Policies to Note-Mechanical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Intellectual Property
Students enrolled in the Department of Mechanical Engineering are expected to adhere to the Intellectual Property guidelines as set forth by the university: (http://www.cmu.edu/policies/documents/IntellProp.html)

Residency is defined as one academic year enrolled as a full-time student at Carnegie Mellon University.

Master’s Degree to Ph.D.
Changes to degree requirements have attempted to make it easier for students to move from the Master’s level to the Ph.D. degree.
 Students who wish to exercise this option must first complete the requirements for the master’s degree, and complete a new application for the Ph.D. program. To apply for the Ph.D. program, the student must provide a new application form, a new statement of purpose, three new recommendation letters, a new financial aid application), and be accepted into the Ph.D.

Press & Media Relations
To assure consistency in all communications and to maximize external visibility to target audiences the marketing and communication staff works together to coordinate key messages and activities involving publicity.

The Manager of External Communications and Events is the point-of-contact between news media and the MechE community, including faculty, students, administrators and staff.  The communications staff can assist with strategic planning for publicity, interview preparation, and (depending on the specific project or issue) may assist in developing news stories or multi-media for the MechE website and social media channels.

If any MechE student, staff or faculty member is contacted by a media representative, they are required to immediately inform the Manager of External Communications and Events. Persons are not required to answer any questions from journalists without first seeking counsel from the MechE communications staff.

The communications staff works to maintain productive relationships with local, national and international media representing a variety of communication channels— newspapers, magazines, radio, television, blogs and online news sites.  Persons interested in publicizing a program, project, event, or other activity affiliated with MechE should contact the Manager of External Communications and Events.  They can provide counsel to coordinate publicity efforts internally (internal news channels, magazine,) or externally (press releases, podcasts, web video, press releases, etc.).

Department/College/University Brands & Logos

Students interested in using the MechE brand name or logo should contact the Manager of External Communications and Events for information on the department’s branding and identity standards.

Carnegie Mellon University branding and logo use must follow the regulations of and have been approved by the Trademark Licensing Office.

Financial Support
Departmental Financial Support
The MechE department at Carnegie Mellon does not offer financial assistance of any kind to masters students.  All MS students are completely self-funded. For further details visit the funding section of our website.
In rare instances, Teaching Assistantships (TA) and Research Assistantships (RA) may be available to MS students.  The Department will notify MS students when TA positions are available.  Details will be provided at the time of notification.  RA positions may be provided at the discretion of the student’s faculty research advisor.

Travel/Conference Funding
Conference funding is an application process provided by GSA and the Provost’s Office for students, student work groups or groups to attend a conference, whether as a participant or as a presenter.  The process is managed by the Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education.  Students can find more information about the application process and deadlines on the Graduate Student website.

Research Funding
GuSH Research Funding is a source of small research grant funds provided by GSA and the Provost’s Office and managed by the Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Education.  Students can find more information about the application process and deadlines on the Graduate Student website.

Policy on Double Counting Courses
No courses may double count on the MS level. On the PhD level, the following are the ONLY occasions when a course may double-count:
- Up to two classes may double-count between CMU and NTU for the dual CMU/NTU PhD degree.
- If a student from one of the CMU MechE MS programs continues on for PhD within the department, then the course taken as the math requirement for the MS degree may double-count for PhD.     

Policy for Courses Outside the Department/College
See Degree Attainment.

Transfer Courses & PCHE
University Transfer Credit Evaluation and Assignment Policy
Carnegie Mellon University offers students the opportunity to take courses for credit through a cross-registration program (see Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) and Cross-registration below) and through the receipt of transfer credit from other accredited institutions. The Carnegie Mellon University transcript will include information on such courses as follows: Carnegie Mellon courses and courses taken through the university's cross-registration program will have grades recorded on the transcript and be factored into the QPA. All other courses will be recorded on this transcript indicating where the course was taken, but without grade. Such courses will not be taken into account for academic actions, honors or QPA calculations. (Note: suspended students may take courses elsewhere, and may receive transfer credit based on the petition process outlined below.)
PCHE Cross-Registration Information

Transfer Grades (for courses taken at a university other than CMU) 
Note: Department policy does not supersede university policy.

  • Transfer credit may only be granted if the course(s) taken is from an ABET accredited institution.
  • Up to 18-24 units (two courses or equivalent) of graduate course work completed with a grade of B or better at another university may be given transfer credit provided that such course work is part of the graduate program leading to the degree sought and the course was not counted toward any other degree received by the student. 
  • Students who wish to receive transfer credit for courses completed while not enrolled as a graduate student in MechE must petition the GEC.  (Please provide the following information in an email to the head of GEC: course description, learning outcomes, syllabus, student work product, reason for transfer request.) 
  • A transfer course must be analogous to a CMU course that the student has not taken. 
  • Transferred courses appear on the student’s transcript as the analogous CMU course with a transfer designation added.
  • For a transferred course to count as MechE units, it must be analogous to a course found in the MechE department.
  • Course units transfer, but grades do not. 
  • Transfer credit is not granted prior to admission.  Transfer credit may be granted after the student has successfully completed at least 36 units of graduate course work at CMU. 
  • Transferred courses must be “technical” in nature (equivalent to a course that may be found in any engineering department, the natural sciences, computer science, robotics, machine learning, human-computer interaction, etc.).  Courses that are non-technical in nature (humanities, fine arts, business, management, etc.) may not count towards graduation requirements and cannot be transferred for use towards the MechE degree.  
  • Transfer Grades (for courses taken at other departments at CMU): Students may transfer courses from other internal CMU departments provided that the courses meet the degree requirements.
  • Distance Education – The department does not accept or support distance education credits at this time.

Grades and Grading

  • The Mechanical Engineering Department follows the CIT and CMU policy for grading.
  • For information on the CIT Grading Policy and QPA Requirements.
  • For more information on CMU Grading Policies. This policy offers details concerning university grading principles for students taking courses and covers the specifics of assigning and changing grades, grading options, drop/withdrawals, and course repeats.  It also defines the undergraduate and graduate grading standards.
  • A QPA of 3.0 or above is required for graduation and for successful academic standing.  However, while there is no “probationary status” on the graduate level (students may carry a QPA below 3.0 in any given semester without being considered on probation), no student with a QPA below 3.0 at the time of graduation will be allowed to graduate or have their degree certified.
  • Courses taken as Audit or Pass/Fail may not be used towards graduation requirements for degree certification.

Policy for Incompletes
If a student receives an “Incomplete” grade on their transcript, they must work with the teaching faculty for the course to make up the work necessary to receive a letter grade for the class. All "incomplete" grades are submitted with a default grade. The default grade is automatically processed as the final grade if the teaching faculty does not supply the University with an alternate grade (via the "Change of Grade" form) by the last day of class the following academic semester (this does not include summer). For appeals, please see the “Summary of Graduate Student Appeal and Grievance Procedures.”

Petition/Waiver Procedures
A student wishing to petition the GEC for special permission or special circumstances related to their degree, or for a waiver of degree requirements, must send a formal email to the Head of the GEC requesting said permission.  The reason for the request, along with any relevant information (course descriptions, syllabi, etc) must accompany the email.  Please cc the your Program Administrator on the request.  

Please note:  The GEC will NOT accept petitions to consider CMU courses outside of our department as MechE course units.  Only courses offered from the MechE department or cross-listed within MechE may count as MechE course units.

Policy for ‘W’ Grade in a Course
If a student drops a class after the course drop deadline, but before the last day of the class, they will receive a “W” (withdrawal) grade for the course.  Students may also be withdrawn from a course for academic integrity violations or failing to provide adequate attendance.  "W" grades do not factor into the students QPA, and cannot be removed from the transcript.

Policy for Make-Up Exams
Make-up exams may be provided at the discretion of the teaching faculty for the course in question.  

Independent Study/Supervised Reading
Supervised Reading (24-793) is a course designed to provide students with an opportunity for intensive study of a subject that is either unavailable or insufficiently covered in regular course work.  Supervised Reading is not intended to substitute for existing courses or research, but to provide the opportunity for a specialized educational experience.

Who can Supervise?
Any faculty member in the MechE Department (or related technical area) may serve as the supervisor of Supervised Reading.  The student must provide a brief prospectus of the project to the faculty supervisor as a basis for agreement on the objectives of study.

Students arranging Supervised Reading must:
•    Obtain approval from their advisor or Graduate Program Administrator as well as secure a supervising faculty member.
•    Draft a contract with the supervising faculty member that describes in detail the course and its requirements. A copy of the contract should be given to the academic advisor or Graduate Program Administrator.

Supervised Reading may also be used to supplement an existing lower-unit course to make it 12 units.  For example, a 9 unit course may be turned into a 12 unit course by supplementing 3 units of Supervised Reading.  In this case, the supervisor must be the teaching faculty of the lower-unit course.  And the Supervised Reading units must be taken concurrently with the course being supplemented. 

Supervised Reading may not take the place of course units or research units (24-794).

ABD/ABS Policies
The university’s administration has put forth the following ABD/ABS policy for all Carnegie Mellon students. As with all policies the latest version is on-line: (http://www.cit.cmu.edu/current_students/graduates/phd_policies.html#phd_abd)

The university has a series of policies which cover a definition of ABD status, time limits on doctoral candidacy status, a definition of in residence and of in absentia status for ABD candidates, and the tuition charged for candidates in residence and candidates in absentia.  These rules apply to all graduate students.

ABD Status
After the completion of all formal degree requirements other than the completion of and approval of the doctoral dissertation, and the public final examination, doctoral candidates shall be regarded as All But Dissertation (ABD). Achieving ABD status is verified by the candidate’s home department. Once a student meets department criteria, ABD status must be certified by the department in writing to the Registrar’s Office.

Time Limit on Doctoral Candidacy Status
Once students achieve ABD status; after completing the thesis proposal successfully, their doctoral degree candidacy may continue for a maximum of seven full academic years (unless terminated earlier by conferral of the degree, by academic or administrative action, or by a lapse of candidacy due to more restrictive department or college policy). At the expiration of the seven year period, candidacy status shall lapse.  Once candidacy has lapsed, the person may resume work towards a doctoral degree only if newly admitted to a currently offered doctoral degree program under criteria determined by that program.

Under extraordinary circumstances, such as documented military or public service, family or parental leave, or temporary disability, a school or college may, upon the relevant department’s recommendation and with the written approval of the dean, defer the lapse of candidacy status for a period commensurate with the duration of that interruption.

NOTE:  Please be aware that the College of Engineering (CIT) has a six year time limit on ABD and ABS candidates.

In Residence Versus In Absentia
Once students achieve ABD status, they must choose whether to complete their dissertation in residence or in absentia. A candidate in absentia must meet the specific criteria noted below.  No candidate in absentia will be verified by the university as a “student” for immigration or loan purposes. (“Non resident alien” students on J1 or F1 visas who become ABD must continue to follow Immigration and Naturalization Service {INS} regulations. The intent of INS regulations is that the student continues to pursue completion of the degree on a full-time basis under the jurisdiction of the university which will award the degree. In general, foreign students who enter ABD status are advised to remain in residence while they complete their degree. Questions about ABD status and visa requirements should be addressed to the Office of International Education.)

When a candidate decides whether to be ABD in residence or ABS in absence, he/she must complete a Doctoral Candidate Contractual Agreement form available from the Office of the Registrar. The Agreement Form declares the candidate’s choice of following in residence or in absentia. The Contractual Agreement form may be used several times; however, a candidate who has chosen to be in absentia must return for at least one semester of full time status before qualifying for final semester tuition benefits for ABD candidates in residence.

ABD Candidates in Residence
ABD candidates in residence maintain student status and all consequent student privileges and must be enrolled for the number of units required by the policy of their home college. No ABD candidate in residence may be enrolled for less than five units, nor for fewer than thirty-six units if he/she receives full-time support paid by or administered by the university. ABD candidates in residence should consult their department or college policies regarding enrollment units within this range.

Final Semester Tuition for ABD Candidates in Residence
ABD candidates in residence shall, in the semester in which all degree requirements are completed, pay their college’s full-time tuition pro-rated by the quarter of the semester, whether used fully or partially. Payment will be waived if all degree requirements are completed by the end of the first full month of the semester in which the degree is completed, (for the fall semester, September 30; for the spring semester, January 31; for the summer session, June 30). Doctoral candidates’ departments shall notify the Office of the Registrar of the appropriate financial arrangement. ABD candidates in residence who complete their final semester during the summer term will be assessed tuition according to the number of units registered for, and if necessary, pro-rated according to the same guidelines.

ABD Candidates in Absentia
An ABD doctoral candidate may, upon departmental certification thereof, be regarded as being in absentia when and, so long as, the following three conditions concur:

  • The candidate has been enrolled as a full-time graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University for at least one academic year or up to two academic years if required by the student’s home college. Part-time graduate enrollment may, at the department’s discretion, be counted pro-rata toward one year of this total.
  • The candidate does not receive a stipend predicated on his or her status as a graduate student or doctoral candidate and paid by or administered by the university (whether teaching or research assistantship, scholarship, or fellowship).
  • The student does not require substantial use of university resources. Departmental certification of this condition shall be subject to guidelines established by the School or College.

According to university guidelines, candidates in absentia may:

  • obtain university health insurance
  • use university libraries
  • use the book and computer stores
  • use computing facilities only for department communications and for thesis text preparation
  • enter university buildings for faculty/student consultations
  • become regular university employees

They may not:

  • be employed with a graduate student stipend
  • buy parking permits
  • use the gymnasium
  • use Dining Service meal plans
  • use Campus Account services
  • live in university housing
  • use University Health Services, which is available only to currently enrolled students except in an emergency.

The Office of the Registrar will provide in absentia candidates with a sticker which provides identification for access to the library and other services permitted under the guidelines.

Tuition/Fee Effects of In Absentia Status Including Final Semester
While an ABD candidate is in absentia, no formal enrollment or payment shall be
required with one exception: an ABD candidate in absentia shall be required to pay five units of graduate study, or greater if required by college policy, based on their current school/college’s tuition before the degree is conferred. Under extraordinary circumstances, an exception may be granted by petition. A petition should be made to the student’s school/college’s Associate Dean who will forward it for consideration by the Registrar.

Employment of ABD Candidates in Absentia
As noted above, ABD candidates in absentia are extended only minimum access to university resources:
  “The candidate does not receive a stipend predicated on his/her status as a graduate student or doctoral candidate and paid by or administered by the university whether for teaching or research assistantship, scholarship or fellowship.” An ABD candidate in absentia cannot be hired for work directly related to completing his/her dissertation and/or make substantial use of resources for work toward the doctorate as noted above. In order to be in compliance with these policies, the universities employment policies, and the Internal Revenue Service, an ABD candidate in residence may only be hired for university employment as a regular employee and through the regular employment process.

Graduate Education Committee
The Graduate Education Committee  (GEC) establishes graduate curricula and requirements, policies, and course changes and additions. They coordinate the Ph.D. qualifying exams, graduate student advising, the admission and financial aid decisions, and provide the major support for the graduate recruiting process.

Graduate student problems, suggestions, etc., should be directed to the Graduate Committee Chairman through the Graduate Coordinator or through the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC). 

Academic Conflict
Graduate students are expected to discuss any concerns or grievances initially with members of their academic departments, including their academic advisor and Department Head, as appropriate. If a students wishes, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the College of Engineering is available for consultation. All such discussions will be considered confidential at the request of the student.

If resolution of an academic grievance or concern cannot be obtained within their academic departments, graduate students may file a formal appeal of academic actions to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the college.  In accordance with the Carnegie MellonStudent Handbook, such appeals will ordinarily be heard and decided by the CIT (Engineering) College Council. 

Written materials and findings of such appeal processes are considered confidential for all parties involved.

If a resolution cannot be reached by this process, an appeal may be made to the Provost at the request of either the student or the college.