Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

Frequently Asked Questions

The School of Computer Science offers a wide range of professional and academic Ph.D. and Master's programs across its seven departments. Admissions and requirements vary by program, and are determined by the program's home department.

Below you will find a variety of frequently asked questions about our application process.

If you are looking for information about an individual program please refer to the following sites:

SCS Doctoral Programs 
SCS Master's Programs
  1. What if all my supporting documents do not arrive by the deadlines?
    • These may not be considered in the review of your application.
    • It is your responsibility to make certain that your application is complete, and that the required materials reach us by the established deadlines.
    • You may use your user ID and password to check your submitted application to ensure that it is complete.
  2. Can I make changes to my online application after it has been submitted?
    • You may make changes to your submitted application until the final deadline, December 12.
    • No changes will be allowed after the final deadline.
  3. Is there spring admission?
    • No.
  4. If I applied last year and was not admitted, can I reapply this year?
    • Yes. However, you must complete a new application and upload all application materials again. You must also re-send your GRE and TOEFL test scores.
  5. Is it possible to visit the campus and the School of Computer Science? 
    • We ask that you wait until you have been admitted to a program before you visit us.
    • If admitted, you will be notified in late January or early February. At that point, we will extend an invitation to attend our Open House. We then make all travel and hotel reservations, as well as schedule appointments with faculty members and graduate students.
    • If you are going to be in the Pittsburgh area at any time, you are welcome to stop by the School of Computer Science. However, we will not be able to make any appointments for you at that time.
  6. Should I contact faculty members directly?
    • You are free to contact professors with very specific questions about their research.
    • However, we do request that you not ask to be accepted by a particular faculty member as a student, since under our admissions system individual faculty members do not make admissions decisions. Selection is made by decision of the Admissions Committee, and students are not assigned an advisor until the beginning of the fall semester. This happens after students have an opportunity to attend project presentations by all faculty.
    • You may obtain email addresses for anyone in the School of Computer Science (SCS) from the directory.
  1. Are there additional financial aid forms to complete?
    • No.
  2. What if I cannot afford to pay the application fee?
    • We expect all applicants to submit the application fee.
    • However, if you are living in the US and feel that you are financially unable to pay, then you should obtain a letter from your Financial Aid Office explaining your inability to pay and their support of a waiver. Upon receipt of this letter, your fee will be waived.
  3. Can I pay the application fee by credit card?
    • You may pay the fee by credit card or by check. DO NOT SEND CASH.
    • If you do not want to pay by credit card via the online application, you may pay by a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank and made payable to Carnegie Mellon University. Include your User ID on the check or money order and send to:
      • Carnegie Mellon University
        Attn: SCS Graduate Admissions Team
        Gates and Hillman Center, 6010
        5000 Forbes Avenue
        Pittsburgh, PA 15213 
  1. How do I obtain an I-20 form?
  2. I do not currently have a visa, but will need to apply for one. What do I select under Residency Status?
    • Select the one that will most closely match your status when you arrive on campus.
  3. What should I provide as my current address?
    • Use the address where you will be available to receive mail through April. You may enter a permanent address if it differs from your current address. Do NOT enter a PO Box. The acceptance packets are sent by express mail (e.g. FedEx, UPS), and cannot be delivered to a PO Box address.
  1. I plan to take the TOEFL and/or GRE in either November or December. However, the score will not be reported until after the final deadline. What should I do?
    • If you need to retake your TOEFL and/or GRE for this application then you must take the exam no later than November 22, 2019.
    • We will not accept any exam scores taken past the date of November 22, 2019 because the test scores will not be reportable until after our December 12, 2019 deadline.
  2. My school does not provide me with a "major GPA", how should I calculate it? 
    • To calculate your "major GPA" please include the courses that you specified on your major.

TOEFL

  1. Am I required to upload a TOEFL score?
    • If you are an international applicant and your native language (language spoken from birth) is not English, an official copy of your score report is required. 
    • The TOEFL/IELTS requirement cannot be waived for any reason.
  2. My undergraduate and/or master's degree is from a U.S. institution. Do I still need to submit a TOEFL score?
    • If you are currently working on or have received a bachelor's and/or a master's degree in the U.S. and your native language is not English you may submit an expired test score up to five years old. TOEFL scores taken before August 20, 2014 will not be accepted.
  3.  ETS does not hold scores that are over two years old. What can I do?
    • Please upload the PDF of your expired score to your application. Be sure that your expired scores meet our requirements. 
  4. My undergraduate degree and master's degree is from a foreign institution. May I submit an expired TOEFL?
    • Unfortunately, you may not. You will need to submit a TOEFL that is not expired (less than two years old at time of application). TOEFL scores taken before August 20, 2017 will not be accepted.
  5. What is the recommended TOEFL score?
    • A successful applicant will normally have a total iBT score of at least 100.
IELTS
  1. Do you accept IELTS?
    • We prefer that you take the TOEFL, but we will accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The same restrictions of expiration dates apply with an IELTS.
  2. What is the recommended IELTS score?
    • A TOEFL score of 100 is equivalent to an IELTS score of 7.
  3. Where do I mail my IELTS score?
    • Carnegie Mellon University
      Attn: SCS Graduate Admissions Team
      Gates and Hillman Center, 6010
      5000 Forbes Avenue
      Pittsburgh, PA 15213

GRE

  1. What scores should I enter if I have taken the GRE test more than once?
    • Enter the scores from your most recent test. All scores will appear on the official score report for the committee to review.

GMAT

  1. What if I have taken the GMAT?
    • Only the Societal Computing program will accept the GMAT.
    • If you are applying to Societal Computing, enter the date that you took the GMAT in the box provided for the GRE test date. Upload your GMAT test scores in the GRE spot.
  1. I am in a five-year program and will be awarded a master's degree. Do I enter this in the Undergraduate or Graduate section of Colleges/Universities?
    • This information should be entered in both sections.
  2. What format do I use to enter my GPA and College/University Point System?
    • Enter your GPA exactly as given by your College/University, e.g. 3.5, 4.9, 9.6, etc.
    • In the box to right indicate the Point System that your College/University uses, e.g. 4.0, 5.0, 10.0, etc.
  3. Where do I mail my transcripts and how many should I send?
    • You are not to send your official transcripts until you have been admitted.
  4. What if my fall semester grades are not on my transcript by the final deadline?
    • We do not require you to upload a copy of your fall semester grades.
    • If you are admitted, you should send us a final transcript.
  5.  What should I enter in the "Class Rank" field?
    • If you would like to give us your rank within your department or university, enter it here. For example, you could enter "2nd of 109 students in Computer Science Department", or "45 of 1450 students in School of Engineering". The response here should preferably be short. If you want to give us more details about your ranking, please give it in the Resume. Remember that this is an optional field, and you should feel free to leave it blank, if you do not have this information, or if you do not wish to share it.
  1. If I am applying to two programs, can I submit a different Statement of Purpose for each program?
    • Yes. However, if you are submitting different statements, submit them as one file. Please be sure to include a table of contents.
  2. I have already uploaded my Resume/Statement of Purpose, but now I have made revisions and would like to submit the new version. What should I do?
    • You can simply upload the new Resume/Statement of Purpose, even if your application has been submitted. It will override the original one. However, you may not make any changes to your application after the December 12 deadline.
  1. If I submit an online application, can my recommenders use the paper recommendation form?
    • No. Recommenders must submit their letters online.
    • We do not accept paper recommendation forms.
  2. What should I do if the deadline is approaching and one or more of my recommenders has not submitted their recommendation?
    • You may send a reminder email to a recommender (but no more than three times and not after the deadline) from your submitted application.
    • It is your responsibility to make certain that the letters are submitted by the final deadline.
  3. What if I want to submit more than three letters of recommendation?
    • Three letters of recommendation are required. However, space is provided for you to submit up to five.
  4. Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation for me?
    • The admissions committee wants to know about your ability to do independent research so you should select letter writers who can best speak to that point.
    • Professors who interacted with you extensively in smaller classes are also a good choice.
    • Employers are sometimes appropriate, but letters that are simply character references will not provide good support for your application.
    • At least two recommendation letters should be from faculty or recent employers.
  1. I have a paper that has not been submitted for publication or was not accepted for publication, but I would still like for the committee to consider it in my application. Should I list it here?
    • Yes. However, published papers are viewed more favorably in the admissions process.
  2. I have just received notice that a paper listed on my application has been accepted for publication. How can I add this information?
    • Update this information yourself. The supplemental section is the only section available after the deadline.
  1. How long does it take to complete a master’s program?
    • About 1-2 years.
  2. Is it possible to work on a master’s degree part time?
    • Most of our programs require that you be here full time.
  3. Can I transfer into a master’s program from another college/university?
    • You may not simply transfer to a program. You must submit an application and be accepted into the program.
  4. Is the Master’s program in Computer Science part of Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering?
    • The master's program in Computer Science is in the Computer Science Department, not the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. They are two entirely separate programs with different application forms and procedures.
  5. Once I begin a master's program in SCS, is it possible to change to another program?
    • The school allows you to transfer from one program to another after your first year of enrollment, subject to the transfer policy adopted by each program.
  6. Will I be considered for financial support if I am admitted?
    • No, master's programs generally do not offer financial aid.
  7.  When listing my programs on the application, how will this order affect my admission to each program?
    • The order of preference will not affect your admission, you will be equally viewed by all programs that you apply to.
  1. How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. program?
    • About 5-6 years.
  2. Is it possible to work on a Ph.D. degree part time?
    • Most of our programs require that you be here full time.
  3. Can I apply to a Ph.D. program with only an undergraduate degree?
    • Yes. You do not need a master's degree to apply to a Ph.D. program.
  4. Can I transfer into a Ph.D. program from another college/university?
    • You may not simply transfer to a program. You must submit an application and be accepted into the program.
  5. Is the PhD program in Computer Science part of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering?
    • The PhD program in Computer Science is in the Computer Science Department, not the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. They are two entirely separate programs with different application forms and procedures.
  6. Once I begin a Ph.D. program in SCS, is it possible to change to another program?
    • The school allows you to transfer from one program to another after your first year of enrollment, subject to the transfer policy adopted by each program.
  7. Will I be considered for financial support if I am admitted?
    • Yes. Ph.D. students will receive financial support (tuition, fees, monthly stipend) from a variety of sources, including CMU research assistantships, outside fellowships, and government grants (e.g. NSF or other government institutions). Students are encouraged to apply for outside funding and fellowships; research assistantships are available for students without their own funding.
  8. When listing my programs on the application, how will this order affect my admission to each program?
    • The order of preference will not affect your admission, you will be equally viewed by all programs that you apply to. 
  9. How do I apply to either the doctoral track in Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization (ACO) or in Pure and Applied Logic (PAL)?
    • If you apply through SCS, you must submit an application to the Ph.D. program in Computer Science. You should state in the first paragraph of your Statement of Purpose that you are interested in either ACO or PAL. If admitted, you will be allowed to choose that program during your first year.
  1. How and when will I be notified if I am admitted?
    • Our programs make their decisions at various times during January and February.
    • You will be notified directly by each program that you applied to, as to whether or not you have been admitted.
    • We realize that waiting is very difficult; however, we request that you do not call our offices to inquire about the status of your application.
  2. How do I track the status of my application?
    • Use your user ID and password to access the submitted online application form. 
    • Receipt of the required uploaded documents (score reports, transcripts, and letters of recommendation) will be indicated in the corresponding section.
    • Allow three to four weeks past the deadline for all documents to be recorded, as it does take time to process each application.
    • Do NOT send email to ask the status of your application.
  3. If I am admitted to a program, can I defer admission?
    • This policy may vary from program to program. After you are admitted, contact your program coordinator.
  1. I have my user ID and password but I cannot access the online application. What is the problem?
    • If your browser accepts cookies and you are not behind a firewall, then you should be able to login successfully.
    • Also, make sure you are using the same website to login that you used to register.
    • If you continue to encounter issues, send an email to applygrad@cs.cmu.edu for assistance.