Carnegie Mellon University

Challenge yourself. Earn college credit. Prepare for college success.


The Pre-College Summer Session provides high school students with the unique opportunity to take summer courses offered by Carnegie Mellon for credit.

Students earn college credit while working in an academic setting that mirrors the supportive, rigorous environment of the first year of college. Every summer, Summer Session offers approximately thirty courses from academic disciplines across the university, including in science, humanities, social science, engineering, computer science, and technology applied to the arts. Successful Summer Session students leverage their experiences to demonstrate their ability to succeed in college. Upon successful completion of a course, they receive college credit at Carnegie Mellon, which is transferable to other institutions that accept CMU college courses for credit.

Please note that admittance into the Pre-College Summer Session does not guarantee admittance to Carnegie Mellon within the Undergraduate Admission process.

Curriculum Overview

The Summer Session curriculum is comprised of undergraduate-level Carnegie Mellon courses. The courses are the same ones taken during the fall and spring by Carnegie Mellon students, usually in their first year or as sophomores. Students will receive the same rigorous, college-level work as an undergraduate student studying at Carnegie Mellon. All of the Summer Session instructors are vetted by their respective academic departments, and the majority of them are Carnegie Mellon professors who teach these courses during the academic year. 

Students request their courses after admission to the program, as part of the enrollment process. Students living on campus must remain enrolled in two courses throughout the entire summer. Students living at home (who must have a permanent local address) may enroll in one or two courses. Two courses completed in six weeks is as academically demanding as a full-time undergraduate course schedule.

The 2022 Summer Session course listing will be available late February / early March. As a point of reference, please view our 2021 Summer Session course list.*

*Note: all Summer Session courses for the 2022 Pre-College Program will be held in-person without an online option.

Program Options: 
  • 6-week*
  • Residential OR Commuter**
 *For specific program dates see, the home page.

**In order to be eligible as a commuter student, the parent or legal guardian must have a permanent residence within approximately 30 miles of campus or within Allegheny County. Families who relocate temporarily to the Pittsburgh area are not eligible for commuter status. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Eligibility and Application Requirements

To be eligible for the Pre-College Summer Session students must: 

  • Be at least 16 years old by the program start date (to participate in the residential program).
  • Be a current sophomore or junior in high school at time of application submission.
  • Be in good academic standing and exhibit the ability to succeed in rigorous, fast paced coursework.

The application for the Pre-College Summer Session consists of the following:

  • Completed Online Application
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Standardized Test Scores (optional)
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Responses to Essay Prompts

Essays required for the following prompts (300-500 words each):

  • What do you hope to gain from participating in a Carnegie Mellon Pre-College program?
  • What has prepared you for the challenge of rigorous college-level courses?
  • How difficult is the coursework?
    • In Summer Session, students have the opportunity to take actual Carnegie Mellon courses, often alongside undergraduate students. While most students will be challenged due to the college rigor and pace of the six-week courses, the university seeks to support the education of everyone accepted into the program. If you have questions about the difficulty of the program, please contact the  or Program Director. We would be happy to discuss further.
  • How many classes can students take? Is there a limit?
    • Students who enroll in two courses (between 9 and 12 units each, comparable to three to four credits each at other colleges and universities) will experience fast-paced academic work. Two courses in six weeks will be similar to five courses in fifteen weeks, which is a typical workload for degree-seeking undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon. Students may enroll in up to 23 units.
    • We recommend that students enrolled in two courses focus on this program during the six weeks. Do not plan to engage in other studies during Summer Session, including preparation for standardized tests or major school assignments. You will be taking college classes and it is necessary to focus on this.
  • Is it possible to have a job while attending Pre-College Summer Session?
    • Students enrolled in two full courses should not plan to have a summer job.  Students enrolled in fewer than two full courses may wish to consider a part-time summer job.
  • Will the college credits be transferable?
    • Every university and college has the authority to determine its own policies about whether to accept credits from another institution of higher education.
    • While it is therefore impossible to state definitively that these college credits will transfer elsewhere, the following statements are true:
      • Carnegie Mellon considers these to be college credits.
      • Carnegie Mellon offers rigorous coursework.
      • Carnegie Mellon is a widely recognized institution.
    • In order to make a strong case for transfer credits, a student must do well in the course and have that grade recorded.
  • What if my child decides he/she doesn't like the courses he/she is taking?
    • With the permission of the Academic Program Director, students may be able to change classes during the first two days of the program. Such changes are subject to space availability and academic appropriateness.
ces_pre-college_statistics_2016_5702-1.jpg
ces_pre-college_chemical-engineering_2016_2410-min.jpg
ces_pre-college_chemical-engineering_2016_2470-min.jpg