Located in Pittsburgh, PA, Carnegie Mellon University is a private research college that has a history dating back to 1900.
The college now known as Carnegie Mellon University was formed as the result of the merging of Carnegie Tech and the Mellon Institute in 1967.
Today, Carnegie Mellon is a prestigious institution of undergraduate education with a total enrollment of 7,073 students as of the fall of 2020.
The school is currently tied for the #25 spot on the US News and World Report’s list of best universities in the country.
Set in the heart of one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s urban campus spans 157 acres.
Its location offers students close proximity to all the nightlife, dining, entertainment, and recreational options the area has to offer.
Over the course of the school’s hundred-plus-year-long history, the Carnegie Mellon alumni network has grown to include more than 70,000 active members across the world.
CMU’s highly-esteemed alumni network boasts 13 Academy Awards, at least 142 Emmy Awards, 52 Tony Awards, 20 Nobel Prizes in five out of the six categories, and a number of other prizes and other forms of scholarly recognition.
Celebrity CMU alumni include famous pop artist Andy Warhol, Academy Award winning actress Holly Hunter, and George A. Romero, horror film pioneer who directed the Night of the Living Dead movie series.
Here, we have collected some of the most essential information for any students curious about all that Carnegie Mellon University has to offer.
Read on to find out what this elite college is best known for, what traditions students have created, what the most prominent clubs and student organizations at the school are, and more.
What Majors & Academics Are Carnegie Mellon Known For?
Although Carnegie Mellon University has a number of well-revered academic programs, the college is perhaps best known for its School of Computer Science. CMU is currently tied for second place on the US News and World Report’s ranked list of top schools for computer science in the country.
More specifically, the college’s programs for artificial intelligence and programming language are known as the very best in the country. In fact, James Gosling, who created the programming language Java, is a CMU alumnus who earned both his master’s degree and doctorate degree from this school.
CMU is also known for its engineering program, which is currently tied for fourth in the national college rankings.
Although many of Carnegie Mellon’s most well-revered programs are in the sciences, the school is quite well-known for having some great degree program offerings beyond the STEM field as well, particularly in the arts.
For example, it has been named the number one college for timed-based media — meaning any media form viewed over a period of time, such as film — out of all fine arts schools in the United States.
CMU is tied for second place on the list of schools with the best undergraduate research/creative projects, meaning that Carnegie Mellon students have almost unmatched opportunities to complete self-directed projects leading to an original academic work of professional quality.
Is Carnegie Mellon University a Good School?
There is no doubt that Carnegie Mellon University is a good school. Even further, CMU is not just a good school — it is one of the best schools for undergraduate education in the entire country, perhaps even in the world.
CMU has been ranked #5 among the most innovative universities in the country, showing that the college is continuously adapting, perfecting, and reimagining its programs in order to uphold its status as one of the best undergraduate schools in the nation.
Carnegie Mellon offers small class sizes, instruction from highly-esteemed faculty, widely-revered academic programs in a variety of different fields, and all the prestige associated with earning a degree from a leading institution with a more than hundred year-long history of excellence.
Many people with connections to CMU have earned prestigious awards for their professional and academic work, on and off the school’s campus.
These include two Stockholm Prizes in Criminology, 20 Nobel Prizes, 13 Turing Awards, 6 National Academy of Medicine members, and 65 National Academy of Engineering members.
In addition to its numerous celebrity alumni, the school has turned out many graduates who became notable academic figures.
Carnegie Mellon University Traditions
Founded by the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, many of Carnegie Mellon University’s traditions incorporate elements of Scottish culture in his honor.
One example of this is the Kiltie Band, a student marching band whose members wear kilts. Referred to by its members as the “Band Without Pants,” the Kiltie Band provides entertainment at home football games by playing songs, leading cheers, and chanting.
In addition, the Carnegie Mellon Pipes and Drums are another bagpiping group on campus, where students who are interested in learning to play the instrument receive both general musical training and specific instruction relating to this Scottish tradition.
The Pipes and Drums play at many of the school’s events.
The oldest tradition at CMU is the Spring Carnival, a campus-wide festival that runs for four days.
One of the most highly-anticipated events at the Spring Carnival is the Buggy Sweepstakes, a race during which students compete against one another by racing buggies of their own design and creation. The race takes place on a .84-mile track around Schenley Park’s Flagstaff Hill, reaching speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is home to more than 350 student organizations and clubs, offering students many other options for getting involved on campus in a way that suits their interests.
As we have discussed, one of the most prominent extracurriculars at Carnegie Mellon University is the bagpiping group known as the Pipes and Drums. The school places special significance on this group due to its relation to the founder’s Scottish ancestry.
Greek life is also a prominent aspect of student life at CMU, with over 1,100 current active members. 20% of the undergraduate student body at the school is involved with a fraternity or sorority.
Civic engagement is another defining characteristic of student life at Carnegie Mellon, with many students participating in community service, philanthropy, advocacy, and activism — both in the context of Greek life organizations and otherwise.
Student Leadership, Involvement, and Civic Engagement, also known as SLICE, hosts many annual events that offer the school’s undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff many chances to get involved in service work on and off-campus.
What Sports Are Carnegie Mellon Known For?
Carnegie Mellon University’s sports teams are known as the Tartans, and their mascot is the Scottish terrier or “Scottie dog,” both being nods to founder Andrew Carnegie’s Scottish heritage. The school is home to 19 different varsity athletic teams, on top of many intramural and club sports teams.
Between 2001 and 2005, the men’s soccer Tartans won five consecutive UAA championships. They also brought home the championship victory in 2009 and 2012.
Carnegie Mellon’s women’s soccer team has also claimed two consecutive UAA championships in 2014 and 2015.
Although CMU’s student-athletes are strong competitors on the field, the Tartans are also well-known for being just as strong off the field.
For example, the 14 members of the women’s golf team had an average GPA of 3.73 in the most recent academic year — during which they also placed second in the national championships.
130 CMU Tartans earned a perfect 4.0 GPA in the 2022 academic year. 58% of student-athletes at the school earned at least a 3.5, meaning over half of all players were able to earn primarily As and some Bs.
Why Carnegie Mellon University?
Students choose Carnegie Mellon University for a variety of different reasons. Whether you are interested in pursuing a degree in the sciences or in the arts, the school offers numerous programs of international acclaim and remarkable quality.
Since its founding, CMU has established and maintained its strong track record of turning out highly successful graduates.
Because of its significant prestige, Carnegie Mellon draws in a number of faculty and staff who are leading experts in their fields.
The college’s location in Pittsburgh also offers students many opportunities for career placement and advancement after graduation.
In fact, according to Niche, Pittsburgh is the twelfth best place for young professionals to live in out of all cities in the United States.
This high ranking is due to the city’s low cost of living, its surplus of bars, restaurants, and other businesses, and its highly-educated population.
The student-to-faculty ratio at CMU is 6:1, offering students the opportunity to receive ample direct attention and guidance from instructors during class time.
Around two-thirds of CMU’s classes have fewer than 20 students, allowing students to benefit from an intimate classroom environment and develop close academic relationships with peers and professors.
Additionally, CMU boasts a 97% first-year retention rate, meaning that nearly all students who attend the school as freshmen are happy enough with what the school has to offer to return for the second year of study.
In short, with a degree from Carnegie Mellon University, the possibilities are endless. Students choose CMU because it is one of the best institutions for undergraduate education out there.