I think that I may want a career in research, or that I may want to pursue a Ph.D. later. Will the MIIS degree help me to achieve these goals?
The MIIS degree is a practice-oriented professional degree designed for students who want to quickly obtain an M.S. degree prior to beginning or resuming leadership careers in industry and government. If you know that you want a career in research, the LTI's MLT and Ph.D. degree programs may be better choices. However, if you select the MIIS degree now and later decide to pursue a career in research, you will find that the MIIS degree is very solid foundation from which to begin a research career. The classroom preparation is very similar.
What are the admission criteria for this program? What are the minimum TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, and GPA scores for your program? How competitive is the selection process?
Like many master degree programs at CMU, the MIIS program is very selective. Our focus is on the quality of our students and the quality of the educational experience. All of our students have strong backgrounds in Computer Science, and the preparation in mathematics, probability, and statistics that accompanies most good Computer Science B.S. degrees. Some of our students have significant professional experience, too, which is very helpful but not required.
English language competency is strongly correlated to academic and professional success. Thus the degree program has a minimum English competency score requirement. A successful applicant will normally have a total TOEFL score of at least 100 (with no sub-score less than 23) or an IELTS score of at least 7.5.
There is no minimum GRE score requirement. The definition of "good GRE score" varies depending on the region where the test was taken, so we compare your GRE scores to other GRE scores from the region where you were educated or took your test.
Undergraduate academic performance is the strongest predictor of success in the degree program. Typically applicants have a minimum GPA of 3.33 or higher. GPA is evaluated in the context of the college or university that you attended, due to variations in how grades are awarded at different institutions.
Is a B.S. in Computer Science required for admission to the MIIS program?
An undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a related scientific or technical discipline is preferred, but not required. Applicants must demonstrate that they have strong Computer Science skills, good math skills, and skills in statistics. We look for evidence that you have these skills. Course grades are the most typical form of evidence, but we also accept significant professional experience and other forms of evidence. Simply saying that you have been programming for many years is not sufficient.
The application requires a personal essay for the application. What makes a good essay?
A good essay conveys three types of information about you.
First, we look for strong evidence that you can do well in the MIIS degree program. For example, a description of your academic experience is good evidence. A description of a software project, your involvement in the project, and the impact of the project is good evidence. A description of an internship or professional experience is good evidence. These descriptions are stronger if they provide details about what you did, what you liked, and what you learned from the experience.
Second, your essay is stronger if it explains why you want to be in the MIIS program. We understand that you may be applying to more than one degree program. Tell us why are you applying to this one, and what you hope to get out of your experience here.
Third, a brief discussion of your career goals - what you enjoy, what you hope to do after you complete the MIIS degree - helps us to understand how the MIIS degree may contribute to your long-term professional goals.
The essay must be written by you. You may have others proofread your essay to help you improve the style or English quality, but the essay must be substantially your own words.
The application requires letters of recommendation. What makes a good letter?
The strongest letters come from people who are senior to you and who are very familiar with you and your work. Examples include professors of your courses, academic advisors, supervisors of internships, or managers where you have been employed. A good letter helps us understand what you are good at, how you work, and what you are like as a student or professional colleague.
I have worked in industry for several years. Will I be required to do an internship?
During your first semester you may petition the MIIS Program Director to waive the internship requirement. Our decision is based on the length and type of your previous employment.
I did an internship when I was an undergraduate. Will I be required to do an internship?
During your first semester you may petition the MIIS Program Director to waive the internship requirement. Our decision is based on the length, location, and type of work that you did in your previous internship.
I am a CMU student in another degree program. Can I transfer into the MIIS program?
Transfer into the MIIS program is not permitted during a student’s first semester at CMU. Students must begin their study at CMU in the program that admitted them. Students may transfer into the MIIS program between the end of the first semester and the add/drop deadline of the second semester. The MIIS program will conduct an expedited admissions process for students during this period. The program will explicitly consider whether the coursework done during the first semester will allow the student to be more-or-less “on schedule” by the end of the second semester, so that the student can participate in a capstone project with other MIIS students during the third semester.
MIIS is a new program, without much of a track record. Should I be worried about that?
Although the MIIS program is new, it is run by an academic department (the LTI) and a college (the School of Computer Science) that have deep expertise in creating and operating successful degree programs. Typically we start a new degree program with a small number of carefully-selected students, monitor their progress very carefully, tune the program based on their experiences, and grow the program over time as it demonstrates its success. Typically the faculty pay close attention to a new degree program during its first few years.
So, no, you shouldn't worry. We want this program to be successful just as much as you do.
I have been admitted to the MIIS program. What should I do to prepare?
Mathematics and statistics are a central part of many CMU courses. Probably you had linear algebra, introduction to statistics, and/or introduction to probability courses as an undergraduate, however your courses may not have been very deep or your skills may be a little rusty now. You will be expected to have skills comparable to our 21-325 (Probability), 36-202 (Statistical Methods), and 21-341 (Linear Algebra) courses. You may wish to review CMU's free Open Learning Initiative courses for some of these skills. You may also find it helpful to know MATLAB. MATLAB is not a required skill, but it is convenient and widely used at CMU.
I applied but I did not get in. Can you tell me why?
We do not provide individual explanations. This FAQ is an attempt to explain the criteria by which we select applications. We hope it helps you to understand what happened.