Carnegie Mellon University
These frequently asked questions are for MLD PhD students.

How do I register or audit a course?
You should plan to spend 50% of your time in courses and 50% of your time doing research. Therefore you should be registered for at least 24 units of 10-920 Reading and Research each semester. Once you have completed your core courses and electives then your research units increase so that you are registered for a total of 48 units each semester. Once you propose then you should register for 10-930 Dissertaton Research instead of Reading and Research.

Adding/Dropping Courses
You are able to add or drop a class in your schedule until the 10th day of when classes begin. After that you will need to see the PhD Program Manager for help in making adjustments to your schedule.

Changing the Maximum Units
Please send email to the PhD Program Manager to request an increase in your maximum units if you are having trouble registering for classes.

Auditing a Course
First you need to actually register for the course. Fill out the course audit form and have your advisor and the course instructor sign to indicate his/her permission. Submit the signed form to the PhD Program Manager for school signature and submission to Enrollment Services.

Any course at the 700 or higher level in SCS or Statistics (36-xxx) may be used as an elective. Any other electives must be approved by your advisor. Please have your advisor send approval to

Yes, if you would rather take Advanced Data Analysis I & II in Statistics & Data Science instead of the Machine Learning in Practice course in MLD then we will count that. You will need to send your final approved ADA report to the PhD Program Manager, along with the date of completion.

PhD Presentation Skills Requirement
To satisfy the Presentation Skills requirement, students must give a talk that is at least 30 minutes long and invite members of the Speaking Skills Committee to attend and evaluate it.
Speaking Skills Form

PhD Writing Skills Requirement
In order to satisfy the Writing Skills requirement the student must be the first author on a paper. The quality of the paper must be such that if submitted to a major conference or journal it has the possibility of acceptance. It doesn't have to actually be submitted. The student must have a Review Committee of two reviewers.  The Review Committee consists of one faculty from Carnegie Mellon, may be the faculty advisor, and one PhD student who is not a co-author on the paper.  If the Faculty Reviewer is a co-author, they must explicitly indicate the student’s contribution to the writing. The Review Committee fills out the Writing Skills Review Form and must unanimously approve the paper to satisfy the requirement. If the student fails, the evaluators give guidance on the necessary revisions and the student tries again.

A ML PhD student may waive the writing skill requirement if the student already has a first author paper accepted at a top ML conference/journal since these papers already went through peer review.  Conferences: AISTATS, AAAI, COLT, ICML, KDD, NeurIPS, etc. Journals: JMLR

To waive the Writing Skills requirement based on this criterion, please fill out the Writing Skills Waiver form and send to your program coordinator.


When should I plan to TA?
You should not plan on TAing a course until at least your second year.

How many courses do I have to TA?
You are required to TA two courses in MLD while you are in your PhD program.

Am I allowed to TA for a course while also getting credit for taking the course?

How do I find a course to TA?
To apply to TA for a ML course, simply fill out the form linked from the MLD TA Application Page below. We look forward to your application.

MLD TA Application Page:

I TA'd in my previous CMU program, am I allowed to count that for the ML PhD requirement?
The MLD PhD TA requirement will only count if you TA'd for a MLD course while you were a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon.

Policy: If a PhD student wants to attend a conference or workshop, the student's advisor or research sponsor should support the trip through either a research contract or a discretionary account. Student travel is unlimited as long as there is money available from research contracts and/or discretionary funds of a sponsoring faculty member.

If no such funding is available to the student, then limited departmental funds may be available upon request from the Machine Learning Department. Since departmental funds are limited, the maximum to be reimbursed will be $200 plus the registration fee, if only attending the conference or workshop; $600 plus the registration fee, if presenting a paper. Department funding is only available to the student for one trip per year and will not be transferred to the following year. This funding is only available if the advisor agrees with the student's decision to attend the conference but does not have the funds.

Process: To obtain travel support, the PhD student and their faculty advisor/research sponsor must first agree that the student should take the trip. Then in advance of the trip the student must fill out and print the Student Travel Authorization Form and get their advisor's signature before forwarding the form to the PhD Programs Administrator.
The faculty member must (i) indicate the amount and the reason for providing partial support (be sure the charge number is filled in) or (ii) state on the Comments line that no funds are available from any research or discretional account. Student then submits the form to the PhD Programs Administrator to request approval from the Department Head.

The university may also be able to help with conference funding, to apply, please see instructions at:
GuSH is a source of small research grant funds provided by GSA and the Provost's Office and managed by the Graduate Education Office. Students can find more information about the application process and deadlines at:

In order to extend your summer internship beyond the approved end date, you must return to campus and continue your internship remotely. Working up to an average of 8 hours per week. In the department we consider this consulting. The dates of the internship must be within the semester dates.

What is needed

For the Department:
Fill out the Student Consulting Agreement, have your advisor sign it and send to me for PhD Director approval. I will notify you when approved.

PhD Student Consulting Policy & Agreement form

Register for 8 units of 10935 Practicum

For International Students:
Apply for part-time CPT, register for 8 units of 10935 Practicum
You will need another letter from your summer internship employer including start and end dates, hours per week and the rate of pay.

Send the cpt form to your PhD Program Manager for signature.

MLD PhD Students enrolled in our program and funded by research grants, fellowships or other funding mechanisms are expected to spend all their work time on their academic activities towards completing their degree. Outside paid work is not normally compatible with full time PhD student status. However, in some circumstances the Machine Learning Department may permit full-time PhD students to devote up to 8 hours per week (averaged over any one semester) to outside, paid, professional activities, where that activity is consistent with the student’s role as a member of the student body, and where that activity also enhances the contribution of the student to the university. To obtain that permission, a student must apply ahead of time by filling out the PhD Student Consulting Policy & Agreement form. The start and end dates must be within the semester dates. Of course, the student must also make sure they comply with all applicable U.S. laws, including specific terms of their visa, if applicable.

International Students will have to contact OIE and fill out the CPT Form.

You should have already completed all of the courses. You should have also satisfied the Speaking Skills, Writing and Teaching Assistant requirements before you propose. Discuss your plan to propose with your advisor for feedback about timing.

Rules for MLD PhD Thesis Committee (applicable to all ML PhDs):
The committee should be assembled by the student and their advisor, and approved by the PhD Program Director(s).  It must include:

  • At least one MLD Core Faculty member
  • At least one additional MLD Core or Affiliated Faculty member
  • At least one External Member, usually meaning external to CMU
  • A total of at least four members, including the advisor who is the committee chair
OIE OPT information and slides on the OIE website – along with other dates to register for an OPT Information Session. To apply for OPT, you must attend an OIE session.
Work with the your Graduate Program Administrator to determine timing so as to avoid department and class conflicts. Contact your thesis committee to get their availability. You should send a draft of the thesis to your committee about one month before you plan to defend. Your committee should get back to you with their approval to defend before the announcement goes out. Two weeks before your defense date.

Once I have defended, how long do I have to turn in my final thesis?
May Graduation:
If you are graduating in May and plan to attend the May Commencement ceremony then your final thesis has to be turned in 2 weeks before the May Black Friday meeting.

August or December Graduation:
You must have your final thesis turned in on the last day of the month following your defense semester end. If you defend in the summer then your final thesis has to be turned in 2 weeks before Fall classes start. If you defend during the fall semester, check with your Program Administrator about important dates throughout the semester.

The final thesis must have the approval from all of your committee members and your advisor must send email to the Graduate Program Administrator as a confirmation of approval.


  • Before you submit the final copy:
    • Check research credits with Russ O'Lare (rdo@cs)
    • Get a Technical Report number from Graduate Program Administrator.
    • Check for proper title page format
  • When the final copy is ready:
    • Have the Chair of the Thesis Committee send email to confirm the approval of the final thesis document to the Graduate Program Administrator.
    • Send the final document to the Graduate Program Administrator.
    • Complete the Dissertation Checklist and send to the Graduate Program Administrator.
    • Fill out the Survey of Earned Doctorates
  1. Please discuss with your advisor about what to do with any department purchased computers and let the Graduate Program Administrator know the plan.  Send the asset tag # on the computer(s) to the Graduate Program Administrator. Usually you can take the computer with you but will need to retire it first so we don't continue to pay support charges for it. We can also retire it and they can pick it up if you don't want it.
  2. Please clean up your office area and remove any personal items or toss the items you don't want.
  3. Please send the Graduate Program Administrator information about what you are doing next.
        Job Title
        Start Date

Give permission to list your employer and title on our Alumni web page if that is ok.

  1. Please connect with your Graduate Program Administrator on ( so she/he will be notified when you change jobs.
  2. Let your Graduate Program Adminstrator know an email address to use for the ML Alumni email list. We send email to this list for job openings, department announcements and party announcements at conferences. We will remove you from the current student email list and web page and move you to the Alumni email list and web page.
  3. To transition your SCS account to CMU Alumni account:

Regarding Diploma Ordering

  • Please check that your diploma name is correct in SIO under Graduation and Diploma. Students who fail to update their name before the diploma order will have to pay for a replacement.
  • All August diplomas are mailed to graduates; they are not held for Commencement. Therefore, we need a valid (non-CMU) address to mail the diploma. Please check the address on SIO under Graduation and Diploma. We do not look at the permanent address on the My Info screen.
  • Diplomas will be ordered in the first week of September and mailed out in early October. The same timeline applies to Certified Electronic Diplomas (CeDiplomas). Students will receive e-mails when their CeDiplomas are available.

Questions from students regarding their diplomas should be forwarded to

To have a package delivered, use this address:

United States

For regular mail:
Your Name
School of Computer Science – MLD [Omit this line if necessary]
Carnegie Mellon University – GHC 8009
4902 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213