Carnegie Mellon University

The Computer Science Scholars (CSS) program provides students who have historically been excluded in the field of computer science an opportunity to explore the field of computer science with full-time faculty, staff and researchers who are leaders in the field.  

As Computer Science Scholars, students will take a deep dive into the field of Computer Science through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on research projects, seminars, and industry engagement with leading tech companies in the country. In addition to their academic experiences, students will have the opportunity to develop meaningful connections with peers and mentors and establish a life-long love for computer science.

Academic Information:

Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science Scholars program gives rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to learn the foundations of computer programming from world renowned CMU faculty and staff. Students will learn the core elements of programming and problem solving in Python. This will include algorithmic components (variables, functions, conditionals, and loops), basic data structures (lists and dictionaries), and problem-solving techniques (algorithmic thinking, top-down design, testing, and debugging). By the end of the program, students will be able to code an interactive application in the Python programming language. Students will attend academic seminars focused on the math and computational skills necessary for computer programming. They will also participate in hands-on projects in which they can apply their classroom learning to real-world challenges that leverage computer science for good. 

In addition, students will engage with industry leaders to learn about the vast and exciting opportunities in the field of computer science. At the conclusion of the program, students will receive a comprehensive evaluation which can be integrated into their academic portfolios as supplemental material for college admission purposes. 

The 2022 summer program is a four-week residential experience on the Carnegie Mellon campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Students should be available to participate for the full length of the four-week program dates. You will need to use a computer during this program. If you do not have your own, please contact us and we will make arrangements to provide one to you for the duration of the program. For specific questions related to the program dates, curriculum, or student experience, please email Natalie Hatcher.

Curriculum Overview

  • Courses in math and computational skills taught by Carnegie Mellon professors.
  • Discussions lead by experts in career and personal development.
  • Small group mentoring with Computer Science faculty and graduate students.
  • Seminars regarding college preparation and post-graduate planning.
  • Social events with peers.
  • Small-group research project led by faculty or graduate students; projects focus on using computer science for societal good.
  • Industry engagement regarding opportunities within the field of Computer Science.
  • Group presentations showcasing work at the end of the program.
Program Options:
  • 4-week*
  • Residential only

*For specific program dates see, the home page.

Selection Criteria

Students selected for the Computer Science Scholars program have the following qualities:

  • Have experience that demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion in education, extra-curricular activities, or community engagement.
  • Demonstrate a strong interest in Computer Science.
  • No coding experience is necessary.

We strongly encourage students from the following backgrounds to apply:

Students historically excluded from Computer Science including, but not limited to:

  • Indigenous Peoples, Black, Hispanic or Latinx, Pacific Islander, and Southeast Asian.
  • Trans and non-binary; two-spirit; cis women and girls.
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, and queer.
  • Low socioeconomic status, which may be indicated by eligibility for public assistance programs or free/reduced lunch
  • Raised in a home where English was a second language
  • Future first-generation college students (you’ll be the first in your home to obtain a bachelor’s degree).
  • Currently attending a high school with historically low rates of admittance to top-tier institutions.

Financial Need

Computer Science Scholars utilizes a holistic application review and admissions process, looking at the full application and selecting program participants based on a combination of factors. Because we are no-cost program for participants, demonstrated financial need is one of these factors. 

Documentation of financial need is required for application submission. Documentation includes either tax documents or a completed NACAC Application Fee Waiver signed by your high school guidance department.  

Further information is below, but please feel free to reach out with questions to any of the following contacts: 

Students in any of the below categories are considered to demonstrate financial need:  
  • Students who have received or are eligible to receive an ACT or SAT testing fee waiver.
  • Students who are enrolled in or eligible to participate in the Federal Free or Reduced-Price Lunch program (FRPL).
  • Students whose family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • Students who are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • Students whose family receives public assistance.
  • Students who live in federally subsidized public housing, a foster home, or are homeless.
  • Students who are a ward of the state or an orphan.
  • Students who can provide a supporting statement from a school official, college access counselor, financial aid officer, or community leader. 

Eligibility and Application Requirements

To be eligible for the Computer Science Scholars program, students must:
  • Be at least 16 years old by the program start date.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Students who are registered with DACA are also eligible.
  • Be a current sophomore or junior in high school at the time of application submission.
The complete application for the Computer Science Scholars program will consist of the following:
  • Online application
  • Unofficial high school transcript
  • Standardized test scores (optional)
  • One counselor recommendation (written by a school counselor or community-based organization advisor)
  • One teacher recommendation (written by a teacher in a STEM field)
  • Responses to essay prompts
Response to the following essay prompts (300-500 words):
  • What do you hope to gain from participating in Carnegie Mellon’s Pre-College Programs?
Responses to the following Computer Science Scholars short answer questions (300-500 words):
  • Please describe any obstacles that you have had to overcome in the pursuit of your scientific studies.
  • What does diversity and inclusion mean to you? Is diversity important in the field of computer science, why or why not? Describe your past efforts, as well as future plans to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in science and technology.

All applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be considered. 

Carnegie Mellon University does not discriminate in admission, employment or administration of its programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, handicap or disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, ancestry, belief, veteran status or genetic information. Furthermore, Carnegie Mellon University does not discriminate and is required not to discriminate in violation of federal, state or local laws or executive orders.

Inquiries concerning the application of and compliance with this statement should be directed to the university ombudsman, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, telephone 412-268-3930.

Obtain general information about Carnegie Mellon University by calling 412-268-2000.