Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

Undergraduate Policies and Procedures

Updated December 2020

All SCS students are required to comply with the school and university's academic regulations, as well as official university policies. Students should be familiar with these regulations, the most relevant of which we've outlined below. Note that these policies can change as needed. You can also view these policies on CMU's Undergraduate Catalog page.

Grading Practices

You can read about CMU's grading practices on the Undergraduate Academic Regulations website.

Dean's List With High Honors

Each semester, SCS recognizes undergraduates who have earned outstanding academic records by naming them to the Dean's List With High Honors. To earn the recognition, students must have a quality point average of at least 3.75 while completing a minimum of 36 factorable units and earning no incomplete grades.

Academic Actions

In the first year, quality point averages below 1.75 in either semester invoke an academic action. For all subsequent semesters, an academic action will be taken if the semester quality point average or the cumulative quality point average (excluding the first year) falls below 2.00.

Probation

Probation will be taken in the following cases based on QPA:

  • QPA falls below 1.75 during one semester of the first year;
  • The semester QPA of a student in good standing beyond the first year falls below 2.00.

Probation lasts one semester as a full-time student. First-year students are no longer on probation at the end of the second semester if the second semester's QPA and the cumulative QPA is 1.75 or above. Students in the third or subsequent semester of study are no longer on probation at the end of one semester if the semester QPA and cumulative QPA (excluding the first year) are 2.00 or above.

 Probation Continued

A student who has had one semester on probation and does not yet meet minimum requirements but whose record indicates that the standards are likely to be met at the end of the next semester of study is occasionally continued on probation, based on advisor recommendation. This action is normally taken only when a student's semester QPA is above 2.0 but their cumulative QPA is not yet above 2.0.

Suspension

 A student who does not meet minimum standards based on QPA at the end of one semester of probation will be suspended:

  • A first year student will be suspended if the QPA from each semester is below 1.75.
  • A student on probation in the third or subsequent semester of study will be suspended if the semester QPA is below 2.00.

The minimum period of suspension is one academic year (two non-summer semesters). At the end of that period a student may return to campus (on probation) by:

  1. Completing a Return From Leave form from the HUB, and
  2. Submitting an additional written statement to the SCS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, minimum one page, that outlines what they did while on leave to address the issues that led to the suspension and that would indicate future success on return, and
  3. (optional) Submitting up to two letters of support from individuals supporting the student's return, and
  4. Written approval from the student's academic advisor and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, in consultation with the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of International Education, as appropriate.

Students who have been suspended or have withdrawn must absent themselves from the campus (including residence halls and Greek houses) within a maximum of two days after the action and remain off campus for the duration of the time specified. This action includes debarment from part-time or summer courses at the university for the duration of the period of the action. Although suspended students may not hold student jobs, students on academic suspension may, under certain circumstances, have a non-student job with the university. Students on disciplinary or administrative suspension may not.

Drop

This is a permanent severance. Students who have been suspended and who fail to meet minimum standards in the semester that they return to school will be dropped.

Students who have been dropped must absent themselves from campus (including residence halls and Greek houses) within a maximum of two days after the action.

Other Actions

In addition to academic actions based on QPA, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs may place students on probation, or subsequent suspension, if they do not demonstrate reasonable progress through the core curriculum of their major (e.g., not completing a core class after three attempts, not completing the required 100-level core courses by the end of the sophomore year, etc.). Students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor about any concerns regarding lack of progress in their chosen SCS major.

The relation indicated above between probation, suspension and drop is nominal. In unusual circumstances, SCS College Council may suspend or drop a student without prior probation.

SCS undergraduate students may elect to take a leave of absence for a variety of reasons, after consultation with their academic advisor. Students who wish to take a leave of absence must do so by the last day of classes before final exams begin and before final grades are posted (in case this is earlier). Students requesting a leave of absence must complete a form from the HUB and have this signed by their academic advisor and SCS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs. Students who take a leave of absence up to the last day to drop classes will have all of their classes dropped. Students who take a leave of absence after the last day to drop classes will be assigned a grade of W (withdrawal) for all of their classes.

Students returning from a leave of absence are required to submit a Return from Leave of Absence form to their academic advisor for approval by the student's academic advisor and the SCS Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs. In addition, the student must also supply a letter that explains the reason for the leave, the actions that were performed during the leave to prepare the student for a successful return and a description of the on-campus resources, if required, that would be used by the student in order to increase the likelihood of success. Students returning from a leave are also encouraged to provide up to two letters of support from people close to the student (e.g., family, friends, clergy, teachers, coaches, others as appropriate). Requests to return are reviewed by the student's academic advisor, the Associate Dean and the Student Affairs liaison to determine eligibility and any resources that need to be put into place to assist the student upon return. Contact the SCS Undergraduate Office for more information.

First-year students admitted to SCS are considered undeclared during their first year. These students declare their SCS major in the second semester of their freshman year. SCS students who wish to transfer from one SCS major to another SCS major may do so by applying for transfer by mid-semester break during the semester the transfer is desired. These students should consult with their academic advisor and the program director of the intended major for more information about specific course requirements and academic plans. Internal SCS transfers do not have any grade requirements. Transfers are approved based on demonstrated interest, ability and available space in the intended major.

Undergraduate students admitted to colleges at CMU other than SCS and wishing to transfer to computer science or pursue a dual degree in computer science should consult with the director of the computer science major during their first year. Students who want to transfer to or pursue a dual degree in computational biology should consult with the department's Assistant Department Head for Education during their first year. See the individual program pages for Computer Science and Computational Biology for locations.

  • For the computer science major, students must complete 21-127 (or equivalent), 15-122, 15-150, 15-210, 15-213, 15-251 with an overall QPA over these six courses of 3.6 or higher and an overall QPA of at least 3.0 in order to be considered for transfer or dual degree.
  • For the computational biology major, students must complete 21-127 (or equivalent), 15-122, 15-251, 15-351 (or 15-210*), 03-121 and 02-250 with an overall QPA over these six courses of 3.6 or higher and an overall QPA of at least 3.0 in order to be considered for transfer or dual degree. (*Students who take 15-210 will need to also take 15-150; this course is not required for the B.S. in Computational Biology but can count as an elective.)
  • At this time, no transfers will be allowed into the human-computer interaction program or artificial intelligence program for non-SCS students. Non-SCS students can apply for the interdisciplinary additional major in human-computer interaction. Consult with the program director of the artificial intelligence major for any changes to this policy at the start of each academic year.
Students may apply for transfer by the mid-semester break in the semester when the last of the six required courses will be completed. In the case of courses in progress, the mid-semester grades will be used in the QPA calculation. The decision to allow transfer or dual degree will be made by committee based on the student's academic performance (in the specified courses and in their courses overall if necessary), additional involvement in SCS and other computing-related activities, and availability of space in the student's class level. Students should consult the SCS Undergraduate Office for complete information concerning minimum requirements, instructions and deadlines.

A student enrolled at another university or college who wishes to transfer to SCS should first apply through the Office of Admission. If the Office of Admission believes the applicant meets admission guidelines, the student's record is sent to SCS for evaluation. Admission is based on seat availability, overall academic performance and course rigor from the student's current institution, ability to complete the rigorous SCS program on time, and the application material (including recommendations and reflection essay). It is important to note that extremely few external transfers are admitted to the SCS. At this time, no transfers will be allowed into the artificial intelligence or human-computer interaction program for non-CMU students. External transfers admitted for computer science or computational bology may not subsequently transfer into the artificial intelligence or human-computer interaction programs.

Requirements for graduation are as follows:
  1. A requirement for graduation is the completion of the program specified for a degree with a cumulative quality point average of 2.00 or higher for all courses taken after the first year.
  2. Students must be recommended for a degree by the faculty of SCS.
  3. A candidate for the bachelor's degree must complete at the university a minimum of four semesters of full-time study, or the equivalent of part-time study, comprising at least 180 units of course work.
  4. Students will be required to have met all financial obligations to the university before being awarded a degree.

A student who does not meet the QPA requirement above must petition SCS College Council for a waiver of the first requirement.