Carnegie Mellon University

MSE Distance Admission Requirements

Although most students admitted to the MSE program hold undergraduate degrees in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or physics, applicants who can clearly demonstrate the ability to perform graduate-level work in software engineering are also considered. Excellence and promise will balance a lack of formal preparation. Programming experience is essential, but applicants who have allowed a zeal for programming to interfere with other aspects of education are not usually considered qualified.

We encourage all prospective students to review all released consumer information regarding study at Carnegie Mellon; this information is available via The Hub.

To enter the Carnegie Mellon program you must have:

1. Two years experience working in a significant software development project (if you do not have at least two years experience, you may qualify for the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT-SE) degree. In order to qualify for this program, students must have corporate sponsors and have six co-located students, in addition to meeting the individual admission criteria. If you are interested in applying for the MSE degree, please contact our Director of Distance Education, Dave Root at with the names and contact information for all six students. If you do not have either corporate sponsorship, or enough students in the same location, you may wish to apply to the Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT-SE) program.

2. A bachelor's degree. Three-year undergraduate degrees from outside the United States (i.e., United Kingdom, India, etc.) are generally not considered to be the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor degree. A bachelor degree from an accredited institution is the minimum requirement for admission to our professional master's programs.

3. Knowledge, at least at the level of an undergraduate course, of discrete mathematics, algorithms and data structures and programming languages.

4. Skills in programming-in-the-small, as well as competence in using an imperative block-structured or object-oriented languages such as Java, C++, Ada or C.

5. Practical knowledge of programming methods and computer organization.

6. In-depth knowledge of at least two of the following topics:

  • Compiling Techniques
  • Comparative Programming Languages
  • Operating Systems
  • Database Systems

7. Application materials for the graduate software engineering degree programs are as follows:

  • a completed application form
  • a well-developed statement of purpose (SOP) 
  • a 1-page summary of significant professional experience
  • a current resume
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • unofficial undergraduate and/or graduate transcripts
  • unofficial Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores
  • unofficial TOEFL (or equivalent) exam scores for all international applicants/non-U.S. citizens. In certain exceptional circumstances and at the program's discretion, the TOEFL requirement may be waived with evidence of undergraduate degree completion in the US coupled with additional US work experience.
  • application fee.
Please see Prerequisite Knowledge for more detail about the required background in these areas.