Carnegie Mellon University

Physics Ph.D. Program Terms and Conditions (AY 2019/20)

When you join the Ph.D. program in Physics at Carnegie Mellon University, you do not just take the next step in your academic career, but you also enter a relationship with CMU that comes with its own rights and obligations, and to which a number of legal terms and conditions apply. These arise from both university policies as well as federal and state laws. Here we review the most important ones. If you have any questions about these additional terms and conditions, please contact us.

Onboarding Activities

Many onboarding activities can be completed before the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester. Should you accept our offer, you will receive an email containing additional details, including how to get a CMU email address, or instructions for accessing "Workday" (the University's administrative system for paying stipends) to complete a number of required actions. You may also contact the CMUWorks Service Center at the phone numbers or email below. Carnegie Mellon's CMUWorks Service Center will be your primary resource for stipend and benefits information and transactions. The Service Center can be reached at:

CMUWorks Service Center
Phone: 412-268-4600
Toll Free: 844-625-4600
Fax: 412-268-4444


While your primary role at the University will be as a student, some of your support may be taxable in accordance with federal, state and local laws. Anyone who is paid through payroll and lives or works in Pennsylvania must sign the Local Earned Income Tax Residency Form prior to the end of his/her first pay period. You will be able to access this form electronically via the Workday system. If you do not complete this form in a timely fashion, this could result in the university withholding more local earned income tax than would otherwise be appropriate based on your individual circumstances.

Employment Verification

Certain portions of your support must be paid through payroll. In order to do so, we will need documentation that establishes your identity and employment eligibility, as required by the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. You have numerous options for how to do this, as explained here. Within three days of starting into the program, you must present these documents in person to the CMUWorks Service Center to complete this process. In addition, depending on the projects you are working on, Carnegie Mellon may be required to electronically verify your employment eligibility using E-Verify, an internet-based system operated jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

Degree Requirements and Conditions of Continued Employment

Obtaining a Ph.D. in our program and obtaining a renewal of your appointment as a Teaching or Research Assistant is contingent upon satisfactory performance in our program. Find details here.

Other Funding Sources

Outside employment is prohibited for graduate students in the Department of Physics. If you have been awarded a fellowship or scholarship that contributes to your tuition, these amounts will offset the University's obligation for tuition as set forth in your offer letter.

Health Insurance

All Carnegie Mellon students are required to have health insurance and will be automatically enrolled and charged for Level 3 Carnegie Mellon Student Health Insurance, unless a waiver is requested and granted. Carnegie Mellon offers several excellent health plan options for graduate student teaching and research assistants. Please visit the University Health Services for additional information.

Sexual Harassment Awareness Training

All members of the University are required to complete a Sexual Harassment Awareness training course when they first join our community, and periodically thereafter. Our online training helps to ensure a respectful and productive workplace at Carnegie Mellon. You will receive an email when you have been registered to take the online training with access instructions. You are expected to complete the training program within one month after receiving the email notification. Additional information about the training can be found here. The University tracks compliance with this training requirement.

Teaching Assistant English Language Proficiency

Serving as a TA for one semester is a requirement of our Ph.D. degree. Students for whom English is not their native language must have their language proficiency assessed before starting as a TA. The Intercultural Communication Center (ICC) has been established by Carnegie Mellon University to help non-native English speakers develop the skills they need to provide effective instruction and administer the required fluency test. Pennsylvania State Law requires that all students attain a satisfactory level of language proficiency prior to being assigned teaching responsibilities.

University Policies

As a member of the Carnegie Mellon community, you will be expected to familiarize yourself with all University policies and comply with them. In particular, please carefully read the Intellectual Property Policy. In order to complete your required onboarding activities in Workday (see above), you will have to electronically sign an Intellectual Property Policy Agreement Form. A copy of this form is found here.