Notre Dame vs Carnegie Mellon: A Look at the Rivalry

July 14, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Group of students walking in the campus.

Notre Dame vs Carnegie Mellon: A Look at the Rivalry

When it comes to selecting a college or university, there are many factors to consider. In this article, we will explore and compare two leading institutions, the University of Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon University. Both are renowned institutions known for their excellence in academics, athletics, and research.

While Notre Dame is a private Catholic university located in South Bend, Indiana, Carnegie Mellon is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two world-class universities.

History of the Notre Dame-Carnegie Mellon Rivalry

The rivalry between Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon goes back several decades. While both universities have had a friendly rivalry, it’s the annual football game that is the highlight of the competition. Since 1930, the teams have played each other almost every year, and the game has become a source of pride for both universities’ athletic programs. Notre Dame leads the all-time series against Carnegie Mellon, but the teams have played too many close games over the years, and the rivalry is still going strong.

Aside from football, the rivalry between Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon extends to other areas as well. Both universities have highly regarded engineering programs, and there is often friendly competition between the two schools in this field. Additionally, the universities have collaborated on various research projects over the years, further strengthening the relationship between them.

One of the most memorable moments in the Notre Dame-Carnegie Mellon rivalry occurred in 1998, when the Carnegie Mellon Tartans upset the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a thrilling football game.

The Tartans were heavy underdogs going into the game, but they managed to pull off the upset thanks to a strong defensive performance and some clutch plays on offense. The victory was a major upset and remains one of the most memorable moments in the history of the rivalry.

Academics: A Comparison between the Two Universities

Both Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon have world-renowned faculties and academic programs. Notre Dame is famous for its strong undergraduate programs in business, engineering, and the liberal arts.

The university also offers graduate and professional degrees in law, medicine, and theology. Carnegie Mellon, on the other hand, is known for its exceptional programs in engineering, computer science, and art and design.

The university’s undergraduate programs also cover business, humanities, and social sciences. Both universities have a reputation for academic rigor, and graduates from both institutions have gone on to become leaders in their fields.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

However, there are some differences in the academic approach of the two universities. Notre Dame places a strong emphasis on a well-rounded education, with a core curriculum that includes courses in philosophy, theology, and the humanities.

In contrast, Carnegie Mellon’s curriculum is more focused on technical and practical skills, with a greater emphasis on hands-on experience and project-based learning. This difference in approach is reflected in the types of research and innovation that each university is known for.

Notre Dame is known for its research in ethics, social justice, and the humanities, while Carnegie Mellon is known for its cutting-edge work in artificial intelligence, robotics, and computer science.

Campus Life: Notre Dame vs Carnegie Mellon

The campus life experience can make a significant impact on a student’s overall university experience. Notre Dame has a traditional college campus, complete with Gothic-style buildings, grassy quads, and a football stadium that seats more than 80,000 people. The student body is predominantly Catholic, with a strong emphasis on community service and faith formation.

Carnegie Mellon’s campus, on the other hand, is known for its modern architecture and cutting-edge technology. The university has a diverse student body from all over the world and prides itself on its forward-thinking approach to education.

Notre Dame offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, including more than 500 student clubs and organizations. These groups cover a variety of interests, from academic and professional organizations to cultural and recreational clubs. The university also has a strong athletic program, with 26 varsity sports teams and a number of intramural and club sports available to students.

Group of students walking in the school campus.

Carnegie Mellon, on the other hand, is known for its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. The university has a number of programs and resources available to students who are interested in starting their own businesses or pursuing careers in technology and innovation.

The campus is also home to a number of research centers and institutes, where students can work alongside faculty members on cutting-edge research projects.

Sports Programs: Which University Comes Out on Top?

Both universities have strong athletic programs that are deeply ingrained in their respective campus cultures. Notre Dame is known for its storied football program, with 11 national championships and many legendary players and coaches.

The university also has strong programs in basketball, hockey, and fencing. Carnegie Mellon, on the other hand, has had success in several sports, including soccer, tennis, and swimming. The university also has a growing esports program, with a dedicated gaming facility and competitive teams.

Despite their differences, both universities prioritize the well-being of their student-athletes. Notre Dame has a strong focus on academic success, with a graduation rate of 98% for its student-athletes. The university also provides resources for mental health and wellness, including a full-time sports psychologist.

Carnegie Mellon similarly emphasizes the importance of academics, with a graduation rate of 91% for its student-athletes. The university also provides resources for injury prevention and recovery, including a state-of-the-art sports medicine center.

Alumni Network: Which Offers More Opportunities?

Both Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon have extensive alumni networks that offer a wide range of opportunities for graduates. Notre Dame’s alumni network is especially strong among Catholic communities and is known for its support of both professional and personal development.

Carnegie Mellon’s alumni network is active in many industries, including technology, the arts, and finance. The university also has a robust career services department that helps graduates pursue internships and job opportunities.

However, it is important to note that the size of the alumni network is one of many factors to consider when evaluating the opportunities it offers. The quality of the connections and the level of engagement among alumni are also crucial. At Notre Dame, the alumni network is known for its tight-knit community and strong sense of loyalty to the university.

Students smiling at the camera.

Many graduates are eager to help fellow alumni and offer mentorship and career advice. At Carnegie Mellon, the alumni network is more diverse and dispersed, but it is also highly active and supportive. Graduates often collaborate on projects, attend networking events, and share job leads and referrals.

Tuition and Financial Aid: How Do They Compare?

As with most private universities, both Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon have considerable tuition costs. Notre Dame’s tuition for undergraduate students is $60,301, while Carnegie Mellon’s tuition is $61,344. Both universities have generous financial aid programs, and students who demonstrate financial need may receive scholarships or grants to offset the cost of attendance.

It is important to note that while the tuition costs at both universities may seem high, they also offer a wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities that can enhance a student’s college experience.

Notre Dame, for example, has a strong focus on community service and offers numerous service-learning programs, while Carnegie Mellon is known for its top-ranked programs in computer science and engineering.

Two students looking excited while staring at their computer

In addition to financial aid, both universities also offer work-study programs and student employment opportunities to help students cover the cost of attendance. These programs not only provide financial support but also offer valuable work experience and networking opportunities for students.

Student Body Diversity: A Look at the Numbers

Diversity and inclusion are increasingly essential factors in selecting a university. Notre Dame has a diverse student body, with 36% of the undergraduate population identifying as a racial or ethnic minority. The university also has a robust LGBTQ+ community and several organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusivity.

Carnegie Mellon’s student body is also diverse, with 43% of undergraduates identifying as a racial or ethnic minority. The university has numerous initiatives that support diversity and inclusion, including a diversity and inclusion council and affinity groups for underrepresented communities.

Furthermore, both universities have made efforts to increase diversity among their faculty and staff. Notre Dame has implemented a diversity hiring initiative, which aims to increase the representation of underrepresented groups in faculty and staff positions. Similarly, Carnegie Mellon has a diversity recruitment program that actively seeks out candidates from diverse backgrounds for faculty and staff positions.

In addition to racial and ethnic diversity, both universities also prioritize diversity in terms of socioeconomic status. Notre Dame offers need-based financial aid to students from low-income families, and Carnegie Mellon has a program that provides full-tuition scholarships to students from underrepresented communities who demonstrate financial need.

Research Opportunities at Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon

Research is an integral part of both Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon’s mission, and both universities have world-class research facilities and programs. Notre Dame focuses on research in fields such as environmental science, global health, and nanotechnology. Carnegie Mellon is renowned for its research in robotics, artificial intelligence, and the creative arts. Both universities have numerous research centers and institutes, and students have opportunities to conduct research alongside faculty members.

At Notre Dame, students can participate in research through programs such as the Center for Nano Science and Technology and the Environmental Change Initiative. The university also offers research opportunities in the humanities, including the Medieval Institute and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

Carnegie Mellon’s research opportunities extend beyond the campus, with partnerships with organizations such as NASA and the National Robotics Engineering Center. The university also has a strong focus on interdisciplinary research, with centers such as the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and the Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

Career Prospects and Job Placement Rates for Graduates of Both Universities

After graduation, students want to feel confident in their career prospects. Both Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon have strong career services programs that offer job placement assistance and alumni networking opportunities. Notre Dame graduates have gone on to work in a wide range of fields, including finance, law, education, and healthcare.

Carnegie Mellon graduates have found success in industries such as technology, the arts, and entertainment.

Additionally, both universities have high job placement rates for their graduates. According to recent data, Notre Dame has a job placement rate of 95% within six months of graduation, while Carnegie Mellon has a job placement rate of 93%. This demonstrates the effectiveness of their career services programs and the value of their degrees in the job market.

Faculty and Staff Quality: Who Has the Better Reputation?

Faculty and staff are essential to the overall quality of an academic institution. Both Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon pride themselves on having exceptional faculty members and staff. Notre Dame has a lower student-to-faculty ratio, with an average of 9 students per faculty member. Carnegie Mellon’s faculty profile includes Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, and other distinguished academics.

However, Notre Dame has a higher percentage of faculty members with terminal degrees in their field, with 98% of their faculty holding a PhD or equivalent degree. This indicates a strong commitment to academic excellence and research. On the other hand, Carnegie Mellon has a higher percentage of staff members with advanced degrees, such as master’s degrees and MBAs, which may contribute to their strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

Additionally, both institutions have implemented various initiatives to support their faculty and staff. Notre Dame offers a Faculty Development Program, which provides resources and support for faculty members to enhance their teaching and research skills. Carnegie Mellon has a Staff Council, which serves as a liaison between staff members and the university administration, advocating for staff rights and benefits.

Campus Resources and Facilities: A Comparative Analysis

Campuses that offer quality resources and facilities can enhance the student experience. Notre Dame has invested heavily in recent years to upgrade its campus facilities. The university boasts cutting-edge research labs, high-tech classrooms, and state-of-the-art athletic facilities. Carnegie Mellon’s campus is equally impressive, with innovative technology labs, advanced art and design studios, and modern dormitories and dining halls. Both universities offer students access to a range of resources, including libraries, career centers, and health and wellness centers.

However, while both universities offer impressive resources and facilities, there are some notable differences. Notre Dame’s campus is known for its beautiful architecture and expansive green spaces, providing students with a serene and picturesque environment. On the other hand, Carnegie Mellon’s campus is located in the heart of Pittsburgh, offering students easy access to the city’s vibrant cultural scene and numerous internship and job opportunities.

Students writing an essay in a long table.

Additionally, Notre Dame places a strong emphasis on community service and social justice, with many resources and programs dedicated to promoting these values. Carnegie Mellon, on the other hand, is renowned for its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, with many resources and programs geared towards helping students launch their own startups and businesses.

Internship Opportunities at Notre Dame vs Carnegie Mellon

Internships provide critical experience for students to apply their academic knowledge in real-world settings. Notre Dame has a robust Career Development Center that helps students identify and secure internships across many industries and professions.

Carnegie Mellon’s Handshake platform connects students with a vast network of employers and internship opportunities worldwide.

At Notre Dame, students can also participate in the Experiential Learning Program, which offers hands-on learning opportunities through internships, research, and service projects. This program allows students to gain practical skills and knowledge while making a positive impact in their communities.

Carnegie Mellon’s Career and Professional Development Center provides students with personalized career coaching and resources to help them navigate the internship search process. In addition, the university has partnerships with leading companies and organizations, providing students with access to exclusive internship opportunities.

Notre Dame vs Carnegie Mellon: Extracurricular Activities and Clubs Offered by Each University

Participation in extracurricular activities can add immense value to the university experience. Notre Dame has a vast array of student organizations, clubs, and activities, including cultural organizations, service groups, and numerous athletic teams. Carnegie Mellon has an equally impressive range of clubs and activities, including student government, theater groups, and robotics clubs.

Additionally, both universities offer unique extracurricular opportunities. Notre Dame has a renowned marching band, the Fighting Irish, which performs at football games and other events. Carnegie Mellon has a student-run radio station, WRCT, which broadcasts a variety of music and talk shows. These unique activities allow students to explore their interests and passions outside of the classroom.

Notre Dame vs Carnegie Mellon: Campus Safety and Security Measures Compared

Campus safety is a critical concern for students and parents. Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon have robust safety and security protocols in place, including campus police departments, emergency notification systems, and safety escorts. Both universities have their own individual challenges in terms of safety, such as weather conditions, large campus sizes, and urban settings.

Notre Dame has implemented a number of additional safety measures in recent years, including a mobile safety app that allows students to quickly and easily report incidents and request assistance. The university has also increased the number of security cameras on campus and has implemented a system for tracking and responding to potential threats.

Carnegie Mellon has taken a different approach to campus safety, focusing on education and prevention. The university offers a variety of safety training programs for students, faculty, and staff, including self-defense classes and active shooter response training. Additionally, Carnegie Mellon has implemented a number of environmental safety measures, such as improved lighting and landscaping, to help deter crime and increase safety on campus.

Location and Surrounding Area: Pros and Cons

The location of a university can impact the overall experience for students. Notre Dame is located in South Bend, Indiana, a small city with a strong community feel. The university is located close to the Indiana Dunes National Park and Lake Michigan.

Carnegie Mellon is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a vibrant and bustling city with excellent opportunities for employment and cultural activities. However, both universities have unique challenges, such as harsh winters and high costs of living.

Another factor to consider when evaluating the location of a university is the accessibility of transportation. Notre Dame is located near the South Bend International Airport, making it easy for students to travel home or to other destinations.

On the other hand, Carnegie Mellon is located near the Pittsburgh International Airport, which offers flights to many domestic and international destinations. Additionally, both universities have access to public transportation, such as buses and trains, which can make it easier for students to explore the surrounding areas.

Admissions Information for Both Universities

Admission to Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon is highly competitive, and both universities receive a large number of applications each year. Prospective students should expect to submit an application fee, transcripts, essays, recommendations, and test scores.

Notre Dame, for example, accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application. Carnegie Mellon has its exclusive application. Admission decisions at both universities are based on a holistic review process that considers the entire application.

It is important to note that both universities also offer need-based financial aid and merit-based scholarships to eligible students. Notre Dame’s financial aid program is need-based and determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the CSS Profile. Carnegie Mellon also offers need-based aid, as well as merit-based scholarships for exceptional academic achievement, leadership, and talent in the arts. Prospective students are encouraged to research and apply for all available financial aid options to help make their education more affordable.

Student Testimonials on Their Experience at Notre Dame or Carnegie Mellon

Ultimately, the student experience at a university is subjective and can vary widely from person to person. What one student enjoys about a university, another may find challenging.

That said, there is no shortage of inspiring stories from students and alumni of both Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon. Many students have spoken about the transformative impact of their university experience and the lifelong connections they’ve made with faculty members, peers, and alumni.


Comparing Notre Dame and Carnegie Mellon is a challenging feat. Both universities have distinct strengths and advantages that make them exceptional institutions. Ultimately, the decision to attend one university over the other will depend on a student’s individual goals, interests, and preferences. Regardless of which university a student chooses, they can rest assured they will receive a world-class education and a lifelong network of alumni and friends.

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