Carnegie Mellon University

Family around dinner table.

Host Family Program for International Students

The Host Family Program for International Students is part of a university-wide strategic goal to enhance the CMU student experience, by facilitating greater engagement between students and CMU faculty, staff, alumni, and local families.

It provides informal opportunities for international undergraduate and graduate students (ages 18 and older) to connect with volunteer hosts in the Pittsburgh community.  Please note that this is not a homestay program. Students and hosts build relationships that best fit their needs, agreeing to get together every month or so at mutually convenient times.

Single people, married couples, and families with children are encouraged to participate as hosts.

The program gives international students the opportunity to explore Pittsburgh with their hosts, engage in meaningful dialogue, practice their English, and generally enjoy a connection to the city that they might not otherwise experience.

Please note that hosts are NOT responsible for handling these issues:

  • Immigration regulations, visas, or work permits
  • Bill payment or financial aid
  • Academic counseling, class attendance, or tutoring
  • Health or healthcare
  • Class registration

Hosts should refer students to CMU administrators who will be happy to help them with such issues. This guide provides helpful links to campus resources.

"From my point of view, my host student has become a life-long friend, and I hope she feels the same.  I will remain as a host to her as long as she is at CMU and will attend her graduation next year," said a CMU OSHER participant hosting a graduate student from China.

"Since I enrolled in this program, my perceptions of American culture have changed drastically, and now I feel at home.  Because of my host family, I have had to call my parents back in India less often," said Abhilaash Narayana Rao, graduate student in Architecture, Engineering and Construction Management.

  • Interested CMU students and Hosts – drawn from CMU alumni, faculty and staff, and local families  – submit the applications and sign the release forms.  Links to the applications and release forms can be found under the sections "To Participate as an International Student" and "To Participate as a Host Family."
  • Students will be matched with families who will provide informal social exchange opportunities and activities.  These can include museum visits, shopping excursions, and dinners at home, throughout the academic year.  Families might also want to provide "care packages" of snacks, toiletries and school supplies during Final Exams.
  • Once notified of a match, families and students will establish contact with each other and arrange to meet every month or so at mutually convenient times.  For these activities, the host will provide transportation for the student(s) to and from campus or the immediate Oakland area.
  • Families hosting more than one student might find it difficult to coordinate times for everyone to get together.  The best strategy is to be flexible with your availability.  It's OK to meet up with students separately.  Due to students' busy schedules, it is often effective to offer several options of dates and times to get together.
  • The duration of the volunteer cycle is one academic year. The host and student(s) may choose to extend the relationship beyond that academic year (e.g., until the student graduates, or for another academic year).
  • The number of students who can be matched depends on the number of hosts who volunteer.  If there are more students than there are hosts, they will be selected through a lottery system.

International students matched with local hosts will be given the opportunity to:

  • Improve their English-language skills by speaking with people outside of the classroom
  • Enhance their sense of community at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Learn about local culture and traditions
  • Build personal relationships with families in the community
  • Foster a stronger connection with Pittsburgh by exploring the city beyond the campus

 Host Families will be given the opportunity to: 

  • Meet new people and build relationships with students
  • Enhance personal connections within and beyond Carnegie Mellon University
  • Gain a new perspective about the world
  • Explore aspects of their own community in new ways
  • Be Pittsburgh ambassadors

If you would like to be matched with a local family, please take a few moments to complete the application process. We urge you to provide us with details that will let us know about your interests and the type of family with whom you feel would be most compatible. We ask you to be flexible with your expectations as we seek the best match for you. Please note that the number of students who can be matched will depend on the number of hosts who volunteer.

We would like to receive two documents from you:

1)  Questionnaire.  You can fill out the form in Google Forms or complete the PDF and send it to our office via vpi-hostfamily@andrew.cmu.edu.

2)  Student Participant Release. You can fill out the Release and E-sign it; or print out, sign the form and send it to our office at vpi-hostfamily@andrew.cmu.edu.

You can also drop off your documents at the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs and Strategy, 527F Warner Hall (5th floor). Once we receive your questionnaire and Student Participant Release, we will be in touch when we find a family match for you.

If you would like to be matched with a Carnegie Mellon University student, please take a few moments to complete the application process.  We urge you to provide us with details that will let us know about your interests and the type of student(s) with whom you feel would be most compatible.  We ask you to be flexible with your expectations as we seek the best match for you. 

We would like to receive two documents from you:

1)  Questionnaire.  You can fill out the form in Google Forms, or complete the PDF and send it to our office at vpi-hostfamily@andrew.cmu.edu.

2)  Host Release.  You can fill out the Release form and E-sign it; or print out, sign the form and send it to vpi-hostfamily@andrew.cmu.edu

You can also drop off your documents at the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs and Strategy, 527F Warner Hall (5th floor). Once we receive your questionnaire and Host Release, we will be in touch with you to inform you of your student match!

Host Family Program Holds Event for Students and Families