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Carnegie Mellon Engineering Essay Titles


Carnegie Mellon Essay Prompts


Please submit a one page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen Carnegie Mellon and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s). This essay should include the reasons why you’ve chosen the major(s), any goals or relevant work plans and any other information you would like us to know. For freshmen applying to more than one college or program, please mention each college or program to which you are applying. Because our admissions committees review applicants by college and program, your essay can impact our final decision. Candidates applying for early decision or transfer may apply to only one college and department.


This prompt is essentially asking you to write a “Why X?” essay for Carnegie Mellon. Because so many students apply to CMU, the admissions officers are interested in accepting only the students who are genuinely interested in attending. Therefore, you should do some research to find specific examples of resources you would like to take advantage of as a potential CMU student.


For some, this might mean going online to read more about CMU’s Fine Arts resources; for others, you might want to ask your close friend who attends the university about the engineering facilities. Either way, the goal is to have some details at hand for when you go to write your essay.


When you actually answer this question, your best bet is to cover three topics:


  1. What you are interested in studying and why?
  2. What relevant past experiences do you have related to this field?
  3. Why CMU specifically?


If you can answer all three questions in a smooth manner, then you will have an effective essay. 



List the books (if any) you’ve read this year for pleasure. Choose one and in a sentence describe its impact on you.


There’s no “trick” to this question — the adcoms literally just want to know what books you’ve read this past year. You should have some books to list, but be as truthful as possible. If you are unsure which book you want to choose to describe in one sentence, then ask yourself, “Is there anything I want to tell the admissions officers about myself that I haven’t already?”


If you have a clear answer to this question, then you can strategically choose a book that will allow you to convey that message when you describe its impact on you. For example, if you haven’t yet told the adcoms about your deep love of philosophy — specifically, when it comes to morality — then you might accordingly choose Justice by Michael J. Sandel, and describe how the book allowed you to examine various case studies and develop a new perspective on what morality really is.


If there was an interruption during your secondary school or collegiate experience or between your secondary school and collegiate experience (gap year)) when you were not enrolled and as a result not making normal academic progress, please explain the reason for the interruption.


The majority of students will not have to answer this question; however, if you are a student who fits the description above, then your best bet is to honestly describe what occurred. If you feel that your reliability or character is called into question when you only objectively describe the situation, then succinctly explain yourself at the end of your description and — if appropriate — express that things will be different in the future.


For students whose interruptions were due to taking a gap year (or something similar), then describe your experience and explain its impact on you briefly. For example, maybe you volunteered in Africa for 6 months and now you are a more mature individual. Finally, if you took time off due to a family occurrence or illness, then — once again — explain the situation and leave it at that.


While not a requirement, have you been interviewed by an alumni or on campus representative prior to applying for admission? If so, indicate the name of your interviewer and tell us how it impacted your decision to apply.


This question is pretty straightforward. If you did not get interviewed before applying to CMU, don’t answer it. If you did receive an interview, then hopefully you remembered to record your interviewer’s name.


When describing how it impacted your decision to apply, it’s best to recall specific details from your conversation — for example, maybe you and your interviewer share a love of Quidditch, and your interviewer mentioned to you that Carnegie Mellon has a strong Quidditch team. Mentioning small yet specific details about either the university or your interviewer’s experience with CMU will go a long away in showing that you were impacted by your interview.


With these tips, you should be well on your way to writing the perfect CMU supplement. Best of luck from the CollegeVine team!


For more help, feel free to reach out to work 1-on-1 with one of CollegeVine’s trained essay specialists.


Applying as a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Student

Carnegie Mellon welcomes applications from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. Follow the instructions for either freshman or transfers applicants and review the admission requirements noted at the top of this page. We accept College Board or NACAC fee waivers for the non-refundable application fee. Students who need an application fee waiver should contact the Office of Admission. Also be aware of this additional information:

  • When completing the Common Application, DACA students should apply for either freshman or transfer admission as international students (by selecting “other (non-US)” as your citizenship status).
  • DACA students may be eligible for institutional financial aid and must apply for financial aid in order to be considered.
  • To apply for institutional financial aid, you must complete the CSS PROFILE and provide either federal tax returns or documentation of household income to College Board IDOCS. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) isn’t required for DACA students. Students who need a CSS PROFILE fee waiver should contact the Office of Admission.
  • At the time of admission, Carnegie Mellon may request DACA documentation to confirm your status in order to process financial aid accordingly.

Applying as a Non-Traditional Student

Carnegie Mellon welcomes applications from students with non-traditional academic backgrounds, including prospective students who are seeking a second bachelor’s degree or those interested in a first bachelor’s degree several years after graduating from high school.

To apply for a second bachelor’s degree if your first degree is from Carnegie Mellon:

  • Complete the Common Application.
  • Arrange to have a copy of your Carnegie Mellon transcript sent to the Office of Admission by February 15, if applying as a transfer, or by January 1, if applying as a freshman.

To apply for a second bachelor’s degree if your first degree is from another college or university:

  • Complete the Common Application.
  • Schedule an interview with a member of the admission staff by November 1.
  • Follow the instructions for transfer applicants.

To apply for a first bachelor’s degree from a non-traditional background:

  • Complete the Common Application.
  • Schedule an interview with a member of the admission staff by November 1.
  • Submit an essay explaining what you have been doing since graduating from high school.
  • Submit a recommendation from a counselor, teacher, colleague or advisor who can speak of your potential for success at Carnegie Mellon.
  • Follow the instructions for transfer applicants.
  • Campus housing is only available for traditional age college students.

Applying as a Home-Schooled or Cyber Student

Carnegie Mellon welcomes applications from students who have been schooled at home or online. Follow the instructions for freshman applicants and review the admission requirements noted at the top of this page.

Home-schooled applicants should submit the Common Application and academic portfolio/ transcript consistent with state guidelines and a list of all textbooks used for your coursework. You must also provide proof that you’ll have met, by the end of May of the year of graduation, all requirements for an official high school diploma and submit an official final transcript, a GED or a certificate of completion from your local school district or state board of education by the end of July of the year of matriculation.

To apply to the university, you must:

  • Submit a completed Common Application.
  • Submit a syllabus/course descriptions of the work you’ve completed prior to applying.
  • Submit a transcript of grades and/or evaluation of your work.
  • Submit a recommendation from a counselor, representative of the State Board of Education, your home school association or other person of authority.
  • Schedule an admission interview with an admission staff member by November 1 (strongly recommended).
  • Follow instructions for required testing based on the college/program you’re applying to

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