The Carnegie Mellon Common Data Set

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Carnegie Mellon University banner

When it comes to researching colleges and universities, there is a wealth of information available to prospective students and their families. One such tool that is widely used by higher education institutions is the Common Data Set (CDS). In this article, we’ll explore how Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) utilizes the CDS to provide transparency about its institution.

Understanding the Common Data Set Initiative

The Common Data Set is a collaborative effort between publishers and colleges and universities to provide standard data elements and definitions. By using a common format, higher education institutions are able to provide accurate, clear, and consistent information to external entities such as college guides, researchers, and prospective students.

It is important to note that the Common Data Set is not a ranking system for colleges and universities. Rather, it serves as a tool to provide consistent and reliable information to those who are interested in learning more about higher education institutions.

The Purpose of the Common Data Set

The CDS is intended to be a comprehensive set of data that is regularly updated to reflect changes at the institution. The information provided in the CDS helps to answer questions about enrollment, admissions, financial aid, graduation rates, and faculty information. By having this information available in a standardized format, prospective students are able to better compare and contrast institutions.

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Additionally, the Common Data Set is used by researchers and policymakers to analyze trends in higher education and inform policy decisions. The data collected through the CDS can provide valuable insights into areas such as access and affordability, student outcomes, and institutional effectiveness.

Key Components of the Common Data Set

The CDS is broken down into sections, including general information about the institution, enrollment and persistence, admissions, academic offerings and policies, student life, annual expenses, financial aid, and graduation rates. Each of these sections contains detailed information that can help prospective students gain a better understanding of the institution.

For example, the enrollment and persistence section provides data on the number of students enrolled at the institution, as well as information on retention and graduation rates. The admissions section includes data on the number of applications received, acceptance rates, and the academic profile of admitted students.

The financial aid section provides information on the types of aid available, the average amount of aid awarded, and the percentage of students who receive aid. This information can be particularly helpful for students who are concerned about the cost of attending college.

Overall, the Common Data Set is a valuable tool for anyone who is interested in learning more about higher education institutions. By providing standardized and reliable data, the CDS helps to ensure that students and other stakeholders have the information they need to make informed decisions.

Carnegie Mellon University Overview

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie, the university has a rich history of innovation and excellence in the fields of science, technology, and the arts. Today, Carnegie Mellon is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading research institutions.

Brief History of Carnegie Mellon

Originally known as the Carnegie Technical Schools, the institution was created to provide education and training in the technical fields. In 1912, the school merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research to become the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Over the years, the university continued to expand its offerings and in 1967, it became Carnegie Mellon University.

Throughout its history, Carnegie Mellon has been at the forefront of innovation in several fields. For example, in the 1950s, the university was one of the first to establish a computer science program. Today, the university’s computer science program is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.

Academic Programs and Offerings

Carnegie Mellon offers over 100 programs of study across seven colleges and schools. The university is particularly well-known for its programs in computer science, engineering, and the arts. However, it also offers programs in business, humanities, and social sciences.

One of the unique aspects of Carnegie Mellon’s academic offerings is its focus on interdisciplinary programs. For example, the university offers a program in computational biology, which combines elements of computer science, biology, and mathematics. Additionally, the university has a program in entertainment technology, which combines elements of computer science, art, and design.

Campus Life and Facilities

Carnegie Mellon’s 140-acre campus is located in the heart of Pittsburgh, just a short walk from some of the city’s most popular attractions. The university has a vibrant campus life, with over 300 student clubs and organizations. Students are able to participate in a variety of sports, arts, and community service programs.

Portrait of happy students walking with bag and mobile phone

Carnegie Mellon also has several state-of-the-art facilities for research and learning. For example, the university’s Hunt Library is a futuristic building that has won several architectural awards. The library features a variety of innovative learning spaces, including a robotic retrieval system that can fetch books for students.

Overall, Carnegie Mellon University is a world-class institution that offers students a unique and enriching educational experience. Whether you’re interested in science, technology, the arts, or something else, Carnegie Mellon has something to offer.

Analyzing Carnegie Mellon’s Common Data Set

When it comes to choosing a university, there are many factors to consider. One important aspect is understanding the data available about the university, such as enrollment and admissions statistics. In this article, we will be exploring the Common Data Set for Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a private research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Now that we have a better understanding of the CDS and CMU, let’s dive into the data that’s available. By exploring enrollment and admissions statistics, we can better understand who attends CMU and how they got there.

Enrollment and Demographics

As of the fall of 2020, CMU has a total enrollment of 14,108 students. Of that total, 7,785 are undergraduates, and 6,323 are graduate students. This means that CMU has a relatively small student body, allowing for more personalized attention and support from faculty and staff.

Additionally, CMU has a diverse student body, with over 43% of students identifying as students of color. This diversity is reflected in the university’s commitment to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students. Furthermore, over 23% of students come from outside of the United States, making CMU a truly global community.

Admissions Statistics

Admission to CMU is highly competitive, with an acceptance rate of just 15%. This means that out of every 100 applicants, only 15 are admitted. However, for those who are admitted, the opportunities for academic and personal growth are immense.

The middle 50% of admitted students have SAT scores between 1470-1570 and ACT scores between 33-35. These scores demonstrate the academic excellence of CMU’s student body. Despite the competitive nature of admissions, CMU is need-blind when it comes to financial aid, meaning that the ability to pay is not considered when making admissions decisions. This ensures that all students have an equal opportunity to attend CMU, regardless of their financial background.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

While CMU is known for its academic rigor, it’s also recognized for its commitment to making education accessible to all students. In fact, the university offers need-based financial aid to over 50% of its undergraduate students. This means that students who may not have been able to attend CMU otherwise are given the opportunity to do so.

Additionally, CMU offers several merit-based scholarships, allowing high-achieving students to offset the cost of tuition. These scholarships are highly competitive and are awarded to students who have demonstrated exceptional academic and personal achievements.

Retention and Graduation Rates

One important metric to consider when choosing a college is retention and graduation rates. At CMU, 95% of first-year students return for their second year, indicating a high level of student satisfaction. This is a testament to the university’s commitment to providing a supportive and engaging learning environment.

The six-year graduation rate is 90%, meaning that the vast majority of students who attend CMU go on to complete their degree. This is a reflection of the university’s academic excellence and commitment to helping students achieve their goals.

Additionally, CMU has a strong track record of producing successful alumni, with graduates going on to work for companies such as Google, Facebook, and Pixar. This demonstrates the value of a CMU education and the opportunities it can provide.

Faculty and Class Sizes

Carnegie Mellon’s faculty members are leaders in their respective fields, and the university prides itself on attracting top talent. The student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1, meaning that students have ample opportunities to work closely with their professors. This allows for personalized attention and support, which can be especially beneficial for students who may need extra help or guidance.

a male student standing in front of a lobby

Additionally, the average class size at CMU is just 23 students. This small class size allows for more interactive and engaging discussions, as well as more opportunities for students to ask questions and receive feedback. It also allows for more individualized attention from professors, which can be especially beneficial for students who are struggling with a particular concept or assignment.

In conclusion, the Common Data Set for CMU provides valuable insights into the university’s enrollment, admissions, financial aid, retention, and graduation rates. By understanding this data, prospective students can make informed decisions about whether CMU is the right fit for them.

Comparing Carnegie Mellon to Other Institutions

While we’ve explored some of the data available about CMU, it’s also helpful to compare the university to other institutions. By benchmarking against peer institutions, we’re able to see how CMU stacks up in terms of size, academic programs, and other factors.

Benchmarking with Peer Institutions

When compared to other private research universities, CMU is on the smaller side, with an undergraduate enrollment of just over 7,000 students. However, the university’s focus on innovation and interdisciplinary study sets it apart from its peers.

National Rankings and Recognition

CMU consistently ranks highly in national and international rankings. In 2021, U.S. News and World Report ranked CMU as the #25 national university in the United States. Additionally, the university has been recognized for its programs in computer science, robotics, and drama.

Post-Graduation Outcomes and Alumni Success

One important metric to consider when choosing a college is post-graduation outcomes. At CMU, graduates are highly successful in their chosen fields, with over 86% of graduates employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation. Additionally, CMU has a robust alumni network, providing graduates with access to mentorship and job opportunities.


By exploring the Common Data Set and CMU’s use of it, we’re able to see the university’s commitment to transparency and providing clear information to prospective students. While the university is highly competitive, it’s also committed to making education accessible to all students. Additionally, CMU’s focus on innovation and interdisciplinary study sets it apart from its peers. Whether you’re considering CMU or another institution, it’s important to do your research and explore all available data before making a decision.

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