Carnegie Mellon University

International Frequently Asked Questions


How do I register for classes?
If you are a campus student, return a Graduate Information Sheet to the Program Administrator in advance of starting the program. Once received, the necessary paperwork will be done to enter you into the Student Information System (SIS) so that you can be registered appropriately in the first fall semester by the Program Administrator. In subsequent semesters, you will register yourself online for courses after consulting with your academic advisor.

If you are a part-time student, it is advised that you take 17-651 Models of Software Systems the first fall semester that you are enrolled. (If you are enrolled prior to the fall semester, you may take a different course.) Part-time students may choose to take an additional course or two, and may do so by contacting the Program Administrator.

International program students are registered by the collaborating program administrator.

How many credits does it take to complete the MSIT-SE degree?
Carnegie Mellon uses units, rather than credits. Each unit represents one hour of work per week necessary to complete the course, including course lecture time. Generally, a twelve-unit course is equivalent to a 4-credit course.

147 units are required for degree completion.

How many credits does it take to complete the MSE degree?
Carnegie Mellon uses units, rather than credits. Each unit represents one hour of work per week necessary to complete the course, including course lecture time. Generally, a twelve-unit course is equivalent to a 4-credit course.

195 units are required for degree completion.

How much time will I need to devote to my courses?
The short answer is: it all depends on the course and the program. At a minimum, you will need to set aside time each week for the following activities:

• watching or attending course lectures (2–3 hours)
• attending the course chatroom session (1 hour) [DE only]
• reading the course text and required readings (4–6 hours)
• completing course activities or homework assignments (4–6 hours)

The course load varies with each course.  In some, you are asked to complete weekly assignments, in others you are required to complete two or three major projects. The expectation, however, is that you will be working on these projects throughout the course.

The last item listed is the variable. If you have extensive experience in software development, you may find that you are able to complete the course assignments in less time than others who do not.

If I decide to take more than the required number of elective courses, do I have to pay extra?
The cost for additional elective courses is included in the per-semester tuition rate. Because the program workload is considered rigorous and challenging, it is not recommended that you overload yourself with supplemental elective courses.

Is there an opportunity to tailor a program's plan of study in an area of specialization?
Yes. Your academic advisor is available to discuss your long-term professional goals and to work with you to tailor the program to meet your specific objectives.

What is the accessibility to faculty and courses?
The elective portion of our curriculum allows you to take courses across the university.  In addition to outstanding programs in areas such as human computer interaction, robotics, classical computer science and, of course, software engineering, the university has world-class programs in business, public policy, fine arts, and music.

As a student, you will also have access to faculty and training courses at Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute (SEI).  Many of the program's Studio project mentors are members of the technical staff with the SEI.  Students can register for SEI courses in areas such as the CMM, Risk Analysis, and Software Architecture at reduced rates.

What is the difference between the MSE and MSIT-SE degree programs?
The most significant difference between the two programs lies in the size and scope of their application-based projects,  the Studio and the MSIT Project. 

The Software Development Studio is an intense, 12-month project that spans the entire MSE program, commencing the day that students enter the program and concluding with graduation. It accounts for 40% of the total student academic load, serving as a laboratory where you can apply the knowledge gained from core and elective courses in realistic, yet mentored, environments.

The MSIT Project, completed either on or off campus, serves to demonstrate the your understanding of the material learned in the core and elective courses.  Its primary focus is to analyze in depth a major aspect of the software development life cycle by solving a substantial practical problem in a realistic setting. 

What is the hallmark Studio project?
The Studio Project is unique to Carnegie Mellon’s Master of Software Engineering program.  An application-based project, its purpose is to develop extremely high quality software in a mentored environment.  Students work in teams to analyze a significant and practical problem, plan and implement a realistic solution for a real external client. 

Will I have an advisor and when can I contact him/her?
Each student is assigned an academic advisor while enrolled in the program. Campus students first meet with their academic advisor during the on-campus MSE/MSIT orientation. In advising sessions, students discuss career objectives and map out an academic plan. Students studying remotely typically correspond with their advisor via email to discuss their professional goals and make registration decisions. 


Will completion of the MSE or MSIT program help me gain admission into a Carnegie Mellon doctoral program?
Acceptance into the Masters programs in Software Engineering (MSE/MSIT-SE) does not guarantee admission into any doctoral program at Carnegie Mellon University.   The courses that students complete as part of the MSE/MSIT-SE program may serve to enhance one’s application to these programs, but will in no way assure admittance.


As an international student, are there special circumstances that I need to be aware of?
Information from the Office of International Education (OIE), including the forms necessary to secure the I-20, will be available to admitted students. It is imperative that you complete the forms and return them promptly as directed. Once received, your essential paperwork will then be processed in a timely manner to ensure your arrival on campus in time for the international student orientation.

What is the program’s accreditation and rank?
As one of the only explicit software engineering masters programs in the country, the Master of Software Engineering program is a joint effort between Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science and the Software Engineering Institute, and provides an intensive 16-month curriculum for professional software engineers.

Carnegie Mellon University is a fully accredited, degree-granting private university, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the creation and dissemination of knowledge, in artistic endeavor, and in research. The School of Computer Science, consistently ranked for 30 years among the top three schools in the country, offers a unique research environment for students, faculty, and staff. The School's academic standards are rigorous and expansive, leaning always toward state-of-the-art research and educational breadth in computer science, robotics, human-computer interaction, language and information technologies, and software engineering, reflecting a commitment and responsiveness to real-world problems and solutions.

Carnegie Mellon is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

What is the program’s reputation?
Applicants choose Carnegie Mellon’s master's programs in software engineering over other equally competitive schools for a number of reasons.  The University’s world-class research and researchers in the fields of software engineering, human computer interaction, language technology, and robotics is paramount in their decision-making.  In addition, the program’s ties with the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) allows for one-half of the program faculty to have direct and current association with the SEI.  Graduates report that their studies in areas such as architecture and industry’s best practices are well-regarded and highly sought by corporate recruiters.

What is the program’s return on investment?
All of the graduate software engineering professional programs are intense, technically oriented, highly selective programs geared toward the future leaders in professional software engineering.  

Upon graduation, virtually all graduates are highly successful in securing jobs in the software engineering industry, and have little problem with the availability of job offers.

Will I get a computer account and when can I start using it?
All students are required to provide their own laptops or desktops for use while actively enrolled in the program. Before the program starts, we will provide you with a list of recommended equipment and software so that you plan accordingly.

All students are assigned an Andrew account when they enter the program. Your userid and temporary password will be given to you before you start the summer prepatory course in June.

Tuition / Financial Aid

Do the professional programs in Software Engineering have a structured financial aid program?
As with many graduate programs, the graduate software engineering program does not have a structured financial aid program. Following the completion of the first fall semester, it is possible for exemplary students to obtain positions as Teaching Assistants (TA) in the Computer Science Department (CSD) of the School of Computer Science (SCS). International students must take and successfully pass an international teaching assistants test (ITA) given each April for opportunities the following fall semester. Given the intense nature of the MSE/MSIT-SE 12 and 16-month programs, however, most students typically do not have the additional time to devote to preparation for the test or to teaching assistantship responsibilities.

Valuable information about finacial assistance can be found at Carnegie Mellon's Enrollement Services website.