Advanced Placement/Early Admission FAQ

How difficult is the program? I am concerned that my child is not ready for college classes.

Only students who appear ready for college classes are admitted into AP/EA. However, if you have personal concerns about your child's ability to succeed in summer college classes, you and your child should take the opportunity to discuss any issues before deciding whether to accept an offer to enter the program. Academic support staff are available during the summer.

AP/EA students have the unique option to have grades and courses removed from their Carnegie Mellon transcripts, as long as they have been working consistently and visibly in that course. This flexibility in recording grades mitigates the risk for high-school students who are taking college courses.

How challenging is AP/EA? I'm concerned that my child will be too advanced for the courses.

AP/EA is committed to providing high-school students with advanced standing -- such as through AP classes, classes taken at local colleges, an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, or an early college curriculum -- with the opportunity to challenge themselves further. Contact the Academic Director of AP/EA, Dr. William Alba, or the Senior Academic Advisor, Veronica Peet, for individual advice to address your child's particular situation.

How does AP/EA compare to some of the other summer opportunities at Carnegie Mellon?

Some Pre-College programs are affiliated with the university's College of Fine Arts and focus on Architecture, Art, Design, Drama, Music, and Theater. Another Pre-College program, the National High School Game Academy, is for students interested in the arts and/or computer programming, and focuses on video game development.

Summer Academy for Math and Science program is for students from underrepresented backgrounds with interests in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

In contrast, AP/EA offers a variety of more than 40 college courses every summer, from academic disciplines across the university. It’s the only summer program on campus that provides high school students with Carnegie Mellon college credit.

Is there a limit to the number of classes a student can take?

Students enroll in two full courses (9 to 12 units each, corresponding at most other colleges and universities to 3 to 4 credits each). This course load is equivalent to the load of a degree-seeking college student at Carnegie Mellon. Students in university housing must be enrolled in two full courses. Students may not enroll in more than 23 units.

Is it possible to miss a week for band camp, family vacation, etc.?

Each six-week summer course in AP/EA covers roughly the same amount of material as a semester-long college course. Therefore, every day of AP/EA corresponds to approximately one week of college during the fall or spring, which in turn matches two weeks of many rigorous high-school courses (such as AP or IB courses).

Missing class time sets a student up for failure. Students with unexcused absences are ineligible for the AP/EA transcript redaction policy.

Before enrolling in AP/EA, students must commit themselves to the full six weeks of the program.

Is it possible to have a job while attending AP/EA?

Students in residential housing take the equivalent of a full college course load, and are not permitted to hold a job on or off campus. Students who commute and are enrolled in fewer than two full courses may take a part-time summer job, though this is not advisable for academic reasons.

Are these AP classes or are they college classes?

Despite the name of AP/EA, the classes in the program are college classes without any affiliation to the Advanced Placement (AP) classes offered by many high schools.

Is the quality of instruction the same as during the fall or spring semesters?

Yes. The academic departments of the university and the Academic Director together select appropriate courses and instructors for AP/EA: college courses that can be taught intensively during a shorter span of time and that may appeal to high-school students, and instructors who would teach these classes at Carnegie Mellon during the fall or spring and who also appreciate the pedagogical needs of younger students. The courses have identical course designations as courses offered during the fall and spring; the same instructors have taught, or could teach, such courses during the academic year.

Are the students in the classes from high school or are they mixed with degree-seeking college students?

There is no single answer because the situation depends on the academic needs of the AP/EA students in different types of courses. In conjunction with the Academic Director, each department at Carnegie Mellon has determined which style of class would be more advantageous. For example, the Physics Department places AP/EA students in a separate section because they recognize that high school students have particular academic difficulties solving physics problems that are better addressed together with a group of peers. The English Department, on the other hand, has noted that AP/EA students often benefit from being in seminar discussions with college students, so English classes are often mixed.

How selective is AP/EA?

The Carnegie Mellon undergraduate admission process is highly selective, while admission for summer Pre-College programs is more relaxed and focuses on allowing high school students to experience rigorous college coursework for six weeks.

How many students are in AP/EA?


Applied: 493
Admitted: 271
Enrolled: 171

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 learning. While it is therefore impossible to state definitively that these college credits will transfer elsewhere, the following facts are relevant:

  • Carnegie Mellon considers these to be college credits
  • Carnegie Mellon is a renowned university.
  • Of course, in order to make a strong case for transfer credits, a student must do well in the course and have that grade recorded.
How should my child decide which courses to take?

The choice is up to the student. In general, students learn best when taking a course in a subject that they find engaging, so they are inclined to request a particular course when the description interests them. However, students may not know beforehand that they would find something interesting until they learn more about it -- AP/EA as well as college in general often opens students' minds to new possibilities and ways of thinking. One option would be to take a course in a topic that the student already believes he/she would like and a second course in a fresh and intriguing field.

Are all the courses listed in the brochure guaranteed to be offered? My child got into a course that he/she didn't request, what happened?

During the spring, as AP/EA students begin to request enrollment in classes, it is likely that some courses will fill up and others will be small. As a result, there may be some shifting in the classes and the number of sections being offered. However, it's more probable that additional courses will be offered to enhance the program than courses will be cancelled - to see the most up-to-date course listing, visit As a measure of the program's dedication to providing students with courses, last summer AP/EA offered a course even though only three students were enrolled in the class.

What if my child decides he/she doesn't like the courses he/she is taking?

With permission of the Academic 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.