Carnegie Mellon University

Distance Frequently Asked Questions


How do I register for distance education classes?
One month prior to the start of classes, submit a completed Course Registration Form. This form can be scanned to Marlana Pawlak

How do I sign up for GM/TEP Courses?
In order to sign up for GM / TEP program courses, use the form on the following page:

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.

141 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.

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.

Are courses taken in a Certificate progam able to be applied for credit later should I apply and be accepted to a degree program?
Upon acceptance into either the MSE or MSIT-SE program, a waiver for credit consideration may be requested.  Acceptance of the course credits toward degree completion requirements is generally dependent upon when the course was taken and the grade that was awarded upon completion.  If the course is waived, you will not be required to take the course a second time. Under no circumstance will non-credit courses be waived.

A word of caution: successful completion of distance education courses or the Certificate Program is no guarantee of acceptance into the degree program.

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.


What is the program's transfer credit policy?
If you have taken and successfully completed graduate-level courses in software engineering and related areas such as computer science, information technology or management, you may petition for these credits to apply toward your elective credit requirements.

Each transfer request is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A decision will be made on the transferability and applicability of the course(s) to the degree requirements after you have been accepted into the program. A maximum of two courses will be accepted for transfer.  All core courses must be completed through Carnegie Mellon.

Please complete and return an application for transfer credit.

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.


Are there any location restrictions for distance programs?
While we do accept distance students from many locales, there are geographic restrictions regarding eligibility for enrollment in a distance education program.

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.

How would taking distance education courses help my career?
Many of our students report the following benefits that they have observed since taking a distance education course:

  • Professional Advancement
    As you come to learn new technologies, new management methods, your performance improves with noticeable bottom-line results. For example, students completing the Managing Software Development course have remarked about how they approach the challenges in their workplace differently with the added skills and knowledge received in that course.
  • Competitive Edge
    Like many businesses, your company must keep pace with its competitors to remain strong in the marketplace. Incorporating the latest research, and the most recent software developments into your workplace can only guarantee that competitive edge.
  • Increased Marketability
    Today’s fluctuating business environment requires employees to hone their marketability. Learning at a distance brings the latest developments in the software engineering field directly to you—solid assurance of continued employment throughout your career.

What if I need to withdraw during the semester?
All of our courses follow the official academic schedule for Carnegie Mellon University, therefore no exceptions will be made with regard to the withdrawal deadlines. Consult their schedule for specific dates, however, generally speaking, you have two weeks from the start of classes to "drop".

Should you wish to withdraw from a Distance Education class, please contact the Program Administrator immediately: Marlana Pawlak

What is the difference between the MSE and the MSIT-SE distance programs?
The MSE program at a distance is available to groups of six or more students who are sponsored by their corporation or organization, and are co-located (e.g., seven GM students all located in Lansing, MI).  Students must be co-located in order to participate in the Studio component of the MSE program. Individual students may earn the Master of Science in Information Technology-Software Engineering degree via distance delivery.

Students accepted into the MSE program must successfully complete the five core courses, 45 units of elective course work, and the Studio. MSIT students must successfully complete the five core courses, 45 units of elective course work, and the MSIT Project.

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.

Will I get any practical experience from distance education courses?
Our courses require the completion of a variety of homework assignments and projects. Many students are able to immediately apply the concepts and techniques they learn by doing the assignments to their job.

Tuition / Financial Aid

How much is tuition?
For the 2017-18 academic year

  • A one-semester course, for credit (12 units): $6084
  • A mini-course, for credit (6 units): $3042
  • One credit unit: $507

In addition, the University is charging students $205 in the fall and spring semesters for a technology fee.

Is financial aid available?
Numerous companies provide tuition assistance for its employees as a benefit. You may want to contact your company's human resources representative to determine if your organization provides a tuition assistance program as part of its benefit package for employees.  

When is tuition due?
Full-time tuition bills are sent from Carnegie Mellon's Enrollment Services one month prior to the beginning of each semester (July, December, and April).  If you are enrolled on a part-time basis, you will receive an invoice for full-time enrollment, followed by an adjusted bill 10 days after the start of classes.

Since the program does not handle tuition, please write to the Enrollment Services department for all matters related to tuition (, or refer to the Enrollment Services website for information.