Get to Know the Cornell Johnson MBA Program: A Total Guide

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

Getting your MBA at Cornell Johnson will allow you to experience Ithaca’s liberal New York state, college-town vibe to the fullest. With a smaller class size of fewer than 300 students, the program places a strong emphasis on community and teamwork. But if you’re more inclined towards the city-life, Johnson also provides the option to take classes at their tech-focused Manhattan campus. 

Johnson’s host university, Cornell, has a fantastic reputation as part of the Ivy League. Cornell has excellent relationships with prestigious employers such as top consulting, investment banking, and tech firms, where a large number of alumni are present. The strong networking opportunities are definitely something to consider when deciding if Johnson is a good fit for you.

If you’re looking for an MBA program where you can choose to specialize heavily, Johnson is a good bet! Unlike some programs with a longer, fixed curriculum, at Johnson you can dive into classes that are specific to your interests early on. By the second semester of the program, you can choose to participate in Johnson’s immersion program that covers eight functional business areas. The immersion program takes experiential learning seriously, and you will find yourself rolling up your sleeves, and getting straight into site visits and live cases.

Cornell Johnson MBA Class Profile

Acceptance Rate40%
Class Size 292
GMAT Median 700
Average Age 28
Avg. Years Work Experience 5.0 years
Diversity Women 31%
Diversity Intl. 34%
Pre-MBA Industries Does not disclose
Undergraduate Majors Does not disclose

The data above is from 2020 and represents the Cornell Johnson Two-Year MBA Class of 2022.*
See the full report: Cornell Johnson MBA Class Profile

Student Experiences

Cornell Johnson MBA Employment Report & Careers

Salary Average$175,158.00
Offers At 3 Mos. 93%
Post-MBA Industries Financial Services: 34%
Consulting: 30%
Technology: 16%
Consumer Products: 10%
Healthcare*: 3%
Energy/Utilities: 1%
Entertainment/Media: 1%
Law or Legal: 1%
Manufacturing: 1%
Non-Profit/Other**: 1%
Real Estate: 1%
Retail: 1%
Post-MBA Locations United States: 97%
Mid-Atlantic: 5%
Midwest: 11%
Northeast: 50%
South: 7%
Southwest: 9%
West: 15%
Non-US: 3%
Post-MBA Companies

Cornell Johnson Top Hiring Companies

Career Development Resources

Cornell Johnson Career Development

a) Salary Average is a total of Salary + Signing Bonus
b) Healthcare* includes: Medical Services and Pharmaceuticals
c) Non-Profit/Other** includes: Entertainment/Media, Hospitality/Tourism, Retail, and Transportation/Logistics

The data above is from 2020 and represents the career statistics of the Cornell Johnson Two-Year MBA Class of 2020.*
See the full report: Cornell Johnson MBA Employment Report

Cornell Johnson MBA Academic Programs

MBA Curriculum

Cornell Johnson’s MBA curriculum spans across four semesters over two years. In the first year of the program, students primarily take core courses and participate in a mandatory team case competition. The second year of the program focuses on building leadership skills, while allowing students to take electives in areas that interest them. During the first year, students take nine required courses as part of the core curriculum. These classes cover topics such as Critical and Strategic Thinking, Data Modeling and Analytics, and Managerial Finance. You will begin taking elective courses during the second semester of your MBA. These courses fall within a diverse range of subjects, including Emerging Markets, Leadership and Ethics, and Sustainable Global Enterprise.

See the full offering of courses: Cornell Johnson MBA Course Catalog


Academic majors are not a requirement at Cornell Johnson; however, students may optionally decide to structure their course selection around one or more areas of focus. Johnson offers 12 areas of focus to choose from.

  • Asset Management / Investment Research
  • Brand Management
  • Consulting and Strategy
  • Corporate Finance
  • Data Modeling and Analytics
  • Emerging Markets
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • Investment Banking
  • Leadership and Ethics
  • Private Equity and Venture Capital
  • Sustainable Global Enterprise
  • Technology Product Management

Experiential Learning Programs

As part of Johnson’s experiential learning program, students must complete one of eight immersion courses. These offerings are spread out over a wide variety of subject areas such as Digital Technology and Strategic Operations.

Research Centers

Students can make use of Cornell Johnson’s four research centers and institutes to support their MBA education: The Parker Center for Investment Research, the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, the Emerging Markets Institute, and the Smith Family Business Initiative.

MBA International Study Programs

In addition to the international study trips and exchange programs, Johnson offers a variety of classes on international business. A number of these courses are affiliated with Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise and the Emerging Markets Institute.

Video Resources on Cornell Johnson Academics

Cornell Johnson MBA Application

The latest application requirements set by the Cornell Johnson admissions office are described below.


Here are the prompts for Cornell Johnson 2020-2021 application:

  • Goals Statement: A statement of your goals will begin a conversation that will last throughout the admissions process and guide your steps during the MBA program and experience. To the best of your understanding today, please share your short and long term goals by completing the following sentences and answering the enclosed short answer question (350 words maximum):
    • 1. Immediately post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___. (text boxes, no suggested WC)
    • 2. In 5 – 10 years post-MBA, my goal is to work as a(n) ____[Role]____ at ___[Company]___within___[Industry]___. (text boxes, no suggested WC)
    • 3. How has your experience prepared and encouraged you to pursue these goals? (350 words)
  • Impact Essay: At Cornell, our students and alumni share a desire to positively impact the organizations and communities they serve. How do you intend to make an impact during the next several years of your education and/or career? (350 words maximum)
  • Back of Your Resume Essay: The front page of your resume has given us a sense of your professional experience and accomplishments as well as your academic summary and extracurricular involvement. If the back page reflects “the rest of your story,” please help us get to know you better by sharing ONE example of a life experience, achievement, or passion that will give us a sense of who you are as a potential community member. (350 words or upload multimedia file)
  • Optional Essay: You may use this essay to call attention to items needing clarification and to add additional details to any aspects of your application that do not accurately reflect your potential for success at Johnson. (350 words maximum)
  • Park Fellowship: To apply for the Park Fellowship, please complete this essay (500-word limit).
    Describe a past formal or informal leadership experience and how it informs your goals for growth as a leader.  How would the Park Leadership Fellowship assist with these goals?

Letters of Recommendation 

The 2020-2021 Cornell Johnson recommender questions are as follows:

  • Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization. (recommended word count: 50 words)
  • How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g. what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) (recommended word count: 500 words)
  • Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. (recommended word count: 500 words)
  • (Optional) Is there anything else we should know? (no word limit)

Video Resources on Cornell Johnson Admissions

Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Interviews

Interviews for admission to Cornell Johnson are conducted primarily through Skype or in-person at the Ithaca campus. Occasionally, you may have the option to complete the interview in your city. Candidates are encouraged to schedule their interviews within 7 days of notification. The admissions interviews are conducted either by trained second year MBA students, who are part of the Johnson Admissions Group, or by professional MBA and Admissions staff. Johnson does not offer interviews conducted by program alumni. 

It is good to note that Cornell Johnson hosts Group MBA interview days. These interviews are also by invitation-only, and they include the Johnson Leadership Exploration and Assessment Day and Johnson Women in Business events. 

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What Makes Cornell Johnson Unique?

  • The intangible assets of Johnson’s host university, Cornell, really stand out: the university’s reputation as part of the Ivy League, its alumni network, and its strong relationship with prestigious employers truly adds value to the MBA degree. 
  • Cornell Johnson Tech MBA: This program is catered towards students with a background in tech looking to gain a firm grounding in business fundamentals and pursue a career in product management or entrepreneurship. The majority of the classes in this program are based at Cornell’s NYC campus. 

*All data retrieved from the Cornell Johnson MBA Program webpages, unless otherwise stated.