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Undergraduate Admission

Michael A. Steidel, Dean of Admission
Gregory A. Edleman, Director of Admission
Office: Warner Hall, Admission Lobby, First Floor
http://www.cmu.edu/admission

Admission Philosophy

At Carnegie Mellon, we select our freshman class from a large group of very qualified candidates. We don't use a calculation to arrive at our admitted class. Calculations can't take into account all of the factors we like to consider when making admission decisions. No single grade, factor, score or activity will automatically gain or deny you admission to Carnegie Mellon. We treat every applicant as an individual and take great care to make our admission decisions fair, thorough and sensitive. We're interested in students who can be successful at Carnegie Mellon, while taking full advantage of all the university has to offer and enriching our campus community.

Admission Criteria

The majority of our applicants are admissible and could be successful at Carnegie Mellon. We use a variety of factors to select our first-year class from those admissible candidates.

Our admission process is designed to select a highly talented, diverse undergraduate population with high aspirations who will succeed at Carnegie Mellon. If you’re applying to academic programs, your high school performance will be a significant factor in our admission decision because it’s the most meaningful indication of your motivation and abilities. We pay close attention to your curriculum rigor, the grades you’ve earned and the work you’ve accomplished. We’re interested in seeing that you’ve challenged yourself within your secondary school environment. If you’re applying to programs in the arts, your artistic performance will be either the main factor or a significant factor (depending on the program) in our admission decision.

Standardized test scores add to our knowledge of a student's ability, but we don't make decisions simply on the basis of test scores alone. The high school record and standardized test scores (SAT Test or Act Test and SAT Subject Tests) work together to make up the academic portion of a student's evaluation.

Your non-academic activities, including extracurricular accomplishments, part-time jobs, hobbies and community service also play a very important role in the admission process. We also consider leadership, motivation, out-of-class recognition, community and volunteer service and other experiences when making admission decisions. Our students make Carnegie Mellon an exciting campus. The positive qualities and diverse experiences you bring with you will enrich our community. By looking at this non-academic information, we develop a sense of your personality, motivation and responsibility.

Because we want to have a sense of who the applicant is as a person, we look closely at the essay and personal statement you're asked to write, the secondary school counselor's evaluation and the teacher's recommendation.

By showing an interest in learning more about Carnegie Mellon, you can enhance your application. We strongly recommend that you have a campus visit before mid-November, which adds a personal touch to our evaluation. 

There are a number of other ways to show interest and learn more about Carnegie Mellon. Students can come to one of our Turn Tartan Overnights, attend an information session in or near their hometown, interview in their hometown with one of our staff members or alumni, or enroll in one of our summer programs for high school students. Information about these events is included at the end of this section.

Different Criteria for Different Colleges

Each college/program at Carnegie Mellon has admission criteria specifically related to each course of study.

Admission to the Schools of Drama and Music is based primarily on an audition or portfolio review. Applicants to the Schools of Architecture, Art and Design will be evaluated not only on the basis of their portfolio review but also on their academic performance. 

Applicants to the College of Engineering, Mellon College of Science, and School of Computer Science will be evaluated on the basis of academic performance, and we'll look additionally for strength in mathematics and science. Academic performance is also the main criteria we use to evaluate applicants to the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Information Systems program and Tepper School of Business' undergraduate program. With these programs, we emphasize reading and comprehension abilities as well as mathematics courses.

Applicants should be aware of all the admission requirements (secondary school preparation, standardized test requirements, nonacademic information, counselor, teacher and interview recommendations) when submitting applications. 
 

Freshman Application Instructions

1. Applicants must apply online by completing the Common Application and submitting the $75 application fee. We require this fee of all applicants except in extenuating family financial circumstances. 

2. Request that your secondary school counselor submit all high school transcripts, including senior year courses, mid-year grades and a school profile, to the Office of Admission, preferably online, as close to January 1 as possible.

3. Apply for admission only to the specific college(s) or programs in which you’re interested.

  • Rank your program and/or major preference.
  • You may apply to up to three colleges/programs.
  • If you’re applying to more than one college/program, there’s no need to submit multiple applications and there’s no additional application fee, however you should describe your interest in each in your Carnegie Mellon essay.
  • Be sure to meet the admission requirements for each college/program.
  • Early Decision and transfer candidates will only be considered for their first choice college/program.

4. If you’re applying to the College of Engineering, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Information Systems, Mellon College of Science, School of Computer Science and Tepper School of Business, we strongly urge you to indicate a program and/or major preference at the time you apply. Although you might not declare a major until the end of your freshman or sophomore year, we do limit access to certain majors, such as electrical and computer engineering, computer science and business. 

5. If you’re applying to the College of Fine Arts, you must apply specifically to one of the following schools: Architecture, Art, Design, Drama or Music. (See specific instructions to follow.)

6. If you're applying to the School of Music, an additional audition fee of $50 is required. If you're applying to the School of Drama, an additional audition fee is $85 is required. These fees must be paid at the time of registration.

7. Take the SAT or ACT Test and SAT Subject Tests preferably by November, but no later than December. If you are applying to art, design, drama or music, SAT Subject Tests are not required.

  • You must submit all official scores electronically through College Board, ACT or the Educational Testing Service (ETS). When you register for the test, request that an official Score Report be sent directly to Carnegie Mellon. Make sure your name, address and birthdate on the application matches the information used to register for these tests. The Carnegie Mellon code number is 2074.

8. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) should be taken if your native language is not English. Carnegie Mellon requires 102 or better on the IBT TOEFL, and an IELTS scores of 7.5 or above. Please arrange to have these scores sent no later than January 1.

9. If you are applying to the College of Fine Arts' Schools of Architecture, Art, Design, Drama, or Music, you must complete portfolio review or audition requirements. The Schools of Art, Architecture, Design, Drama and Music require that students apply to the university before registering for an audition or portfolio review. There is no Early Decision consideration given for the acting, directing, dramaturgy, flute, music theater, music and technology, or the BXA programs.

10. You must sign the “Confidentiality Statement” on the Common Application School Report Form and give it to your secondary school counselor for completion. Your counselor should return this form, along with the school profile and your transcript.

11. Choose a teacher to complete the Common Application Teacher Recommendation Form and make sure it is submitted to the Office of Admission by the application deadline.

12. Our Regular Decision application deadline is January 1. The Schools of Drama and Music's Regular Decision deadline is December 1.

13. If you are applying for financial aid, please visit the Applying for Aid section of our website. We require financial aid applicants to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Carnegie Mellon's federal code is 003242. You must also complete the CSS PROFILE and submit signed copies of parent and student tax documents.

Application Notification
  • Students applying under the Early Decision Plan will be notified of our decision by December 15.
  • Students applying under the Regular Decision Plan will be notified of our decisions by April 15.
  • Students who are applying for financial aid will also receive financial aid decisions by April 15 provided they submitted their financial aid forms by the February 15 financial aid deadline.

If you are offered admission and wish to enroll at Carnegie Mellon, you are required to pay an $800 non-refundable enrollment deposit by May 1 (Candidates General Reply Date) in order to reserve your place in the freshman class and in university housing. This deposit will be credited to your first semester's charges. The admission staff assumes that a student's deposit to Carnegie Mellon is their only deposit. We reserve the right to cancel our offer of admission if a student posts a tuition deposit at another university. During the summer, information concerning registration, enrollment, insurance, orientation, housing and dining services, etc., will be sent to all students.

Deferred Admission

If you are admitted to Carnegie Mellon and wish to defer your admission for one year, you must submit a request in writing to the Office of Admission. If permission is granted, your enrollment deposit must be paid in order to confirm enrollment for the following year. You cannot enroll in a degree program at another institution in the interim.

Application Plans

Early Decision Plan

If Carnegie Mellon is your first choice, you may want to consider applying Early Decision. Under this plan, applicants are notified of our admission decision early in the senior year. If you're accepted Early Decision, you're in a binding agreement to enroll at Carnegie Mellon. Under the Early Decision plan, we encourage you to submit applications to other schools. However, if you are accepted to Carnegie Mellon, we require you to withdraw your applications from other schools.

Early Decision is available to all programs, with the exception of acting, music theater, dramaturgy, directing, music and technology, violin or the BXA programs.

Early Decision applications are due November 1 and students will be notified of an admission decision by December 15. If you are admitted under Early Decision, you are required to withdraw all admission applications to other colleges or universities and post a non-refundable enrollment deposit of $800 by February 1.
 

Regular Decision Plan

Regular Decision is our most popular application option. The deadline is January 1 (December 1 for drama and music applicants). You will be notified of our decision by April 15. Admitted students will have until May 1 (Candidate's General Reply Date) to accept our offer of admission.
 

Early Admission

Through the process of Early Admission, the university admits certain highly qualified applicants at the end of their junior year in high school. In general, Early Admission candidates are highly mature and responsible students who have usually exhausted the courses offered at their high schools without receiving a high school diploma. We expect students who apply Early Admission to follow the same procedures as regular freshman applicants. We also strongly encourage applicants to have a personal interview with a member of the Office of Admission staff. It's important to note that the College of Fine Arts very rarely accepts Early Admission applicants.
 

Transfer Applicants

Transfer students are admitted to Carnegie Mellon under policies that vary from college to college. If there is space in the requested program, we'll base our decision on your college grades, college recommendations, high school grades and test scores (SAT or ACT Test and SAT Subject Tests, if previously taken). In the College of Fine Arts, most transfer applicants compete with freshman applicants for a place in the entering class and complete a required audition or portfolio review.

Transfer Application Instructions
  1. Apply for admission to the specific college of interest, noting departmental preference if applicable. Transfer students will only be considered for their first-choice college. 

    Engineering, DC, IS, MCS, SCS or Tepper:
    • Fall transfer possible if space is available
    • Spring transfer is extremely limited due to space constraints
    • No external transfers accepted into BHA/BSA/BCSA

    CFA:
    • Only fall transfer is available for fine arts applicants
    • Transfer applicants are considered alongside freshman applicants and are likely to be given first-year status
    • No external transfers accepted into BHA/BSA/BCSA
     
  2. A $75 application fee is required.
     
  3. Send all transcripts that reflect secondary school and college/university studies to the Office of Admission. We also require a copy of course descriptions from a college catalog from each college/university you attended. Course descriptions should be sent by email to mailto:admission@andrew.cmu.edu with the subject line "Transfer Course Descriptions." Course descriptions should be copied and pasted into a single .pdf document, and must have your name and address on the first page.
     
  4. If you are applying to the Schools of Architecture, Art, Design, Drama or Music, you must complete any portfolio or audition requirements by the appropriate fine arts application deadline.
     
  5. A recommendation from a professor or advisor should be submitted in place of a college counselor recommendation. The College Report (a Common Application form) is also required from your current academic institution. This form should be completed by your college/university registrar or appropriate dean/college official who can verify your enrollment and academic standing.
     
  6. Transfer application deadlines are as follows:

    • Spring transfer: October 15
    • Fall transfer: February 15 (December 1 for performing arts, January 1 for visual arts)
     
  7.  If you are applying for financial aid, please visit the Applying for Aid section of our website. We require financial aid applicants to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Carnegie Mellon's federal code is 003242. You must also complete the CSS PROFILE and submit signed copies of parent and student tax documents.
If planning on:File FAFSA by this date:
Spring transferNovember 1
Fall transfer (CFA)February 15
Fall transfer (all other colleges)March 1

Admission and financial aid award notification dates for transfer students:

Spring transfer:December 15 or soon after
Fall transfer (CFA):April 15
Fall transfer (all other colleges):May 15

Make arrangements to have a final copy of your college transcript(s) sent to Carnegie Mellon.

Deposit Information for Transfers

If you are offered admission for the spring semester, Carnegie Mellon does not require a tuition deposit (due to the short time interval between December 15 and the start of the second semester). If you are offered admission to the College of Fine Arts for the fall semester, you must pay a non-refundable deposit of $800 by May 1. If you are offered admission to Engineering, DC, IS, MCS, SCS, or Tepper for the Fall semester, you must pay a non-refundable $800 deposit by June 15, even if you are receiving financial aid. The enrollment deposit will reserve your place at the university and a place in university housing if available. It will be credited to the first semester charges.

IMPORTANT: If you accept our offer of admission, Carnegie Mellon assumes that the tuition deposit to Carnegie Mellon is your only tuition deposit. We reserve the right to cancel our offer of admission if you post a tuition deposit at more than one university. Enrollment deposits received after the deadline may be returned if space is no longer available.
 

University Housing for Transfers

Carnegie Mellon expects to accommodate most transfer students who request university housing, however, it is not guaranteed. The Off-campus Housing Advisory and Referral Service is available to help you locate housing accommodations in the local area.
 

Transfer Credit Evaluated on Individual Basis

Carnegie Mellon's departmental faculty will determine transfer credit for courses you've taken at other universities. Transfer credit is considered on an individual basis. We may award elective credit for courses with no Carnegie Mellon equivalent. In some instances, the College Council may recommend a special program of study for you to meet the university's graduation requirements.

Transfer credit for courses you are taking while we review your existing college record depends upon successful completion of each course. Grades are not transferred - only credit is. You may receive transfer credit for elective courses you've taken but will still have to take Carnegie Mellon courses to fulfill the elective space in your chosen degree program. Sometimes transfer students have to take specific courses and accumulate a larger total number of credits than the normal amount required for graduation. The time it takes for you to graduate will depend on the time you need to complete the full university degree requirements - not on class standing at a previous institution.

If you transfer into Engineering, IS, MCS, SCS or Tepper in the Fall semester, you will receive an estimate of the additional academic work that you must complete in order to fulfill the university degree requirements. If you transfer into Engineering, IS, MCS or SCS in the Spring semester, you will have the opportunity to meet with a dean or department head in order to outline the additional academic work that you must complete in order to meet the university degree requirements. If you transfer into DC in the fall or spring semester, you'll receive a credit and requirement review of the work you've completed at your previous institution(s). It is best for transfer students in CFA to assume freshman status. Occasionally advanced standing is awarded based on review of previous college courses.
 

Application as an International Student

International students should apply to Carnegie Mellon using the same procedures outlined for either freshmen or transfer students. Also note this additional information:

  • Carnegie Mellon does not offer financial aid or installment plans to international students. International students are not eligible for application fee waivers.
     
  • If your native language is not English, you are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Carnegie Mellon requires 102 or better on the IBT TOEFL or an IELFTS score of 7.5 and above. Please arrange to have these scores sent no later than January 1.
  • InitialView interviews are recommended for nonnative English speakers but are not required. Often these interviews can measure readiness for engagement in the classroom and also showcase a student’s personality, likes and dislikes, as well as the area of intended major. InitialView interviews can show English language proficiency while also corroborating the application with more details about the student.

Advanced Placement Consideration

Advanced Placement Program

Carnegie Mellon recognizes the Advanced Placement program and may grant advanced placement and credit for test scores of four or five. We encourage eligible students to take the AP examinations. We will receive the test scores in early summer for those students who have requested that their results be sent to Carnegie Mellon. The appropriate academic deans will evaluate your scores, and in late summer, you will be informed of the AP credit awarded.

College Level Course Work

The university may also award placement and credit for college work completed during high school. Applicants who have taken college courses should arrange to have their college transcripts along with course catalogs or descriptions sent to the Carnegie Mellon Office of Admission for transfer credit evaluation and advanced placement.

International Baccalaureate Program

Carnegie Mellon also recognizes the International Baccalaureate Examination and may grant advanced standing and/or credit in various fields if scores on the higher level examination range from six and seven. The results of the IB exams should be sent to Carnegie Mellon, where the appropriate dean will evaluate the scores. In late summer, you will be notified of the credit that has been awarded.

Cambridge General Certificate of Education

Carnegie Mellon recognizes the Cambridge GCE A-Level (advanced level) examinations in various higher-level subjects and may grant advanced placement and/or credit for exemplary grades. Please note that we don't accept GCE "O" level examinations for placement.

BXA Intercollege Degree Programs

Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA)

The Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts (BCSA) Program is an intercollege degree-granting program. It's designed for students who would like to combine their interests in the fine arts and computer science rather than pursue a conventional major and degree in either the College of Fine Arts or the School of Computer Science. To be considered for the BCSA program, you must apply and be admitted to both CFA and SCS (you must select a CFA school and SCS major on the Common Application). This program is not open to music theater or acting majors. Not all students admitted to both colleges are selected for the BCSA program.

Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA)

The Bachelor of Humanities and Arts (BHA) program is an intercollege degree-granting program. It's designed for students who would like to combine and blend their interests in fine arts and humanities/social sciences rather than pursue a conventional major and degree in either the College of Fine Arts (CFA) or the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences (DC). To be considered for the BHA program, a student must apply and be admitted to both CFA and DC (you must select a CFA school and DC major on the Common Application). This program is not open to music theater or acting majors. Not all students admitted to both colleges are selected for the BHA program.

Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA)

The Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA) program is an intercollege degree-granting program. It's designed for students who would like to combine studies in both the fine arts and natural sciences/mathematics rather than pursue a conventional major and degree in either the College of Fine Arts (CFA) or the Mellon College of Science (MCS). To be considered for the BSA program, a student must apply and be admitted to both CFA and MCS (you must select a CFA school and MCS major on the Common Application). This program is not open to music theater or acting majors. Not all students admitted to both colleges are selected for the BSA program.

In your accompanying application essay, please describe your interdisciplinary goals in both areas and how the BXA program would provide the opportunity and framework for you to accomplish these objectives. This essay is a central component in the selection process. The BXA statement of intent fulfills the essay requirement on the supplement. You do not need to complete another essay. If you are selected for this program, you will be notified in your admission decision letter. These programs are not available under Early Decision or external transfer.
 

College of Fine Arts Requirements

Deadlines
  • Early Decision applicants must submit a complete admission application, including any required artistic evaluation, by November 1 (Drama applicants must meet this deadline if they choose the November audition date).
  • Regular Decision applicants must submit a complete admission application by January 1 (or December 1 if applying to drama or music) and all audition or portfolio review reservations should be made before this date.
  • We recommend that you apply for admission as early as possible in order to register for an audition or portfolio review, which fill on a first-come, first-served basis.
Communication of Information and Admissions Decisions
  • Final admission decisions are not made at the time of your audition or portfolio review. We will consider the artistic evaluation as part of your application along with your other credentials and notify you by April 15 (December 15 for Early Decision applicants).

Visit our fine arts admission procedures website for details regarding the specific requirements for fine arts auditions and portfolio reviews.

Exploring Carnegie Mellon

Visiting a campus is one of the best ways for you to discover which school is right for you. We strongly recommend that you attend an information session or interview with a member of the admission staff while on campus. Admission interviews allow us the opportunity to get to know our applicants. Interviews are considered in the admission process and help the admission committee make better, more informed decisions with determining the freshman class. During the interview, you'll have the opportunity to ask questions about admission requirements, financial aid, student life, Pittsburgh - and much more!

On-campus auditions and portfolio reviews usually include an chance to speak with a member of the Fine Arts staff and a campus tour. Therefore, only one campus visit is necessary for fine arts students.

Campus Tours

Campus tours are conducted by Andrew Ambassadors and leave from the Office of Admission Lobby in Warner Hall. We offer tours most weekdays and weekends during the academic year. 

Hometown Interviews

Although we strongly recommend a campus visit, we realize that it's not always possible for you to come to campus. The Admission staff does travel to just a few parts of the country interviewing students in their hometowns. Students who interview on campus do not have to schedule another interview in their hometown. 

Alumni Interviews

We encourage students to talk with a member of the Carnegie Mellon Admission Council (CMAC). CMAC, a select group of alumni, helps the Admission staff reach out to prospective students. Alumni interviews are as valuable when making admission decisions as interviews with the Admission staff.

Turn Tartan Overnight Weekends

The more information you have, the better decisions about college you'll make! The Admission staff invites you to learn more about Carnegie Mellon by living like a university student for a day and a half in our Turn Tartan Overnight program. Visits begin on Sunday morning and last through Monday afternoon.

Information Sessions

The Office of Admission offers information sessions throughout the year, both on and off campus. The session offers an experiential look at the university through student and faculty stories. You'll have the opportunity to learn more about Carnegie Mellon's areas of study, admission, financial aid, and the city of Pittsburgh. 

Call Carnegie Mellon for Assistance

If a student will need assistance while visiting the campus, due to a physical or learning disability, he/she should call us at 412-268-2082, and we will help meet the student's needs during his/her visit at Carnegie Mellon.

Getting to Campus

Plan your visit to Carnegie Mellon using our Maps & Directions webpage. We also provide information on Travel and Accommodations to assist you in your planning.