Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon Institute for Strategy & Technology

CMU's Home for Political Science and International Relations

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MS IRP Admission Requirements

CMIST welcomes applicants from diverse academic, professional, and personal backgrounds, and seeks those dedicated to making an impact in our ever-changing political world. Our admissions process is holistic in that we consider all aspects of the application equally to determine an overall fit with your background and goals to CMIST’s culture, curriculum, and community.

To that end, applicants to the MS IRP program also should demonstrate academic and/or professional excellence and preparedness for the rigors of the program. Minimum qualification for admission to the MS IRP program includes previous coursework, demonstrated ability, or equivalent work experience in the following areas:

  • Analytical skills: An ideal applicant should demonstrate problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Introductory courses in statistics, economics, and data analysis (STATA/R) are recommended.
  • Team skills: An ideal applicant can work effectively with others in leadership, cooperative, and subordinate roles.
  • Other skills: An ideal applicant will demonstrate experience or interest in international relations and political science

MS IRP Application

  • Annual Application Deadline: February 1 (Applications open November 1)
  • Application fee: $55. Please contact CMIST Admissions if you would like to request a need-based application fee waiver.
  • Statement of Purpose (500-1000 words): State your purpose in undertaking graduate study in political science and international relations. Include your academic objectives, research interests, potential thesis topics, and internship and career goals. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application, or résumé/curriculum vita.
  • Diversity Essay (500-1000 words): The Carnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology (CMIST), as well as the Dietrich College for Humanities and Social Sciences and broader CMU, value a dynamic and diverse community where all members are responsible for contributing to an intersectional, inclusive environment. Please take this opportunity to discuss how you will contribute to departmental, college, or campus-wide efforts to expand diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Optional Written Essay: If there are any special circumstances you would like the admissions committee to consider, highlight them in the optional essay. Use this essay to include information that you feel is important, but that you are unable to include elsewhere on the application. This would also be the place to address any gaps, fails, course retakes, etc., indicated on your transcript. There is no penalty for leaving this blank.
  • Optional Video Essay: You will be given the option in your application to provide a link to a video essay. Video essays are optional but strongly recommended, especially individuals unable to visit campus prior to the application deadline or those who are non-native English speakers. Use the video essay to give us more insight into who you are, your interests, and what you will bring to the program; for example, your interest or experience in a particular concentration, or some courses in the curriculum that you are particularly excited for. Please do not read your statement of purpose. The video and audio must be of you, the applicant (not a proxy).
  • Résumé/Curriculum Vita: Required
  • Transcripts

    • We require a minimum 3.0 GPA represented in your undergraduate work. Please explain any gaps in your study, course fails, or retakes in the optional essay.
    • International Transcripts: If your undergraduate degree is from an institution that is located outside of the United States, you must use an academic credential verification service to obtain a course-by-course report. The academic credential verification service can then send this course-by-course report directly to CMIST electronically.
      • Please do not mail your transcript to CMIST. We will only accept transcripts that we receive directly from an academic credential verification service. We will accept evaluations from any NACES member. We recommend using SpanTran or WES as we have previously coordinated with them. Please select to send your evaluations to theCarnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology (CMIST) or direct electronic delivery to:
      • Please note: Course-by-course reports must include a US equivalent GPA on a 4.0 scale.
  • Letters of Recommendation: You are required to have two recommendation forms submitted on your behalf. Recommendations should be provided by employers, supervisors, professors, or others who are able to comment on your professional and educational goals and potential. At least one of your recommenders should be a professor who can attest to your academic abilities. The other should know you in a professional setting (full-time employment, internship, part-time employment, non-academic extracurricular activity, etc.). You may opt to have up to three (3) recommendations submitted in support of your application. Please let your recommenders know in advance that they may upload an electronic document or scanned copy of a paper-based recommendation using the online system rather than using the provided text box response fields, but that they must upload their recommendation via the online system.
  • Standardized Test Scores (GRE or GMAT) are not permitted.

  • English Language ProficiencyTOEFLIELTS, or Duolingo are required if your native language is not English. The only exceptions are for students who have worked or studied for five or more years in Australia, Botswana, Canada, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, and/or Zambia.

    Your scores must be submitted directly to Carnegie Mellon University – Carnegie Mellon Institute for Security and Technology (CMIST)  (TOEFL institution code C583). We verify all exam scores electronically after reported to us by the testing service. Please do not have paper test scores sent to us by mail. If you completed either the TOEFL or IELTS more than two years ago, you MUST take one of the tests again. The testing agency will not verify scores that are more than two years old.


    Minimum scores are as follows:

    • IELTS of score 7.5
    • TOEFL score of 100 with at least 25 in each subscore. Only iBT TOEFL version is accepted.
    • Duolingo English Test Score of 125

    We strongly recommend you include a video essay in your application. An interview may also be requested before final admission decisions can be made.

  • Interview: Virtual interviews may be requested by CMIST for applicants in the final round of selection.

Veterans: CMIST welcomes applications from veterans and those currently serving in the US Military. The University Registrar's Office provides services to veterans and their dependents who are eligible for Veterans Education Benefits under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

In addition, CMU participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program for those who are 100% eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. In order to use Veterans Education Benefits, you must be an admitted Carnegie Mellon student (graduate or undergraduate). Veterans Affairs determines the amount of benefits a student can receive; therefore, we cannot estimate benefit amounts. Please contact the VA at 1-888-442-4551 to find out the amount you are eligible to receive.

All information reported on your application is subject to verification. CMIST utilizes several methods to identify plagiarized and falsified content in uploaded documents. Submission of false or plagiarized material as part of the application for admission may result in automatic denial of admission to any degree program.