Academics and Remote Instruction
What is the hybrid model and how will it be implemented?
The fall semester in Pittsburgh will implement a hybrid model of learning. Courses will be offered in one of three modalities: remote only, in-person plus remote and in-person only. The decision for which courses will be offered in-person was a careful process that considered optimal course design and content, safety protocols, guidance from department heads, classroom space and number of enrolled students.
Very few courses will be offered as in-person only due to their highly specialized nature. Students who are residing in Pittsburgh (whether on or off campus) will have the option to attend approximately 30-40% of their courses in person while other students access those courses remotely. The number of courses offered with an in-person option will vary by academic program.
Please visit the Hybrid Model page for more information, including in-person classroom restrictions and amended class times.
Why was the hybrid model chosen for the fall semester?
The hybrid model requires us to be prepared to deliver instruction both in-person and remotely, as needed. We are committing to this flexibility for the Pittsburgh campus because we recognize that some students, faculty and staff will not be able to return by the first day of class for a variety of reasons, including domestic and international travel restrictions, difficulty in obtaining visas, or individual health and safety concerns. We further recognize we may need to pivot to other modes of operation if conditions change.
Have decisions been made about the spring semester?
CMU will delay the start of the spring semester until February 1, 2021. This is in response to the belief that the COVID-19 pandemic will likely continue through the winter months. This is also an attempt to reduce the number of weeks we are in session during flu season, This revised start date will allow international students more time for visa processing and travel to arrive for spring semester.
We currently intend to offer spring semester classes in the hybrid-learning approach similar to the fall semester (i.e., remote only, in-person plus remote and in-person only), which allows flexibility in the way students choose to pursue their CMU education.
To accommodate a consolidated spring semester, we will adjust to a 14-week semester and shortened exam period, which aligns with most peer universities. In lieu of the spring break week, two individual break days will be distributed throughout the semester. These two break days (schedule TBD) are in addition to the three days of break that were already scheduled on the spring 2021 calendar for mid-semester break and Carnival.
The Official Academic Calendar has been updated to reflect the changes listed below and is posted on The HUB website (dates appearing as “TBD” will be finalized in October).
Key dates for spring 2021:
- First day of classes: February 1
- Mini 3: February 1 - March 19
- Mini 4: March 22 - May 7
- Spring Carnival: April 15 -17
- Last day of classes: May 7
- Final exams: May 8 -16
- Commencement: May 23
If I decide to take courses remotely, will my fall semester fees be adjusted?
The university expects to publish a revised fee schedule for fall 2020 for on-campus, hybrid and remote students by June 30. Stay tuned to The HUB’s website for this information. The website currently includes the current fee schedule and cost-of-attendance figures.
Can I opt to go remote for the entire year (fall 2020 and spring 2021)?
The university is actively planning for fall 2020 scenarios, with the expectation that careful planning will also be required for spring 2021. For the most updated information on fall planning, visit the COVID-19 website. Options for spring 2021 are still fluid, but it is likely that the university will operate with a high level of flexibility so that students will have a choice about in-person and hybrid education, as well as remote learning for those who are unable to attend in person for COVID-19 related reasons (such as visa issues or personal health concerns or similar). Spring 2021 decisions will be informed in part by the fall 2020 roll out.
Will tuition be reduced for the coming academic year?
The 2020-2021 tuition rate is published on The HUB’s website. This tuition rate was approved by CMU’s Board of Trustees in February 2020, following the normal cycle, and represents the correct tuition rate for the academic year 2020-2021.
If I have more questions about either a leave of absence (current students) or deferrals (newly admitted students) for the fall, where can I visit?
Current students must sometimes interrupt their studies for a variety of reasons. Students choosing to take a leave of absence must first contact their department advisor to discuss their plans while on leave to work out any conditions that may be necessary for a smooth return to Carnegie Mellon. Learn more about leave of absences and withdrawals.
Admitted students can defer their enrollment one year at a time for up to two consecutive years as long as they agree not to apply to or enroll in a full- or part-time degree-granting program at another college or university in the interim. More information about deferring admission is available on the Admission website.
Does the university offer tuition payment assistance?
The university offers a wide range of resources to support students' financial needs. Learn more.
Will classes continue after Thanksgiving break?
All courses after Thanksgiving will be taught remotely to mitigate any inherent risk in return travel following the traditional winter recess. It is our plan for the residence halls to remain open for the duration of the fall semester for those students living on campus who elect to stay during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
How can students access classes remotely?
The majority of instructors will use Zoom and Canvas for online course delivery. Both tools are available to CMU community members at no charge. Instructors have been guided to embed the dedicated Zoom link into Canvas course pages for ease of access. If your courses were using other particular online/digital tools, you should expect that will continue.
Students can review detailed directions and remote learning guidance on the Computing Services website.
When are designated class times? Can I take my remote classes whenever I want?
Classes will be offered at their regularly scheduled days and times. All classes are based on the time in Pittsburgh (Eastern Standard Time, or EST). Because many classes will not be recorded, students need to plan to engage in their classes virtually at the designated class time. Students who face challenges with these times due to significant time zone differences should discuss this issue directly with their instructors.
How can students make sure they're prepared for remote learning?
Set up and test Zoom and Canvas. The majority of your instructors will use Zoom and Canvas for remote instruction. Students should test the functionalities of each tool in the location where they will virtually access the courses. Detailed directions and remote learning guidance is posted on the Computing Services website.
Review and prioritize classes. Review course schedules and be attentive to any course-specific messages and specific instructions sent from instructors that may be delivered via Canvas, email or other methods. All students — especially those planning to complete their degrees this May — may want to review the courses required to complete their degree and reflect on their current course enrollments. Colleges, departments and programs are preparing for remote advising. Follow their instructions to consult with them if you need assistance or have questions.
Put course schedules into calendars. Classes will be offered at their regularly scheduled days and times and observe Eastern Standard Time (EST). Students who face challenges to engage in class at these times due to significant time zone differences should discuss this issue directly with their instructors.
What if I'm having technical difficulties or need help?
Students experiencing difficulty when accessing university technology resources may contact the Computing Services Help Center or call 412-268-4357 (HELP). Students who seek additional instructional support should know that the Student Academic Success Center has transitioned to remote services that can be found on the website. Your college and departmental advisors and resources are also valuable resources for you.
Will a student’s accommodations that are arranged through Disability Resources remain in effect for remote learning?
All accommodations that a student received for in-person classes will carry over to the remote instruction format. Some students may require additional accommodations for a remote instruction format that wasn’t required for in-person course delivery. Please reach out to Disability Resources at email@example.com if you have questions or concerns about additional accommodations that may be relevant given the change in delivery. Disability Resources can connect with students via email, phone and Zoom and will be flexible and responsive to students’ needs.
Will students continue to receive academic support services such as Supplemental Instruction, EXCEL, academic coaching, language support, writing consultations, etc.?
All academic support programs are offered via the Zoom platform. To access more information, including schedules, links to programs and registration information, please visit the Student Academic Success website.
If I’m a graduate student preparing to teach or assist a class this semester, how do I prepare?
Those preparing for roles as instructors or teaching assistants may need to modify educational practice in the fall to adjust to the hybrid format and safety constraints. Actual modality assignments for all courses are being finalized now and department leadership will work closely with graduate student instructors and TAs to provide guidance and address any concerns. Additionally, the Eberly Center stands ready to assist you as you prepare for these new practices and approaches.
Besides classes, what else is remote?
Academic Development programs, including academic tutoring, are conducted remotely. Faculty and TA office hours, advisor appointments and other academic supports will be available online or by phone. In-person meetings will not be required of any student.
Additional guidance on research is available on the Researcher Resources page.