Carnegie Mellon University

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you will find answers to many of the most commonly asked questions students have during their time in the program. Please take some time to review these FAQs. 

The majority of students in our programs don't cheat. Cheating is a choice. If you choose to cheat and are caught doing so, you can expect that the following things to happen:

  • You will be penalized on the assignment in question, and placed on probation.
  • If you are already on probation for any reason when the cheating incident is reported, you may be dismissed from the program. 
  • If the incident is the second time you’ve cheated, you may be dismissed from the program.
  • You may not be eligible to assume leadership positions (i.e., Studio Manager, MSELi) and you may not be eligible to serve as an MSE Teaching Assistant. 

All students should review and familiarize themselves with the University’s Academic Integrity Policy.

To receive the Master of Software Engineering (MSE), the Master of Business Administration/Master of Software Engineering (MBA/MSE), Master of Software Engineering – Scalable Systems (MSE-SS), or Master of Software Engineering – Embedded Systems (MSE-ES) degree, students must successfully complete the appropriate courses with an overall quality point average (QPA) of 3.0. If a grade lower than B- is received in any core, required or project course, the course must be repeated, regardless of the QPA. Receiving a B- or less in any course may jeopardize the student’s good academic standing in the Program.

For program-specific plans of study, visit the appropriate appendix in the Student Handbook [pdf].

The most obvious difference between the Practicum and Studio is the length of time dedicated to the project. The Practicum, required for MSE-SS and MSE-ES students, is taken in the final semester of the program. Whereas the Studio Project, for MSE students, starts in the second semester and ends in the final semester.

Both the Practicum and Studio are capstone projects that will require you to apply the tools and techniques you've learned in coursework to a real-world problem.

All MSE-SS and MSE-ES students are required to take a minimum of 24 units of elective coursework, whereas MSE students are required to take a minimum of 48 units of electives. Units associated with elective courses vary. Your academic advisor will assist you in identifying elective courses that will count towards your degree completion and further your career goals. Only those electives that have been approved by the academic advisor will be accepted towards degree completion requirements.

  • To be considered a full-time student, a student must be registered for a minimum of 36 units in every semester.
  • All international students are required by federal law to maintain full-time status. Failure to maintain full-time status will result in loss of a student visa (and, therefore, “permit of stay”).
  • Students who have a Stafford Loan cannot drop below part-time status.

The maximum number of units that a student in the MSE program can register for in any one semester is 51 units (after the final drop add date) in the first fall and spring semesters, and 48 units in the summer and second fall semesters. The program will accept for degree completion requirements only those units that have been approved and for which the academic advisor has signed off on.

Courses not approved via the Course Registration Approval Form will not count toward degree completion requirements. All exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Program Director.

Students registering for courses other than those listed on the Course Registration Approval Form will be advised to drop the additional courses. Students who take an overload against the advice of their academic advisor may be subject to probation.

If a grade lower than B- is received in any core, required or project course, the course must be repeated, regardless of the QPA. Receiving a B- or less in any course may jeopardize your good academic standing in the Program.

For program-specific plans of study, visit the appropriate appendix in the Student Handbook [pdf].

Receiving a B- or less in any course may jeopardize your good academic standing in the Program. Prerequisite and elective courses, however, must be completed with a D or better.

For program-specific plans of study, visit the appropriate appendix in the Student Handbook [pdf].

To receive the Master of Software Engineering (MSE), the Master of Business Administration/Master of Software Engineering (MBA/MSE), Master of Software Engineering – Scalable Systems (MSE-SS), or Master of Software Engineering – Embedded Systems (MSE-ES) degree, students must successfully complete the appropriate courses with an overall quality point average (QPA) of 3.0. If a grade lower than B- is received in any core, required or project course, the course must be repeated, regardless of the QPA. Receiving a B- or less in any course may jeopardize the student’s good academic standing in the Program.

For program-specific plans of study, visit the appropriate appendix in the Student Handbook [pdf].

Yes. Keep in mind, however, that all courses to be used toward degree completion requirements must be letter-bearing. You may take elective courses for your educational enrichment on a pass/fail basis, with the understanding that you must be in good academic standing and that the course will not fulfill degree requirements.

If you wish to receive pass/fail grading, you must register for the course, obtain the permission of your advisor, and complete and return the Pass/Fail Approval (pdf) form to the University Registrar's Office by the pass/fail deadline for that course. Please refer to the Academic Calendar for deadlines.

Once a Pass/Fail form is submitted to the University Registrar's Office, a letter grade will not be assigned for the course. Students choosing to take a course pass/fail are required to pay their student account by the payment deadline.

Auditing is presence in a classroom without receiving academic credit or a letter grade. The extent of participation must be arranged and approved by the course instructor.

If you wish to audit a course, you are required to register for the course, obtain the permission of the instructor and your advisor, and complete and return the Course Audit Approval (pdf) form to the University Registrar's Office prior to the tenth day of classes. Please refer to the Academic Calendar for deadlines.

Once a Course Audit Approval form is submitted to the University Registrar's Office, a letter grade will not be assigned for the course. Students choosing to audit a course are required to pay their student account by the payment deadline. View the HUB frequently asked questions for more information.

The Independent Study Contract Form [pdf] must be submitted NO LESS THAN 2 weeks before the end of the semester preceding the term in which the proposed IS will take place.

Each Independent Study course must be advised and approved by at least one faculty member, as well as the Graduate Academic Advisor. Agreement to supervise an Independent Study course is purely voluntary on the part of the faculty member. It is the duty of the student, therefore, to negotiate the terms and conditions of the Independent Study with the pertinent faculty member(s) or members of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) technical staff who will be supervising the study. These individuals are referred to as “Independent Study Supervisors”.

Once the student identifies the individual who will supervise, he/she must:

  1. Enter into an agreement with the mentor that clearly defines learning expectations, schedules and timelines, and IS deliverables
  2. Complete the Independent Study Contract Form [pdf] in its entirety.
  3. Develop a detailed IS proposal that includes the work to be done, the deliverables, and the agreed-upon expectations as defined with the IS mentor
  4. Submit the form (electronic and hard copy), inclusive of signatures of the student and the supervisor, to the Graduate Academic Advisor for review and signature.
  5. Following additional revisions and once approved by the Graduate Academic Advisor, the IS form will be processed and you will be registered for the course.

There are three internal, merit based scholarships: the James E. Tomayko Scholarship, the MSE Fellowship, and the Director's List. Eligibility is limited to students within the MSE programs.

You may also apply for external fellowships.

You should consult the Academic Calendar, the Final Exam Schedule [pdf], and your course syllabi prior to scheduling travel so as not to miss any important course exams or project due dates. If you are engaged in research activities, you need to negotiate time off with the faculty member supervising your research. 

University Holidays are student holidays. If you are conducting time sensitive research, you will need to consult with faculty involved in your research to determine if it is possible for you to take the day off. In the event that you cannot take a University Holiday off, you may negotiate to take time off on another date.

*University Holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Day After Thanksgiving
  • Day Before Christmas
  • Christmas Day
  • Day Before New Year's Day