Admission Consideration

At Carnegie Mellon, we select our freshmen class from a large group of very qualified candidates. We don’t use a calculation to arrive at our admitted class. Calculations can’t take into account all of the factors we like to consider when making admission decisions. No single grade, factor, score or activity will automatically gain or deny you admission to Carnegie Mellon. We treat every applicant as an individual, taking great care to make our admission decisions fair, thorough and sensitive. We’re interested in students who can be successful at Carnegie Mellon, while taking full advantage of all the university has to offer and enriching our campus community.

Academic and Artistic Potential

Our admission process is designed to select a highly talented, diverse undergraduate population with high aspirations who will succeed at Carnegie Mellon. If you’re applying to academic programs, your high school talent and/or potential will be a significant factor in our admission decision because it’s the most meaningful indication of your motivation and abilities. We pay close attention to your curriculum rigor, the grades you’ve earned and the work you’ve accomplished. We’re interested in seeing that you’ve challenged yourself within your secondary school environment. If you’re applying to programs in the arts, your artistic performance will be either the main factor or a significant factor (depending on the program) in our admission decision.

Letters of Recommendation

We closely review your secondary school counselor’s evaluation and your teacher’s recommendation. If you're applying as a first-year student, we require two letters of recommendation: one from a high school counselor and one from a teacher. While we’ll accept a third recommendation from a teacher or other recommender, we require our committees to consider only two recommendations in the decision-making process. If you're applying as a transfer student, we require one letter of recommendation from either a faculty member/professor or an academic advisor. While we’ll accept two additional recommendations, we require our committees to consider only one recommendation in the decision-making process.

Standardized Testing

Standardized test scores add to our knowledge of your ability, but we don’t make decisions simply on the basis of test scores alone. Your secondary school record and standardized test scores (all SAT or ACT Tests) work together to make up the academic portion of your evaluation.

Extracurricular Activities

Your non-academic interests, including extracurricular accomplishments, part-time jobs, hobbies and community service also play a very important role in the admission process. We also consider leadership, motivation, passion and perseverance, community and volunteer service and other experiences when making admission decisions.

Our students make Carnegie Mellon an exciting campus. The positive qualities and diverse experiences you bring with you will enrich our community. By looking at this non-academic information, we develop a sense of your personality, motivation and social responsibility.


We also consider your Common Application essay and your responses to the Carnegie Mellon Common Application Writing Supplement. The Writing Supplement includes three short answer questions:

  1. Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study?

  2. Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience?

  3. Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please).

Your short answer responses shouldn't exceed 300 words.

Criminal History Information

Learn how Carnegie Mellon considers criminal history information in the admission review process here.