Carnegie Mellon University

Guide for International Students

If you are an international student (non-US citizen) thinking of applying to the INI, or have already been admitted to one of our programs, this section is a resource to guide you through the process. We welcome you and hope this page will prove helpful and informative.

International students are a valuable component of the INI and the wider Carnegie Mellon community, enriching campus life and the academic experience. While the opportunities for international and U.S. students are primarily the same, there are some additional tasks international students must undertake in applying, transitioning and attending a graduate program in the U.S.

This section has been created to assist by answering some questions international students have raised, and to provide some insight into INI policies and expectations. Our hope is that this will better prepare you on your road into, and through, the INI programs and life at CMU.

International student applicants follow the same procedures for admission to the INI as U.S. citizens. Complete information on applying to the INI is available on the INI Admissions page

Follow the instructions closely and meet all deadlines for the application. All applicants should try to complete their submission at least two weeks before the deadline to ensure their application can be processed in time for the first-round review.
  • If you state in your application you do not wish to be considered for funding, you will not be considered. We will take you at your word.
  • You must make a formal request to the INI admissions staff to be considered for a waiver of the TOEFL and receive formal approval. If you choose not to take the test without getting approval from the INI because you believe you are exempt, your application may not be reviewed.

Contact the Foreign Student Coordinator

Lisa Currin, Associate Director of Admissions and Enrollment

If you have been admitted to the INI, congratulations! Here are a few key topics to pay attention to:

Accept the INI’s Offer of Admission

Follow the instructions in your acceptance letter to inform us of your enrollment plans. Make sure to pay the enrollment fee and submit all documents by the deadline stated in the letter. All the information you will need to enroll is provided in the letter and as links to required documents. You will receive emails with additional instructions and guidance as needed; follow these instructions closely to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid delays.

Submit Required Forms

Within your acceptance letter will be a link to the Student Information Form. You must complete this document to obtain your I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate from OIE at Carnegie Mellon. The documents and financial proof must be mailed to the INI directly (the address is on the first page of the document). You will be notified by OIE when your I-20 is ready.

  • For complete details on required forms and how to apply for a US Visa, visit OIE’s website.
  • The INI will provide you financial forms; do not download financial forms from the OIE website.
  • You must submit your I-20 or DS-2019 documents by the deadline stated in the admission letter in order to allow sufficient time to obtain the certificate and schedule a visa interview. Additional time to submit documents may be approved on a case-by-case basis by submitting a formal request to the INI admissions staff. Generally, failure to return the forms in a timely manner may result in denial of enrollment.
  • Applicants who are sponsored by outside organizations, such as Fulbright, will have their documents processed by their sponsor.
  • Do not miss the July 31 deadline for submitting final official transcripts and proof of graduation. You should contact the INI admissions staff immediately if you believe you cannot make the deadline. A bachelor’s degree is required to begin graduate studies, so no exception can be made for students not meeting this requirement.

Contact the Foreign Student Coordinator

Lisa Currin, Associate Director of Admissions and Enrollment

The INI’s Academic Affairs Office (AAO) has created a summer course on Canvas to help new student transition to CMU and Pittsburgh. In addition, new students will have access to the INI Google Group for Admitted & Enrolled students, a current INI student mentor, and orientations held by the Graduate Student Office, the Office of International Education, and the INI to help them acclimate themselves as new students. Information for all these resources will begin to be provided following the April 15 enrollment acceptance deadline. Onboarding is carried on by the department throughout the summer until the start of the fall term.

English Language Training and Support

All international students must complete the Language Support Check-In through the Intercultural Communication Center (ICC).

The Intercultural Communication Center  (ICC) offers valuable workshops and other language support for international students. Those students planning to work as a TA, must take the ITA test once a TA position has been secured.

Contact the Foreign Student Coordinator

Lisa Currin, Associate Director of Admissions and Enrollment

Weekly Summer Emails

The INI Academic Affairs Office (INI AAO) will send important weekly emails over the summer that detail key enrollment/advising information that all incoming students should be aware of before fall classes begin.

Contact the INI AAO

Arriving in Pittsburgh

International students are required to check in with OIE by attending one of several orientation sessions offered in August. The session schedule will be posted on the OIE website in July; students can register online.Rather than waiting in line to get your picture taken on-site for the student ID card, send a photo of yourself to The HUB before you arrive in Pittsburgh.

CMU is an urban campus sitting on 143 acres, and is surrounded by an infinite number of housing options. Students often secure accommodations before arriving in Pittsburgh through and Craigslist, or enlist the help of their mentor. 

  • For information on local hotels, directions to campus and a campus map, visit the CMU website.

Contact the Foreign Student Coordinator

Lisa Currin, Associate Director of Admissions and Enrollment

On-Campus Employment 

Students attending Carnegie Mellon on a F-1 or J-1 visa have ample opportunities to work on campus as Teaching Assistants (TA) and in other capacities, though Research Assistant positions are not as abundant. These positions, which constitute on-campus work, generally do not require any authorizations.

Off-Campus Employment 

In order for F-1 students to work off-campus, they must obtain work authorization under Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT). J-1 students must obtain Academic Training (AT) authorization.

Refer to the OIE website for more detailed information and forms regarding OPT and CPT. Note that INI policies and curricular restrictions may override those stated by OIE. Students are subject to department as well as government policies. 

International students must complete a full academic year (fall/spring) to be eligible for work authorization under CPT or OPT. Additional information about processing CPT and OPT will be provided in the spring semester. Students may only work during the second fall/spring under pre-completion OPT, without exception.

  • All questions regarding obtaining department approval for work authorization should be addressed to the INI Foreign Student Coordinator.
  • If you think you will want to work in the second fall or spring, start planning early. It takes 60-90 days to process OPT and you should begin the process at least 90 days in advance of your anticipated start date.

Contact the Foreign Student Coordinator

Lisa Currin, Associate Director of Admissions and Enrollment