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Undergraduate Admission

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Admission Consideration

Building a Class with Tartans of All Kinds

At Carnegie Mellon, we select our first-year class from a large group of very qualified candidates. We don’t use a calculation to choose who to admit because calculations can’t take into account all the factors we consider when making admission decisions. No single grade, factor, score or activity will automatically gain or deny you admission to Carnegie Mellon. We treat every applicant as an individual, taking great care to make our admission decisions fair, thorough and sensitive. We’re interested in students who can be successful at Carnegie Mellon while taking full advantage of all the university has to offer.

Students having fun, standing together during the Craig Street Crawl.

What We Consider

Our admission process reflects Carnegie Mellon's values and core competencies, including diversity, equity, inclusion, collaboration, communication, community engagement, concern for others, self-directed learning and critical thinking. We recommend that you think creatively about how your experiences in and out of the classroom showcase these characteristics. We also encourage you to consider how to share your experiences and aspirations so the admission committee can learn more about you as an applicant, student and person beyond a list of accomplishments.

Academic and Creative Potential

Our admission process is designed to select a highly talented, diverse undergraduate population with high aspirations who will succeed at Carnegie Mellon. If you’re applying to academic programs, your high school talent and/or potential will be a significant factor in our admission decision because it’s the most meaningful indication of your motivation and abilities. We pay close attention to your curriculum rigor, the grades you’ve earned and the work you’ve accomplished. We’re interested in seeing that you’ve challenged yourself within your secondary school environment. If you’re applying to programs in the College of Fine Arts, your artistic performance will be either the main factor or a significant factor (depending on the program) in our admission decision.

Carnegie Mellon does not collect or review criminal history information as part of the admission process. However, individuals who are admitted to Carnegie Mellon will be required to disclose any past criminal conviction as part of the enrollment process. Learn how Carnegie Mellon considers criminal history information.

Striving for Access and Equity in Admission

The mission of Carnegie Mellon University includes the cultivation of a diverse and inclusive community. Our undergraduate admission process is committed to reducing or eliminating advantages that have been inherent in the admission process. The goal is to provide a more equitable, level playing field where all segments of our applicant population have the same opportunity in the admission process.

Our Admission Paradigm


We do not consider demonstrated interest in our admission paradigm. Demonstrated interest is a term used in undergraduate admission that describes the ways in which a prospective student shows a college that they’re interested by visiting campus and submitting additional materials that aren’t required in the application.

As a result, we do not consider a campus visit or communication with the Office of Admission or other members of the Carnegie Mellon community when making admission decisions. Also, we do not accept supplementary submission of materials, including:

  • Resumes
  • Research abstracts
  • Writing samples
  • Multimedia demonstrations of talents
  • Maker portfolios

These extra materials haven't been useful in making our admission decisions and allowing optional materials has deterred some people from applying. Applicants have space on the Common Application to list accomplishments and involvement for the admission committee’s consideration. We encourage students to use this space to share the extracurricular facets of their high school experience.

Our Application Process


We’re working hard to move our admission application process in a more inclusive direction.

  • We changed our long application essay to a series of short essays to better understand student context, unique talents and interests, as well as special considerations candidates would like to bring to our attention.
  • On-campus sessions are not evaluative, but rather are counseling sessions to help students align their interests with our programs. 
  • We do not offer alumni interviews in advance of admission decisions and have refocused alumni efforts to connect with admitted candidates instead.

Yet even with these changes, there's more work needed on our part to achieve a more inclusive process.

Issues surrounding standardized testing, for example, are complex in a research university like ours, and while we’re no longer requiring or recommending SAT Subject Tests, we’re hoping there is more we can do.

Our Waiting List


Efforts to support access and inclusion extend to our waiting list process as well. Like many other institutions, we are inundated with demonstrations of continued interest and additional recommendations, mostly from well-resourced or well-advised applicants. 

Our waiting list process is designed to give everyone who is interested in remaining on our waiting list the opportunity to respond about their uniqueness by sending us a paragraph at the appropriate time, only when we know there are additional places to fill. 

We request only the paragraph and do not consider:

  • Letters of continued interest
  • Extra recommendations
  • Expectation of campus visits
  • Lobbying efforts including phone calls and emails  

Details about the paragraph are included in the information made available to all students offered a place on our waiting list when admission decisions are rendered in March. We don't provide the exact topic in advance since we want to avoid having students work on it needlessly in the event we don't end up admitting candidates from our waiting list.

Even with these changes, there's more work needed on our part to achieve a more inclusive process. Issues surrounding standardized testing, for example, are complex in a research university like ours, and while we’re no longer requiring or recommending SAT Subject Tests, we’re hoping there is more we can do. All told, we're working hard to move our process in a more inclusive direction.