Fall 2021 Admission FAQs

You and your family have made significant adjustments in response to all the changes during this application year, so the Office of Admission is committed to offering flexibility and understanding as you move through the admission process. In collaboration with Harvard’s Making Caring Common project, Carnegie Mellon has joined over 300 other colleges and universities in signing a new collective statement, “Care Counts in Crisis: College Admissions Deans Respond to COVID-19.” This statement affirms our priorities for self-care and care for others during the pandemic. You can read more about the collective statement and what our office values here.

Because we know you may be unsure of how these changes will impact the admission process, we've provided answers to some questions you may have below. Please know our admission staff is also here to help with any questions or concerns you may have. You can reach our office via LiveChat, email or phone during normal business hours.

Everyone at Carnegie Mellon sends our best wishes to you and your loved ones, and we hope you're staying safe and healthy. While there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty at the moment, it truly reveals how interconnected we really are. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Will Fall 2021 applicants be expected to submit SAT or ACT scores?

There continue to be challenges to the college admission process brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most common concerns we hear from prospective students has to do with disruptions to standardized testing in the upcoming admission cycle. It’s become clear that students who want to take either the SAT or ACT may find it difficult or even impossible due to limitations associated with testing center availability and capacity related to social distancing requirements. Recognizing that standardized testing opportunities may not be available to all potential applicants, Carnegie Mellon University has adopted a test-optional policy for one year, removing the standardized testing requirement for first-year Fall 2021 applicants. Applicants who are non-native speakers of English are still required to submit results of either a TOEFL or IELTS English-language proficiency test.

Pursuant to this one-year policy, students who are unable to take either the SAT or ACT or choose not to submit their standardized test scores will be considered equally for admission along with those who submit scores. We also recognize that candidates who do submit scores may not have been able to take the SAT or ACT more than once as planned.

This test optional policy is a one-year accommodation being made as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will review and evaluate our process during the admission cycle for Fall 2021 and make a determination regarding future standardized testing requirements for admission to Carnegie Mellon at its conclusion.

Carnegie Mellon is committed to a holistic approach to admission. No single grade, factor, score or activity guarantees or disqualifies any candidate admission to Carnegie Mellon. We treat every applicant as an individual, taking great care to make our admission decisions fairly, thoroughly and in context. 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.

Are SAT Subject Tests recommended for Fall 2021 applicants?

For those applying to join the Fall 2021 first-year class and beyond, SAT Subject Tests are neither required nor recommended, and these scores won’t be considered in our admission review process.

My course grades were switched to pass/fail for Spring 2020. How will this impact the review of my transcript?

We understand and support the move to pass/fail grading options which many schools and colleges have adopted as a valid COVID-19 accommodation. As such, we will be accepting pass/fail results in the normal review of transcripts during this time.

I wasn’t able to take my IB/AP exam. How will this impact my application?

If you were are unable to take your Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exam(s) this year, this won't affect your admission decision. AP/IB examinations aren't required for applicants but can be used for credit. At Carnegie Mellon, each college or school has its own curriculum and thus decides how AP or IB exams contribute toward your degree. Carnegie Mellon may grant advanced placement and credit for 4's and 5's on AP exams taken in the College Board Advanced Placement program or for 6's and 7's on IB exams. Visit The Hub's credit awarding page for more information on the guidelines for receiving credit.

Will you accept the special administration results of the Advanced Placement tests? What about calculated IB results?

Yes, we will accept official test results from AP special testing administrations offered during the COVID-19 crisis and taken at home. Recognizing there will be no formal IB testing this year, we will accept this year’s calculated official IB results scheduled to be available in July. 

If I live in mainland China and can't take the TOEFL iBT (Internet-Based Test), will you accept other versions of the TOEFL?

The TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition are the gold standards of preferred English language proficiency tests in the TOEFL family for college admission. The challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have made taking these tests extremely difficult for prospective students in mainland China at this time. We believe that these challenges may possibly be resolved in the coming months, but in the interim, the TOEFL program has made available a secure testing solution for students in mainland China which features the TOEFL ITP and a video speaking interview from Vericant.

While the TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition remain our preferred TOEFL testing solutions for demonstration of English language proficiency, Carnegie Mellon will accept the results of the TOEFL ITP and the video speaking interview from Vericant until students in mainland China can again take the TOEFL iBT in nationwide testing centers. Students taking the interim TOEFL ITP/Vericant interview test do not need to retake the TOEFL iBT or TOEFL iBT Special Take Home Edition when either becomes available.

Has the admission process changed this year for the College of Fine Arts?

While all College of Fine Arts applicants still must submit additional materials beyond our general admission requirements, the process has changed for Fall 2021. All auditions, interviews and portfolio reviews will be online for the 2021 admission year.

Please review our Fine Arts Admission page for more information.

Will the Early Decision deadline be extended?

We’ll continue to maintain an Early Decision deadline of November 1. Regular Decision applicants applying to Early Decision-eligible programs* have the opportunity to change their applications from Regular Decision to Early Decision up through January 15.  If you choose to change your application from Regular to Early Decision, you’ll receive your admission decision by February 1.

*Early decision is not available for acting & music theater, directing, dramaturgy or the School of Music.  

Do you expect classes to take place virtually for the 2020-2021 academic year?

When the fall semester begins on August 31, 2020, Carnegie Mellon will offer students a hybrid model of in-person and online classes. This approach seeks to extend in-person and remote instruction for as many classes as possible while ensuring safe social distancing practices for all students. For more information on the hybrid model, please visit the university's COVID-19 website.

All Carnegie Mellon coursework and formal summer programming will continue to be offered in remote or online formats at all U.S.-based domestic locations through August 1.

If my family receives a payment from the COVID-19 stimulus (CARES Act), will that impact my financial aid eligibility?

The Department of Education has indicated that any aid received by victims of an emergency by either a federal or state entity for purposes of providing financial relief will not be counted as income for the calculation of Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or estimated financial assistance (EFA). This would apply to any funds a student received from a stimulus check and/or funds a student received from the CARES Act Economic Stabilization Fund — the fund to provide emergency grant aid dollars to institutions and students.

Will my admission decision be negatively impacted should I choose to participate in protests and am arrested?

Carnegie Mellon students are passionate, fearless and ready to confront systemic injustice wherever it exists. If you choose to peacefully protest in response to injustice, we support you and your right to be heard. Your admission decision won't be negatively impacted if you're arrested during peaceful protest or assembly. 

When will Carnegie Mellon be open again for on-campus visits?

While we're excited for you to visit our campus, we want to make sure you can do so safely. Campus is currently closed to visitors, but we'll announce visit opportunities as soon as it's determined we can host on-campus events in a way that ensures the safety of our community and our visitors. 

In the meantime, check out our online visit opportunities to experience Carnegie Mellon virtually. You can also follow us on Instagram, to stay connected with the Office of Admission.

How can I contact the Office of Admission while campus is closed?

While the Office of Admission on campus may be closed, we're open for business as usual and available by phone, email and chat during normal business hours. Please don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re happy to help in any way possible.

You can also join our Admission Mailing List to make sure you're included on future communications.