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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.

Note that seven of our master's programs have separate application processes, which you can learn more about on their admissions pages. MSIT in Privacy EngineeringMaster of Human-Computer InteractionMaster of Software Engineering, Master of Software Engineering - Scalable Systems, Master of Software Engineering - Embedded Systems, MSE Online and Master of Science in Product Management.

  1. Can I make changes to my online application after it has been submitted?
    • You may make changes to your submitted application up until the application deadline, December 9, 2021, at 11:59 a.m. EST.
  2. What if all my supporting documents do not arrive by the deadline?
    • 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 deadline.
  3. Can I submit my application even if I haven't received all of my letters of recommendation?
    • Yes. We prefer that your recommenders submit their letters by the application deadline, but it is ok if they arrive a few days late. 
  4. Is there spring admission?
    • No.
  5. 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. Also, be sure that you sent your GRE and TOEFL scores via ETS using the following codes: 
    • GRE Report Codes:
      • Institution Code - 2074
      • Department Code - 0402
    • TOEFL Report Codes:
      • Institution Code - 4256
      • Department Code - 78
  6. Should I contact faculty members directly?
    • You are free to contact professors with specific questions about their research. However, we 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 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 from the directory
  7.  What is my User ID? 
    1. Your User ID is the email address that you use to login to the application.
    2. Note that this email address will be used for all correspondence from us and for your letter of notification. Please make certain that it will be valid through March. 
  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 payment with their online application. However, we do waive the required fee under certain circumstances. Fees for application to a limited number of our programs can be waived for participants in certain programs. In addition, if you are unable to pay the application fee, SCS will consider a fee waiver request. Visit the SCS Fee Waivers page for more information.
  3. Can I pay the application fee by credit card?
    • You may pay the fee by credit card or 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, 6109
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213 
  1. How do I obtain an I-20 form?
  2. I do not 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.
Equitable review of all applicants depends on having comparable sets of data in their applications. We therefore strongly encourage all applicants to provide TOEFL or IELTS scores. However, we understand that in some cases it may not be possible for an applicant to test for TOEFL or IELTS. If you are not a native English speaker, and despite your best efforts are unable to test for TOEFL or IELTS, you may take the Duolingo English proficiency test.
  1. I plan to take the TOEFL, IELTS 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, IELTS and/or GRE for this application then you must take the exam no later than November 9, 2021.
    • We will not accept any exam scores taken past the date of November 9, 2021, because the test scores will not be reportable until after our December 9, 2021, deadline.
TOEFL
  1. 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, 2016, will not be accepted.
    • Important: Applicants applying to MCDS and MHCI are required to submit a TOEFL score taken within the last two years. TOEFL scores taken before August 20, 2019, will not be accepted. For more information about the MCDS and MHCI TOEFL policies, visit their admissions websites:

  2.  ETS does not hold scores that are over two years old. What can I do?
    • Upload a PDF of your expired score to your application. Be sure that your expired scores meet our requirements. 
  3. My undergraduate degree and master's degree are 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, 2019, will not be accepted.
  4. What version of the TOEFL is accepted?
    • TOEFL iBT
    • TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition
    • TOEFL IPT Plus for China (We currently strongly discourage the use of the "TOEFL IPT Plus for China," since speaking is not scored. Applicants currently in mainland China are encouraged to take the IELTS test.)
  5. What is the recommended TOEFL score?
    • A successful applicant will normally have a total iBT score of at least 100.
  6.  What do I need to know about taking the Duolingo test?
    • We prefer that you take the TOEFL or IELTS, but if you cannot do that, you may take the Duolingo test. Be sure to use the same email address as you plan to use when you apply to a CMU program. Also be sure that Duolingo scores are sent to “Carnegie Mellon University – Graduate Computer Science Programs."
    • A Duolingo score of 120 is equivalent to a TOEFL iBT score of 97-102. 
    • Important: make sure to request that Duolingo includes your subscores when they send your test results to Carnegie Mellon University – Graduate Computer Science Programs.

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. Do you accept the IELTS Indicator? 
    • Yes. 
  3. Do you accept the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training? 
    • We will accept the IELTS Academic test. The IELTS Academic test is for people applying for higher education in an English speaking environment.
  4. What is the recommended IELTS score?
    • A TOEFL score of 100 is equivalent to an IELTS score of 7.
  5. Where do I mail my IELTS score?
    • Carnegie Mellon University
      Attn: SCS Graduate Admissions Team
      Gates and Hillman Center, 6109
      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.
  2. Is the GRE required if I am applying for the fall of 2022?
    • Each program sets its policy on whether GRE scores are required or not. You can read short descriptions of each program's GRE policy on the Graduate Admissions Overview page.

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 the right, indicate the point system that your college/university uses (e.g., 4.0, 5.0, 10.0, etc.).
  3. My school does not provide me with a "major GPA," how should I calculate it? 
    • To calculate your "major GPA," include the courses that you specified on your major.
  4. 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.
  5. What if my fall semester grades are not on my transcript by the application 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.
  6.  What should I enter in the "Class Rank" field?
    • On the education section of the application, there is the option to enter your class rank. 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, provide it in your 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 PDF file. Be sure to include a table of contents page.
  2. I have already uploaded my Resume/Statement of Purpose, but I 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 application deadline.
  1. 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.
    • You can still submit your application even if you have not received all of your letters of recommendation. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 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. 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.
  5. Will I be considered for financial support if I am admitted?
    • No, master's programs generally do not offer financial aid.
  6.  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. 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. 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.
  6. 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.
  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. 
  8. 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 February and March.
    • 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 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.
    • Make sure you are using the same website to login that you used to register.
    • If you continue to encounter issues, send email to applygrad@cs.cmu.edu for assistance.
  2. I submitted my application payment, but it is not working. What can I do? 
    • If your application payment is unsuccessful for any reason, the payment page will automatically reset so that the payment button will reappear. Wait and try again 10 minutes after your initial payment.

Application Deadline

December 9, 2021 (11:59 a.m. EST)

GRE & TOEFL Codes

GRE Report Codes:

  • Institution Code - 2074
  • Department Code - 0402

TOEFL Report Codes:

  • Institution Code - 4256
  • Department Code - 78