from the school carries high prestige, whether earned online or on-campus. However, even when you are applying to the program you may notice that the cost of the program may run quite high. The online application fee alone is nearly $100, which is well above the average application fee and indicative of the program’s high cost of attendance. If you are looking for a more reasonable tuition rate for an engineering, you may want to consider state schools that offer online programs. The most affordable online graduate engineering programs are at North Carolina State University, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Auburn University.

Face-to-face sessions are required

The online master’s degree in engineering offered at Cornell cannot be earned entirely online. You will have at least two credit hours that are delivered in face-to-face sessions on the school’s campus in Ithaca, New York. If you are located on the East coast this may not be terribly inconvenient, but if you plan to attend the program from across the country you may want to consider other online programs. There are online engineering degrees that do not require any visits to campus, and the program at the University of Southern California, for example, utilizes technology to bring interactive classroom sessions live to students over the web.

Program's website lacks key information

Cornell only offers one online engineering degree, and this may be the reason that online program information is inherently lacking on the school’s website. There is very little degree information available on the school of engineering’s website, and what little is stated about the program is very generic and could apply to almost any flexible online degree program. As a prospective online student you may become frustrated while trying to do preliminary research about the online program’s offering, application requirements, and other key background information. It can be somewhat concerning to see an online degree program with such a poor web presence, since the online course delivery system may look somewhat similar.

The Details

General Information

  • Academic Year Founded: 2009-2010
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Application Fee: $95
  • Location: NY
  • Number of Graduate Engineering Programs: 1
  • Region: Northeast
  • School Type: Private
  • Term Schedule: Semester

Tuition Rates (Per Credit)

  • In-State: $1,881
  • Out-of-State: $1,881


  • Master of Engineering in Systems Engineering


  • N/A

Class Profile

  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Average Student Age: 29
  • Average Undergraduate GPA: N/A
  • Avg. GRE Analytical Writing: N/A
  • Avg. GRE Quantitative: N/A
  • Avg. GRE Verbal: N/A
  • Gender Ratio: 17.4% female, 82.6% male
  • Maximum Class Size: N/A
  • Total Enrollment: 69


  • Average Online Teaching Experience: 3 years
  • Full-Time Instructional Faculty: 10
  • Part-Time Instructional Faculty: 3

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2009): 39%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2010): 40%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2011): 62%
  • 1 Year New Student Retention Rate (2013): 85%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2011-2012): 93%
  • Graduation Rate Within 3 Years (2012-2013): 91%

U.S. News Rankings

  • Admissions Selectivity Rank: 41
  • Admissions Selectivity Score: 25/100
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Rank: 50
  • Faculty Credentials and Training Score: 62/100
  • Peer Reputation Mean Score (1-5): 3.9
  • Student Engagement Rank: 26
  • Student Engagement Score: 60/100
  • Student Services and Technology Rank: 13
  • Student Services and Technology Score: 57/100

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