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Undergraduate Admission

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Common Admission Terms

Speak the Lingo.

The admission process has a lot of parts and pieces — choosing a major, visiting campus, submitting your application and more. We've defined some of the most important admission terms here so that you can focus on the most important part: finding your right fit.

Admission Interview

A personal interaction between an admission applicant and an institutional representative (admission officer, alumnus, faculty, etc.). Interviews are rarely required. Carnegie Mellon does not offer interviews.

AP (Advanced Placement) Tests

Standardized tests designed for students who have completed a college-level Advanced Placement course in high school. The AP exams are graded from a 1 (lowest) to a 5 (highest) and are used to determine if a student may gain advanced standing in college and/or college credit. Learn more via College Board.

Campus Visit/Tour

Information sessions, campus tours and other visit opportunities offered by the college admission office for prospective students, allowing them to see various campus buildings, hear from faculty and staff and get a glimpse of campus life. Explore Carnegie Mellon's visit opportunities here.

College Application Essay

A brief writing on a single subject required by many colleges as part of the application process.

College Fair

An event that allows students (along with their parents or guardians) to speak with representatives from different colleges and universities. These events can be in-person or virtual.

Common Application

An application system also known as the Common App that makes it possible for students to use a single admission application to apply to any of its member colleges and universities. Learn more via

Demonstrated Interest/Fit

A measure of a student’s desire to attend a particular college shown through campus visits, contact with admission officers and other actions that show engagement with the college. Carnegie Mellon does not consider demonstrated interest in our admissions decisions.

Early Action

An application plan under which a prospective student applies by an early deadline and receives notification earlier than the standard admission decision date. Early action is non-binding, and the applicant is not required to accept an offer of admission. Carnegie Mellon does not offer early action.

Early Admission

An application plan that allows qualifying high school juniors with outstanding academic records may forgo their senior year in high school and enroll in college early if admitted.

Early Decision

An admission plan designed for students who know a particular college is their number one choice. Early decision is binding, meaning applicants commit to enroll if admitted.

Enrollment Deposit

The amount of money you must submit to formally reserve your spot at a college. Most colleges require you to submit an enrollment deposit within a certain amount of time after you're admitted.

Extracurricular Activities

Activities such as athletics, a part-time job, involvement in clubs and organizations, volunteer work, community and family commitments, and more that complement a student’s classroom experiences.

First-Generation College Student

At Carnegie Mellon, a student whose parents or guardians didn't complete a bachelor’s (four-year college) degree or higher. You’re still considered the first in your family to go to college if your parents or guardians received an associate’s degree, attended a four-year college but did not graduate, or if your siblings attended and graduated from college. It’s worth noting that different colleges define first generation status differently.

High School Visit

A visit to a high school or community site by a college admission representative used to recruit students for admission.

Need-Blind Admission

Consideration of an applicant regardless of their need for financial aid.

Open House

A program offered by a college to showcase the school's programs and opportunities. Typically, a variety of departments, such as campus activities, financial aid and housing, are represented.

Prospective Student

Any student who is a potential applicant for admission.

Regular Decision

How most students choose to apply to college. Unlike Early Decision, Regular Decision is non-binding. Typically, applicants apply and are notified of an admission decision a few months later. Applicants then have until a college’s declared deposit deadline to submit an enrollment deposit at the school they plan to attend.

Rolling Admission

An admission program in which colleges review applications and release admission decisions on a continual basis rather than releasing decisions for all applicants on a given date. Carnegie Mellon does not offer rolling admission.


The SAT and ACT are college entrance exams. Many colleges require their submission to be admitted. Colleges usually don’t require both, nor do they prefer one over the other. Carnegie Mellon has adopted a test-optional policy through fall 2023, removing the SAT/ACT standardized testing requirement for first-year fall 2023 applicants.

SAT Subject Test

SAT Subject Tests (also known as SAT II tests) were offered in many areas of study including English, mathematics, sciences, history and foreign languages. Some colleges require or recommend students to take one or more SAT Subject Tests when they apply for admission. For those applying to Carnegie Mellon, SAT Subject Tests won’t be considered in our admission review process.

School Profile

An overview of a high school’s grading system, course offerings and other features that's submitted to the admission office by the high school along with your transcript. It’s used to put an applicant’s academic credentials in perspective within the academic offerings of the school they attend.


A list of students whose academic qualifications are strong but are not offered admission to a college initially. A college will only offer admission to students on a waitlist if there is space available after the school’s declared deposit deadline.