Doctoral Program Statistics

Use this page to explore summary statistics for research doctoral programs administered by the Graduate School. While the most common doctoral degree is the Ph.D., the D.M.A. in Music and the J.S.D. in Law are also included here. Methodology and definitions are provided at the bottom of the page.   

For additional graduate statistics, survey results, and career outcomes data, see program metrics.

Methodology and Definitions

Admissions Counts

Applied, admitted and matriculated counts are reported for new, external applications only. Current students who transfer into a different graduate program at Cornell without submitting a new application are not counted here.

Individuals may defer enrollment and/or matriculate into a program that differs from the one to which they originally applied. This can cause matriculated counts to appear higher than admitted counts in some fields.

Admission cycles start in the summer and continue through the following spring. For example, the 2020-21 admissions year includes data from summer 2020 through spring 2021. Because these dashboards are updated annually in the fall, the most recent year will not include data from the spring.

Average Admit Rate

Admit rate is the percentage of applicants who were admitted. Highly selective programs tend to have low admit rates. The five year average provides a good indicator of typical admit rates.


Enrollment numbers are derived from the student enrollment snapshot that is captured the sixth week of each fall term. Only students who are enrolled on the census date are counted. Students on an approved leave of absence are not included.

Average Completion Rate

Completion rate is the percentage of entering doctoral students who successfully completed the degree. Completion rates are reported by entering cohort, which is defined by the first term in which a student is enrolled in their doctoral program, regardless of any prior enrollment in a master’s program. The cohorts included here entered their programs seven to twelve years ago, and thus have had adequate time to finish a doctoral degree.

Status of Students in Each Recent Entering Cohort

This graph shows the current status of students who began the doctoral program in each of the last ten academic years. Students listed as completed have received the doctoral degree. Students are considered current in their program if they are still actively pursuing the doctoral degree or are on an approved temporary leave of absence. Students listed as discontinued have either left the university without a degree or switched to a different type of degree program (in many cases a master’s degree).

Time to Degree (TTD)

Time-to-degree degree measures the time in years from the first day of a student’s initial enrollment in their doctoral program to the day of their degree conferral. Time-to-degree measures elapsed time only, not enrolled time. It does not stop and start if a student takes a leave of absence. For Master’s/PhD students, time-to-degree starts when they begin the PhD phase of their studies. If a student was enrolled in a master’s program prior to matriculating in the doctoral program, the separate time in the master’s program is not included. Because of this, time-to-degree may appear shorter in some doctoral programs where it is common to complete a master’s prior to matriculation in the doctoral program.

The median time to degree can be thought of as the “mid-point”, where half of the students completed in a time period that is less than or equal to this value. The median is not affected by extreme values or outliers.