Comparing Washington University in St. Louis vs Carnegie Mellon

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young woman smiling while lounging in the campus.

Comparing Washington University in St. Louis vs Carnegie Mellon

Washington University in St. Louis and Carnegie Mellon are both highly respected private research universities located in the United States. Both universities offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, and have a reputation for academic excellence in fields like engineering, business, and the arts. However, there are differences between these two universities when it comes to location, campus size, admission requirements, financial aid, and other factors. In this article, we’ll compare Washington University in St. Louis vs Carnegie Mellon in detail to help students and parents make informed decisions about college applications.

Two students talking while walking in a campus.

Location and Campus Size

Washington University in St. Louis is located in Missouri, near the city of St. Louis. The university’s main campus covers 169 acres and features historic architecture, modern facilities, and a variety of green spaces. Carnegie Mellon University is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and covers 152 acres. Its campus features contemporary architecture, several green spaces, and state-of-the-art facilities. While both universities offer students access to vibrant city centers and cultural attractions, Washington University’s location is considered more suburban, while Carnegie Mellon’s is more urban.

Additionally, Washington University in St. Louis has several satellite campuses located throughout the city, including the Danforth Campus, West Campus, and North Campus. These campuses offer specialized programs and facilities, such as the School of Medicine and the Brown School of Social Work. Carnegie Mellon University also has satellite campuses, including the Silicon Valley campus in California and the Qatar campus in the Middle East, which offer unique opportunities for students to study and work in different parts of the world.

Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates

Admission to both universities is highly competitive, and applicants must meet a range of academic and extracurricular criteria. For current high school students, the average GPA of admitted students at Washington University is 3.84, and the average ACT score is 33. Carnegie Mellon’s admitted students have an average GPA of 3.61 and an average SAT score of 1530. Both universities also place a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities, personal essays, and letters of recommendation. The acceptance rate at Washington University is around 15%, while Carnegie Mellon’s is around 17%, making admission to either institution a challenging process.

Aside from academic and extracurricular achievements, both universities also consider other factors in their admission process. For instance, Washington University values diversity and actively seeks to admit students from different backgrounds. They also consider an applicant’s demonstrated interest in the university, such as attending information sessions or campus visits. On the other hand, Carnegie Mellon places a strong emphasis on creativity and innovation, and they look for students who have a passion for their chosen field of study.

It is worth noting that both universities offer early decision and early action options for applicants. Early decision is a binding agreement, meaning that if an applicant is accepted, they must attend the university. Early action, on the other hand, is non-binding, and applicants can still apply to other universities. However, both options have earlier application deadlines and can increase an applicant’s chances of being accepted.

Student Body Demographics

Both universities have diverse student bodies, with students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 100 countries. Washington University has a larger undergraduate population, with around 8,200 students, while Carnegie Mellon has around 6,500 undergraduate students. The gender breakdown is roughly equal at both universities, while racial and ethnic diversity varies slightly. At Washington University, around 54% of students are white, 12% are Asian, 8% are Black or African-American, and 8% are Hispanic or Latino. At Carnegie Mellon, around 41% of students are white, 25% are Asian, 6% are Black or African-American, and 11% are Hispanic or Latino.

Group of students talking while looking at a laptop on a table.

Both universities also have a significant international student population. At Washington University, international students make up around 20% of the undergraduate population, while at Carnegie Mellon, they make up around 30%. The top countries of origin for international students at Washington University are China, India, and South Korea, while at Carnegie Mellon, they are China, India, and Taiwan. Both universities offer a range of resources and support for international students, including language programs, cultural organizations, and international student advisors.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered

Both universities have strong academic programs in a variety of fields, and offer a wide range of majors and minors for undergraduate students. At Washington University, notable academic programs include business, engineering, art and design, and social work. At Carnegie Mellon, notable academic programs include computer science, engineering, art and architecture, and drama. Both universities also offer graduate programs in a variety of fields, with notable programs including education, law, and medicine.

Additionally, both universities have unique interdisciplinary programs that allow students to explore multiple fields of study. At Washington University, the Beyond Boundaries program encourages students to combine traditional academic disciplines with real-world experiences to solve complex problems. Carnegie Mellon’s Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe) program allows students to integrate technology and the arts into their education, with options to specialize in areas such as game design, animation, and robotics.

Furthermore, both universities offer opportunities for students to study abroad and gain international experience. Washington University has partnerships with over 50 universities around the world, offering programs in countries such as Spain, China, and Australia. Carnegie Mellon has its own campus in Qatar, as well as partnerships with universities in Australia, China, and Europe.

Faculty-to-Student Ratio and Class Sizes

At both universities, students benefit from small class sizes and close student-teacher interaction. The faculty-to-student ratio at Washington University is 7:1, while the average class size is 16 students. At Carnegie Mellon, the faculty-to-student ratio is 10:1, while the average class size is 13 students. Despite having smaller student populations, both universities are able to offer a range of courses and academic opportunities, thanks to their extensive faculty resources and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Additionally, both universities prioritize undergraduate research and offer numerous opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning experiences. At Washington University, students can participate in research projects through the Office of Undergraduate Research, while Carnegie Mellon offers the Undergraduate Research Office to help students find research opportunities across various disciplines.

Furthermore, both universities have strong connections to industry and offer numerous internship and co-op opportunities for students. Washington University has partnerships with over 1,000 companies and organizations, while Carnegie Mellon has a strong reputation for producing graduates who are highly sought after by top employers in fields such as technology and engineering.

Research Opportunities and Funding

Both universities are recognized for their cutting-edge research programs and extensive funding opportunities for students and faculty. Washington University is a member of the Association of American Universities, a prestigious group of research universities in North America. At Washington University, students can participate in research initiatives in fields like medicine, engineering, and environmental studies, through programs like the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon supports research initiatives in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, and public policy, through the Undergraduate Research Office and the Institute for Politics and Strategy.

Furthermore, both universities have strong partnerships with industry leaders, providing students with opportunities to work on real-world projects and gain valuable experience. Washington University has partnerships with companies like Boeing, Monsanto, and Pfizer, while Carnegie Mellon has partnerships with companies like Google, Microsoft, and Intel.

In addition to research opportunities, both universities offer various funding options for students. Washington University provides financial aid packages that meet 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students, as well as merit-based scholarships. Carnegie Mellon offers need-based financial aid, as well as scholarships and grants based on academic achievement and talent in areas like the arts and athletics.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities

Both universities offer students a vibrant campus life, with a wide range of extracurricular activities and clubs. At Washington University, students can participate in over 300 organizations, including acappella groups, dance troupes, and service clubs. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon has over 250 student organizations, including a film club, a mock trial team, and a student government association. Both universities also offer opportunities for study abroad, internships, and community service, allowing students to engage with the broader world beyond the classroom.

Two students talking in a bench.

Moreover, both universities have state-of-the-art facilities for sports and fitness. Washington University has a 120,000 square foot athletic complex, which includes a swimming pool, basketball courts, and a fitness center. Carnegie Mellon has a 62,000 square foot fitness center, which includes a rock climbing wall, a yoga studio, and a weight room. These facilities are open to all students, and provide a great way to stay active and healthy while on campus.

Additionally, both universities have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Washington University has a multicultural center, which provides resources and support for students from diverse backgrounds. Carnegie Mellon has a center for student diversity and inclusion, which offers programming and events to promote understanding and respect for different cultures and identities. Both universities also have active LGBTQ+ student groups, which provide a safe and welcoming community for LGBTQ+ students and allies.

Housing Options and Amenities between Washington University in St. Louis vs Carnegie Mellon

Both universities offer students a range of housing options, from traditional residence halls to apartments and off-campus housing. Washington University guarantees on-campus housing for all four years, while Carnegie Mellon requires students to live on campus for their first two years. Both universities have modern facilities, including libraries, fitness centers, dining halls, and recreational areas. In addition, both universities have extensive support services for students, including counseling, health services, and career development.

Furthermore, both universities have implemented sustainability initiatives in their housing options and amenities. Washington University has a LEED Platinum certified residential college, which features energy-efficient lighting and heating systems, as well as a green roof. Carnegie Mellon has a Green Practices Committee that oversees sustainable practices in all aspects of campus life, including housing. Both universities also offer bike-sharing programs and encourage students to use public transportation to reduce their carbon footprint.

Career Services and Alumni Networks

Both universities have strong career services offices, offering students support with job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing. In addition, both universities have extensive alumni networks, allowing students to connect with successful graduates and explore career opportunities. At Washington University, the Career Center offers services such as career fairs, employer panels, and industry-specific resources. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon’s Career and Professional Development Center offers workshops, career fairs, and individual advising, as well as an Alumni and Employer Network for graduates.

Furthermore, both universities have partnerships with various companies and organizations, providing students with internship and job opportunities. Washington University has partnerships with companies such as Boeing, Monsanto, and Anheuser-Busch, while Carnegie Mellon has partnerships with companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple. These partnerships not only provide students with valuable work experience, but also help them build connections in their desired industries.

Athletics and Sports Teams

Both universities have competitive athletic programs, with a range of varsity and club sports teams that students can participate in. At Washington University, the Bears are a member of the NCAA Division III University Athletic Association, and have varsity teams in sports like basketball, swimming, and tennis. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon competes in the NCAA Division III and has varsity teams in sports like football, basketball, and volleyball. Both universities also offer fitness and recreational programs, including intramural sports and fitness classes.

Sports equipments placed side by side.

Aside from varsity and club sports teams, both universities also have a strong tradition of intramural sports. These programs allow students to participate in sports like flag football, dodgeball, and ultimate frisbee in a more relaxed and social setting. Additionally, both universities have state-of-the-art athletic facilities, including gyms, swimming pools, and outdoor fields, that are available for student use.

For students who are interested in sports but not necessarily interested in playing on a team, both universities offer opportunities to get involved in sports journalism and broadcasting. At Washington University, students can write for the student-run sports publication, Student Life Sports, or work for the campus radio station, KWUR Sports. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon has a student-run sports publication, The Tartan, and a sports broadcasting club, CUTV Sports.

Financial Aid and Tuition Costs between Washington University in St. Louis vs Carnegie Mellon

Both universities offer financial aid and scholarship opportunities for students who demonstrate financial need or academic excellence. At Washington University, around 60% of students receive some form of financial aid, with an average package of $51,419. Carnegie Mellon offers need-based and merit-based aid, with around 50% of students receiving some form of financial assistance. The total cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, and room and board, is around $78,710 at Washington University and around $78,480 at Carnegie Mellon. However, both universities have generous financial aid policies that aim to make college more affordable for all students.

In addition to financial aid and scholarships, both universities offer work-study programs that allow students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience. At Washington University, students can work on campus or in the surrounding community, with positions ranging from research assistants to tutors. Carnegie Mellon also offers a variety of work-study opportunities, including positions in the arts, athletics, and community service.

Furthermore, both universities have resources available to help students manage their finances and plan for the future. Washington University offers financial literacy workshops and one-on-one counseling sessions with financial aid advisors. Carnegie Mellon has a financial education center that provides students with information on budgeting, credit, and investing. These resources can help students make informed decisions about their finances and prepare for life after graduation.

Campus Safety and Security Measures

Both universities have robust campus safety and security measures, aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of all students, faculty, and staff. At Washington University, the campus is patrolled by trained security officers 24/7, and the university has a range of safety resources, including emergency notification systems and self-defense classes. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon has a campus police department and a range of safety measures, such as an emergency alert system and a campus shuttle program. Both universities also have community standards and conduct codes that promote a safe and respectful learning environment.

In addition to these measures, both universities have implemented new safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing guidelines, and increased cleaning and sanitation efforts. Washington University has also implemented a COVID-19 testing program for all students, faculty, and staff, and has designated quarantine and isolation spaces for those who test positive or have been exposed to the virus. Carnegie Mellon has similarly implemented a testing program and has established a contact tracing team to quickly identify and contain any potential outbreaks on campus.

Graduate School Programs and Rankings

Both universities are recognized for their strong graduate programs in a variety of fields, including medicine, law, business, and art. Washington University’s School of Medicine is consistently ranked among the top medical schools in the US, and the university’s Olin Business School is also highly respected. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy is highly ranked, as is its Tepper School of Business. Both universities also offer doctoral programs in a range of fields, allowing students to pursue research and academic careers.

Study Abroad Programs Offered

Two people talking to a student for a letter of recommendation.

Both universities offer extensive study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and cultural awareness. Washington University offers more than 100 study abroad programs in over 50 countries, with opportunities for semester-length programs, summer programs, and short-term travel courses. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon has study abroad programs in over 40 countries, with opportunities for semester-length programs, global internships, and faculty-led programs. Both universities also have international centers and resources to support students who want to study abroad.

Campus Sustainability Efforts

Both universities have made efforts to promote sustainability and reduce their environmental impact through sustainability initiatives and practices. At Washington University, sustainability efforts include the Office of Sustainability, which collaborates with students, faculty, and staff to develop and implement sustainable practices on campus. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon has a Green Practices Committee, which focuses on promoting sustainable building practices, transportation options, and energy conservation. Both universities have also received recognition for their sustainability efforts, ranking among the top green colleges in the US.

Notable Alumni from Washington University in St. Louis vs Carnegie Mellon

Washington University and Carnegie Mellon have produced many notable alumni in a variety of fields, including business, politics, and entertainment. Some notable alumni from Washington University include the actor Jon Hamm, the rapper Nelly, the writer Jonathan Franzen, and the entrepreneur Andy Taylor. Some notable alumni from Carnegie Mellon include the artist Andy Warhol, the astronaut Jay Apt, the playwright August Wilson, and the actress Holly Hunter.

Prospective Student Visits

Both universities offer prospective students and their families opportunities to visit campus, attend information sessions, and take tours. At Washington University, prospective students can take part in campus tours, information sessions, and overnight visits. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon offers campus tours, information sessions, and a range of specialized visits, such as an engineering and science visit day. Both universities also offer virtual tours and online resources for students who cannot visit campus in person.

Campus Resources for Students with Disabilities

Both universities have resources and facilities to support students with disabilities, including physical disabilities, learning disabilities, and mental health conditions. At Washington University, Disability Resources provides accommodations, services, and resources to enhance access and opportunities for students. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon has the Office of Disability Resources, which collaborates with students, faculty, and staff to provide accommodations and support services. Both universities also promote campus inclusion and diversity, working to create a welcoming and supportive environment for all students.

Collaborative Research Opportunities Between Both Universities

Although Washington University and Carnegie Mellon are located in different regions of the US, they have collaborated on research initiatives and academic programs in the past. In 2019, the two universities announced a partnership to launch a joint program in computer science and engineering, aimed at addressing global challenges and providing innovative research opportunities for students and faculty. Both universities value interdisciplinary approaches to research and encourage collaboration across fields and institutions.

Group of people talking in a meeting.

In conclusion, Washington University and Carnegie Mellon are both exceptional universities with a reputation for academic excellence, research, and innovation. While the comparison of Washington University in St. Louis vs Carnegie Mellon share some similarities in terms of student resources, campus life, and academic programs, there are also differences in location, admission requirements, financial aid, and other factors that may affect students’ decision-making. By considering all of the factors and resources available, students can choose the university that best fits their academic and personal goals.



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