Carnegie Mellon University

Pre-College 2023 International Application

For the purposes of Carnegie Mellon's Pre-College Programs application and enrollment process, an international student is defined as a student who holds permanent residency outside of the U.S.

We welcome international students to participate in our Pre-college programs. For our international applicants, please make note of our I-20 Certificate of Eligibility and English proficiency requirements. 

Most of our Pre-College programs are open to international students, excluding those that have no cost to the participant (AI Scholars, Computer Science Scholars, Summer Academy for Math and Science, and all scholarship consideration). Carnegie Mellon, however, only issues I-20s for F-1 student status to students admitted to the Pre-College Summer Session residential program. In-person, full-time study of at least 18 units is required.

Students interested in our other Pre-College programs may be able to participate if they are already in the U.S. in another immigration status or are attending high school in the U.S. in F-1 status. The U.S. State Department restricts study for visitors using the Visa Waiver Program or B-1/B-2 visa. Any visitor considering traveling to the U.S. in one of those statuses should review the U.S. government’s guidance and carefully consider their plans.

Please Note: Admission to Carnegie Mellon’s Pre-College Programs does not guarantee that Carnegie Mellon will be able to issue a visa document to the admitted student or that the student will be able to obtain a visa and/or enter the U.S. to pursue the program. Due to the ongoing pandemic, consular operations and visa appointments may not be available at pre-pandemic levels and international travel disruptions may occur. Students who are unable to arrive in the U.S. may not attend the program remotely. A full refund (excluding the application fee) will be provided to international students who document that they were unable to travel to the U.S.

For questions related to I-20 documentation, please reach out to Sara Loya in the Office of International Education.

For questions related to the Pre-College Programs Application and the English proficiency requirements, please reach out to Assistant Director for Enrollment Management Marjorie Dawkins.

International students coming to Carnegie Mellon to enroll in credit-bearing classes who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents may need to obtain an I-20 Certificate of Eligibility from the Office of International Education (OIE).

  • If you are already in the U.S. on F-1 status and will be returning to your current school next fall, you would not need an I-20 from Carnegie Mellon. 
  • If you are already in the U.S. or will be coming to the U.S. as a dependent of a parent who is working in the U.S., you would not need an I-20 from Carnegie Mellon.
  • If you will be coming to the U.S. from overseas to partipicate in the Pre-College Summer Session residential program and will either return to your overseas high school or attend a high school in the U.S. in the fall, you will need an I-20 and must complete the necessary paperwork to obtain that I-20.

If you are an international student who will need an I-20 or F-1 student visa from Carnegie Mellon, you must apply and submit all supporting documents by April 1.

Please Note: Students who are admitted to a Pre-College program other than Summer Session are not eligible to receive I-20 Certificates of Eligibility.

If you are admitted to Pre-College Programs, the Office of International Education will send you the paperwork (an International Student Information Form and an Affidavit of Support Form) that you must complete to obtain an I-20. The Form I-20 is used to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Students who receive an I-20 from Carnegie Mellon must arrive on the Thursday before Opening Day in order to complete a mandatory immigration check-in to maintain legal status in the U.S. Admitted students will be sent more detailed instructions regarding this mandatory check-in. 

If your native language is not English, we require a TOEFL score of 102 or better on the iBT (internet-based test) or iBT Home Edition, a TOEFL Essentials overall band score of at least 11, an IELTS score of 7.5 or above, or a Duolingo English Test (DET) overall score of 125 or above. Please arrange to have these scores uploaded with your application materials. Your official TOEFL, IELTS, or DET scores reports are required. Carnegie Mellon’s Pre-College Programs' TOEFL code is C534.

If you are an international student who has attended a high school within the United States for a minimum of one year and plan to return to that high school after participation in our Pre-College Programs, you are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS/DET requirement. Your unofficial transcripts must clearly show your attendance at a high school in the United States for the one-year minimum.

Within the online application, you will be asked to submit a combination of biographical, parent/guardian, and academic information. In addition, you will select up to three programs for application consideration in order of preference. Although second and third choice programs are not required, they are recommended. Please note that Summer Session is the only Pre-College program where students are eligible to receive I-20 Certificates of Eligibility issued through Carnegie Mellon's Office of International Education. 

Keep in mind that the order of your program preferences matter in our review process. Your first choice program preference should be labeled as such. All students will be initially considered for their first choice program preference. Applicants will only be admitted to one program.

Please note that as individual programs reach their enrollment and waitlist capacity, they will no longer be available as a program choice. Please apply as early as possible for your best chance at securing a spot in your first, second, or third choice programs.

Additionally, your application will not be considered complete until we receive your Letter(s) of Recommendation. We cannot review your application until these letters have been received by our office. Please plan ahead and request your recommendation letter(s) through our online application process in time for us to receive them by the international application deadline.

Once your application is submitted, you will receive email correspondence on how to access your applicant portal. Please check your applicant portal regularly for updates or additional information requested.


Your application will not be considered complete until we receive your Letter(s) of Recommendation. We cannot review your application until these letters have been received by our office.

To request your Letter(s) of Recommendation within our online application, you will be required to enter your recommender's email address. Once this is entered, an email will be automatically sent to the recommender. They will be directed to an online portal where they will complete the recommendation form and submit their letter of recommendation.

In general, recommendation letters should be submitted by a counselor or teacher who can speak to your readiness to attend a pre-college program that includes college-level work, independent living, and cooperation in group situations.

It is important that you plan ahead and request your recommendation letter(s) through our online application process in time for us to receive them by the international application deadline.


Your most recent unofficial transcript must be submitted with your online application. Transcripts must include your name and all grades and courses you have completed. Official transcripts (submitted via sealed envelope or directly from the school) are NOT required for our application.


Standardized tests scores are NOT required for application. However, you are welcome to submit your test scores if you feel they will strengthen your application submission. Please note that these test scores will be only one part of our holistic review process.

If you choose to submit your standardized tests scores, please upload the test scores report of your most recent PSAT, SAT, PreACT or ACT.


Essay requirements vary by program. Please reference the academic program pages for more information. Essay prompts will be listed.

Responses to the essay prompts should be uploaded through the online application in a PDF or Word format.


Depending on your program(s) of interest, supplemental materials (such as a video audition or images of your unique work) may be required to complete your application. Please reference the academic program pages for more information.


A $50 application fee (non-refundable) is required to submit your application. 


Admitted students will have 7 days to submit the $800 non-refundable enrollment deposit and the Enrollment Reply Form to secure their spot in the program.

Further information on program costs is provided here. Please contact Carnegie Mellon’s Pre-College Programs at with any questions.

Students participating in Carnegie Mellon University’s Pre-College programs will be expected to abide by the University’s COVID-19 mitigation protocol in place at the time of programming. This is to safeguard the students, staff, faculty, and community.

Vaccine and testing documentation is not required for application submission, however, you will need to provide documentation of your vaccination status/testing during the enrollment process. Related to COVID-19: Base-level vaccination is required (i.e. 2 shots Moderna/Pfizer or 1 shot J&J). Booster shots are only required if a sufficient amount of time has passed since the student’s underlying vaccination (eligibility to receive a booster shot is according to CDC guidelines). All documentation will be reviewed and verified.

Acceptable documentation includes:

  • a copy of your official vaccination document
  • a signed declaration of exemption due to religious or health reasons

CMU accepts all World Health Organization (WHO)-authorized vaccines, in addition to the FDA-authorized vaccines in the U.S.

What is an I-20 and what do I do with it?

The Form I-20 is used to apply for an F-1 student visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Please note that Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement – Canadian citizens only need the I-20. With your I-20 you will be sent detailed instructions regarding travel to the U.S. and a mandatory immigration check-in. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Students who have received an I-20 from Carnegie Mellon must arrive on Pre-College's International Student Move-In Day (Thursday prior to Opening Day) to complete a mandatory immigration check-in in order to maintain legal status in the U.S.

When will I get my I-20?

Once all forms and original bank statements are sent to and received by the Office of International Education (OIE), you will receive the I-20 in approximately three weeks.

I’m not a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S. and I’d like to come to Pre-College. Can I attend the program as a tourist or on the visa waiver program?

We do not recommend that students enroll in Carnegie Mellon’s Pre-College Programs using a visa waiver or tourist visa as that may be a violation of U.S. immigration regulations which restrict study for tourists (B-1/B-2) or visitors using the Visa Waiver Program, indicating “Enrollment in a course of study prohibited.” 8 CFR 214.2 (7). We encourage visitors to review the U.S. State Department guidance about study and what is an acceptable activity on a B-1/B-2 visa. Please consider the government’s guidance and their travel plans carefully to avoid difficulties at a U.S. Port of entry or for future travel to the U.S.

Once I get my I-20 and F-1 student visa and get to Pittsburgh, is there anything else I need to do or am I done with immigration requirements?

There is one more important step to take. The Department of Homeland Security requires that you check in with the Office of International Education (OIE) to complete the immigration process. You must arrive in Pittsburgh on the Thursday prior to Opening Day and OIE will check you in and provide an orientation. You must bring your original I-20 Certificate of Eligibility and your passport with you to Immigration Check-In.

Are international applicants eligible for scholarships?

No, international applicants are not eligible for scholarships.

Should I arrive earlier than the Thursday prior to Opening Day?

No. We have built-in time for students to arrive on Thursday, settle in, and receive an orientation so that international students can adjust prior to Opening Day.

I have more questions. Who can I contact to help with immigration questions?

Please don't hesitate to contact the Carnegie Mellon's Office of International Education by email or phone at 412-268-5231. Please indicate you are a Pre-College student when you reach out to OIE.