Admitted student FAQs

Below are a number of frequently asked questions commonly asked by admitted students. Please also explore the other pages on this site about our undergraduate programs for additional information about curriculum, learning opportunities, and student life.


Can I also pursue other interests in addition to an engineering degree?

Yes, you can. The engineering curriculum requires 70% of coursework to be in math, science, and engineering. The other 30% of the coursework elected can be in humanities, arts or business. Students can choose to minor or double major in another area of study or take a number of courses that interest them. The other area of study can also be technical if the student so chooses.

Should I minor or double major in another area in addition to engineering?

Minors or double majors are not required. If you choose one, it should be based mainly on your interest in that area. Often students take a course in another area of study just to explore and then find they want to learn more.

Student life

What are some examples of opportunities for learning beyond classwork?

There are many learning opportunities beyond the regular curriculum. Examples include hands-on projects such as Rethink the Rink and Build18, as well as opportunities for career exploration and networking through programs like Real World Engineering, and undergraduate research. In fact, 60% of our undergraduates participate in research.

Scheduling courses

Where can I find the list of offered courses?

You can locate information regarding courses offered by viewing the Schedule of Classes available on the HUB.

Are there any online tools to help me plot my schedule?

Students use the Student Information Online (SIO) to visually plot out their proposed schedule.

How do I register?

Students use the Student Information Online (SIO) to officially register for their courses. A hold is on your account, meaning you can only plan, not register, for your classes, until 1) your schedule is approved by your advisor and 2) your registration date and time have occurred.

What is a “mini” course?

Some courses Computing at Carnegie Mellon like (C@CM) are mini courses, which only span half of the semester. You can tell when a mini course is offered by the number associated with the section letter. The number corresponds to the “quarter” in which the course is offered as such:

1= Fall first quarter (A1)
2= Fall second quarter (A2)
3= Spring third quarter (A3)
4= Spring fourth quarter (A4)

For example, 99-102 B2 is offered in the 2nd quarter of the first semester, whereas 99-101 D3 is offered in the 1st quarter of the second semester.

What is a recitation?

Certain courses will have multiple components, such as a lecture and a recitation. Both are required and the recitation offers students the opportunity to ask questions and seek assistance regarding the material taught in the lecture. Typically, larger sized lectures will have a recitation section as well and the recitation will be a much smaller course to allow for plenty of discussion.

This is a good reference to make use of:

Lecture: Designated by LEC 1; typically 50 minutes
Recitation: Designated by letter (A); usually 50 minutes
Lab: Designated by letter (A); typically 2-3 hours

When do I register for classes?

Fall registration occurs in late July. Spring registration occurs in the middle of November.

What if I get put on a waitlist for a course?

Sometimes when you try to register for a course, you may get waitlisted. Don’t worry because class enrollments shift frequently even into the first and second week of class, and space may become available. Be patient, but be realistic. For example, if you are 23rd on a waitlist of a class that holds 14, you should consider backup alternatives. It is never okay for your entire schedule of courses to be waitlisted; the limit should be no more than two courses.

Why do I get waitlisted when there seems to be space in the course?

Some courses have space reservation specifications (e.g. space reserved for Engineering, Dietrich College, or Computer Science first years in 76-101, 85-100, 21-122 etc.). Even though the course isn’t completely full, you may not be able to get in. You may try contacting the department of the course in question to check on future availability.

Once I have registered, is my schedule set in stone?

Not if you don’t want it to be. You will not be dropped from any courses, but if you change your mind about something, you have the first 10 days of the semester (called the add/drop period) during which you can drop a course and add a new one. Be sure to talk to your advisor before making ANY changes to your schedule.

What are the maximum units I can enroll to take during my first-year?

During the fall semester, a first-year student can take a maximum of 47 factorable units, and in the spring you are allotted 49 units. If you would like to take an overload, it will be granted during the spring semester only if you have earned a fall GPA of 3.5 or higher. Note: courses such as physical education and ROTC are not considered factorable.

What restricted technical elective course is the co-requisite for each Introduction to Engineering course?

BME = Modern Biology (03-121)
ChemE = Modern Chemistry (09-105)
CEE = Physics For Engineers (33-141)
ECE = Computer Programming (15-110 or 112)
EPP = Physics For Engineers (33-141)
MSE = Physics For Engineers (33-141)
MechE = Physics For Engineers (33-141)

Declaring majors and minors

When will I declare my Engineering major?

You will have the opportunity to explore all the majors offered through the College of Engineering by taking two Introduction to Engineering courses. During the second semester of your first-year (mid-to-late March) you will be asked to declare your primary major. Shortly after the start of your spring semester you will be alerted to the actual date of major declaration as well as any activities related to this process.

Can I major in ECE?

About one-third of our students are admitted to Engineering as “unrestricted,” meaning they can choose from any of the 5 traditional majors (Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, Mechanical, and Materials Science) without restriction. And two-thirds are admitted as “restricted,” meaning they have access to any of these traditional majors, excluding ECE. If you’re unsure of your admission status, check with CMU Admissions or your academic advisor.

If you are a restricted student wishing major to ECE, on Major Declaration day in late March, you will declare your Engineering major, choosing from ChemE, CEE, MSE, or MechE. Shortly after, you can submit an application to transfer into ECE. We will then review the amount of students interested in ECE and the number of seats available in the department (supply/demand). In early April, you will be notified whether or not we will be restricting the ECE major. If the ECE department can accommodate all interested students, you will be accepted and move into the major. If we have to restrict, the Undergraduate Studies Office will hold your application until spring final grades are posted and review them in late May. Should there be spaces in ECE at that time, those spaces will be offered to the academically strongest applicants (a rank-ordered review of fall and spring GPAs) until all seats are filled. In the meantime, in April you will register for your fall sophomore courses as a declared student in your second choice major. If you get into ECE in June, your new ECE advisor will assist you with changing your course schedule.

When can I declare a minor?

You can declare a minor after you declare your Engineering major, in March of your first year. Minors can be added later in your college career as well, but not before you have declared a major.

When I can I add a double major?

Double majors can be added after you have declared your primary major.