Carnegie Mellon University
August 31, 2016

Carnegie Mellon and Tsinghua Universities Renew Dual-Degree Masters Program

Unites Top-Rated U.S. and Chinese Computer Science Programs

By Byron Spice / 412-268-9068 /

Frank Pfenning and Jianping Wu
CMU's Frank Pfenning and Tsinghua's Jianping Wu sign the memorandum of understanding.

Officials of Carnegie Mellon University and Tsinghua University signed a memorandum of understanding today to offer a dual-degree master’s degree program in computer science. Students will study at both campuses, learning from faculty at the top-ranked computer science programs in the United States and China.

The first year of instruction will be at Tsinghua. The program seeks to draw students from across China and will be advertised nationwide. Scholarships will be established to support students when they finish the degree program with a year of study at Carnegie Mellon.

“This will be a great opportunity for students who want to maintain strong ties with China, but also seek the advantages that come with credentials from two outstanding computer science programs,” said Frank Pfenning, head of CMU’s Computer Science Department.

Jianping Wu, professor, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and head of Tsinghua’s Computer Science Department, signed the agreement on behalf of Tsinghua. Wenwu Zhu, professor and deputy head of Tsinghua’s Computer Science Department, and Jun Zhu, associate professor of computer science at Tsinghua and an adjunct faculty member of CMU’s Machine Learning Department, were part of the Tsinghua delegation.

The two universities have previously offered a dual-degree program, but Pfenning said the universities are working to make the new program accessible to more students in China and other countries. The new master’s degree program also will eliminate the former program’s thesis requirement.

Recruitment for the program will begin this fall, with the first students starting at Tsinghua in January. About five students are expected in the first year. All students must meet the entrance requirements for both CMU and Tsinghua and will receive degrees from both universities.

In addition to the dual-degree program, CMU cooperates with Tsinghua by offering a summer research program for Chinese undergraduates. Pfenning said research experience is important for students who want to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science in the United States, but is difficult for undergraduates to obtain in China. The program thus could help attract more top Chinese students to U.S. graduate programs, he added.