Registration, grading, and credit policies

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.

Cross registration

Cross-registration is available through neighboring institutions (e.g., the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University) and the grade earned for courses completed during the Fall or Spring semester will appear on the Carnegie Mellon transcript. Course and/or distribution credit may be granted by petition to the department (subject to the College of Engineering’s Transfer Credit policy described above) for courses not used for a previous degree requirement. For more information on the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE) and cross-registration, please view the University’s policy:

Grading policy

The general grading policy is described on the university grading policy page (, including the definitions of GPA (letter) and QPA (quality point). The following are College of Engineering-specific policies for graduate grading.

Project work may be given an S (Satisfactory) grade on a semester-by-semester basis, but a letter grade (A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, or R) must be given in the final semester for a multi-semester project. The grading scale does not include the grade A+, i.e., no A+ grade will be given in College of Engineering courses and no College of Engineering students can be given an A+ grade. The units with an S grade are counted toward degree requirements but are not included in computing the average grade.

Course work or graduate project units with a grade of C- or lower are not acceptable toward graduate degree requirements. In the event that a student elects to take a course as a P/F and an instructor enters a letter grade, any letter grade of C- or lower will be converted to Fail, while any letter grade A through C will be considered Pass.

M.S. degree units

Most, but not all, College of Engineering M.S. programs require 96 units. For those that require 96 units, the average grade of 96 units applied to the degree shall be at least B, and the student may choose any 96 units of the first 120 units attempted to compute the grade average. Individual departments and programs may have specific requirements regarding grades in certain courses. For M.S. programs that require more than 96 units, such as the programs of the Information Networking Institute, the program-specific grading policies and degree requirements apply and should be consulted.

(policy revised 5/21/2009)

Course electives

Courses counted as electives toward MS degrees in the College of Engineering must be at the 300 level or above. Courses numbered as xx-299 or lower do not qualify as M.S. degree electives.

(policy revised 2/17/16)

Course drop and withdrawal

See University Policies for regulations on Adding, Late Adding, or Dropping courses. Please see The HUB for forms and procedures.

(policy updated 12/11/2018)

Double counting of course units for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees

No course that has been counted toward another degree can be counted toward fulfilling course requirements in graduate programs, unless explicitly authorized for a particular program as set forth in the specified requirements for the program, or by the department head(s) of the primary department(s) of the graduate student.

(policy created 4/14/2009)

Transfer credit & special students

Applicants with a degree of Bachelor of Science may be admitted as part-time special students with no intention of working toward a graduate degree. Some of them may later wish to become degree candidates. Even though the applicant may have been admitted as a non-degree student, courses taken at Carnegie Mellon with a grade of B or better will be counted toward the degree, provided that such courses fall within the requirements of the degree sought.

If offered by your program, up to 24 units (two courses) of graduate work completed at other universities*, with a grade point average of 3.0 or better, may be given transfer credit, provided that such course work is part of the graduate program leading to the degree sought. These units cannot have been used toward a previous degree at another university. Such transfer credit is not granted prior to admission to the graduate program and must be approved by the department after the student has satisfactorily completed at least 36 units of graduate courses at Carnegie Mellon.

This policy is subject to change within the individual academic departments and programs.


* Unless a dual degree agreement is in place

Statute of limitations for master's degree students

All units required for a master’s degree in the College of Engineering, whether earned in residence or transferred from another institution, must be recorded on the transcript within six years of the date on which the student enrolled in the program. This statutory period can be extended by the college's Associate Dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs for special circumstances that do not make it possible for the student to complete the requirements within the statutory period. Any request for a waiver of the statute of limitations for master’s degree studies must be approved by the head of the department or program offering the master’s degree, and by the college's Associate Dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs. The waiver request must explain the exceptional circumstances that warrant an extension. For cases in which a waiver is granted, the waiver will cover specific courses and will specify a time period for completion of the program. For more information, please view the University’s policy: