Carnegie Mellon University

Incoming MS FAQs

On this page, we hope to provide information for incoming master's students regarding the recent program changes. 

I-20 international student FAQs
Research FAQs
Program FAQs

I-20 international student FAQs

A CPT-eligible internship must be completed during summer semesters only. If you want to do an internship during a fall/spring semester, you will be required to use pre-completion OPT and will also need to maintain at least 36 units. For this reason, we strongly recommend you complete any internships during the summer semester only.
If you are on F1/J1 status and opt into a three-semester program, you will be issued an I-20 for three semesters, which cannot be extended. You must complete the program in the required timeframe of your I-20. Students interested in staying for four semesters should consider joining one of the Advanced programs.

Research FAQs

Yes, once you have entered the program, you can count summer research units toward your degree.
Typically, students only take 12 units of research per semester, but this can be flexible depending on the research and faculty member overseeing the research.
Yes, you need to pay for all units for which you register. If you take research units during a fall or spring semester as part of your 36 full-time units, you will pay the full-time tuition rate. For more information about tuition, please visit here.
You may opt to get paid for a research project if the faculty overseeing that research project provides that option. However, you may only receive either units or pay for research projects. You cannot receive both pay and units for research project experiences.
Yes. Up to 27 units of research can count towards the degree in both program options, though it is not required. If you would like to add the optional Intensive Project Option to your program, that requires 36 units of research.
Yes, you can work on a research project with a faculty member from another department; however, you must have an ECE faculty member act as a co-instructor on the project to confirm that the research is relevant to your ECE degree.
No, you cannot complete the Intensive Project Option in one semester. Central to the concept of the Intensive Project Option is a two-phase structure with an intermediate go/no-go evaluation point between semesters. You must complete the Intensive Project Option in no fewer than two semesters.
You are not advised to begin the Intensive Project Option in your first semester. You should take your first semester to build relationships with faculty and understand your research interests and then apply for projects starting in your second semester.
Yes, you can enter the Intensive Project Option in either your second or third semester if your program length is 4 semesters long. You must have at least 2 semesters remaining in your program.
Yes, as an IMB student you can participate in the Intensive Project Option, however you must have two semesters remaining in your program to do so. This means that if you plan to finish both your BS and MS degrees at the same time, you must begin the Intensive Project Option in the first semester of your senior year. Please speak with your faculty advisor for more information about completing the Intensive Project Option.
If the research instructor does not approve you to continue in the Intensive Project Option after Phase I, your 12 units of 18-980 will still count towards the standard degree program. You can count 12 units of 18-980 towards your core requirement and up to 15 units towards your CIT Elective requirement.
Yes, this is possible but you must meet with your faculty instructor(s) and faculty advisor to make sure you are still meeting all of the goals needed to complete the Intensive Project Option. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis, including situations involving change of faculty instructor(s), and may involve submitting a revised proposal for Phase II work.
Yes, however you must petition to receive approval to deviate from the standard configuration. This includes seeking to spread the units across three semesters. Please note that the standard unit structure appropriately balances the effort a student dedicates to ideation, preliminary studies, and the core of the project work. Therefore, substantial deviation from this structure will risk an unsuccessful project and may not be approved.

Program FAQs

You may request to add a Project Option to your program typically by your second semester. This option is subject to project availability, and students will work with their assigned faculty advisor if they have an interest in pursuing a Project Option. For more information on the structure of the Project Option, please view this page.
Once you complete all of your degree requirements, you are obligated to graduate. If you want to fit in additional courses or experiences, please work with your academic advisor to make sure that you plan it appropriately. You must have at least one remaining degree requirement to continue into the fourth semester.
While the full-time tuition rate remains the same for all programs, the Advanced program is a four-semester program, wheras the other programs are three-semester programs. You will be required to pay tuition for four semesters instead of three.
No, the MS ECE Advanced program does not require an internship. This program adds an additional semester of study for students. Students can use this additional semester to pursue additional courses or do an extended research project. Students can still do an optional internship if they've spent two semesters in residence in the program. Students can opt-in the Advanced Applied track if they want a required internship.
The MS program does not currently allow for co-ops, as we like you to focus on your required full-time coursework for fall and spring semesters.

For the Applied/Applied Advanced programs that require an internship, you will not need to pay for the internship. You will be enrolled in a zero-unit internship course to meet the requirement.

In the Standard/Advanced programs, internships are optional. You may apply for CPT in these programs to complete an internship, which will require you to register for a 3-unit internship course and pay tuition accordingly.

In the three-semester programs, you cannot enter your final semester with 120 or more units. In the Advanced (four-semester) program, you cannot enter your final semester with 156 or more units. It is important to keep in mind that once you complete program requirements, you will be required to graduate and cannot stay to take more classes. If you would like to build extra classes into your program, please work with your academic advisor.

We will work with you to provide on-campus project opportunities with CMU faculty for those who are unable to secure the required internship.
We don’t currently have the option to transfer directly from the MS ECE to the PhD ECE program. Students in the Professional MS program may apply to the PhD program. These students are encouraged to be enrolled for two academic semesters in the Professional MS program before matriculating into the PhD program, so the PhD Admissions Committee can better assess these applications with regards to course and/or project work. Students must apply by the dates listed on the deadlines page.
Not at this time. The dual-degree offerings have prescribed curriculums that are not compatible with these new programs.

The department is currently conducting an analysis to determine which new programs will be offered to which current programs. As of now, the Standard and Applied programs are offered to all incoming students at the Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley, and CMU–Africa campuses who are enrolled in the single-degree MS ECE or MS SE program.

The Advanced program is only offered to incoming MS ECE students at the Pittsburgh and CMU–Africa campuses. The Applied Advanced program is only offered to incoming MS ECE students studying at the Pittsburgh campus.