Carnegie Mellon University

Incoming M.S. student 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
Summer 2020 course FAQs


Carnegie Mellon has not officially made this decision. The University is considering all governmental regulations and guidelines and will be announcing a decision regarding the Fall 2020 semester in the coming weeks. The University is prepared to offer a hybrid of in-person and remote learning/instruction mode to accommodate students who are unable to be on campus. This will be a temporary measure to accommodate your timely matriculation and continued education, and we ask that you attend in-person instruction at your CMU home campus as soon as possible and practical for you.  For this purpose, absent agreed extenuating circumstances, we currently anticipate that you will attend in-person instruction no later than the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester.

For Fall Semester 2020, in the event that students are unable to attend CMU in person for COVID-19 related reasons following the reopening of their CMU home campus, we in the College of Engineering will make our in-person course instruction available in the remote learning/instruction mode. This will be a temporary measure to accommodate your timely matriculation and continued education, and we ask that you attend in-person instruction at your CMU home campus as soon as possible and practical for you.  For this purpose, absent agreed extenuating circumstances, we currently anticipate that you will attend in-person instruction no later than the beginning of the Spring 2021 semester.

Students who were admitted to the Fall 2020 semester have until September 1 to request a deferral. If you are certain that you do not plan on enrolling in the Fall, you should request it when you’ve made that decision. If you are an international student who is waiting to see if your visa is approved, you should wait until closer to September 1 to request it. Note: No deferrals will be approved until after the program changes have been finalized. If you wish to rescind your request for a deferral, please send an email to

I-20 international student FAQs

It is highly unlikely that the Fall 2020 semester will be fully in-person instruction. In that case, as per current governmental regulations, it will not count as a semester in residence towards CPT eligibility. If you are a Fall 2020 admit hoping to qualify for a CPT internship, you should opt into the Applied MS Program, which requires the internship. In the Applied Program, it is not required for you to complete 2 consecutive semesters in the US before becoming eligible for CPT.

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 that you complete any internships during the summer semester only.
No. A Fall 2020 admit may defer their admission to Spring 2021, but students cannot defer admission to Fall 2021 at this time.
If you are on F1/J1 status and opt into a 3-semester program, you will be issued an I-20 for 3 semesters that cannot be extended. You must complete the program in the required time-frame of your I-20. Students interested in staying for four semesters should consider joining one of the Advanced Programs.
Yes. We will wait to update your I-20 until the start of the Fall semester. You will receive an email with more information at that time.
Yes. Fall 2020 starts should apply for the I-20 with the standard track program (the one you were initially admitted to). In the interest of time, we will wait to update your I-20 until the start of the Fall semester. You will receive an email with more information at that time.

Research FAQs

Yes, once you have entered the program, you can count summer research units towards your degree.
Typically, students only take 12 units of research per semester, but this can be flexible depending on the research and the 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 all program options, though it is not required. If you would like to add the optional Project Option to your program, that requires 36 units of research.

Program FAQs

Incoming Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 students must opt-in to one of the new programs prior to matriculation into your program. We will send out an email in the next few weeks with information on what programs are available to you, how to request a program change, and what the deadlines are. International students who are starting in Fall 2020 who are requesting a visa should continue the process with their existing visas. We will wait to update your program information and visa until the start of the fall semester.
You may request to add a Project Option to your program at any point during your program (provided you have enough time to complete it). This option is subject to project availability and students will work with academic advisors upon their arrival to campus if they have an interest in pursuing a project option.
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 4-semester program while the other programs are 3-semester programs. You will be required to pay tuition for 4 semesters instead of 3.
Technically, yes. For those who would matriculate in Fall 2020, the earliest you can graduate would be Summer 2021. You could complete all of your coursework by Spring 2021 and would then need to complete your required internship over the Summer 2021 semester. Please note that if your first (fall) semester is remote, you would not be eligible for OPT after graduating.
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, ordo an extended research project. Students can still do an optional internship if they've spent 2 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 course work for fall and spring semesters.
For the Applied programs where the internship is required, you will not need to pay for the internship. In the standard and advanced programs internships are optional. You may apply for CPT in these programs to complete an internship, which will require you to register for 3 units and pay tuition accordingly.

In the 3-semester programs, you cannot enter your final semester with 120 or more units. In the Advanced (4-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 Ph.D. ECE programs. Students in the Professional M.S. Programs may apply to the Ph.D. program. These students must be enrolled for two academic semesters in the Professional M.S. program before they can matriculate into the Ph.D. Program. 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.
No. Students who entered their MS programs prior to Fall 2020 must continue in the degree program you are currently enrolled in.
The department is currently conducting an analysis to determine which new programs will be offered to which current programs. As of now, we can confirm that the Applied Programs will be offered to all new incoming students at the Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley campuses who are enrolled in the single degree MS ECE or MS Software Engineering Program. We can also confirm that the Advanced and Applied Advanced will be offered to new incoming MS ECE students studying at the Pittsburgh campus.

Summer 2020 course FAQs

No. Summer courses are entirely optional.

No. This is a one-time opportunity for Summer 2020 courses for incoming MS students and cannot be moved to a different semester.

ECE offerings will be for the duration of the summer. Classes will begin on May 18 and conclude on August 7.

ECE is offering 4 courses that you may choose from this summer. The course offerings are 18-613, 18-661, 18-749, and 18-793. If you would like to register for courses outside of this, you will be required to pay for them and they will not count towards your degree requirements. You may find more information on the Summer 2020 schedule of courses here.
You are eligible to take up to 24 units of ECE-funded coursework that can count towards your degree. If you take more than 24 units, you will be responsible to pay for those units and they will not count towards your degree.
The tuition grant for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 starts will be automatically applied to your account after the 10th day of classes. You do not need to do anything to apply for it and you should ignore any fees on your account for the summer semester.
Yes. Students will be enrolled in non-degree status for Summer 2020, so you will be able to take courses. Only two courses will count towards degree requirements, regardless of how many you choose to take.
The times for the ECE summer courses have been selected intentionally to be available to students across a wide variety of time zones, though many professors will record the lectures and make them available for viewing at a later time as well. You should contact the instructor directly if you have a conflict that would preclude you from being able to attend live.
The university has several deadlines you must adhere to in order to drop a course. Please refer to the CMU Academic calendar to review the drop and withdrawal deadlines.
Yes, you may re-take a course if you drop it.

No. You will not be required to pay for the courses if you do not complete them or continue in the program.

You are not permitted to audit the 24 units of coursework that you are pursuing through the one-time grant. While you are permitted to elect a pass/fail grade for these courses, it is not encouraged as the courses will not count towards your degree requirements.