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Undergraduate Admission

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Valuing our differences, seeing our strengths.

Students and staff having fun and high-fiving at a CMU Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion event.

Difference is Strength

That’s why welcoming students, faculty and staff from different places, backgrounds and experiences is so important to us. And it’s also why you’ll feel right at home in the Carnegie Mellon community.

Opportunity into Action

First generation CMU students are pictured outdoors on campus

Differing perspectives drive our academic excellence and spirit of innovation. But, in a world where systems have created inherent advantages for some and disadvantages for others, simply recognizing the value of our differences is not enough. We need to make things right — so no one is left out.

At Carnegie Mellon, we’ve made changes to reflect this commitment. Our goal is to ensure that everyone — regardless of background — has the same opportunities from admission through graduation and beyond.

Dedicated to DEI

Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is evident throughout our campus communities and initiatives.

A student walking outside with a Pride flag on his back during CMU's Move In.

Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion

The Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion actively cultivates a strong, diverse and inclusive community while offering resources to enhance an inclusive and transformative student experience in dimensions such as access, success, campus climate and intergroup dialogue.

Additionally, the Center supports and connects historically underrepresented students and those who are first in their family to attend college in a setting where students’ differences and talents are appreciated and reinforced.

Carnegie Mellon University has more than 80 multicultural student organizations: find a community.

Portrait of Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer

Office of the Vice Provost for DEI

Led by Dr. Wanda Heading-Grant, our Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion serves in a critical role for Carnegie Mellon to enact real and lasting changes through long-range planning and implementation of initiatives that advance diversity, equity and inclusion. 

The Office also coordinates with each of the university’s academic and administrative units to oversee their five-year strategic DEI plans and college-based commitments.

By working closely with colleagues throughout the university, the Office of the VP for DEI strives to enact real and lasting changes in how Carnegie Mellon addresses racism, classism, sexism and the language of othering as it exists across the campus community.

CMU students collaborating on work

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Websites

Diversity, equity and inclusion guide our values and serve as our foundation. At Carnegie Mellon, we are intentional about eliminating barriers that have prevented full participation and increased access to resources and networks for underrepresented groups across our community. Our DEI website gives a broad view of past recruitment and outreach work, as well as connections to campus and Pittsburgh community resources.

Additionally, like many institutions across the nation and the world, we have been examining our role in the fight to confront racism and promote social justice, inclusion and economic empowerment. Now more than ever, we are working together as a community to bring DEI into greater focus across Carnegie Mellon. Learn more about our ongoing and completed DEI commitments.

Steps Toward Change

Making our admission process more equitable and inclusive is a journey — one that doesn’t happen overnight. Here are some of the things we’ve done to help eliminate unfair advantages.

If you’re considering Carnegie Mellon, we’d like to consider you. We understand that the admission process can seem intimidating, but we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Our Admission Paradigm

Demonstrated Interest Not Considered 

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

Shorter Essays, Non-Evaluative On-Campus Sessions and Refocused Alumni Efforts

We’re working hard to move our 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 and equitable process.

Issues surrounding standardized testing, for example, are complex in a research university like ours, and while we’re currently SAT/ACT optional, we’re hoping there is more we can do.

Our Waiting List

Designed to Give Everyone the Opportunity to Respond

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.

Students talking at CMU's Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion

United by Our Differences

As individuals, we have many kinds of creative talents and intellectual strengths; as a community, we’re the kind of place where people connect across disciplines to make life better for humankind. So it’s no surprise that varying perspectives are highly valued at Carnegie Mellon. We have more than 80 multicultural student organizations and communities on campus.

Explore them now