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 the AP/EA program. However, what the admission counselors can see on paper is limited - 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. Only A and B grades are recorded on the Carnegie Mellon transcript of grades. No D and R grades will be recorded. It will be possible to have C grades officially recorded on a student's Carnegie Mellon transcript, but a request to do this should be made by the student to the instructor in writing preferably be the last day of classes.

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

The AP/EA program 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 the A/PEA program, Dr. William Alba, via email or 412.268.7333, for individual advice to address your child's particular situation.

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

Students who take two full courses (9 to 12 units each, corresponding at most other colleges and universities to 3 to 4 credits each) will be experiencing a course load that is approximately equivalent to that of a degree student during a fall or spring semester at Carnegie Mellon. Students who reside in university housing must be enrolled in two full courses. Students who wish to enroll in more than 24 units must first consult with the Academic Director, Dr. William Alba via email or 412.268.7333.

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

Because each six-week summer course in the AP/EA program covers roughly the same amount of material as a semester-long college course, missing a week in AP/EA is equivalent to being absent for about two-and-a-half weeks. This would set a student up for failure. Before enrolling in AP/EA, students should decide to 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 the AP/EA program, 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 the AP/EA program: college courses that can be taught more intensively during a shorter span of time and that may appeal to the interests of high school students who want to take college classes during the summer, and instructors who would teach these classes at Carnegie Mellon during the fall or spring but who also appreciate the pedagogical needs of younger students. The courses have identical course number 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 the AP/EA Program?

When Carnegie Mellon accepts students into its undergraduate degree-granting programs for the regular academic year, the university is highly selective and turns away a great number of students who likely could have succeeded here as full-time students. The university can afford to be slightly more relaxed in its admission policy for the AP/EA summer program. This is because during the regular year, every student who is accepted comes because Carnegie Mellon believes that student will be able to complete a rigorous four-year program, culminating in advanced studies in an academic discipline. For the AP/EA program, every student who is accepted comes because Carnegie Mellon believes that student will be able to complete a six-week program of college classes. This different level of expectation allows the university to provide more students with an opportunity to enjoy a summer of scholarship here.

How many students are in the AP/EA program?

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 the AP/EA program 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. However, such changes are subject to space availability and academic appropriateness, and seldom occur.