How to Get Into Carnegie Mellon - Admission Requirements

A university
April 17, 2024
10 min read
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Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

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

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 Carnegie Mellon application deadlines, as well as tips on how to write Carnegie Mellon essays and how to ace your Carnegie Mellon interview. 

Let’s get started!

Carnegie Mellon Acceptance Rate: 11%

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. 

Take a look at this table for some further information on Carnegie Mellon’s admission trends:

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023 33,707 ~3700 11%
2022 34,261 3,873 11.3%
2021 32,896 4,453 13.5%
2020 26,189 4,524 17.2%

Source: Carnegie Mellon Common Data Sets

Carnegie Mellon Early Decision Acceptance Rate

While the regular decision acceptance rate is 11%, 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.

Here’s a look at some ED acceptance trends at CMU: 

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023 N/A N/A 20%
2022 4,528 567 12.5%
2021 2,972 592 19.9%
2020 1,780 445 25%

Source: Carnegie Mellon Common Data Sets

How Hard Is It to Get Into Carnegie Mellon?

With an acceptance rate of only 11%, Carnegie Mellon is a very selective university, and their admit rate is steadily decreasing. To get in, you’ll need a stellar application with top-notch grades. 

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

Carnegie Mellon Admissions Statistics

Carnegie Mellon Average GPA: 3.9

The Carnegie Mellon average GPA of incoming students is 3.9. However, to improve your chances of admission to CMU, you should aim for a 4.0 or higher. Carnegie Mellon highly values your academic prowess, so do your best to demonstrate your intellectual abilities through your grades. 

Carnegie Mellon Average SAT: 1540

The average SAT score of incoming Carnegie Mellon students is 1540. The 25th to 75th percentiles range from 1500-1560. This means that a good SAT score at Carnegie Mellon would be 1540 or above.

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. 

Keep in mind that 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 Average ACT: 35

According to their recent Common Data Sets, the average ACT score at Carnegie Mellon is 35. The 25th to 75th percentiles range from 34-35. These are very competitive scores, so be sure to study hard for the ACT in order to get a comparable score. 

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. 

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.

What is Carnegie Mellon Looking For In Applicants? 

Carnegie Mellon looks for applicants who can demonstrate high grades and a rigorous high school curriculum. They pay close attention to whether applicants have challenged themselves academically and in extracurricular activities. This means that you may want to take higher-level courses, like AP or IB classes, to give yourself an edge. 

For more info on how Carnegie Mellon evaluates applications, take a look at this table below outlining their basis for selection: 

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Rigor of secondary school record X
Class rank X
Academic GPA X
Standardized test scores X
Application essay X
Recommendation X

Non-Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Interview X
Extracurricular activities X
Talent/ability X
Character/personal qualities X
First generation X
Alumni/ae relation X
Geographical residence X
State residency X
Religious affiliation/commitment X
Volunteer work X
Work experience X
Level of applicant’s interest X

Carnegie Mellon Admissions Requirements

Carnegie Mellon hopefuls can impress the admissions committee with SAT scores higher than 1540, 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!

In addition to these standards, you’ll need to submit several documents in order to apply to Carnegie Mellon. Here are the application requirements you’ll need to know: 

  • $75 application fee
  • The Common Application
  • Official high school transcript
  • School counselor evaluation
  • Teacher recommendation letter
  • Common Application essay
  • Common Application writing supplement
  • Standardized test scores (optional)

Depending on the college or school you are applying to, you may be required to submit additional materials. For DACA, home-schooled, and transfer applicants, there may also be unique steps to take in the application process. 

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:

Application Step Deadline
ED I application deadline November 1
RD application deadline for Colleges of Fine Arts December 1
ED I notification date December 15
RD and ED II application deadlines January 3
ED II notification date Early February
ED I & II enrollment deadline February 15
RD (& RD Colleges of Fine Arts) notification date April 1
RD (& RD Colleges of Fine Arts) enrollment deadline May 1

Carnegie Mellon Regular Decision Deadline

If you’ve applied to Carnegie Mellon through Reguar Decision, you’ll need to submit your applications by January 3. You will hear a decision no later than April 1, and you have about a month to confirm your enrollment by May 1. 

However, if you’ve applied Regular Decision for the Schools of Architecture, Art, Design, Drama, or Music, you’ll need to submit your application by December 1, much earlier than other Regular Decision applicants. This is to allow time for auditions or portfolios. You’ll still receive a decision on the Regular Decision timeline, though - April 1. 

Carnegie Mellon Early Decision Deadline

The Carnegie Mellon application deadline for Early Decision I applicants is November 1. However, Early Decision II applicants don’t have to submit their application until January 3. 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Carnegie Mellon

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.  

Carnegie Mellon Essay Prompts

Carnegie Mellon asks students to answer three essay prompts to understand each applicant better. These supplemental essays allow the admissions committee to get a better idea of who you are and what matters to you. When applying to the college, you must write a personal statement as well as the Carnegie Mellon essays.  

Before you write your supplemental essays for Carnegie Mellon University, you should be aware of the writing supplement questions. 

Consider your answers to these CMU essay prompts before you begin writing, and note that each response should be fewer than 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?
  • Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience?
  • 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). 

These essay prompts are nothing to be afraid of. Any applicant is capable of writing unique and interesting answers to these questions. Remember to be honest and authentic in your writing, and you’ll be able to craft a top-notch essay!

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 11%, 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 it aims 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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