These frequently asked questions are for MLD PhD students.

How do I register for courses?
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 Graduate Program Administrator for help in making adjustments to your schedule.

Changing the Maximum Units
Please send email to the Graduate Programs 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 Graduate Programs 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.

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.

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 .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?
If you TA'd for a Machine Learning Department course and it was not counted towards your previous program requirements, you are able to count it for the ML PhD requirement.

The ML Department policy is that whenever possible, students and their advisors are responsible for covering the costs of conference related travel. However, when that is impossible, the department has limited funds to provide partial support. To apply for travel support, you must fill out the travel form and have your advisor sign it. The maximum to be reimbursed will be $200 plus the registration fee, if only attending the conference or workshop; $600 plus registration fee, if presenting a paper.

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 Application & Agreement form. Of course, the student must also make sure they comply with all applicable U.S. laws, including specific terms of their visa, if applicable.

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
Work with the Graduate Programs Manager 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 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 by the end of September. If you defend during the fall semester then your final thesis must be turned in by the end of January.

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 TR number from Graduate Program Administrator.
    • Check for proper title page format.
  • When the final copy is ready:
    • Talk with Diane about making your thesis into a ML Technical Report by putting it on-line.
    • Print and fill out the Survey of Earned Doctorates form and return to Diane. This is requested by NSF and is a requirement of the university for graduation.
    • Fill out the UMI Dissertation Publishing Form pages 4 and 5, page 6 if you want to copyright your thesis and return to Diane with thesis. If you wish to register your copyright you must attach a check. If you do not wish to register for a copyright, do not fill out this portion of the form.

How do I publish my thesis?
Fill out the UMI Dissertation Publishing Form pages 4 and 5, page 6 if you want to copyright your thesis and return to Diane with thesis. If you wish to register your copyright you must attach a check. If you do not wish to register for a copyright, do not fill out this portion of the form.

You will also need to fill out the PhD Dissertations Checklist
Research Showcase Option
Research Showcase is Carnegie Mellon's institutional repository. It collects and organizes Carnegie mellon's research output into a single location, amd makes it accessible to scholars and researchers worldwide.

The Department will print one copy to be microfisched, bound, and placed in the Hunt Library. This copy will be bound one-sided. The Department will also print one copy to be your bound copy. If you wish to have additional bound copies, please inform the Graduate Programs Manager.
You must fill out the Survey of Earned Doctorates and send the completion page to your Graduate Program Administrator.