Executive Order Will Not Affect Admissions Decisions for International Students

Friday, February 10, 2017

On February 10, 2017, Dean Knuth sent the letter below to all directors of graduate study and graduate field assistants conveying to faculty that the January 27, 2017 Executive Order from the Trump Administration banning entry in the United States for nationals from seven countries should not be a factor in graduate admissions decisions.  Read the full text below:

Dear Directors of Graduate Studies and Graduate Field Assistants:

The January 27, 2017 Executive Order from the Trump Administration banning entry into the United States for nationals from seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) may raise questions among your graduate applicants and your faculty admissions committees regarding potential implications for the current cycle of graduate admissions for Fall ’17 enrollment. 

I am writing to urge you to consider any and all applicants as you normally would, applying a holistic admissions review process that fairly evaluates each applicant based on his or her academic credentials and intellectual potential.  Uncertainties regarding the likely ability of any admitted student to enter the U.S. should not be a factor in your admissions decisions. 

With recent court actions and other anticipated legal proceedings, the legal and constitutional status of the Executive Order may be in flux over the next weeks or months.  It is not possible to predict what effect those actions will have on freedom of movement for admitted students from these seven countries (or other countries pending future actions by the Trump Administration), nor on the interest of admitted international students to attend a U.S. university.

The Graduate School pledges to work with you to provide flexibility should admitted international students seek (or be forced) to defer or delay matriculation to a later date due to the Executive Order or related actions.  We will make arrangements with you to put on hold Graduate School funding that has been awarded to delayed students, reserving that funding for later use when the student is able to enroll at Cornell, or making other arrangements to hold the field “harmless” regarding fellowship resources should such students face extended delays or barriers to entry.

Applicants and admitted students with questions about Cornell’s response to the Executive Order can be referred to this update page from Global Cornell.  Once applicants have been admitted to Cornell, please encourage them to contact Cornell’s International Students and Scholars Office ( if they have questions about visa or other immigration issues.

Thank you for your efforts to honor Cornell’s commitment to any person, any study … and students from any country.  Please let me know if you have questions or concerns.

Warm regards,


Dr. Barbara A. Knuth
Senior Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School