Carnegie Mellon University

Graduate application guidelines

In order to assist you in creating a successful application for a graduate degree in electrical and computer engineering, we have compiled a list of guidelines that we encourage you to review.

Writing your statement of purpose

Your statement of purpose (SoP) essay is an integral part of your application package. The admissions committee uses your SoP to ensure you have a genuine interest in the program and know what you are applying for. Your SoP must demonstrate an understanding of what your desired program(s) is, your familiarity with the goals of the program, and your interest in the program’s content. It must also provide background information pertaining to your work experience, technical and soft skills, and academic education.

Avoid common clichés in your SoP. In particular, try to avoid childhood anecdotes or goals. The admissions committee is interested in your current goals, skills, and strengths. Remember that the committee is reviewing a large number of applications, so you should be concise in your writing and get straight to the point. Write in plain language, and use your own words. Be sincere. Use a spell and grammar checker.

Expressing yourself clearly, sincerely, and effectively is a core skill of any graduate program and invaluable in today’s job market. Therefore, most importantly, the SoP must be authored by you and you alone. Do not use a second party such as a friend, parent, essay writing service, or college admissions consultant to create your SoP.

What to put in your curriculum vitae

Your curriculum vitae (resume) should list the following information:

  • Contact information
  • Education at undergraduate and graduate levels only, with dates and GPA
  • Ranking, if available, for each degree obtained
  • Relevant academic courses taken, with grades
  • Relevant online courses taken or certifications completed
  • Relevant research, academic, or school projects
  • Internships outside the university, listed separately
  • Other technical and nontechnical skills and experience, including soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and organization
  • Open-source or public projects in which you have participated (with GitHub or other OS repository profiles and/or links)
  • Publications and patents, if any

Reporting your grade point average accurately

If your university uses a different scale for computing your grade point average (GPA), make sure to convert it accurately to the scale used by North American institutions (we recommend using WES’ free GPA calculator). Do not inflate the converted GPA by rounding it to the nearest integer. The reported GPAs must be consistent with your transcripts.     

Asking for letters of recommendation

Recommendation letters constitute an important part of your application package. When asking for recommendation letters, provide the letter writers with information they need and, if appropriate, specify the skills you wish them to emphasize. However, do not provide the letter writer with a draft they simply have to sign. If you have work or internship experience, make sure to ask for a letter from your immediate supervisor. Ask letter writers to use a letterhead (if possible), sign their letter, and provide their preferred contact information in their signature for a reference check. We strongly suggest providing three recommendation letters.