How to Get Into Carnegie Mellon: Acceptance Rate & Strategies

June 14, 2023

Carnegie Mellon acceptance rate, how to get into

Over 32,000 high-achieving teens applied to be part of Carnegie Mellon’s Class of 2026—13.5% were accepted. The vast majority of successful applicants had pristine transcripts and SATs of 1500 or better. Selectivity at this school, which is named after two famous/infamous Captains of Industry/Robber Barons is nothing new, but it has reached previously unimaginable levels in recent years. In the 1980s, the acceptance rate hovered between 42-46% and the average SAT was just a shade over 1200. By the year 2000, the school received over 14,000 applications each cycle and the Carnegie Mellon acceptance rate was 36%.

In addition to the rise in selectivity, CMU also has a somewhat complex application process and also a greatly varying degree of difficulty depending on which of the university’s seven undergraduate colleges/programs you are hoping to enter. To assist you in this quest, we will provide those considering applying to Carnegie Mellon University with the following:

  • Carnegie Mellon’s ED acceptance rate
  • Carnegie Mellon acceptance rate 2026
  • SAT, ACT, GPA and class rank of accepted Carnegie Mellon applicants
  • Admissions trends at Carnegie Mellon
  • Carnegie Mellon’s system for rating applicants
  • A look at the demographics of Carnegie Mellon undergraduates
  • The percentage of accepted students that attend the university
  • Tips for applying to Carnegie Mellon
  • CMU essay prompts
  • How to assess whether applying to Carnegie Mellon is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)

Many students applying to CMU may also find the following blogs to be of interest:

How to Get Into:

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

Carnegie Mellon: Early Decision Acceptance Rate 

Carnegie Mellon accepted 12.5% of the 4,528 ED applicants to the Class of 2026. While this is higher than the regular decision clip, this figure represents less of an advantage than at many other elite institutions where rates can be 2-3 times higher for ED applicants. The deadline for early decision at CMU is November 1 and decisions are made by December 15. They also have an ED II option with an early January deadline.

Carnegie Mellon Acceptance Rate 

Out of 32,896 applications submitted for a place in the 2022-23 freshman class, the Carnegie Mellon University acceptance rate was only 11.3%. This is a bit less favorable than the 15% acceptance rate for the Class of 2025. Results by school/program are available for the Class of 2024 (most recent available):

College Acceptance Rate
College of Fine Arts Architecture: 34%

Art: 23%

Design: 11%

Drama: 4%

Music: 31%

Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences 26%
Engineering 20%
Information Systems 24%
Mellon College of Science 22%
School of Computer Science 7%
Tepper School of Business 23%


Carnegie Mellon Admissions – SAT, ACT, class rank, and GPA

The overall mid-50% SAT range for Class of 2026 enrolled students was 1500-1560. The ACT range was 34-35. In that cohort, 51% submitted an SAT score and 20% included an ACT result in their application. An incredible 90% of 2022-23 freshmen placed in the top 10% of their high school class and 99.5% were in the top quartile. The average unweighted GPA was 3.9 and 50% earned a perfect 4.0.

The SAT and ACT middle-50% ranges as well as the average GPA, by college, for the Class of 2024 (most recent available) are as follows:

College of Fine Arts 700-740 730-780 33-34 3.77
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences 740-770 790-800 34-35 3.87
Engineering 740-770 790-800 35 3.91
Information Systems 740-760 780-800 35 3.89
Mellon College of Science 740-770 800 35-36 3.92
School of Computer Science 770-780 800 36 3.95
Tepper School of Business 730-760 790-800 35 3.88


Admissions Trends & Notes

  • CMU will continue to be test-optional for students applying to join the university in fall 2024.
  • The Class of 2026 included 12.5% first-generation college students, up from 9% two years prior.
  • International students made up 19% of the freshman class. There were 42 countries represented.
  • The number of applicants is up 25% over the past three years.

How Carnegie Mellon Rates Applicants

There are six factors that Carnegie Mellon ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, class rank, GPA, extracurricular activities, volunteer work experience, and paid work experience.  Essays, recommendations, first-generation status, legacy status, character/personal qualities, race/ethnicity, and talent/ability are “important” to the admissions committee.

Carnegie Mellon is not going to be impressed that you filled the ten spaces on the Common App Activity List; they are looking for genuine excellence in one or more activities. For example, you placed in a prestigious international science or mathematics competition, you co-authored original research, you developed an app, or you used your skills to help a charitable institution.

Carnegie Mellon University Acceptance Rate (Continued)

According to the school:

  • “No single grade, factor, score or activity will automatically gain or deny you admission to Carnegie Mellon. We treat every applicant as an individual, taking great care to make our admission decisions fair, thorough and sensitive. We’re interested in students who can be successful at Carnegie Mellon, while taking full advantage of all the university has to offer and enriching our campus community.”
  • Your non-academic interests, including extracurricular involvement, part-time jobs, family commitments, hobbies and community engagement play a very important role in the admission process. We also consider collaboration, perseverance, passion, advocacy for others and self-direction when making admission decisions.
  • Think carefully about your Carnegie Mellon college selection(s) before applying. While you may apply to up to two colleges or programs that match your interests, bear in mind that most applicants will only be selected for their highest-choice college to which they‘re admissible.

Who Actually Gets Into Carnegie Mellon?

Let’s look at the demographics of current Carnegie Mellon undergraduates.

Geographically, we know the following about CMU students.

  • In-state students: 13%
  • Out-of-state students: 87%
  • The Mid-Atlantic Region is the most represented area (37%)
  • Students come from 82 countries around the world.

Competition is stiffest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). Contrarily, some recent classes contained no students from Alaska, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, or Wyoming.

Carnegie Mellon University Acceptance Rate (Continued)

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown for the undergraduate student body is as follows:

  • White: 22%
  • Asian: 32%
  • Hispanic: 9%
  • African American: 4%
  • Two or more: 5%
  • International: 22%

The countries sending the greatest number of students to CMU are:

  1. China
  2. Qatar
  3. India
  4. South Korea
  5. Canada

The breakdown by gender is as follows:

  • Male: 50%
  • Female: 50%

Women enjoy a much better acceptance rate than men, as the university receives far fewer applications from female students. For the Class of 2026, this was 9% (for men) versus 15% for women.

Carnegie Mellon’s Yield Rate

Carnegie Mellon’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 45%. This number is over 30 points lower than Harvard and Stanford but in the same ballpark as many other selective private universities. Carnegie Mellon sports a similar yield rate to schools like the University of Michigan, Amherst College, and Tulane University.

Tips for Applying to Carnegie Mellon  

If you plan on joining the 32,000+ CMU hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • Carnegie Mellon does not offer any type of in-person or alumni interviews for incoming freshmen. As a result, one of the best ways for admissions officers to get to know you on a personal level is through your two required recommendations—one from your counselor and one from your teacher. Applicants are also permitted to include an optional third letter of recommendation. For tips on which teachers to target and how to ask, revisit our blog on the subject.
  • Carnegie Mellon does not officially consider “demonstrated interest” so you won’t be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit (in non-pandemic times), contacted an admissions officer, etc. However, given the school’s lower yield rate (compared to some other elite schools), it is never a bad idea to reach out to an admissions officer with a question, attend a virtual session, or engage with the school on social media.
  • To apply to more than one college you will need to fill out a separate application and submit an additional application fee. CMU does allow you to select a second-choice school on a singular application.

Carnegie Mellon University Acceptance Rate (Continued)

  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to three 300-word supplemental essays required by Carnegie Mellon. In the 2022-23 cycle, they are as follows

CMU Essay Prompts

1) 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?

2) 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?

3) 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).

For more on how to tackle the CMU essays visit our blog: Carnegie Mellon – Essay Prompts and Tips.

CMU Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts 

If you bring strong academic and extracurricular credentials to the table, there is no harm in filling out a Carnegie Mellon application, but—as with all highly-competitive colleges in 2022—even the best and brightest teens need to have an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. Those that will fare best in conquering this admissions gauntlet will boast a transcript of straight ‘A’s in an exceptionally rigorous program of classes, superior standardized test scores (typically 98th percentile or better), and at least one or two talents and passions outside of the classroom.