College of Engineering graduate students will work closely with department faculty in their chosen field. However, the college establishes standards for graduate education that apply across all programs. These standards are articulated in the college policies below.

For the latest and most complete graduate policies, please view or download the graduate student handbook.

M.S. degree

A candidate for the Master of Science degree must complete satisfactorily the requirements specified by the major department or program in addition to the general requirements of the College of Engineering. The degree usually requires one academic year of full-time study beyond the B.S. degree.

The general requirements include the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 96 units of academic work at Carnegie Mellon. A minimum of 60 units (including graduate project units) must be graduate level work from the College of Engineering, MCS or SCS. The satisfactory completion of a master's degree comprehensive examination may also be required according to departmental policy. A master's thesis may be required by the major department in lieu of, or in addition to, other requirements. Specific requirements can be obtained from each department or program:


If a thesis is submitted in partial fulfillment of degree requirements, it must meet the approval of the instructor in charge of the work, the department head, and the dean. The completed thesis should be prepared following the M.S. Thesis and Ph.D. Dissertation Document Standards and must be submitted to the department by the specified due date for the semester in which completion is planned. Any publication derived from the thesis should be prepared in consultation with the faculty advisor, and should acknowledge that the manuscript was derived from a thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science at Carnegie Mellon.

(policy revised 1/7/2010)

Ph.D. degree

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is granted by Carnegie Mellon to candidates who give evidence of proficiency, high attainment, and research ability in the field of their major work, and who have satisfied the specific coursework and other requirements of the department in which they are enrolled. Doctoral candidates are required to maintain full-time residence at Carnegie Mellon for a minimum of one year.

Please also see our policies specifically related to College of Engineering Ph.D. qualifications, dissertation, and degree and our M.S. thesis and Ph.D. dissertation document standards.

Interdisciplinary degrees

If the formal graduate curricula do not suit the needs of a student, an individual curriculum can be designed to meet the student's abilities, interests, and professional objectives utilizing the educational resources of Carnegie Mellon.

The student is encouraged to consider courses offered by the other colleges of Carnegie Mellon, such as the Mellon College of Science, the School of Computer Science, the Heinz School, and the Graduate School of Industrial Administration.

The student obtains a faculty advisor, who, together with two other Carnegie Mellon faculty members for a master's degree and at least three other faculty members for a Ph.D. degree, constitute an advisory committee to oversee the student's research, specify degree requirements (within the general requirements of the university) and recommend the student for the degree upon completion of the program.

The degree attached to the particular program generally will not be offered by Carnegie Mellon departments since the intention of the individualized program is to increase the options available to students.

All curricula and degrees must be reviewed by an Ad Hoc Committee on Interdisciplinary Studies and written approval should be obtained from the committee before starting a curriculum program. This committee is chaired by the Associate Dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs, who, with at least two other college faculty members, makes a recommendation for approval to the Engineering College Council. Students who are interested in this program should contact the college's Associate Dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs.

The degree would be offered by the College of Engineering. Requests for Interdisciplinary degrees are reviewed by the Associate Dean with advice from college faculty, and approved by the Engineering College Council. Normally for Ph.D. students the faculty advisor and home department would be within the college. Interdisciplinary Ph.D. students in the College of Engineering must usually satisfy one component of an engineering department Ph.D. comprehensive examination.

Full-time status and part-time status

Full-time status is defined as 36 units per semester. International students must be in full-time status for all semesters and need to consult the Office of International Education if they may not be in full-time status.

For part-time students, certain graduate courses may be offered on a rotating basis in two- or three-year cycles. The Master of Science degree requirements can usually be completed on a  part-time basis within three to four years, in part through the substitution of additional course work, or project work for a graduate research thesis project according to the departmental stipulations. All students are encouraged to complete the degree program as rapidly as possible.

All part-time Ph.D. degree candidates must complete one academic year (two full semesters) in residence on a Carnegie Mellon campus after beginning studies in the Ph.D. program. The two semesters in residence do not have to be contiguous. The purpose of the residency requirement is to ensure that all Ph.D. graduates of the College of Engineering have spent time interacting closely with college faculty members and graduate students as part of their Ph.D. experience. The time in residence also ensures an adequate opportunity to prepare for and complete the Ph.D. qualifying examinations at the beginning of Ph.D. studies. Consequently, students intending to become Ph.D. degree candidates must consult their faculty advisors concerning the appropriate format and timing of their qualifying examinations and residency before or upon initiation of Ph.D. studies. Special situations may warrant modifications of the residency requirement, e.g., pursuit of a Ph.D. degree by a Carnegie Mellon staff member. Petitions for modification of the residency requirement must be approved by the relevant department head(s) and the Associate Dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs.

(policy revised 4/14/2009)

Joint degrees with EPP

The unique  doctoral program in Engineering and Public Policy provides opportunities for advanced graduate study of both the technical and policy aspects of a broad range of topics at the interface of technology and policy. EPP and any College of Engineering department can agree to offer a joint Ph.D. degree (i.e., one degree with two fields listed in the title) to a particular student.

Students interested in pursuing a joint Ph.D. degree must apply to the second department within the first academic year of Ph.D. study. Students cannot apply for a joint Ph.D. degree program upon initial entry; initial Ph.D. applications must be to one department only. If both departments agree to admit a student to a joint Ph.D. program, the student must either pass the Ph.D. qualifying exams of both departments or pass a mutually agreed upon shared exam.

In addition, the student must either meet the course requirements of both departments or meet a mutually agreed upon set of course requirements. The doctoral committee for a joint Ph.D. student must include representation from both departments involved, and the dissertation topic should make significant contributions in both fields. The extent to which the dissertation research speaks to both fields must be discussed explicitly at the proposal stage and revisited by the doctoral committee over the course of the degree program.

(policy created 9/27/2007)

Integrated master's/bachelor's (IMB) degree

To enable students in any College of Engineering department’s undergraduate (UG) degree program to continue seamlessly into that Department’s main master’s degree program. In order to be awarded the Master’s degree in the IMB degree program, the student must also earn their B.S. degree, either simultaneously with the master’s degree or in a semester prior to the awarding of the master’s degree.

College of Engineering policy
Following is the college's policy for admission into the integrated master’s/bachelor’s (IMB) degree program. The requirements for completing the master’s degree and bachelor’s degree remain unchanged.

  • GPA: Students admitted to this IMB degree program should have a minimum GPA of 3.0; exceptions can be made by the Department on the basis of other factors including extenuating (e.g., medical) circumstances, improvement in grades, strong recommendation letters, etc.
  • Number of units: Students will declare their intention to apply to this IMB degree program after completing the number of units completed typically by students in that department after the first five semesters.
  • Graduate status: All IMB degree program students must have graduate status once they have completed their B.S. degree and beyond eight semesters IMB degree program students must have full-time graduate student status in at least one (e.g., their final) semester whether or not they have already completed their BS degree.

The application process for this IMB degree program will be straightforward. Students will be able to indicate their intent to join the IMB degree program via email or a web interface. There will be no need for a formal application process involving a formal application, application fee, GRE scores, recommendation letters, official transcripts and a statement of purpose.

(policy created 5/04/2012)