What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Carnegie Mellon

What’s Covered:


Carnegie Mellon University attracts top students from all fields. The university is renowned for its highly rated science and engineering programs, but has also produced numerous leaders in the arts. For example, pop art icon Andy Warhol, writer Kurt Vonnegut, and Academy Award-winning actress Holly Hunter all attended Carnegie Mellon. Today, the school continues to attract top students hoping to join the university’s famous alumni. 


Average Stats of Accepted Carnegie Mellon University Students


It comes as no surprise that applicants to Carnegie Mellon have performed at the highest levels in the classroom and on standardized tests. An impressive GPA and strong test scores are the first steps toward gaining admission and becoming a Tartan.  


  • Average GPA and rank: 3.89 and 88.9% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class 
  • Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1560/33-35


Note: An impressive GPA and wow-worthy test scores are important for ensuring students’ applications are given consideration by admissions officers. Selective schools like Carnegie Mellon screen applicants using a tool known as the Academic Index—a summation of an applicant’s academic performance into a single numerical score. Applicants who fail to meet Carnegie Mellon’s academic benchmark risk being viewed as unqualified and not having their application given serious consideration. 


Carnegie Mellon offers test-optional admissions, which means applicants are not required to submit SAT or ACT scores with their application. That said, it’s generally considered a smart strategy to include standardized test scores if they fall within the middle 50% of the school’s accepted applicants, especially if they are on the high side of the range. 


Carnegie Mellon University Application Process


Plan to apply to Carnegie Mellon University? Here’s what to expect. 


Application Overview


Carnegie Mellon exclusively uses the Common Application and it’s required that applications are submitted online. There is a $75 application fee, although fee waivers are available to students who meet one of the indicators of economic need outlined in the Common Application.


Carnegie has three paths for admission: Early Decision 1 (ED 1), Early Decision 2 (ED 2), and Regular Decision (RD). The deadline for ED 1 is November 1. The deadline for both ED 2 and RD is January 6—with the exception of students applying for RD at the Schools of Drama and Music, which have a December 1 RD deadline. 


Application Path 

Application Deadline

Earl Decision 1 

November 1 

Early Decision 2

January 6

Regular Decision 

January 6


Early Decision 1 and Early Decision 2 are binding plans and students who apply for ED 1 and ED 2 are committed to attending the university if accepted. Traditionally, applicants who apply for early decisions are accepted at a higher rate than those who apply for regular decisions. ED 1 is not available for acting, directing, dramaturgy, music theater, or the School of Music. ED 2 is not available for the Schools of Drama, Music, Design, or Art.


  • Early Decision acceptance rate: 19.91%
  • Regular Decision acceptance rate: 13.53%


Application Components


  • High school transcripts
  • Secondary school counselor evaluation
  • Teacher recommendation 
  • SAT/ACT (optional)
  • Writing supplement


Supplemental Essays: Carnegie Mellon requires applicants to write three supplemental essays and provides them with the opportunity to compose a fourth explaining why they did or didn’t choose to share their standardized test scores. It’s a good idea to complete any optional essays whenever applicable, as it highlights the interest an applicant has in the school and provides an opportunity for applicants to share more about themselves. 


  • Prompt 1 (required): Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study? (300 words)
  • Prompt 2 (required): Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience? (300 words)
  • Prompt 3 (required): Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us. No websites, please. (300 words)
  • Prompt 4 (optional): When it comes to deciding whether to submit standardized test scores, occasionally applicants want us to better understand the individual context of their decision. If you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity, please share any information about your decision here. This is an optional question for those who may want to provide additional context for consideration. (150 words)


CollegeVine can take some of the stress out of completing Carnegie Mellon’s essays. Our article, How to Write the Carnegie Mellon University Essays 2022-2023, offers excellent advice for how to strategically answer essay questions and stand out from a crowded field of applicants. Have you already begun composing your essays? CollegeVine Essay Review provides free essay feedback from other students and paid expert essay evaluation. 


Supplemental Materials: Students applying to Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts are commonly asked to provide a portfolio or audition. Depending on the program, they may also need to supply additional essays or recommendations, sit for an interview, or prepare a video submission. 


When Will You Hear Back?


Students who applied ED 1 will receive notification by December 15, while those who applied ED 2 will hear back by February 1. Those who applied for a regular decision will receive their decisions by no later than April 1.


Application Path 

Application Notification 

Earl Decision 1 

December 15 

Early Decision 2

February 1 

Regular Decision 

No later than April 1 


Carnegie Mellon University Financial Aid


Financial Aid Generosity


The price of tuition, fees, room, and board at Carnegie Mellon for the 2022-23 academic year is $80,540. Equally important as how much a college costs is how it returns on its students’ investment in it. Here Carnegie Mellon shines—it ranks 33 on the website Payscale’s list of best-value colleges.  












Books/Supplies & Miscellaneous 





*An additional $490 orientation fee for the fall semester brings the total sticker price to $80,540. 


Carnegie Mellon practices need-blind admissions—it doesn’t consider the financial situation of applicants when making admissions decisions. Carnegie Mellon exclusively awards aid on the basis of financial need, although students admitted to the School of Drama and School of Music have the opportunity to request institutional awards. 


Financial aid sources for the 2020-2021 academic year at Carnegie Mellon were: 


  • 75.7% Carnegie Mellon University grants 
  • 10.9% student loans 
  • 5.5% federal grants 
  • 4.6% tuition remission 
  • 2.5% work study 
  • 0.8% other grants and scholarships 


Want to learn more about what it actually costs to attend Carnegie Mellon University? Check out our article What Does It Really Cost to Attend Carnegie Mellon University?


How to Apply for Financial Aid


Applicants applying for financial aid at Carnegie Mellon must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A CSS profile is also necessary for students applying for institutional financial aid programs—those applying for just federal financial aid do not need to submit a CSS profile. Financial aid application deadlines are as follows:


  • Early Decision 1: November 15 
  • Early Decision 2: January 3 
  • Regular Decision: February 15 


What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?


Carnegie Mellon University has a well-deserved reputation for super-selective admissions, but the odds of gaining admission to this prestigious institution vary from applicant to applicant. CollegeVine can help you better understand your odds of admission at Carnegie Mellon along with hundreds of other colleges and universities across the nation. Our free Chancing Engine uses factors like academics, extracurriculars, and demographics to estimate your individual odds of admission at Carnegie Mellon and provide valuable insight into improving your profile!


Learn more about Carnegie Mellon, including its diversity, the majors offered, and how long your application should take.

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.