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Hybrid Delivery of Classes in Fall 2020

We’re excited for you be a part of the Heinz College community!

In recent weeks, we have received inquiries from incoming students regarding options for attending classes in Pittsburgh this Fall. We wanted to take this opportunity to provide on update, as well as direct you to answers to some other frequently asked questions.

For the Fall 2020 semester, beginning August 31, CMU is planning to deliver a hybrid model, offering both in-person and online instruction, as needed. This was communicated by President Farnam Jahanian in his email dated May 14, which states:

"We are committing to this flexibility for the Pittsburgh campus, and potentially other campuses, because we recognize that some students, faculty and staff will not be able to return by the first day of class for a variety of reasons, including domestic and international travel restrictions, difficulty in obtaining visas, or individual health and safety concerns. We further recognize we may need to pivot to other modes of operation if conditions change."

You can read the full statement from President Jahanian here, which provides a great deal of additional context and detail. Over the next several weeks, we will provide additional information about how the hybrid model will help you achieve your learning objectives. In addition to the classroom experience, we will discuss our plan to support your professional growth through experiential learning, applied research, and engagement with leaders from our partner network. In addition, we will have a full slate of career services activities (résumé reviews, job fairs, training sessions, advisor meetings) regardless of whether you are attending classes on-campus or online.

There are numerous factors at play that may prevent many incoming students from being on campus this Fall - if your circumstances prevent you from coming to campus, we will be offering all courses with a hybrid delivery that will accommodate students engaging in courses remotely during the Fall 2020 semester. You can then transition to Pittsburgh over the winter break to begin the Spring 2021 semester in January.

Regardless of modality, we are committed to delivering the highest quality academic and experiential opportunities that will prepare you for an impactful career.

Please see FAQs below for answers to other frequently asked questions, including information regarding logistics and academic policies, deferring admission, costs, summer onboarding activities, career services, internships, and more.

The health and safety of our community will always be our top priority, and we will continue to work closely with—and follow guidance from—state and local health officials. We are also continuing our work with partners in government and academia to be part of the solution. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our office at any time.

In addition, please read the following message from our Provost Jim Garrett and our VP for Students Affairs and Dean of Students on Information Regarding the 2020 Fall Semester at CMU.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following FAQs address the inquiries Heinz College has been receiving from our August 2020 matriculating students. Our responses reflect current local public health conditions as of the time of this posting, but may change. These policies only apply to Heinz College incoming students and not to other parts of CMU. We commit to sharing information with you on a regular basis and working with you to address any questions you may have to the best of our ability. We look forward to seeing you in person at CMU.

  • With all of the uncertainties surrounding travel, social distancing, and public health measures, how can I be kept up to date on how the CMU/Heinz College Fall 2020 semester will roll-out?
    We are committed to keeping you informed throughout the summer in a timely, transparent, and accurate manner. We will be updating this webpage and others in the admitted student portal as we gain more information. Websites will be updated, emails will be sent, and webinars will be offered in a manner that supports participation from multiple time zones. You can also reach out to our admissions team and your individual program director with questions.
  • What safety protocols are being implemented to make sure that students, faculty and staff are safe?
    The health and safety of our community remains our number one priority. In addition to following guidance from local and state health officials, CMU is:
    • Adhering to health and safety practices, including use of facial coverings, disinfection of surfaces, and testing and tracing protocols.
    • Reconfiguring classrooms, learning spaces, and common areas to support physical distancing.
    • Making arrangements to reduce density of in-person classes, including small class sizes and moving some courses, including larger lecture courses, to remote instruction only.
    • Striving for a consistently high quality experience across both in-person and remote learning environments.
    • Re-imagining countless other facets of our operations – across instruction and research, as well as student services.
  • Can I defer my offer of admission to next year?

    Yes. Heinz College offers admitted students the option to defer their admission for up to one year. For 2020, this would mean you can choose to defer your offer of admission to the August 2021 intake (May 2021 for MISM 12-month students). If you intend to defer, we ask that you make this decision as soon as possible and notify us via email ( Your enrollment deposit will carryover as a credit on your student account for you to maintain this option and begin your studies in August 2021 (May 2021 for MISM 12-month students).

    Rather than deferring, MISM and MISM-BIDA students can also opt for the “Slow Start” in Fall 2020.  Click here for more details.

  • Can I get reduced tuition if I am taking classes remotely?
    The tuition is the same for all modes of delivery of the educational experience. While there are differences between on-site vs. distance learning, we are committed to more than just an online learning environment under the hybrid model. CMU is a world leader in teaching innovation and the science of learning. That campus-wide expertise—led by the Simon Initiative—enables us to maintain academic excellence no matter our mode of delivery.

    For our part, Heinz College has an established reputation in supporting remote learning in both graduate school and executive education contexts.
  • Can I take summer classes this year prior to matriculating in the fall?
    We do not provide summer classes to incoming students nor have we in the past. However, we are offering a full slate of summer onboarding activities:
    • For students interested in a primer in Java, we will be offering a free online course in Java.
    • For students interested in a refresher in math and stats, we are offering access to our Quantitative Skills Summer Program (QSSP) in late July and August.
    • We are also making available—at no cost—a summer Python Bootcamp geared primarily toward students with little or no programming background.

    We have an exciting series of fun and informative virtual events planned for you this summer. These orientation activities and social events, delivered via our online platforms, will enable you to get to know each other before starting graduate school. More information on the onboarding activities, QSSP, and Python Bootcamp is coming soon.
  • What are my alternatives if I want to start my studies with in-person classes in August 2020 but doing so at the Pittsburgh campus is unlikely?
    MISM students could consider spending their first year at our campus in Adelaide, Australia through the Global MISM program. Australia has opened ahead of the U.S. For over a decade, the Global MISM program has been the benchmark for the very best in bi-continental education. Global MISM enables students to spend the first year of their studies in Australia and the second year in Pittsburgh. International students get access to the U.S. labor market like all MISM students and qualify for the OPT program. If you are interested in discussing the Global MISM option, please contact the head of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, David Eber (, by June 30.
  • Can we extend our term of education so that we graduate in the following semester than is established with our Heinz College masters’ program?
    For international students, current U.S. visa policies do not allow for you to extend your graduation date except under severe health or academic hardship. In those extreme cases, new immigration paperwork needs to be filled out and requires approval by relevant government authorities. For students with U.S. residency, you can extend your stay if you have not met graduation requirements and are able to pay another semester’s tuition. However, extension should not be counted on by international students and is not recommended for students with U.S. residency.
  • For Global MISM Students only (1st year in Adelaide, Australia):
    Can the program be extended or modified in such a way that international students can participate in a U.S.-based internship?
    We have spoken extensively to our Office of International Education (OIE) on this matter and, unfortunately, the answer is no. The combination of the Global program’s design and current student visa regulations do not allow for international students without U.S. residency rights to perform their summer internship in the U.S. Fortunately, we have a long track record of students performing a non-U.S.-based internship, completing their 2nd year of study in Pittsburgh, and having fabulous U.S.-based career outcomes.
  • For international students only:
    If I am unable to complete the immigration process, if there are travel restrictions, or, if I have concerns that prevent me from arriving in Pittsburgh by August 31, how will that impact my visa status and by ability to obtain a U.S.-based internship or full-time employment?
    CMU and Heinz College will offer remote delivery of all of our classes for Fall 2020 for students unable or unwilling to study in-person beginning August 31, 2020. Your remote start would be followed by a second semester on-campus, beginning January 2021. Please direct any questions pertaining to I20 and visa documents to David Eber at

    Note: for our non-U.S. citizens, your OPT and CPT rights will not be impacted by studying remotely in your first semester. You will be able to search for U.S.-based internships and full-time employment in keeping with current regulations.

    In addition, we will have a full slate of career services activities (resume reviews, job fairs, training sessions, advisor meetings) available to you regardless of modality.
  • For international students only:
    What would be the protocol for an international student who completes their first semester online in Fall 2020 but doesn’t get a US Visa in time to study on-campus in January 2021?
    In this case, we would recommend that the student, following the completion of their first semester’s classes, take a leave of absence and follow the applicable timeline for your program:

    The 4 semester plans (below) preserves the CPT and OPT eligibility under current immigration regulations. As long as the student returns in Fall 2021 or Spring 2022, they are eligible for summer 2022 CPT since a U.S.-based internship is a requirement of the program. OPT eligibility remains intact as a result of the student spending two full time consecutive semesters in the U.S. in F-1 status.

    4-semester programs (excluding Global track students) in MAM, MEIM, MSPPM, MSISPM, MSHCPM, MSHCA:

    Fall 2020: online classes
    Spring 2021-Summer 2021: Leave of Absence
    Fall 2021: on-campus classes

    Spring 2022: on-campus classes
    Summer 2022: complete internship
    Fall 2022: on-campus classes


    4-semester programs (excluding Global track students) in MAM, MEIM, MSPPM, MSISPM, MSHCPM, MSHCA:
    Fall 2020: online classes
    Spring 2021-Fall 2021: Leave of Absence
    Spring 2022: on-campus classes
    Summer 2022: complete internship
    Fall 2022: on-campus classes
    Spring 2023: on-campus classes

    The 3 semester plan (below) preserves the CPT and OPT eligibility under current immigration regulations. As long as the student returns in Spring 2022, they are eligible for summer CPT (if the student is in the 16-month track and the internship is required) since a U.S. based internship is a requirement of the program. OPT eligibility remains intact as a result of the student spending two full time consecutive semesters in the U.S. in F-1 status.

    3-semester programs with internship requirement (MISM16 and MISM-BIDA16):
    Fall 2020: online classes
    Spring 2021-Fall 2021: Leave of Absence
    Spring 2022: on-campus classes
    Summer 2022: complete internship
    Fall 2022: on-campus classes

    The 3 semester plan (below) preserves the OPT eligibility under current immigration regulations. As long as the student returns in Fall 2021, they are eligible for OPT as a result of the student spending two full time consecutive semesters in the U.S. in F-1 status.

    12-month track (internship requirement is waived) in MISM and MISM-BIDA, and MSPPM 3-semester track:
    Fall 2020: online classes
    Spring 2021-Summer 2021: Leave of Absence
    Fall 2021: on-campus classes
    Spring 2022: on-campus classes



    MISM and MISM-BIDA students can also opt for the “Slow Start”.  Click here for more details

  • How will courses be offered to students not on campus?
    For students who are taking courses remotely, they will be engaging in a mix of synchronous and a-synchronous coursework to accommodate global time zones. Professors and Teaching Assistants will designate real-time office hours with remote students.
  • What are the assessments/exams going to look like?
    As was done in the spring 2020 semester, exams and quizzes will be administered online for remote students. To ensure the academic integrity with online assessments, most faculty will be utilizing remote monitoring software.
  • If there is a resurgence of the virus and CMU is forced to close in spring 2021, what will happen?
    If this happens, as we did in spring 2020, we will move all courses to an online delivery mode. We had great success with this this past semester and expect a minimal impact on teaching and learning. Any student who would not want to continue in this fashion would be given the option to take a leave of absence.
  • Can international students join in-person classes between the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters? If Yes, how is the transition going to be from online to in-person classes?
    We would welcome to campus any student able to transition from online to in-person, however, for international students, if a student cannot make it to campus until after September 14th, it will be too late for you to enter for fall 2020 and you should plan for an entry date of January 2021 (for your second semester) instead. You will need a new I-20 for this future semester entry date. We are still developing a procedure for students who will need an updated I-20 for a spring 2021 entry into the United States or deferral to fall 2021 as their start date instead. There will likely be different procedures depending on whether a student defers their admission to a future semester or if they enroll in fall 2020 and begin their studies remotely
  • If I am unable to attend Carnegie Mellon University this fall and I defer my admissions, will you issue a new I-20 to me? If that is the case, will my SEVIS number remain the same?
    If you defer your admissions,  the Office of International Education (OIE) is able defer your I-20 start date to reflect the semester when you will be starting your degree program in the United States.  The SEVIS ID will remain the same.  You can contact OIE in September for an updated I-20.
  • If I pay my SEVIS fee and later receive an I-20 with a different SEVIS number, do I need to pay my SEVIS fee again? If not, can I transfer my SEVIS fee from the old SEVIS number to the new one? Also, do I need to transfer the SEVIS fee within a particular time period?
    Please see the U.S. government website pertaining to this matter:  See ‘How do I ask SEVP to transfer the I-901 SEVIS Fee payment information from one SEVIS ID number to another?’
  • Will campus be open for students this fall?
    CMU is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for our students. As such, the CMU campus will be open for the August 2020 semester with modifications to support the health and safety of our community. We will continue to work closely with—and follow guidance from—state and local health officials. Their guidance will be used to establish how the campus community will be able to engage in-person in the fall. In addition to following guidance from local and state health officials. For more information on safety protocols that are being implemented to make sure that students, faculty and staff are safe, please see question #2 above.
  • What will the process of getting internships look like? This is a key component for international students.
    The internship is a curricular requirement. Our Career Services Office will be actively involved in preparing students for their internship search and also connecting students with potential employers. Career Services support will be offered both in-person and virtually. After completing one semester on campus, international students will be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). We have a robust network of alums and past employers to tap for these internships.
  • When will we know which courses are being offered for Fall 2020, and in what modality these courses will be delivered?
    Our fall course schedule is currently posted. While the timing of the classes may change, the course offerings will not. We are in the middle of the process for determining course delivery modalities. We will share information with you as soon as appropriate.
  • If I am not moving to Pittsburgh for the fall semester, do I need to request a health insurance waiver for Fall 2020?
    For 2020-2021 due to COVID-19:
    - Waivers will need to be submitted twice: Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, anticipating that student residential locations could change from one semester to the next.
    - Only students physically located in the U.S. are subject to the insurance requirement.
    - Students located outside of the U.S. taking classes remotely are not subject to CMU’s health insurance requirement and will not be required to submit a waiver.
    For more information, please visit the Student Health Services website.
  • How would the cost of health insurance change if a student studies remotely? Will health insurance cover COVID-19? And if students are not present for Fall 2020, do we still need to buy the school’s insurance plan?
    The requirements for having medical insurance while attending CMU remains in effect. If there is something that changes over the summer or close to the start of the academic year, we will review the policy at that time. Fall 2020 Open Enrollment will be from July 15, 2020 to September 14, 2020. During those times you may enroll in the student insurance or apply for a waiver if your medical insurance meets the waiver requirements. Given that there is 2 months of time to decide, with 2 weeks after the semester starts, I would recommend not taking any action with regard to student insurance until you have a better picture of your attendance, and hear what the situation will be for student insurance.

    If purchased, the CMU insurance plan does include coverage of COVID-19. Aetna, the insurance carrier for the CMU Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), has indicated that medical treatment and coverage for COVID-19 remains the same as any other viral infection. Aetna is waiving co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. For more information please see the links below.

    The CMU SHIP is a PPO plan and covers throughout the US. Please find an in-network provider to maximize the benefits (select Open Choice PPO):
  • What is the Activity Fee on my student account?
    The student activities fee is used to cover student programming and events on campus. For Fall 2020, the Graduate Student Assembly will continue its on-campus and national advocacy efforts to serve and support the academic and professional experience for all graduate students at Carnegie Mellon, whether locally or abroad. The fee has been reduced (from $111 to $90) after reevaluating funds for in-person Orientation programming and other large fall events/expenditures that are not going to require the normal funding capacity.
  • What is the Transportation Fee on my student account? Why I am being charged the fee if I am not going to be in Pittsburgh in Fall 2020?
    The transportation fee is used to support students' local transportation needs. In Pittsburgh, this provides students with unlimited access to the local Port Authority Transit (PAT) system as well as the Carnegie Mellon University Shuttle and Escort Service. In Fall 2020, removal of the fee is based on student location. Once the student indicates in their SIO survey that they will not be living in Pittsburgh, their transportation fee should come off the next day.
  • Will students taking remote classes be eligible for jobs at university?
    The student’s location will determine whether or not they are eligible to work for the university. This answer will also depend upon the type of work a student would potentially be engaging in.

    For international students in F-1 or J-1 status: we are awaiting government guidance as to whether on-campus employment will be permissible for F-1 or J-1 students enrolling remotely in the fall 2020 semester.
  • How will placement exams be offered for the incoming class? When will they be offered? How will they be taken by students?
    The placement exams will be offered online over the summer- spread across 4 weekends between July 18 and August 8. A proposed an exam schedule is being reviewed by our faculty. Once the schedule has been confirmed and finalized, the schedule and the system requirements will be posted to the Admitted Student Portal. An email will also be sent to inform students that the details are available.
  • For international students only:
    I may choose to complete my first semester remotely from home. Do I still need to complete the ‘New Initial Student Document Request’ in the MyOIE portal?
    If there is even a small chance you are considering in-person classes for fall 2020 then we recommend completing the ‘New Initial Student Document Request’ to request an I-20 for incoming F-1 students, or a DS-2019 for incoming J-1 students. If prior to the start of fall classes, you decide to enroll remotely for fall 2020, the Office of International Education (OIE) can change the start date on your I-20 or DS-2019 to a future semester start date.
  • For international students only:
    I'm an international student, so if I decided to do the first semester online, should I still apply for the visa right now, or should I wait?
    Individual student questions regarding this topic can be sent to OIE ( and OIE advisors will respond to them on an individual basis.
  • For MISM and MISM BIDA 12-month/16-month students only:
    FAQs on taking additional courses for MISM and MISM-BIDA students.
    Please see this page on taking additional courses in Fall 2020.