Carnegie Mellon University

5th-Year Master's in Machine Learning

The 5th-Year Master's in Machine Learning allows CMU students to complete a MS in Machine Learning in one additional year by taking some of the required courses as an undergraduate. Interested students apply earlier in Senior year than the standard application deadline and receive the response earlier as well.

Requirements for Consideration

  • Must be graduating with a Bachelor's degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Must take precisely 3 of the MS courses during their undergraduate years, passed with a B or better. (These courses may also count towards the Bachelor's degree.)
  • Must take 10-701 or 10-715 no later than the semester they apply; or must have taken both 10-315 and 15-281. (See "Recommendations to Prospective Applicants" below.)

Differences Between the Standard and Fifth-Year MS

Since 5th-Year MS students have taken 3 courses for the MS during their undergraduate years, the 5th-year MS can be completed in 2 semesters instead of the standard 3 semesters.

5th-year MS students must complete the program as full-time students (at least 36 units/semester) for two semesters plus a summer.

Typical Schedule

  1. Courses taken in undergraduate program: 10-701 or 10-715 Introduction to Machine Learning + 2 Core or Elective courses.
  2. Summer between 4th and 5th years: Practicum (internship or research related to Machine Learning). 
  3. Fall semester: 36-700 or 36-705 Statistics + 10-718 Data Analysis + a Core course.
  4. Spring semester: 10-716 Advanced Machine Learning: Theory and Methods + 2 Core or Elective courses.

Note: The program is designed for a Fall start, but a Spring start is possible. If a student will be graduating in December instead of May and so will be entering the Fifth-Year Master's in Spring instead of Fall, they are encouraged to take 36-700 in Senior Fall as one of the three courses taken as an undergraduate to count towards the master's degree, since it is good preparation for the remaining master's courses and is only offered in Fall. A standard course plan in that case would be 10-701 (or 10-315 + 15-281) no later than Junior Spring, 36-700 in Senior Fall, and the third course no later than Senior Fall.

Recommendations to Prospective Applicants

Students can take 10-701 or 10-715 as late as the semester they apply, but should aim to take it during Junior year. If you are taking it in the semester you apply, please authorize us to check your midterm grade.

Alternatively, instead of taking 10-701, a student may instead take both 10-315 Intro to ML for SCS Majors and 15-281 Artificial Intelligence. Together, these two courses can fulfill the 10-701 requirement. (Note that they will remain listed as 10-315 and 15-281 on the transcript, and the two of them together count as "one course" for the purpose of the Fifth-Year MS.)  Please be advised that 10-301 does not count towards the Master's in any way.

Applicants should be aware that only 3 courses may double-count between the Bachelor's and Master's degree. Additionally, no courses can be triple-counted, such as being used for a minor, major, and the master's. Students will not be required to re-take courses, but may need to take additional electives if more than three relevant courses were taken before earning their Bachelor's degree.

Applicants should also be aware that we continually review our program requirements and update them as necessary to ensure an appropriate and up-to-date curriculum.  Please note that the program requirements applicable to you would be those in effect when your admission offer is made, which are not necessarily those in effect today. Our curriculum was tightened in Spring 2019 (from this older curriculum to this newer curriculum). In this particular case, applicants should be aware that courses taken after Spring 2019 must come from the newer curriculum, while courses from the older curriculum may be included in the application if they were taken in Spring 2019 or earlier.

The 5th-year MS application does not require GRE scores or digital portfolios, and only requires two letters of recommendation instead of three. However, if a student is planning to apply to other graduate programs if not admitted to the 5th-year MS, it may be advisable to prepare for those other applications as normal.

The tuition and fees for the 5th-year MS are the same as the standard MS. 5th-Year MS students are also considered graduate students, not undergraduates, and so should contact Housing Services if they're living on-campus or their financial aid provider if they have one to learn what effects this may have.

How to Apply

Submit your Fall 2022 application here.

Most students will apply in Senior Fall for entry Fifth-Year Fall, but there is a Spring admissions period for students graduating off-cycle. For example, students graduating a semester early can apply in Junior Spring for entry Fourth-Year Spring.

The next application deadline is October 26, 2022 for students applying to enter in Fall 2023.  The next spring application will be in March 2023. Submit your Fall 2022 application via ApplyGrad here.

The application opens approximately one month before the application deadline. For prospective applicants who want to plan ahead, the materials you should prepare are listed below:

For the Statement of Purpose, type a one page concise statement including: your objective in pursuing a graduate degree in Machine Learning; your background in particularly relevant fields; any relevant academic or research experience; and any additional information you wish to supply to the Admissions Committee.

The letters of recommendation may be written by anyone who knows you well. If you have done research with a faculty member, a letter of recommendation from them would be ideal, but note that research experience is not required. When you begin your application, the ApplyGrad system will have you enter the names and email addresses of your recommenders, and your recommenders will be emailed personalized links where they will upload their letter of recommendation.

All materials must be received by the application deadline for consideration that semester. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We welcome applicants from any major in CMU.

Students should apply in the semester before they graduate; a student graduating in May should apply in Fall, and a student graduating in December should apply in Spring.

We aim to return decisions to applicants approximately 4-6 weeks after they apply.

The deadline for admitted applicants to accept or reject our offer of admission is approximately 4 weeks after receiving our offer.

The 5th-Year MS program begins the semester after the student earns their bachelor’s; gap semesters are not allowed.

Students earning their bachelor’s degree in May have the option of completing their practicum in either the summer between their Senior and 5th years (leading to a May master’s graduation date) or at the completion of their 5th year (leading to an August master’s graduation date).

Unfortunately, due to the rules regarding student visas, students in F-1 immigration status earning their bachelor’s degree in May cannot fulfill their practicum by completing an internship in the US. They must fulfill the practicum requirement either by engaging in summer research at CMU or by completing a summer internship in their home country (or other, non-US country where they have work authorization).

Students in F-1 immigration status who are earning their bachelor’s degree in December (and so are starting their master’s program in Spring) can generally use CPT work benefits to complete their internship in the US in the summer between their two master’s semesters.

International students are encouraged to remain in close consultation with OIE, including notifying them about their plans as soon as they are admitted to the 5th-Year MS program.

Due to the small size of the program, we do not publish statistics for the 5th-Year MSML program. However, the 5th-Year MSML program is at least as competitive as the Primary MS program. The Primary MS in Machine Learning webpage gives the statistics for successful applicants to that program.

The 5th-Year MSML application does not include any test scores. However, if a student is planning to apply to other graduate programs if they are not admitted to this one, they should look up what tests are necessary for the programs they would be applying to and take any necessary tests early enough to be eligible to apply to those programs.

Yes, students are welcome to apply to the Primary MS program if they are not admitted to the 5th-Year MS. It is possible to be admitted to the Primary MS even if an application was not accepted for admission to the 5th-Year MS. These two application paths have different requirements and are therefore evaluated differently.

Students are not allowed to double-count courses between their bachelor’s degree and the Primary MS degree, even if they earned their bachelor’s degree at CMU.

Note that the Primary MS application includes additional components that would need to be prepared in advance of receiving the 5th-Year MS decision, such as GRE scores and a third letter of recommendation.

We strongly discourage applicants from applying to the 5th-Year MS program twice. The admissions committee’s decision is unlikely to change. In addition, their decision would not be released until shortly before the student would be earning their bachelor’s, leaving them very little time to prepare alternate plans if they aren’t admitted.

Instead, applicants are welcome to apply to the Primary MS if they are not admitted to the 5th-Year MS.

No, the decision deadline for admitted applicants is approximately a month after we send our admission letters, which is before other graduate programs would be returning their admissions decisions. If a student is accepting our offer of admission, they should not apply to other graduate programs after receiving our offer.

No, the 5th-Year MSML program requires students to take courses in-person at the Pittsburgh campus full-time in both Fall and Spring.

The full-time Summer practicum may be completed outside Pittsburgh.

The Career and Professional Development Center compiles Post-Graduate Salaries & Destination Information about all CMU alumni.

You can also see where MS in Machine Learning alumni are working by going to the Machine Learning Master's Alumni webpage. The data for 5th-Year MS alumni is combined with the data for Primary MS alumni.

Additional Questions

For questions about the Machine Learning Master's Program that have not been answered on our webpages, please contact the Machine Learning Master's Admissions Coordinator, Laura Winter.

Laura Winter holds office hours during Spring and Fall. The Fall 2022 office hours are Wednesdays from 2 - 3 PM in GHC 9112. The office hours aren't held when classes aren't in session (e.g., holidays and breaks). Note: Dec 7 office hours have been changed to Dec 8 via Zoom.  Please find link below: 

Topic: Masters in Machine Learning Office Hours
Time: Dec 8, 2022 02:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://cmu.zoom.us/j/97007847876?pwd=VDcwV21sa0cxNHorQ1gzaEV4VWZUZz09

You can also email her at any time at lwinter@andrew.cmu.edu.