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Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon: A Look at the Differences Between Two Top Universities

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

A student sitting on the chair, thinking intently while holding a notebook and pen.

Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon: A Look at the Differences Between Two Top Universities

Are you trying to decide between Lehigh University and Carnegie Mellon University? Both of these top-ranked universities have a lot to offer prospective students, but there are significant differences between them that can help guide your decision.

In this article, we compare Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon across a range of factors, from their histories to their academic programs. Read on to learn everything you need to know to make an informed choice between these two exceptional institutions.

Introduction to Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon Universities

Lehigh University is a private research university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, founded in 1865. Known for its strengths in engineering, business, and the arts, Lehigh boasts a student body of approximately 7,000 undergraduates and graduates combined.

Carnegie Mellon University, on the other hand, is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, founded in 1900. With a strong focus on computer science, engineering, and the arts, Carnegie Mellon has roughly 14,000 students enrolled across its undergraduate and graduate programs.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

Both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon have a strong commitment to research and innovation. Lehigh’s research centers include the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, the Energy Research Center, and the Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy.

Carnegie Mellon is home to the Robotics Institute, the Software Engineering Institute, and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, among others. These research centers provide students with opportunities to work on cutting-edge projects and collaborate with faculty members who are leaders in their fields.

History of Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon Universities

Both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon have long and illustrious histories. Lehigh was founded shortly after the end of the Civil War by Asa Packer, a prominent businessman and philanthropist. Originally called the Bethlehem Iron Company, Lehigh expanded its curricular offerings over the years to become the modern, research-intensive university it is today.

Carnegie Mellon, meanwhile, was founded by Andrew Carnegie, a steel magnate, and philanthropist, as the Carnegie Technical Schools. The institution later merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to become Carnegie Mellon University.

Lehigh University has a strong tradition of engineering and technology education, with its engineering programs consistently ranked among the top in the country. The university also has a renowned business school, the College of Business and Economics, which offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business, economics, and accounting.

Carnegie Mellon University is known for its strengths in computer science, engineering, and the arts. The university is home to the School of Computer Science, which is widely regarded as one of the best computer science programs in the world. Carnegie Mellon is also home to the College of Fine Arts, which offers programs in art, design, drama, and music.

Campus Life at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon Universities

The campus experiences at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon are markedly different. Lehigh’s campus is located in Bethlehem, a small city in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania. The campus is compact and intimate, with a vibrant student life and plenty of green spaces for studying and relaxing.

Three caucasian students talking to each other.

Carnegie Mellon’s campus, by contrast, is located in the bustling city of Pittsburgh. While the campus is larger and more spread out than Lehigh’s, there is always something going on, from concerts and performances to hackathons and coding competitions.

Despite the differences in location and campus size, both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. At Lehigh, students can join over 200 clubs and organizations, including club sports, cultural groups, and academic societies.

Carnegie Mellon also has a diverse range of clubs and organizations, with over 300 student groups on campus. From the Robotics Club to the Film Club, there is something for everyone to explore and pursue their interests outside of the classroom.

Location Comparison: Bethlehem vs Pittsburgh

The differences between Bethlehem and Pittsburgh go beyond just the size of the cities. Bethlehem is a charming and historic city with a strong sense of community and a vibrant arts scene. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is a dynamic and diverse urban center with a rich cultural heritage and a thriving tech sector.

While both cities offer plenty of opportunities for recreation and entertainment, Pittsburgh has a wider range of offerings, from major sports teams to world-class museums and restaurants.

One notable difference between the two cities is their geography. Bethlehem is located in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, surrounded by rolling hills and scenic countryside. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is situated at the confluence of three rivers, giving it a unique waterfront landscape and opportunities for water-based activities.

Academic Programs Comparison: STEM vs Liberal Arts

Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon are both highly regarded for their academic programs, but they differ significantly in their areas of specialization. Lehigh has a strong reputation for engineering, business, and the arts, while Carnegie Mellon is known for its strengths in computer science, engineering, and the arts.

View of computer engineers working on a project.

Lehigh’s academic programs have a broader liberal arts focus, with a wide range of majors across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Carnegie Mellon, by contrast, is more focused on STEM fields, with innovative programs in robotics, machine learning, and cybersecurity.

Despite their differences, both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon offer excellent opportunities for students to pursue their academic interests. Lehigh’s liberal arts focus allows students to explore a variety of subjects and develop a well-rounded education, while Carnegie Mellon’s STEM focus prepares students for careers in cutting-edge fields that are in high demand.

Additionally, both universities offer a range of extracurricular activities and resources to support student success. Lehigh has a strong athletics program, with 25 varsity sports teams, as well as numerous clubs and organizations for students to get involved in. Carnegie Mellon has a thriving arts scene, with opportunities for students to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and visual arts exhibitions.

Faculty Comparison: Teaching vs Research Focus

Another key difference between Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon is the focus of their faculty. Lehigh professors tend to be more focused on teaching and mentoring students, with a strong commitment to undergraduate education as well as cutting-edge research.

Carnegie Mellon professors, by contrast, are often more focused on research, with many leading scholars and innovators in their fields. While both universities have excellent faculty across the board, the balance between teaching and research may be a key factor in deciding which institution is right for you.

It is important to note that the teaching vs research focus of faculty can also impact the classroom experience for students. At Lehigh, students may have more opportunities for one-on-one interactions with professors and a greater emphasis on hands-on learning.

At Carnegie Mellon, students may have access to more cutting-edge research projects and opportunities to work alongside leading scholars in their fields.

Student Body Comparison: Diversity and Size

The student bodies at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon also differ in some important ways. Lehigh is a smaller, more intimate institution with a diverse student body that includes students from all 50 states and over 100 countries.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Carnegie Mellon is larger and more diverse, with an international student population of over 4,000 and a strong commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. Both universities have active and engaged student communities, with opportunities for extracurricular activities and student organizations in a wide range of fields and interests.

Additionally, Lehigh University has a strong commitment to community service and encourages students to engage in service projects both on and off campus. The university has partnerships with local organizations and non-profits, providing students with opportunities to make a positive impact in the surrounding community.

Carnegie Mellon also values community engagement and offers a variety of service-oriented programs and initiatives, including a service fraternity and a service learning center that connects students with community partners. Both universities prioritize giving back and creating socially responsible leaders.

Campus Facilities Comparison: Libraries, Labs, Sports Centers

Both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon have top-notch facilities for studying, conducting research, and staying active. Lehigh has a variety of well-equipped libraries and study spaces, as well as state-of-the-art labs and research centers across the campus.

The university also has an impressive athletic program, with numerous sports teams and well-maintained sports and fitness facilities. Carnegie Mellon also has excellent libraries, labs, and research centers, with a particular focus on high-tech facilities for computer science and engineering. The university also has a thriving athletic program, with a range of competitive teams and top-notch sports facilities.

Additionally, both universities offer a range of other facilities to enhance student life. Lehigh has a student center that provides a variety of services, including dining options, a bookstore, and a movie theater.

The university also has a performing arts center that hosts a range of events throughout the year. Carnegie Mellon has a similar student center, as well as an art museum and a theater that showcases student productions. Both universities also have extensive outdoor spaces, including parks and gardens, that provide a peaceful retreat from the academic rigors of campus life.

Admission Requirements Comparison: GPA, test scores, essays

Admission requirements at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon are similar in many respects, but there are some key differences to keep in mind. Both universities require strong GPAs and test scores, as well as well-written essays and strong letters of recommendation.

Carnegie Mellon, however, places more emphasis on demonstrated achievement in areas such as math, science, and computer science, and may require additional application materials such as coding samples or project portfolios. Lehigh, on the other hand, places more emphasis on well-roundedness and achievement across a range of fields and interests.

Another important factor to consider when comparing admission requirements at Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon is the acceptance rate. While both universities are highly selective, Carnegie Mellon has a lower acceptance rate than Lehigh. This means that applicants to Carnegie Mellon must have exceptional academic and extracurricular achievements to be considered for admission.

Financial Aid Comparison: Scholarships, grants, loans

Both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon are committed to providing financial assistance to all students who need it. The universities offer a range of scholarships, grants, and loans to help offset the costs of tuition and living expenses.

Carnegie Mellon also offers a number of merit-based scholarships and fellowships for students with exceptional academic and extracurricular achievements. Lehigh, meanwhile, has a need-blind admissions policy, meaning that students are admitted based on their academic and personal qualities, rather than their ability to pay.

It is important to note that the financial aid packages offered by both universities may differ based on a student’s individual circumstances, such as their family’s income and assets. Additionally, students may be required to submit additional documentation, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), to be considered for certain types of financial aid.

It is recommended that students thoroughly research and compare the financial aid options available at each university before making a decision on where to attend.

Career opportunities comparison: Internships, job placement rates

Career opportunities are a major consideration for many prospective students, and both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon have strong track records when it comes to internships and job placement rates. Lehigh has a robust career services office that provides a wide range of resources, from on-campus recruiting events to individualized career counseling sessions.

a young man shakes someone's hand after being interviewed

Carnegie Mellon, meanwhile, has strong connections to the tech industry and a reputation for producing graduates who go on to work for major tech companies and startups alike.

However, it’s important to note that the types of internships and job opportunities available at each school may differ. Lehigh has a strong focus on business and engineering, with many students securing internships and jobs in finance, consulting, and engineering firms. On the other hand, Carnegie Mellon’s strengths lie in computer science and technology, with many graduates going on to work for companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

Additionally, both schools offer unique programs and resources to help students prepare for their careers. Lehigh’s Mountaintop Initiative allows students to work on interdisciplinary projects with faculty and industry partners, gaining hands-on experience and building their resumes.

Carnegie Mellon’s Career and Professional Development Center offers workshops and events specifically tailored to students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation, helping them develop the skills and connections needed to launch their own startups.

Alumni network comparison: Success stories and networking opportunities

Finally, the alumni networks of Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon are both extensive and impressive. Graduates of both institutions have gone on to achieve great success in a wide range of fields, from business and finance to the arts and entertainment.

Both universities offer a range of networking opportunities for alumni, from regional events and club activities to online communities and mentorship programs. Lehigh’s alumni network is particularly strong in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, while Carnegie Mellon’s alumni are spread throughout the world.

Additionally, both Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon have established partnerships with various companies and organizations, providing their alumni with exclusive job opportunities and career resources.

Lehigh’s Career Services Center has partnerships with over 1,000 employers, while Carnegie Mellon’s Career and Professional Development Center offers access to job postings and career fairs with top companies in various industries. These partnerships not only benefit alumni but also provide valuable connections for current students looking to jumpstart their careers.

Conclusion & Final Thoughts on Choosing Between Lehigh and Carnegie Mellon

So, which university is right for you – Lehigh or Carnegie Mellon? The answer, of course, depends on your individual goals, interests, and priorities. If you are particularly interested in STEM fields or have a passion for computer science and engineering, Carnegie Mellon may be the clear choice.

If you value a broad-based liberal arts education and a close-knit campus community, on the other hand, Lehigh may be the better fit. Whatever your choice, we hope this comparison guide has been helpful in making an informed decision about your academic future.

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