Carnegie Mellon University Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?


While it is okay to be undecided going into CMU, almost all first-year students have a clear idea of what they want to study and achieve career-wise. Most departments have their students taking classes directly involved with their major starting the first semester of freshman year, so sometimes it is a bit difficult to change majors within CMU without getting behind. But if you do decide to change majors, the faculty and advisors are extremely supportive and will do whatever it takes to help you out. Many general education classes are large lectures 2-3 times per week, broken down into smaller groups that meet with a teaching assistant 1-2 times per week. Once you have completed general education requirements, the classes get much smaller and you are able to develop more personal relationships with your professor. If you are struggling academically, CMU offers free tutoring and other helpful services at its Academic Learning Center to help you succeed. Students study on a daily basis, including weekends. The CMU education is a healthy balance of learning for its own sake and preparing students for getting a job.


Here is CMU's selling point. Academics. They are great. You can learn as much as you want, almost any professor is willing to meet with you and discuss anything. You will learn useful skills that will help you get a job. They tend to focus on getting all students the hands on experience you would need to get "paid" as they say. If you want to really grow academically, this is the place to do it. The people teaching are not regular professors that have wanted to teach their whole lives. They have worked for Google, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Goldman Sachs, etc. These guys know whats up.


there is a great deal of academic competitiveness at cmu. people feel the need to prove that they stayed up all night studying as if that somehow makes them smarter than you. its easy to get to know your teachers if you make an effort, but they dont impose on you if they know you dont want them to. one thing i like about cmu is that its very common to have intellectual conversations outside of class, people are actually interested in what they are studying and thus are eager to talk about it.


You have to make an effort to get to know professors. However, once you do, they really make an effort to help you succeed. If you're struggling in a class, I've found that professors really appreciate it if you take the time to see them outside of class. In the humanities, class participation is usually dominated by a few students, but those students have lively, informed, and interesting discussions. Students, as a whole, study A LOT. However, students in H&SS tend to study a bit less than students in other majors. There isn't a lot of intellectual discourse outside of the classroom, probably because everyone has spent most of their time on their schoolwork. However, there is a lot of group studying and collaboration. The academic requirements for H&SS are fair and definitely manageable, with an array of subjects and classes to choose from. And even if a class isn't listed as fulfilling a requirement, the academic advisors try to work with you to find a compromise. My eduation in the humanities was definitely geared towards learning for its own sake, but I've heard students in other colleges say that their courses are geared towards finding a job.


Do professors know your name? - If you take the time to meet them, then they will. This is really important and most people don't bother. GET TO KNOW YOUR PROFESSORS! They are some of the smartest people in the US, if not the world, and if they think you are smart or hard working you can get letters of recommendation or the chance to do research with them. There's a reason you pay top dollar to go to CMU and this is the big one. Tell us about your favorite class. Least favorite? - Don't really have a favorite class. I guess I learned a lot in my intro to computer systems class, 15-213 (which is not really an "intro" course, you learn how to hack - buffer overflows, writing C's memory allocator, malloc, and writing a unix shell and proxy are some of the labs). Least favorite class is 15-251, Great Theoretical Ideas of Computer Science, it was a ton of work and I didn't even get a good grade in it. How often do students study? - Depends on the student. Is class participation common? - Depends on the professor. Some like discussion and others just lecture. Do CMU students have intellectual conversations outside of class? - Oh yes, trust me they do. Are students competitive? - Some are, but it will not be a problem to ask any student for help. Anyone I've ever asked for help has given it to me, and I hear at other schools this is not the case. The competition comes from the fact that pretty much everyone is smart. What's the most unique class you've taken? - Nothing that extraordinary. Tell us about your major / department. - Electrical and Computer Engineering (1 department) and Computer Science (another department) are both challenging majors and some of the best programs in the country. Thus, like I said earlier there are a lot of really smart students here, and you'll have to compete with them to get the A (It's possible though, while I'm smart I'm not genius smart and I've pulled off an A in my last 3 engineering classes. A lot of times professors award A's to the top 10-20{4a082faed443b016e84c6ea63012b481c58f64867aa2dc62fff66e22ad7dff6c} of the class.) Do you spend time with professors outside of class? - I don't, I'm sure others do. How do you feel about CMU 's academic requirements? - You have to be smart. If you were in the top 5{4a082faed443b016e84c6ea63012b481c58f64867aa2dc62fff66e22ad7dff6c} of your high school would most likely be good. I mean this depends on how smart everyone is in your class, so take it with a grain of salt. Is the education at CMU geared toward getting a job, or learning for its own sake? - It's geared to make you learn to critically think, so I guess both. If you can critically think then work at a job is trivial.


Very strong academically, but also very challenging, alot of work.


The professors and teacher's assistants are very available to help. Intellectual conversations do take place outside of class all of the time. The education at CMU is geared towards both getting a job and learning.


Some of your early classes will be huge lectures, but by the time you are into your major you have primarily smaller classes where your professors know your name and keep a pretty friendly atmosphere. Some professors actually let you address them by their first name in an effort to keep the atmosphere light and friendly.


Academics are hard, and classes range from 300-person lectures to 10 person classes and studios. Intimacy and class participation ranges with them and with the nature of the course. Classes like Dif-Eq and Dynamics Systems and Controls don't have much participation, because there's not much to discuss. It's about learning the math. Courses of other types have more participation. It's very easy to find yourself immersed in the classes and talking about them outside of class. After one trippy-engineering course my friends and I spent a few hours analyzing the vagina in 4 dimensions... yes, we are that cool. CMU=job (at least at first, don't work for start-ups, don't sub-contract with google)


Academics will own your life. Andrew Carnegie said in his letter to found this university, "My heart is in the work." Let me tell you the professors have made it their goal to live up to that notion. At the same time most of the professors aren't mean or anything. You can hang out with them out of class talking about things that irrelevant to the class you're in. I've actually attended a party at my professor's place of residence.


Academics at CMU are rigorous, no doubt. You work hard, all the time, but it's largely rewarding. After graduation, most alums say that the real world never compares to the challenge and time you had to put into your work. The key thing about CMU is the Professors, who are open, helpful, and often spend plenty of time with students out of classroom settings. CMU flourishes with plenty of class participation, as well as small classes and exciting seminars.


My professors know my name, for better or worse. My favorite classes are the ones where I get to figure stuff out, rather than just try in find a model problem in the notes to copy line for line. The students are not competitive, because we are usually not graded on an overly strict curve. Everyone is helpful, because they know that next week they will need your help. CMU student's conversations generally revolve around classes...The academic requirements at CMU are very demanding, but I think it will pay off once I get a job. Once I graduate, I'll have to learn how to relax and feel non-stressed. It will be weird. There is such a strong emphasis on research here (and so many opportunities to do it) that there can't help but be an atmosphere of learning for the sake of learning. Oh, and my least favorite class was one where everything was graded by group work. Worst grading scheme EVER!! But, that doesn't happen too much.


School at CMU is tough; there is no way of getting around it, but I feel like the students here often thrive off of that intensity. People want to put their best into their work and so they do.


The academics here are, obviously, some of the best in the country. As a drama student I don't take a lot of "academic" classes, but the classes I do take don't make me feel like my major is inferior at all. I'm constantly working, constantly challenged, and constantly knowing that what I'm learning now will benefit me when I leave. All my professors know my name, and all my class sizes are small and controlled. There are a lot of interesting classes here and the main issue is scheduling them around your core classes. There is a huge list of classes I want to take before I leave here, and I know I'll enjoy every one of them.


I can talk more about CIT (CMU's school of engineering) than anything else on campus. First of all, CIT only has 8 general education requirements. I only have to take 4, because they are easy to get out of if you have taken AP tests in history, foreign languages, etc. My particular major lets me be flexible, however, and I can take more humanities courses if I so choose. Or I can choose to take more math or computer science. My favorite classes are ones with professors who make whatever they are lecturing about interesting and who really make you think (there are a lot of those on campus). I've been told many times that getting an engineering degree (especially in Electrical and Computer Engineering, my major) is about learning how to think and solve complex problems, which allows you to step into a variety of jobs after getting your degree, so the actual material you learn in your classes isn't extremely important. Most engineers go straight into the industry after CMU (some end up in consulting or on Wall Street). CIT pushes you to get internships over the summer and there are many career fairs on campus throughout the year.


CMU is a difficult school, although there are lots of resources to help get you through it. The student body is definitely an asset here since we're not competitive. People here are very smart, but also very well rounded. It can be strange at times. My major is Civil and Environmental Engineering, with a double in Engineering and Public Policy. What I really like about our CEE department (over schools like Berkeley) is that we are small which allows for a lot of collaboration amongst students and faculty. It's a very warm environment & we do lots of activities together (canoing, skiing, baseball games, BBQ). I have been very, very happy with our department. CMU requires engineering majors to take a certain number of humanities courses, some of which must be in the same subject. I think this is very valuable in creating a well-rounded individual. The education itself, at least for engineering, is practical, in the sense that most classes are project based. You get a real-life sense of engineering that I think prepares you for going on to a job later on. However, I know a lot of the other majors focus on theory, which is better aimed towards graduate school. I think that whatever you want to do afterwards, CMU prepares you for it. I, for instance, will be attending graduate school before I start working, & it's been easy to find internships, full-time jobs, and get into top notch schools (MIT, Cornell).


Well I'm a Civil and Environmental Engineering major so I take calc, physics, intro to civil engineering, and this semester I took the two required freshman courses that some people are taking next semester-computing and interpretation/argument (a writing course). Calc has an amazing teacher and includes a lecture 3 times a week that has about 100 kids in it and 2 recitations a week taught by a TA that has a bout 20. Same with physics. Calc the teacher is AMAZING. Intro to civil meets 3 times a week and is also about 20-30 kids and we do labs in there and lectures. Interpretation and argument is a required course and there are a million topics to choose from to be in including peace, race, Walt Whitman, sex, simpsons, and lucky me-comic books. I have the best one. In this class you talk about issues and write papers dealing with your topic. Computing is gay but its only for 6 weeks and its just a pass/fail so you only need a 75{4a082faed443b016e84c6ea63012b481c58f64867aa2dc62fff66e22ad7dff6c} and a P goes on your transcript for pass. Easy 3 credits. Next semester I will be in a different Intro to engineering (I chose which), physics 2, calc 2, and any course in H & SS (humanities and social sciences) At one point I was sure I was failing Physics. But after an exam we had Monday I went to talk to the professor and he and I sat there for an hour and a half going through all my exams. So thats another thing I got to say about CMU...the professors dont have as many students as at state schools and they are teaching kids they KNOW are smart (nothing against state schools) so they really really care about you! He would have sat there with me many more hours if I wanted to. He even started talking about his brother and his wife it was cute. :)


CMU is very strong in academics. Students are here because they want to learn and they want to be the best in the field. Students are always willing to help fellow classmates, CMU is not so competitive that students want to sabotage others in any way. CMU has a very rigorous computer science program. It's difficult but worth it, top recruiters come directly to the School of Computer Science because they know we receive a fantastic education.


Professors almost always know your name, and if they don't, go visit their office hours, ask a question or two, and make sure they know you. They really do want to help you out. Another good thing about academics is that, by and large, people study things that they are really passionate about. I'm a nerd for finance and the markets, and I find people that I can talk about that with. It's not my whole life, not at all, but it's good that I can talk about interesting things with my peers on campus. I've seen the same thing among other majors like engineering, history, or even math and computer science.


The professor on campus are really friendly. You can walk up to them at almost anytime and start a conversation. Students tend to be working on class work often. Some students can be competitive about grade but not really. I'm a double major in Chemical Engineering and biomedical engineering. i love both departments and have close relationships with all my teachers in the departments.


runeen iz fun


For the most part, all the professors make an attempt to get to know you and your name, so its definitely up to you to follow through (office hours, for example). My favorite class was Heat and Mass transfer taught by Professor Kris Dahl, my first female professor as an engineer and she was the best professor ever. I usually prefer male professors but this lady knows how to teach! My least favorite class was Intro to Chemical Engineering and Modern Biology I. I didnt like these classes mainly because of the professors who taught it. I would say students study more hours than they sleep in a week! CMU is not an easy school, but all this work pays off in the long run! I would say that for the most part, the same students participate in class some professors actively encourage others (by calling on them or not letting the same people respond) but that's not the case for all classes. Also, most classes (engineering) are lecture style so its not necessary for you to "participate" but people usually feel comfortable asking questions.


Class sizes and professor-student interaction depends on ones major. As a Professional Writing major my classes are often seminar style, contingent upon student interaction with a maximum of 20 students to the one professor, hence the PW major is a small community where you tend to see the same professor for different courses and people know each other. However Engineers tend to have more large lectures with little participation and only really get in contact with the TA's through recitation. CMU students have to spend a great deal of time studying outside of the classroom to be successful, no matter what major they have. My largest grievance about the academic experience is that the school forces student interaction very heavily in the sciences and math field despite a students lack of interest in that field, and often forces students to engage in the study of philosophy and theory that does not appear to be significant in getting jobs.


All of my professors know my name, but its because I approach them and introduce myself. The classes are almost never too large where a professor cannot get to know you. My favorite class is Social Psychology. I took it my sophomore year and am now a TA. The professor is like a stand up commedian, asking students for examples of prejudice and stereotype that they have encountered and in turn telling hysterical stories to illustrate fascinating topics. Each semester her class has at least 60 students on the wait list, even when the class has 140 students enrolled. Students study very often at CMU. it is not a slacker school by any means, and the classes can be quite difficult if you are in a hard major. Participation is uncommon in larger classes but common in smaller ones. If you are lucky you find a large class that is intriguing enough to have participation, but mostly its only 3 or 4 students who carry the whole lecture by speaking up, and nobody likes them anyway. The most unique class I took was an English composition class titled "Vampires". Our Interpretation and Argument classes have many different themes, ranging from "the Matrix" to "the Simpsons". Mine was based around the lore and persistence of vampire lore and literature in the modern culture and what it symbolizes about western culture. I am a psychology major in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. My major is one of the most easy, and one of the most interesting majors in the school. Because of this, I decided to take on additional course work including languages such as Chinese and Spanish and a Minor in Biology. It is definitely nice to have the fexibility to add to my education. Not all majors have room for additional coursework. I spend time with professors outside of class when I can. I find most of them to be great academic resources and very interesting people outside of the classroom, but many don't have time to sit around and chat. My education at CMU is a bit of both, to get a job and for the sake of learning. I am going onto a masters degree in a different subject, so my education is because I want to learn.


All professors are different, however most will go out of their way to help students and inspire them. Having transfered to CMU from a different university, I can definitely say the quality of professors in CMU is far more higher than others. Students, likewise are all different, however quite a few of them are happy to pursue academics outside the classroom in the form of research, individual projects, or clubs such as the Robotics Club. CMU's academic requirements are fairly tough however, and sometimes makes it difficult to pursue activities other than those required in classes. However, the number of classes a student is willing to take is up to the student after all. Compared the previous university that I have attended, CMU is far more geared towards learning for learnings sake. However, I believe this is mainly due to the fact that CMU students do not quite require a 'masking' of their ability to get things done. Although CMU does not spend as much time trying to get students job compared to my other school, its students are often employed at higher rates with higher salaries.


for alot of classes you are a number on a page--maybe they have your picture--teachers will mispronounce your name the entire semester because you'll never get close enough to them to correct them. alot of classes have over 100 kids in them. You are not an individual. There are some good classes where your teachers will give a shit about you, but alot of teachers are here doing research for the school and are teaching the classes on the side so they don't give a fuck. If you're not here to get sent through a tube directly into the job market then you are wasting your time. You're here to build the base of a career--if you think learning is fun then get out because learning is about getting a job.


Oh god.


The professors in classes that I go to know my name. Student study too much and bitch too much about it. Class participation is common in smaller lectures. CMU students talk a lot about intellectual stuff. CMU students are very competitive. CS is great cause everyone knows we're the best and most of the kids in my major are pretty smart.


some do. no favorite class, least favorite is interp. everyday. somewhat. yes. yes. principles of computation. business administration, very friendly staff. no. bull. applying what we learn to jobs.


Professors in H&SS tend to know your name-big science classes, not so much. Students study all the time, it doesn't make sense how much we all seem to work. Class participation varies by the subject. Some classes are horrible to participate in, other not so much. Students are extremely competitive in Tepper and MCS. It made me want to never want to talk to them again. CMU is geared towards getting a job.


Academics at CMU are top notch. Professors know who you are and are brilliant. Professors at CMU are involved in cutting edge research and have reached the highest levels of academic credibility. There are Nobel prize winners and men and women that have devoted their lives to a specific field of study. CMU gives you a chance to learn from many great teachers and also prepares you for getting a job and how to live, work, and act in the real world.


So I realize that everyone who is reading this probably can't see the 20 questions they have suggested I write about so this might seem a little all over the place.. I am a Biology Major in the Mellon College of Science. My favorite class was definitely intro to modern biology. My teacher was amazing and I learned a whole lot. My worst class was definitely physics 1 for science students. It was insanely hard mostly because I am just not good at physics. Overall, I enjoy the classes I have taken although there are definitely some requirements I would take out. If you make an effort to talk to your professor at least once your professors will know your name. I would say that probably 80 percent of my professors know my name. It gets a little harder when you are in a lecture with 200 students but then you have classes where there are just 8 of you so it really depends on the class. Students here study alot and are very competitive! You just have the find the right balance between work and play that suits you and then let things go.


Academics at CMU can be a great experience. Professors are at the top of their professions and they genuinely care about teaching and making sure students are doing well. Plus there are so many neat classes you can take to fill your general requirements -- my favorites have been economics courses which I took on a whim and now I think econ is something I may dedicate my career too. Classes themselves are usually very small, but in classes I have been in, most students are very shy so there is not a lot of participation. Students often work together on homework and I have never seen any competition at all among students, probably because there is no class rank and hardly any professors give curved grades, or assign a fixed amount of students to get an "A" a "B" and a "C" etc. The education at CMU is geared towards both getting a job and pure learning. Professors teach skills you need for employment, but they give you more than that as well. With only a few exceptions my professors have been phenomenal teachers, they have graded reasonably, they have prepared fun, interesting lesson plans, and they have taken the time to get to know their students, even in big classes. One economics teacher even went out to lunch with his entire class of some 400 kids in small groups.


Professors are approachable, sometimes. It really depends on the class. In a big lecture hall there are 200 students so the teacher might have some difficulty, but in smaller classes the teachers are easily accessible. Furthermore, even in large lecture hall style classes all the teachers have office hours in which you can stop by and field questions. If you aren't a serious student don't come to Carnegie Mellon. Their is a definite work hard play hard attitude here. CMU students engage in intellectual conversation all the time. However it's not snobby or too intellectual all the time. We are still in college and are in touch with the world. Students here are very competitive. If that worries you, don't come to CMU. CMU's education is directed toward getting a job! Our career center is top notch and will assist you to not only find your dream job but also help you figure out what your dream job actually is.


Students here can agree on one fact: getting good grades at CMU is hard. Our QPA (our version of a GPA) is almost a half point below most other comparable schools. There's no grade inflation, leading to very tough courses and little time to have fun outside of class during the week. Because of the type of student attracted to CMU's fast-paced and ever changing environment as well as the relatively small student body, it is easy to leave a class talking about the latest in electrochemical research and see someone you know, cut off, and get into an argument over the most recent political fallout. The level of thinking is pretty high and that's a nice contrast to our sister state school next door (University of Pittsburgh). Professors are easy to get a hold of or discuss grades, the future, or careers with but tend to care more about their research then about teaching.