Students who have sufficient language skills to begin academic work can take advantage of training in advanced academic English and cultural skills provided by CMU’s Intercultural Communication Center (ICC). Students are strongly encouraged to attend an ICC Language Support Orientation session when they first arrive to better understand if language work is appropriate for their success.
To be successful at Carnegie Mellon, graduate students who are nonnative speakers of English need to begin their academic careers with a strong foundation in academic English and a high level of proficiency with speaking, listening, reading, and writing in English. Academic work requires the ability to comprehend, process, and master complex materials presented in English, both in written and spoken form. Students need to have the fluency to communicate their ideas and questions to faculty, classmates, research partners, and others, in a learning environment that is often highly participatory and demanding. Studying in a new culture also requires openness and flexibility to adapt to a new, and often very different, academic system.
For this reason, the department requires minimum scores of:
These minimum scores indicate that an applicant has the fundamental building blocks needed for academic tasks and for continued language development once in the program. Previous academic work in the US (or other English speaking countries) is not a sufficient reason to waive the TOEFL/IELTS requirement as this does not necessarily indicate a sufficient level of English mastery.
A telephone interview may be required in addition to assess spoken English fluency in more detail. The TOEFL iBT score and interview together are important for non-native speakers in demonstrating English proficiency both for a U.S. visa and for placement into appropriate initial course assignments as teaching assistants.