Cmu Post Graduate Admission Essay

Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university home to over 6,000 undergraduates. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the college boasts 17 varsity teams in the NCAA Division III classification. While it frequently finds itself placed in the top 25 colleges in the nation, perhaps Carnegie Mellon is best recognized for its phenomenal Computer Science program—except for a brief deviation in 2009, CMU is consistently ranked #1 in Computer Science, beating out the likes of Stanford, Cornell, and MIT. Its other programs aren’t too shabby, either, and as a result over 33,000 seniors each year apply to CMU.

Applicants to CMU have seven different colleges to choose from:

  1. The Carnegie Institute of Technology (Engineering)
  2. College of Fine Arts
  3. Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  4. Mellon College of Science
  5. Tepper School of Business
  6. H. John Heinz III College
  7. The School of Computer Science

Regardless of whichever college student choose, all applicants are required to fill out a writing supplement. With an acceptance rate of just 18%, students will need to write top-notch essays to secure their spot. Luckily, Admissions Hero is here to help:

Note: this year’s CMU app is essentially identical to last year’s. We’ve updated this year’s post only slightly to reflect new trends in admissions. Read last year’s post here.

Please submit a one page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen Carnegie Mellon and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s). This essay should include the reasons why you’ve chosen the major(s), any goals or relevant work plans and any other information you would like us to know. For freshmen applying to more than one college or program, please mention each college or program to which you are applying. Because our admission committees review applicants by college and program, your essay can impact our final decision. Candidates applying for early decision or transfer may apply to only one college and department.

This prompt is essentially asking you to write a “Why X” essay for Carnegie Mellon. Because so many students apply to CMU, the admissions officers are interested in accepting only the students who are genuinely interested in attending CMU. Therefore, you should do some research to find specific examples of resources you would like to take advantage of as a potential CMU student. For some, this might mean going online to read more about CMU’s Fine Arts resources; for others, you might want to ask your close friend who attends CMU about the engineering facilities. Either way, the goal is to have some details on-hand for when you go to write your essay.

When you actually answer this question, your best bet is to cover three topics:

  1. What you are interested in studying and why?
  2. What relevant past experiences do you have related to this field?
  3. Why CMU specifically?

If you can answer all three questions in a smooth manner, then you will have an effective essay. 

List the books (if any) you’ve read this year for pleasure. Choose one and in a sentence describe its impact on you.

There’s no “trick” to this question—the adcoms literally just want to know what books you’ve read this past year. You should have some books to list, but be as truthful as possible. If you are unsure which book you want to choose to describe in one sentence, then ask yourself, “Is there anything I want to tell the admissions officers about myself that I haven’t already?” If you have a clear answer to this question, then you can strategically choose a book that will allow you to convey that message when you describe its impact on you. For example, if you haven’t yet told the adcoms about your deep love of philosophy—specifically, when it comes to morality—then you might accordingly choose Justice, by Michael J. Sandel and describe how the book allowed you to examine various case studies and develop a new perspective on what morality really is.

If there was an interruption during your secondary school or collegiate experience or between your secondary school and collegiate experience (gap year(s)) when you were not enrolled and as a result, not making normal academic progress, please explain the reason for the interruption.

The majority of students will not have to answer this question; however, if you are a student who fits the description above, then your best bet is to honestly describe what occurred. If you feel that your reliability or character is called into question when you only objectively describe the situation, then succinctly explain yourself at the end of your description and—if appropriate—express that things will be different in the future. For students whose interruptions were due to taking a gap year (or something similar), then describe your experience and explain its impact on you briefly. For example, maybe you volunteered in Africa for 6 months and now you are a more mature individual. Finally, if you took time off due to a family occurrence or illness, then—once again—explain the situation and leave it at that.

While not a requirement, have you been interviewed by an alumni or on campus representative prior to applying for admission? If so, indicate the name of your interviewer and tell us how it impacted your decision to apply.

This question is pretty straightforward if you did not get interviewed before applying to CMU—don’t answer it. If you did receive an interview, then hopefully you remembered to record your interviewer’s name. When describing how it impacted your decision to apply, it’s best to recall specific details from your conversation—for example, maybe you and your interviewer share a love of Quidditch, and your interviewer mentioned to you that CMU has a strong Quidditch team. Mentioning small yet specific details about either CMU or your interviewer’s experience with CMU will go a long away in showing that you were impacted by your interview.

With these tips, you should be well on your way to writing the perfect CMU Supplement. Best of luck from the Admissions Hero team!

For more help, feel free to reach out to work 1-on-1 with one of Admissions Hero’s trained college essay specialists.

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Master's admissions policies and procedures at the School of Computer Science vary by department and program. For easy reference, we've compiled statistics, facts and links for each program in a short, downloadable PDF.

SCS Graduate Online Application

There is a common online application form available for admission to SCS Ph.D. programs and any master's programs within the School of Computer Science. With the SCS Graduate Online Application, you may apply to up to three Ph.D. programs and any of master's programs.

Application deadlines, procedures and policies for all other programs are at the discretion of the home department. Please refer to the Master's Programs page for links to individual program pages and application information.

Application Deadlines & Fees

We do not require mailed, hard versions of transcripts at the time of application. Do not mail your transcripts to the admissions office. If you are accepted to a program, you will be given instructions to then mail them.

Important Dates to remember:

  • Nov. 30, 2017 - Reduced Application Fees end 12:01 p.m. EST
  • Dec. 14, 2017 - Final deadline - noon (12 p.m.) EST

Early deadline, noon (12 p.m.) EST November 30:  If you submit your application and pay the required fee by noon (12 p.m.) EST November 30, the application fee is $75 for one program and $50 for each additional program. At 12:01 p.m. EST on November 30, the application fee increases to $125 for one program and $75 for each additional program. The early deadline does not imply an early decision. You may continue to edit your application until the final deadline of noon (12 p.m.) EST December 14.

You may pay the fee by credit card. The credit card payment system is part of the online application, and instructions are given when you submit your application.

If you do not want to pay by credit card with the online application, you may pay by a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank, made payable to Carnegie Mellon University. DO NOT SEND CASH. We expect all applicants to pay the application fee.

Questions?

For answers to common questions regarding graduate admissions, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

If your specific question is not addressed on the FAQ page, we are always happy to answer your questions by electronic mail. Send inquiries to applygrad@cs.cmu.edu.

Application Instructions

To apply for admission to master's programs within the School of Computer Science, read the following instructions carefully and make certain that you have met all requirements when you submit your application.

Complete the online application form for admission to graduate programs within the School of Computer Science. With the online SCS application form, you may apply to two Ph.D. programs, and/or the master's programs offered by the Robotics Institute and the Language Technologies Institute. The online application must be completed and submitted electronically as instructed by noon (12 p.m.) EST November 30 with a final deadline of December 14. Letters of recommendation must be requested and submitted electronically by noon (12 p.m.) EST December 14.

Test Scores

All test scores must be uploaded (as a PDF) to your application. If they are not uploaded by December 14, you will not have access to upload them and your application may not be considered.

All applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test and have scores. Please send via mail at the time of application. See individual program requirements for complete details. Please refer to the GRE testing schedule to determine test dates. No application will be considered complete until we have received these scores. GRE scores will not be accepted if they are more than five years old.

If your native language is not English, then you must submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). All students will need to submit a TOEFL. No exceptions.

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, the TOEFL is still required. However, you may submit an expired test score up to five years old.

If you have not completed a bachelor’s degree in the U.S., you will need to submit a TOEFL no older than two years. We will NOT accept an expired score in this case. No exceptions.

Send test scores via mail at the time of application. A successful applicant will normally have a total iBT score of at least 100. 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.

Upload your GRE and TOEFL (if applicable) to your application no later than December 14. Send the scores via mail at the time of application.

Please send your scores to the following codes:

GRE Institution Code: 2074; Department Code: 0402

TOEFL Institution Code: 4256; Department Code: 78

Transcripts

We do not require mailed, hard versions of transcripts at the time of application. Do not mail your transcripts to the admissions office. If you are accepted to a program, you will be given instructions to then mail them.

All electronic transcripts should be uploaded by the time you submit your application. If they are not uploaded by December 14, you will not have access to upload them and your application may not be considered. Since fall grades are not required, upload your electronic transcripts as early as possible. Note that electronic transcripts and test scores are not marked as received until you submit and pay your application. It may take several days or weeks to check the uploaded material, please allow time.

Resume

Submit your current Resume. Outline your education, research experience, work experience, publications, scholarships awarded, prizes and honors received, society memberships, and any other extracurricular activities.

Statement of Purpose

Submit a Statement of Purpose. Prepare a concise one or two page essay that describes your primary areas of interest in research, your related experiences, and your objective in pursuing a graduate degree at Carnegie Mellon. Your essay should be specific in describing your interests and motivations. When describing your research interests, you should explain why you think they are important areas of study and why you are particularly well-suited to pursuing them. You should describe any relevant education, research, commercial, government, or teaching experience. If you are applying to more than one program, you may (but are not required to) submit a separate Statement of Purpose for each program. You must upload your Resume and Statement of Purpose in either PDF, MS Word, or text format. Include your name and User ID on the essay.

Notes for specific programs:

  • Human-Computer Interaction applicants: Indicate your intended area of emphasis in the first paragraph of your Statement of Purpose. If appropriate to your background, you may include a link to your portfolio. If you are unable to provide a link, you may mail a CD of your portfolio to the Applications Coordinator. Contact applygrad@cs.cmu.edu for mailing instructions.
  • Software Engineering applicants: Concisely summarize your background in software development, experience with particular parts of the software life cycle, and how your industrial experience prepares you for graduate-level academic work. Submit this information in the Supplemental Information section under Experience (Research, Industry) in the online application.
  • Computation, Organizations and Society applicants: Indicate your intended area in the first paragraph of your Statement of Purpose along with the name of a possible advisor. For those with industrial or government experience, describe how this experience prepares you for graduate-level academic work. Submit this information in the Supplemental Information section under Experience (Research, Industry) in the online application. Applicants may also submit a short prior publication related to their research interests.
  • Master's in Robotics System Development applicants: Provide some background information on your academic/industrial career to date, and why/how that leads you to be interested in CMU's unique industry-oriented MRSD degree-program. In order to aid in our candidate evaluation it would be helpful for us to understand your career aspirations, how you see the mix of technical/management education in the MRSD-program assisting you in achieving these, and what you see yourself doing in 5 to 10 years after graduation.
  • Master's in Computer Science applicants: Discuss your purpose in pursuing a master's degree in Computer Science. For example, you might explain how advanced study in Computer Science fits into your future career ambitions. There are no right answers, and you do not need to have worked out your future plans in detail. We just want to see that you have thought your purpose through. If your background is unusual, this is also the right place to explain it to us.

Letters of Recommendation

Submit three letters of recommendation. Recommenders should know you relatively well and be able to evaluate the quality of your previous work. At least two should be from faculty or recent employers. With the online application, letters will be requested and submitted electronically. Paper recommendations will not be accepted. Letters of recommendation are due by December 14. All deadlines are final. Letters received after this date may not be considered in the review of your application.

Submitting the Application

Submit the online application, pay the non-refundable application fee, upload all of your official transcripts and test scores to the application itself. Send your GRE and TOEFL Scores at the time of application.

GRE Institution Code: 2074; Department Code: 0402

TOEFL Institution Code: 4256; Department Code: 78

A non-refundable application fee of $75 is required for one program and $50 for each additional program if submitted and paid by November 30. Between 12:01 p.m. EST on November 30 and 11:59 p.m. on December 14, the application fee increases to $125 for one program and $75 for each additional program. You may pay the fee by credit card. The credit card payment system is part of the online application, and instructions are given when you submit your application. If you do not want to pay by credit card with the online application, you may pay by a check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank, made payable to Carnegie Mellon University.

It is your responsibility to make certain that your application, supporting documents, and letters of recommendation are uploaded to your application by the final deadline. You may check your submitted application to make certain that it is complete.

Need Help?

We are always happy to answer your questions by electronic mail. Send inquiries to applygrad@cs.cmu.edu.

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