Carnegie Mellon University


Computer Science Scholars

Computer Science Scholars (CSS), a CS Pathways initiative, is a grant-funded, merit-based program. CSS provides rising high school juniors who have historically been excluded from STEM fields the opportunity to explore computer science with Carnegie Mellon faculty, staff, and researchers who are leaders in the field.

CSS students working together at a whiteboard.
Program Length
Jul. 1
Jul. 28, 2023 

 (4 weeks)
Applications* Due
Decision Notification On
Housing Option


*Applications with Computer Science Scholars as a first, second, and/or third choice selection will NOT be considered for Early Decision or on rolling admission. Applicants selecting this program will follow the timeline listed above.
**Must be a current sophomore to be eligible.

Program Overview

CS Scholars will take a deep dive into the world of computer science through a combination of classroom instruction, hands-on research projects, faculty lectures, and industry engagement with leading tech companies around the country. As a CS Scholar you will engage in college-level courses in computer programming and mathematics, as well as weekly seminars that explore college admissions, financial aid, building independence, mental health, emotional wellness, and more. You will be given the opportunity to develop meaningful connections with peers and mentors while being fully immersed in the college experience. A core value of CS Pathways and the CS Scholars program is building an inclusive, anti-racist environment. You will be expected to uphold this value and to participate in discussions about equity within STEM education and society.

Students who complete the program and demonstrate a desire to continue may be invited to return as rising seniors to CMU’s AI Scholars program the following summer. 

Academic Information

CS Scholars 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). You will also strengthen their computational skills in a math course designed to dismantle the belief that you “just aren’t a math person.” You will participate in a hands-on group project that you will present to your peers and instructors at the end of the program. This project will apply your newly acquired skills to real-world challenges that use computer science for the betterment of humanity. 

In addition, you 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, you will receive a comprehensive evaluation which can be integrated into your academic portfolio as supplemental material for college admission purposes. 

The 2023 summer program is a four-week residential experience on the Carnegie Mellon campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Upon admission, you are required to participate for the full length of the four-week program. For specific questions related to the program dates, curriculum, or student experience, please email Natalie Hatcher,


  • Courses in programming and math taught by CMU faculty.

  • In-depth introduction to ongoing research projects from faculty.

  • Career and personal development discussions led by experts.

  • Group mentoring from CMU faculty and graduate students.

  • Seminars in academic readiness and post graduate planning.

  • Peer socialization.

  • Group research projects led by faculty and current students.

  • Field trip to CS industry leaders where students are introduced to people, topics, and career opportunities.

  • Capstone group presentations that showcase skills developed in the classroom.

Financial Need

Computer Science Scholars (CSS) 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 a fully funded, merit-based program for participants, demonstration of financial need is one of these factors. There is no option for participants to pay out of pocket tuition fees for this program, and 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 Natalie Hatcher, CSS Program Director.


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. 

  All applicants who meet the eligibility requirements will be considered.

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 in high school at the time of application submission.

CS Scholars is a fully funded, merit-based program intended to provide opportunities to students from traditionally underrepresented, underresourced, and underestimated backgrounds in STEM fields. Students applying should demonstrate a strong interest in exploring computer science, though 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

The complete application for the Computer Science Scholars program will consist of the following:

  • Online application
  • Unofficial high school transcript
  • Standardized test scores (optional)
  • Responses to essay prompts
  • One counselor recommendation (written by a school counselor or community-based organization advisor)
  • One teacher recommendation (written by a teacher in a STEM field)

A response to the following essay prompt is required (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 are required (300-500 words each):

  • How would you use computer science to help your community? Community can be as small as the household you live in and as large as the global community - you decide!

  •  A core value of CS Pathways and the CS Scholars program is building an inclusive and anti-racist environment. This requires applying anti-racism practices as an individual, and contributing to an environment that encourages knowledge of, respect for, and engagement with persons of all cultures, identities, and backgrounds. How would you contribute to the conversation about building an inclusive and anti-racist environment?

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 Office for Institutional Equity and Title IX, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Pre-College student at computer.
Pre-College student at desk taking notes.
Pre-College students at computers, taking notes.