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.

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.

Policy for Incompletes

If a student receives an “Incomplete” grade on their transcript, they may petition the teaching faculty for the course to make up the work necessary to receive a letter grade for the class.  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 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.  

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.