Carnegie Mellon University

Incoming Students

Congratulations on being accepted to the Ph.D. in Chemistry program at Carnegie Mellon University! We are very pleased that you are joining us this fall. Below are the steps you need to follow in order to enroll and make a smooth transition to your life as a graduate student in Pittsburgh.

In addition to the list below, please see the university's incoming graduate students guide.

Arrival Planning & Finances

  • Arrival date: Students are required to arrive in time to for the start of Orientation on August 14th and to participate in all activities and TA training in order to receive their first stipend by August 30. Unavoidable conflicts with participating fully in Orientation need to be raised with Lorna Williams ( as soon as possible
  • Early start date: If you will be starting research early this summer, you and your advisor must agree on a specific start date as soon as possible and inform Lorna Williams ( (for registration) and Tim Sager ( (for payroll).
  • Pay schedule: Graduate students in the Department of Chemistry are paid twice a month in non-hourly positions. Pay dates are in the middle and end of the month.
  • Academic year support: Your financial support will continue throughout the academic year (September through mid-May). First-year students are normally paid as a Teaching Assistant during this period.
  • Research Advisors: By the end of the academic year, you are required to have chosen a Research Advisor to remain in the Ph.D. program. You are encouraged to reach out to potential research advisors at any time to express your interest in their groups, including before you arrive at CMU.
  • Summer support: During the summer months (mid-May through mid-August), you will typically work as a Research Assistant and your chosen research advisor will support you under one of his/her research grants or other funds.

May Checklist

  • Academic Transcript of Grades and Degree: Recent graduates need to request that an official transcript be sent to us at this time. Transcripts can be sent by mail or electronically, but must be an official version from your institution. We request that transcripts be sent by August 1st, but you may bring an official copy with you to orientation.

    By mail:

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Department of Chemistry

    Office of Graduate Studies

    4400 Fifth Avenue

    Pittsburgh, PA 15213 USA

    Attention: Lorna Williams



  • Follow the link in the email that you receive from Computing Services ( to receive your Andrew userID and set your initial password. Your Andrew email account is your source for official and important Carnegie Mellon communications — please check it frequently before you arrive on campus.
  • Health History Form and Immunization Record: You are required to meet specific immunization requirements to be considered fully enrolled. Enter your health and immunization information and access online forms through HealthConnect on the University Health Services website. You will need your Andrew ID and password to access the site.
  • Prepare for Attainment Exams: When you arrive on campus, the department will assess your knowledge of different areas of chemistry. Please study for the attainment exams, as this will partly determine how many classes and which classes you will have to take.
  • International Students: Fill out the International Students Info Form: Complete the International Student Information form through the Office of International Education online portal. You should have received access via email. If you encounter problems with access, please contact the Office of International Education.

June/July Checklist

  • Health Insurance: All full-time students enrolled in a degree-seeking program are required to have health insurance. You will need to either sign up for the university's health insurance or submit a waiver if you have insurance coverage at the University Health Services website.
  • Look for Housing:
  • Parking & Transportation: Carnegie Mellon provides a variety of free and low-cost transportation options
    • Please notify Lorna ( by August 1st to request free graduate student parking for evenings and weekends.
    • Port Authority & Campus Transportation: The university operates two separate shuttle transportation services and students may also use the Allegheny County bus transportation service with their ID at no charge.
    • If you plan to bring a car and want to explore getting a parking permit, please be aware that they are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. You will need your Andrew ID and password to apply for a Carnegie Mellon parking permit. 
    • The university also offers the carsharing service Zipcar
  • Arrange your travel to Pittsburgh.
  • Student ID Card: The ID Card will allow you access to many university services, including the library, athletic facilities, and access to Mellon Institute, the location of the Department of Chemistry. New graduate students with an Andrew ID are encouraged to submit a photo in advance of their arrival on campus. You will receive your ID card on your first day of orientation. 
  • International Students, I-20 form: You will receive the form directly from the Office of International Education (OIE) according to the earlier instructions you received from Lorna Williams. All I-20 forms are processed as quickly as possible and will be sent to you via mail. You will be contacted by OIE if they have questions or require clarification on information submitted.
  • Language Certification: Students who are nonnative English speakers and who plan on working as teaching assistants will apply for ITA Language Certification with the Language Support Center. Information will be sent via email about how to sign up for certification. In some cases, such as if you have an IELTS score instead of a TOEFL score, you will need to take the
    International Teaching Assistant (ITA) test. This is a test of spoken academic fluency, and students may find that they will need language classes or tutoring through the language support center in order to develop the fluency needed for the test. Visit the Language Support Center website to better understand the test and the level of fluency needed.

August Checklist and Arrival in Pittsburgh

  • Department Orientation. All new students are required to attend the department orientation. The orientation will provide you with an opportunity to meet faculty and fellow graduate students. An overview of program requirements will be presented by members of the Graduate Program Committee (GPC). Details regarding the orientation schedule will be sent to you later this summer.
  • Attainment Examinations: Examinations will be administered in physical, organic, and inorganic chemistry. The exams will be scheduled during orientation week. Please review the suggestions on preparing for the exams.
  • Course Registration: Following your attainment examinations, you will be scheduled to meet individually with members of the GPC to discuss the results of your exams and to advise you on courses. The schedule of individual appointments will be distributed during orientation week.
  • TA Training: You will receive a TA assignment as either a recitation TA, laboratory TA or a course assistant when you arrive on campus. The department offers specific TA training for each of these types of positions and also organizes required general training for all Chemistry TAs. This training will take a substantial part of your first two weeks on campus. The schedule will be provided to you when it is available.
  • Student ID Card: You will receive your ID card on the first day of orientation. The ID Card will allow you access to many university services, including the library, athletic facilities, and access to Mellon Institute, the location of the Department of Chemistry and access to university and public transportation services.
  • Payroll: Our business manager, Tim Sager, processes payroll information and will discuss your paycheck in detail at the Department Orientation.
    • I-9 Form: The U.S. Dept. of Labor Immigration Law requires that all new employees complete a form to verify their identity and support authorization to be paid. Graduate students are required to complete the necessary documentation promptly upon arrival. Please be sure that you have identification documents with you such as a US Passport, a Driver's License, school ID card with photograph, and a Social Security Account Number (if you already have one). There are a number of additional options and you will be given more information about this when you arrive on campus.
    • International Students, Social Security Form: International students who will be employed in the U.S. are required to have a Social Security Number (SSN). A SSN is a type of national identification number that is required for employment in U.S. An SSN is not required for living in the U.S but is used by the U.S. government to withhold taxes from pay. You will receive the Social Security form in your orientation packet. You will then have the OIE Advisor sign this form at your Immigration Check-in. Students then take the form, in person, to the local Social Security Administration office to begin the application process. Take your passport, I-20/DS-2019, I-94 card (found in your passport) to apply.
    • You are advised to review the following CMUWorks Service Center links for additional information: