How to Get Into Carnegie Mellon - Admission Requirements

Pittsburgh, PA
November 24, 2023
10 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/24/23

Considering studying at Carnegie Mellon University? This is your guide on how to get into Carnegie Mellon.

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon is widely considered a top-tier school and is the dream school of many hopeful, talented candidates. Naturally, the college attracts thousands of the best and brightest undergraduate applicants each year.  

CMU has a ranking of #24 in National Universities by US News and World Report. It was also recently ranked first as a top Technology Transfer University, beating out top Ivy League and STEM colleges. 

Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Carnegie Mellon admission requirements. We will also provide tips on how to write Carnegie Mellon essays, Carnegie Mellon application deadlines, and how to ace your Carnegie Mellon interview. 

Let’s get started!

Carnegie Mellon Acceptance Rate 

While the university attracts thousands of applicants annually, Carnegie Mellon has a low acceptance rate of only 11%. Students trying to get into Carnegie Mellon can benefit from understanding the admissions data of the incoming class to assess their own chances of acceptance. 

Carnegie Mellon University's acceptance rate has seen fluctuations in recent years. These changes reflect the university's continued selectivity and competitiveness in its admissions process. Prospective applicants should be prepared for a challenging admissions journey and strive to submit the strongest possible application.

Year Acceptance Rate
2022 11%
2021 14%
2020 15.4%

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into Carnegie Mellon.

Carnegie Mellon Early Decision Acceptance Rate

While the regular decision acceptance rate is 14%, the early decision acceptance rate at CMU is slightly higher at 20%. So, applying for early decision can increase your chances of acceptance to Carnegie Mellon.

Carnegie Mellon Yield Rate

The Carnegie Mellon yield rate is 45%. This means that out of all the students who were accepted to Carnegie Mellon University, 45% of them decided to go to the university. 

The yield rate at Carnegie Mellon tells us that almost half of the students who got accepted chose to enroll there, which suggests that many students find Carnegie Mellon appealing and want to study there.

Carnegie Mellon Application Deadlines

When applying to any school, it’s crucial to know your important dates and deadlines. The best way to go about this is to create an application schedule ahead of time to keep yourself organized throughout the process. 

Here are the Carnegie Mellon application deadlines you should keep in mind:

Deadline Application Due
November 1 Early Decision I
October 15 Spring Transfer Admission (supporting docs must be received by Nov 1)
December 1 Regular Decision for Schools of Drama and Music
January 3 Regular Decision, Early Admission, and Early Decision II
February 15 Fall Transfer Admission (supporting docs must be received by March 1)

Source: Carnegie Mellon

It is also worth noting that if you’ve applied for early decision you can expect a decision by December 15th, while regular decision applicants will receive a decision by April 1st.

Carnegie Mellon Admissions Requirements

Carnegie Mellon hopefuls can impress the admissions committee with SAT scores higher than 1570, ACT scores around 35, and 3.9 GPAs. To further bolster your application, demonstrate clear intent and purpose in your essays. Articulate well-defined goals and illustrate how Carnegie aligns with them!

Students must understand what is expected from them before they begin their application. This allows you to apply to Carnegie Mellon with an idea of how to present yourself. 

It is just as important to understand the documents you will be required to submit as much as you need to know the Carnegie Mellon application fee and how to prepare your essay. There are a number of things to keep in mind, but with preparation and determination, you can check every box. 

Application Requirements 

Carnegie Mellon has seven colleges and schools. Students must review these colleges and their programs to understand their expectations. However, all students must first fill out a common application, regardless of the college they wish to attend. 

Common Application Requirements

The common application gathers all required documents and will also be where you submit your essays. You must submit:

  • Application fee ($75) 
  • Official High School Transcript 
  • Official Standardized Testing Scores 
  • Secondary School Counselor Evaluation 
  • Letter of Recommendation 
  • Common Application Essay 
  • Common Application Writing Supplement 

Depending on the college or school you are applying to, you may be required to submit additional materials. 

Carnegie Mellon ACT Requirements

At Carnegie Mellon, ACT scores are not a requirement. So, you don't have to submit ACT scores to be considered for admission, but you can if you wish. If you are going to submit your ACT score, it’s helpful to know if it falls within the Carnegie Mellon average ACT range. 

Standardized Test Average ACT Score
Carnegie Mellon ACT scores 34-35

Source: US News

However, if you can take the ACT, you can still choose to submit your scores. It's important to note that your acceptance doesn't depend solely on your ACT score. 

Carnegie Mellon takes a holistic approach to admissions, considering your entire application and context. Of course, you will want to try to score as high as possible on your standardized tests, but it will not determine your acceptance.

Carnegie Mellon University's diverse colleges and programs have varying ACT score ranges. They also have variations in ACT scores from each section of the test, the ACTE, ACTM AND ACTC. 

To clarify, the ACTE represents the English section, ACTM signifies the Math section, and ACTC stands for the Composite score on the ACT exam. Take a look at how these scores differ throughout Carnegie Mellon University's colleges and programs. 

College of Fine Arts 34-35 30-34 33-34
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences 35-36 34-35 34-35
Engineering 35-36 35-36 35
Information Systems 35-36 35-36 35
Mellon College of Science 35-36 35-36 35-36
School of Computer Science 35-36 36 35-36
Tepper School of Business 35-36 35 34-35
Intercollege Degree Programs 35-36 34-35 35

Carnegie Mellon SAT Requirements

At Carnegie Mellon, SAT scores are optional, which means you can submit SAT scores if you wish, but they are not required. So, Carnegie Mellon’s requirement for submitting all SAT scores is completely flexible, leaving the decision entirely up to the applicant. 

If you do decide to take the SAT, it’s helpful to know the Carnegie Mellon average SAT. 

This can help you aim for a score within the average range. 

Standardized Test Average SAT Score
Carnegie Mellon SAT scores 1490-1570

Source: US News

Similar to ACT scores, there are a range of SAT scores for different colleges and programs at Carnegie Mellon University. As you can see below, there are also variations between the scores for the SAT-ERW*, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and SAT-M*, Math, sections at Carnegie Mellon University:

Colleges/Programs SAT-ERW* SAT-M*
College of Fine Arts 700-740 730-780
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences 740-770 790-800
Engineering 740-771 790-800
Information Systems 740-760 780-800
Mellon College of Science 740-770 800
School of Computer Science 770-780 800
Tepper School of Business 730-760 790-800
Intercollege Degree Programs 750-770 780-800

Keep in mind, your application will be considered equally whether or not you include SAT scores. Your acceptance isn't solely determined by your SAT score. Carnegie Mellon follows a holistic admissions approach, evaluating your application in its entirety and taking your context into account.

Carnegie Mellon GPA Requirements

Carnegie Mellon claims to look at each applicant as a whole and does not solely consider a single score. So, since there aren’t any Carnegie Mellon GPA requirements, you don’t necessarily need a 4.0 GPA to be accepted. However, it may be helpful to know that the Carnegie Mellon average GPA of incoming students is 3.9. 

Admission Requirements for DACA, Home-Schooled and Transfer Applicants

Navigating the admission requirements for DACA, home-schooled, and transfer applicants at Carnegie Mellon University involves unique considerations and pathways to enrollment. Keep reading to gain valuable insights. 

Transfer Applicants

If you're considering transferring to Carnegie Mellon, you'll need to provide both a college and high school transcript. Instead of a counselor recommendation, you should submit a recommendation from a professor or advisor. 

Make sure your current academic institution submits the College Report, a Common Application form. Official SAT or ACT scores are required if you've taken these tests previously. 

For non-native English speakers, English proficiency exams like TOEFL or IELTS are necessary. Keep in mind that you can only apply to one college or program within Carnegie Mellon, so choose your program carefully.

DACA Applicants

Carnegie Mellon University welcomes DACA students. When using the Common Application, apply for either first-year or transfer admission as an international student by selecting "Other (non-US)" as your citizenship status. 

You may be eligible for institutional financial aid, requiring the completion of the CSS Profile and providing income documentation to College Board IDOC. Notably, the FAFSA is not required for DACA students. 

Carnegie Mellon may request DACA documentation at the time of admission for financial aid processing. If you have questions about the college application process, the Office of Admission is here to help.

Home-Schooled Applicants

For students schooled at home or online, the application process involves submitting a completed Common Application. Provide a syllabus or course descriptions with textbook lists for completed coursework. You'll also need a transcript or evaluation aligning with state guidelines. 

A recommendation from a counselor, state board representative, home school association, or another authority figure is required. Testing requirements depend on the college and program you're applying to. 

Additionally, you must show proof of meeting high school diploma requirements by the end of May of the graduation year. If admitted, submit an official final transcript, GED, or completion certificate from your local school district or state board of education by the end of July in the year of matriculation. 

Carnegie Mellon Supplemental Essays with Examples 

Carnegie Mellon asks students to answer three essay prompts to understand each applicant better. When applying to the college, you must write a personal statement as well as the Carnegie Mellon essays.  

Carnegie Mellon Essay Prompts 

When writing the supplementary essays for Carnegie Mellon University, students may find it helpful to review the writing supplement questions. Consider your answers to these CMU essay prompts before you begin writing.

Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity, or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieving your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the learning process during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience? (300 words)
Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time–what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study? (300 words) 
Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites, please). (300 words) 

These essay prompts are nothing to be afraid of. Any applicant is capable of writing unique and interesting answers to these questions. Keep reading for tips on how to write the Carnegie Mellon essays. 

Supplemental Essay Examples

Below are examples that can help you understand the structure and content typically expected in Carnegie Mellon’s supplemental essays.

Essay Example #1

“Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity, or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieving your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the learning process during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience? (300 words)” 

To me, a successful college experience extends beyond the confines of a degree. It is a holistic approach to education that nurtures both my academic and personal development. Firstly, I believe success lies in embracing a diverse and intellectually stimulating environment. I am excited about the prospect of engaging with a multitude of perspectives, backgrounds, and cultures on campus. I aim to actively participate in this rich tapestry of ideas, fostering a global outlook and cultural sensitivity that will serve me well in our interconnected world.
Furthermore, success in college means the relentless pursuit of knowledge. It's about pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and exploring disciplines beyond my major. Whether it's attending lectures, conducting research, or collaborating with peers, I aspire to be a passionate and curious learner. I value the process of critical thinking, problem-solving, and synthesizing information, which I believe are the cornerstones of a robust education.
Equally important, a successful college experience involves personal development. It's about cultivating resilience, adaptability, and leadership skills. I anticipate engaging in extracurricular activities, clubs, and volunteer opportunities to not only enrich my college experience but also contribute positively to the campus community.
Ultimately, success is measured by my ability to apply what I've learned to real-world challenges. It's about gaining the knowledge, skills, and ethical values that will empower me to make a meaningful impact in my chosen field and society at large. As I navigate my college years, I am committed to fostering a balance between academic excellence, personal growth, and the pursuit of my long-term goals. By doing so, I aim to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University not just with a degree but with a profound sense of purpose, equipped to address the complex challenges of our rapidly evolving world.

Essay Example #2 

“Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time–what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study? (300 words)” 

When I was younger, I faced a lot of negative emotions including anxiety and low self-esteem. For a long time, I felt alone and as if no one understood how I felt. My self confidence was at an all-time low when I started taking psychology. All of a sudden the negative emotions I was feeling started making sense. I was suddenly able to understand how people were wired and why others treated me a certain way. I in fact was able to feel empathy for my aggressors after understanding that those who treated me negatively often faced struggles of their own. Most importantly, I felt as though something out there finally understood me. 
Because psychology offered insight into my own behavior and helped me to understand others, I was eventually able to overcome my insecurities.
In the future, I would like to help others do the same. No matter where I end up, understanding why people behave a certain way and being more considerate and empathetic for others will only help me thrive. Mental health is a growing issue in our society. The world we live in is a confusing place filled with pain, but psychology provides a way to determine the cause of this suffering and how to change it. I never want anyone to feel the isolation and sorrow I felt when I was younger. I want to help others become compassionate and unconditionally loving not just toward others, but to themselves. Even if I only make a small change in the world and affect just one person’s life, I would like to pursue that.

Essay Example #3 

“Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites, please). (300 words)” 

I recall entering the intimidating world of high school as an exorbitantly introverted, stereotypical Asian girl. My father urged me to assert myself and attempt new activities I wouldn’t have typically participated in. I didn’t want to be disappointed in twenty years by the things I didn’t attempt in high school, so I decided to pursue my long-time dream of becoming a cheerleader. I had always admired the optimism that cheerleaders had, and I was at a point in my life where I needed more positivity.
I faced obstacles trying to join the team. An Asian cheerleader? But Asians were supposed to be smart and cheerleaders were dumb! I broke racial stereotypes by becoming the first Asian cheerleader in my high school.
When I made the squad, I was exposed to individuals which whom I did not ordinarily traverse paths. I stepped outside of my bubble and met girls who were extremely extroverted and seemed to be in a constant state of elation. They taught me how to spread positivity throughout my daily interactions and taught me to use optimism as a strength in facing the hurdles of life. These were qualities I would have never learned from a textbook.
My parents had possessed strong reservations about me joining and feared I would meet girls who weren’t motivated in academics. This was false. Many of the girls were brilliant and creative in ways my regular friend group wasn’t. All avenues of life met there on that team.
Cheerleading was the rain and sun that helped a small seed like me bloom into a flower. It delights me knowing that I gained social skills and made friends I never thought I could gain. Cheerleading has changed my perspective on life and joining that family is one of my greatest treasures.

Carnegie Mellon Interviews

For those students who are worried about their Carnegie Mellon interview, there’s no need to worry! Carnegie Mellon is no longer interviewing students for application consideration. Alumni’s attention is being directed towards students who are already accepted to the school.

You may still have a Carnegie Mellon interview in the future, but it will not affect your application; you will already have been accepted. In these cases, the interview is just to give incoming undergraduates a chance to ask questions and learn more about campus life in a personal format.

Carnegie Mellon Tuition and Fees

Carnegie Mellon University's cost of attendance includes various components beyond tuition. For the 2023-2024 academic year, undergraduate tuition is $62,260 for both resident and commuter students. 

Additional fees, housing, food, books, and other expenses contribute to the total cost, which can vary based on factors like residency and specific fees. It's important to consider the full picture when planning for the cost of attending Carnegie Mellon University.

Carnegie Mellon Financial Aid and Scholarships

Scholarships and grants are vital for helping undergraduates afford college. Unlike loans, they don't require repayment and are awarded based on need and merit.

  • Presidential & Carnegie Scholarships: Competitive awards for outstanding students, providing significant financial support.
  • University, Federal & State Grants: Need-based grants from various sources, including the university, federal, and state governments, to help with tuition and expenses.
  • Endowed Scholarships: Donor-funded scholarships, often tailored to specific fields of study, enhancing financial aid options.
  • Outside Scholarships: Additional financial aid from external sources, reducing the cost of education.
  • Navy ROTC Grant: Financial support for students in the Navy ROTC program, covering educational costs in exchange for future military service.

These scholarships and grants make higher education at Carnegie Mellon more accessible and reflect the university's commitment to student success. 

Tips for Getting Into Carnegie Mellon University  

Here are our top tips on how to get into CMU. Whether you’re just putting the finishing touches on your application or are yet to apply, this is what we think you should focus on to get into Carnegie Mellon.  

1. Build Up Your Extracurriculars 

Carnegie Mellon University is looking for students that will take “full advantage of all the university offers.” The absence of Carnegie Mellon GPA requirements says it all. They’re not solely looking for a high GPA but for students who will drive the future forward.  

Extracurricular activities, whether sports, clubs, volunteer work, or even research projects, will all help show the admissions committee how proactive you are. 

2. Focus on Your Writing Supplements 

Don’t assume that your GPA or test scores are all that matters. Carnegie Mellon’s writing supplements are designed to get to know you as a person. Take the time to show yourself as an individual outside of your test scores.  

3. Select the Best Recommendations 

It is always better to submit a recommendation from a counselor or teacher who knows you best. If you can, take the time to consider who knows you well enough to give you a glowing recommendation

Remember, it does not need to be a teacher whose classroom you were in. A teacher who supervised a club or team you were on would be a great choice.  

4. Have Clear Goals

Many students apply to university because they believe it is the natural next step after college. While this may be true for you, consider what you might hope to get out of the experience. Where do you hope it will take you? What do you see for the future?  

If you have a goal and you believe Carnegie Mellon University is the place that will help you get there, this will shine through in your writing supplements.  

FAQs: Getting Into Carnegie Mellon

Still have questions about Carnegie Mellon? Keep reading for more answers! 

1. How Hard is it to Get into Carnegie Mellon?  

The Carnegie Mellon acceptance rate is 14%, and the school is widely considered to be competitive. 

2. What GPA Do You Need to Get into Carnegie Mellon 

The average GPA of admitted students at Carnegie Mellon is 3.9. Students can be accepted with a lower GPA than this; applicants will be looked at as a whole. Extracurricular activities, volunteer work, research projects, and more will be considered in addition to your GPA. 

3. What Does Carnegie Mellon Look For? 

The admissions committee looks at applications as a whole, including transcripts, essays, extracurricular activities, etc. The college is most known for its STEM programs. 

These majors may need to see good grades in required prerequisite courses. With seven colleges and schools, students should look into the college of their choice directly to determine their specific requirements.  

4. Is Carnegie Mellon as Good as an Ivy League?

Carnegie Mellon is not an Ivy League school, but it has an excellent global reputation. It is ranked #24 in the US News National University Rankings and upholds rigorous academic standards.

5. What Kind of Student is Carnegie Mellon Looking for?

To learn what kind of students Carnegie Mellon is looking for, one need not look further than their mission statement. In it, the school explains that they aim to cultivate a diverse, talented student population. They’re looking for creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and authenticity. 

6. What major is Carnegie Mellon known for?

Carnegie Mellon is especially known for its high-ranking STEM programs.

7. Is Carnegie Mellon a Good School?

Yes! Carnegie Mellon is an excellent school with exceptional programs, rigorous academic standards, high university rankings, and many Nobel prize winners among its alumni.

Final Thoughts  

Carnegie Mellon University is an excellent choice for college and has an excellent global reputation - it even has over 20 Nobel Laureates in its alumni! While the school is competitive, it’s not impossible to get in with hard work, determination, and authenticity. 

Now that you have a clear understanding of how to get into Carnegie Mellon, you can confidently work on crafting a compelling application that reflects your strengths and ambitions, aligning them with the university's expectations.

Make sure to follow our tips for application success, do plenty of research on the school before applying, and build up your application materials in advance. If you’re struggling, consider hiring a seasoned college admissions coach to help you through your application journey.

Good luck!

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