Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the most commonly asked questions and guidelines for the application process, admissions and general program information.
Questions about the MSAS program
What are the skills that will be taught in the program?
What kind of automated equipment will we use in the Automation Lab course?
MSAS students will receive unparalleled training about state-of-the art laboratory automation. This includes a state-of-the-art automated science laboratory dedicated to the program. It contains the equipment below within a sterile enclosure that avoids contamination and provides containment for safety. Each of these instruments are under computer control, allowing the creation of protocols combining multiple steps to prepare samples and make experimental measurements.
- A liquid handling (pipetting) robot for creating plates with samples for further analysis
- An automated incubator for growing cells
- carousels for storing plates before analysis
- An optical plate reader for reading total intensity of each well in a plate
- An automated confocal microscope for collecting transmitted and multi-color fluorescence images of multiple fields within each plate
- A nucleic acid extraction robot for preparing DNA or RNA
- A robotic arm for plate movement and management
In addition, Carnegie Mellon is creating the first university-based Cloud Lab that will provide the ability to do a wide range of experiments in a fully remote manner, analogous to the way that cloud computing resources are used. The lab is expected to be available in Fall 2022 and its use will be included in MSAS training.
What careers are available to students after graduation?
What if I am interested in continuing on to a Ph.D. program at Carnegie Mellon?
Near the end of the first year, research option students will meet individually with the Advising Committee to discuss their research interests and the most appropriate area for Ph.D. studies. They receive advice in preparing Ph.D. applications, and the opportunity to apply for early acceptance into one of the participating Ph.D. programs (Computational Biology and Biological Sciences). If admitted, their curriculum for the fourth semester will be adjusted to include some coursework required by that Ph.D. program. This will enable them to begin Ph.D. studies not only with excellent preparation from the MSAS curriculum but with advanced standing in their Ph.D. program. They will be encouraged to begin M.S. Research in the summer after the first year (rather than doing an internship) and the advisor would typically be chosen from the faculty of their target Ph.D. program.
All students accepted into one of our Ph.D. programs receive fellowships for stipend and full tuition.
How will summer internships be arranged?
What topics will be covered in the Machine Learning for Scientists course?
Will I be able to take courses from other departments at Carnegie Mellon?
Are M.S. students able to serve as Research Assistants (RAs) or Teaching Assistants (TAs)?
What are the differences between the MSAS program and the MS in Computational Biology (MSCB) Program?
While MSCB focuses solely on computational algorithms and methods for analyzing and modeling of biomedical systems, the MSAS curriculum also provides training in AI for iteratively choosing experiments and on fundamental aspects of the laboratory automation that is used to execute them. The goal of MSAS is to enable students to become leaders in this emerging field of automated science.
The programs share some training faculty and three required courses (02-712, 02-750, 03-709), but the intellectual content is distinct. Both programs prepare students for jobs in industry or additional graduate study in competitive PhD programs
General Application Questions
Is there an application fee and when is the application deadline?
The application fee is $125 for one program and $75 for each additional program.
Application Fee Waivers: We expect all applicants to submit payment with their online application. However, note that we do waive the required fee under certain circumstances. Fees for application to a limited number of our programs can be waived for participants in certain programs. In addition, if you are unable to pay the application fee, the School of Computer Science will consider a fee waiver request. For information about how to apply for an application fee waiver, visit the SCS Graduate Application Fee Waiver Page.
Are there required forms or formats for the online recommendation letters?
What should be included in the three online recommendation letters?
What information should be included in my statement of purpose?
Your statement of purpose should be a 1-2 page essay describing:
- your motivation to enter the field of Automated Science,
- any relevant experience you have (including your role in those projects/positions), and, if applicable, any publications.
- your reasons for considering the MSAS program here at CMU for graduate work.
Your statement must be written in your own words. We use software to detect plagiarism in personal statements. Any applicant that submits a personal statement determined to contain plagiarized material will be rejected immediately.
How should my statement of purpose be formatted?
Prepare a concise one or two page essay in PDF format that describes your primary areas of interest, your related experiences, and your objective in pursuing a graduate degree at Carnegie Mellon. Your essay should be specific in describing your interests and motivations. When describing your interests, you should explain why you think they are important areas of study and why you are particularly well-suited to pursue them. You should describe any relevant education, research, commercial, government, or teaching experience. If you are applying to more than one program, you may (but are not required to) submit a separate Statement of Purpose for each program. If you are submitting different statements, please upload as one file. Include your name and User ID on the essay.
Your User ID can be found as you fill out the application, for more information on that, please go here: https://www.cs.cmu.edu/masters-admissions.
Admissions Requirements & Test Scores
How do I get my transcript evaluated and GPA calculated?
Are international students accepted?
What are my chances of being accepted to the M.S. program?
Are GREs required?
No. Neither general nor subject GREs are required for acceptance into the MSAS program. We assess applicants holistically and take into consideration many factors including quantitative and computational background and skills. These skills can be demonstrated by optional submission of GRE scores or by advanced coursework in computer science, mathematics (especially linear algebra), statistical inference, or related areas.
Note: When submitting your application, you may be asked to enter the date you expect to take the GRE. If this happens, just enter any date in the future. We ignore that field.
Is there a minimum TOEFL score?
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required if your native language is not English. Carnegie Mellon requires TOEFL scores of 100 or better or an IELTS score of 7 and above. During our review process, we carefully reviews the sub-scores of each of these exams and consider those candidates with reading, listening, speaking and writing sub-scores of 25 or more on TOEFL and 7.5 or more on IELTS to be candidates with high levels of English proficiency.
We do accept IELTS scores as well. We use the following site to convert IELTS to TOEFL scores: https://www.ets.org/toefl/institutions/scores/compare.
NOTE: Scores must be no more than five years old
Questions About Required Background
What background do I need to pursue the MSAS program at CMU?
Do I need to have any previous programming experience?
Do I need to have any previous coursework in Biology or Chemistry?
Do you admit students in the spring or summer semesters?
How much is tuition?
Is there financial support for graduate students?
Carnegie Mellon participates in the GEM Fellowship program that provides stipend and tuition support for American students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields (African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans). Eligible students are strongly encouraged to submit Part 1 of the application as soon as possible. Part 2 must be completed by November 13.
It is advised that you review Carnegie Mellon’s Enrollment Services Web site for external sources of financial aid. International students should check with their home country for additional funding opportunities and private loans.