Female Catalyst participants sitting at the bowling alley

FAQs | Application Process & Decisions

For questions regarding travel and activities during the Academy, check travel and program FAQs.

COVID Impact

Will the 2023 program be held in-person or online due to COVID-19?

The 2023 program will be held entirely in-person.

Online Application

Can I save my progress and come back to the application later?

  • Yes, you can move forward and backward within the online application. Once you begin an application, you can save it provided you are using the same computer.
  • Remember to press SUBMIT on your application to ensure it is recorded.
  • If your application remains incomplete for two (2) weeks after the last activity, it will be recorded in our system. If you still wish to apply, you will need to begin a new application. Incomplete applications are not reviewed.
  • We highly recommend reviewing the preview application for the essay prompt and other information you will need ready to enter and or upload.

For the math and science course history section, do I note courses complete, in progress, or planned? 

  • Select the course if completed previously or in progress during the current school year. If you plan to take a course in the future, you can note it in the essay or “other” section in course history. Example: AP Calculus AB (senior year)

I attend a school where my grades are on a different grading scale (other than a point system).  

  • Please submit an official translated version of your transcript along with official documentation that explains your school’s grading scale in relation to that of a 4.0/5.0 grading scale. The grades should be translated by a school official.

Cohort Size

How many participants are admitted to the Academy?

  • We will admit up to 54 students for the summer 2023 cohort.
  • We have a wait-list from which we invite students to participate in the event an admitted student withdraws or declines our offer.
  • We notify all applicants of their status (admitted, wait-listed, etc.) in the initial notification by May 1st.

Applying After the Deadline

I was not able to submit my application by the deadline. Can I still submit it?

  • All applications and supporting documents must be submitted online by the application deadline.

Can I still apply for financial assistance after the deadline?

  • No, financial assistance applications must be submitted by March 15.
  • Scholarship awards are included in the acceptance email so that participants and their families may make an informed decision whether to participate.

Application Status & Notification

I have submitted all my application materials. When will I receive a confirmation email with my status?

  • You should receive an automatic confirmation upon submission of the application and supporting documents. You will also receive an email when your recommender submits their form. If you did not receive an automatic email, check spam or other folders.
  • Formal completion notices will be sent by March 15th after staff reviews all submitted materials.
  • If you have questions, please contact us at dpeng@cornell.edu or (607) 255-6403. Please be aware that close to the deadline we are managing a large volume of applications. Thus, we highly recommend submitting early!

When will I find out whether or not I was accepted into the Academy?

  • Decisions will be released by May 1st via email

Admission Decisions

Can you tell me why I was not admitted to the program? I’d like to improve my chances in the future.

  • Unfortunately, due to high volume, we cannot give feedback to individual applicants. We receive over 400 applications from highly competitive students and cannot accommodate all interested students. Some general tips for improving are: Write a strong essay. Pay close attention to the questions and make sure to answer them. Be authentic about your interests. If unsure about your interest in engineering, acknowledge this within your essay.


Do I have to be a US Citizen or permanent resident to apply to the Academy?

  • No, we accept applications from all students in eligible grades and with a 3.0 or higher grade point average.

Non-minority Applicants

My child is not an underrepresented minority. Can s/he participate?

  • The Academy is open to all students but specifically aims to engage and provide access to STEM for minority and/or first-generation students.

Applying to Cornell University

Does participation in the CATALYST Academy impact my Cornell application?

The CATALYST Academy is not a feeder program for admissions to Cornell University. Thus, participation in the program does not impact admissions. However, we hope CATALYST alumni will apply to Cornell. Additionally, some CATALYST alumni apply and are admitted to the university.