Incoming Students

Things Every Incoming PhD Student Needs to Know

Welcome to Carnegie Mellon! We are very excited that you will be joining the Societal Computing PhD program and the CMU University Community. Below you will find a number of resources, grouped by topic, that will be of use to you as a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon.

Graduate Student Orientation & Important Dates

The official university academic calendar is located at CMU Academic Calendar & Important Dates

Please hold all dates listed above.

New Student Process

Newly admitted students will receive email from with the subject line "Receive your Andrew user ID". This email will contain a link for retrieving your Andrew user ID and instructions for continuing the "First Pass" process to set your initial password. This is the first step you will need to complete as anew CMU student. You will need your Andrew userID and password to access all secure sites at Carnegie Mellon University. This includes Student Information Online (SIO) where students can access their electronic bills (E­-Bills), account activity, course schedule, and grades (if applicable), as well as update their contact information.

Computing Services

Information and instructions useful for solving many common computing problems can be found at the following link:

Sorry, I cannot help you with Andrew computer accounts. If you need to email to the Andrew Help Center, please send email to:

For urgent problems, please contact the Computing Services Help Center directly at 412-268-HELP, Monday-Friday 9AM to 5PM. After 5PM Monday-Friday, and on weekends, please report systems outages and area-wide network problems to Computer Operations at 412-268-6688.

You will also receive a second account, a CS account, at orientation from our Department Systems Administrator. (this usually happens the beginning of August) At that time, one account should be forwarded to the other and/or forwarded to other personal accounts. Tom Pope our Systems Manager, will help you with your accounts and laptop questions at orientation.

University Health Insurance Premiums and Payment Plan Options

All incoming students are required to submit health history and immunization information. After May 15th, visit HealthConnect for instructions on how to complete these forms. Students have until June 30 to submit this information.

Carnegie Mellon also has a medical insurance mandate. Students are default charged for medical insurance each year, and must either enroll in the plan or complete a waiver form certifying you are enrolled on an employer or government-based plan that meets certain coverage requirements. For details on the mandate, enrollment and waiver forms, visit Student Insurance.

You have until September 1st to make your insurance decision. Our online waiver program is accessible on the website now, and our online enrollment program will be available by June 1st. If you intend to stay on your existing insurance plan (your parents, for example) you will need to complete our waiver form and the default charge will be removed.

Payment Options

Enrollment does not offer payroll deduction as a means to pay for health insurance. Carnegie Mellon is pleased to extend the services of Tuition Management Systems (TMS) to help you afford the health insurance cost. The TMS Health Insurance Monthly Payment Option allows you to spread your health insurance premium over nine monthly installments for a $25 enrollment fee. The installments begin in September and end in May. Please see the information on this new payment option at the University Health Services web site.


Although we recommend waiting to sign a lease until you have had a chance to view an apartment in person, we realize that this is not always an option for incoming students, particularly if you are moving from another state or country. In those cases, you should at least ask a friend (or a kind graduate student in your department) to view the apartment on your behalf.

For more information on Pittsburgh neighborhoods, finding an apartment, or signing a lease, visit the Finding Off-Campus Housing page.

If you have not secured permanent housing for the upcoming academic year, there are temporary housing options available that will provide you with a place to stay while you search for a permanent apartment.

For information on temporary housing accommodations, view the Temporary On-Campus Housing and Hotel Accommodations sections on the Travel Arrangements and Tips page.

Student Information On-Line (SIO) & Registration for Courses

Student Information On-Line (SIO) is where students check their enrollment data, schedules classes, review account balances and grades.

SIO is also where students can update their address information. Your current address information is important because information will be sent to your local address throughout the year. We also need accurate information in the event of an emergency. Please update this address information as soon as you have it. To view or update your address information, visit SIO here and select the My Info tab. You can then update your information as necessary and click the submit button to save any changes. All address data is updated immediately within the system.

You may also order enrollment verifications on SIO. Enrollment verification is your proof of enrollment at Carnegie Mellon. This is often requested by insurance companies wanting to verify that you are enrolled or by scholarship committees wanting to know if you have maintained a certain QPA. This SIO feature cannot be used until you are registered for courses and enrolled for classes.

In the meantime, if you need a letter stating that you are expected to enroll at Carnegie Mellon, please e-mail the details of your request to Note that requesting a proof of enrollment to continue on private insurance does not waive a student from the university's student insurance plan. See "University Health Services" above for details on how to request a waiver from the student insurance plan.

Information Regarding Registration for Courses

What should you register for in the fall?

During your first semester, Connie will register you for the following courses:

  • 08-997 – Societal Computing Reading & Research (registered under your advisors section variable units)
  • 08-999 – Societal Computing Practicum –(6 units)

The above courses are required for all Societal Computing Students. Courses 08-997 & 08-999/08-998 are required thru out your academic stay, you must register for these two courses going forward. You must carry 48 units each semester as a full time student. If you need help in deciding on courses to register for, please consult with your advisor. The most important consideration is choosing a course that closely relates to your research interests and plans; a second consideration is making progress on program requirements.

To register for classes please click on the link below: (you will need your Andrew ID and Password prior to registering)

University Registrar's Office

Your Andrew e-mail account is your conduit for official and important Carnegie Mellon communications. Please check it frequently over the summer and during your academic career. Official Carnegie Mellon notifications are sent to valid Andrew account users using the e-mail address (example: )If you choose to use an alternate e-mail address (i.e. @yahoo; @Gmail, etc), then you should forward your e-mail to your preferred/alternate e-mail address to ensure that you receive all official university communications.

Financial Support

For those receiving support paid through CMU, your stipend will be paid on a twice monthly basis on the 15th and 30th of the month, with 50% of your gross monthly stipend amount in each pay (less any applicable taxes). Stipends will be paid from August 16 - May 15. In order to get "on the payroll" you are required by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to complete an I-9 Form, showing that you are either a U.S. citizen, or have permission to be employed. Citizens of the U.S. must show either a valid U.S. passport, or a state-issued driver's license PLUS an ORIGINAL Social Security Card or a birth certificate bearing a seal. Those who are not U.S. citizens must show their passport (with attached employment authorization Form I-9, which will be issued by the CMU Foreign Student Advisor during foreign student orientation.) Please be sure that you have these documents with you when you arrive and Helen Higgins will help you work through the onboarding process with the CMUworks Service Center which will set you up in the WorkDay human capital management system.

Take Home Pay

We cannot say exactly how much "take-home" pay a student will receive, since each individual case is different. However, in general your tuition is not subject to taxes and your stipend will generally not be subject to local, state, or Social Security taxes, although it will be taxed federally based on how you complete the form W4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certification) during the onboarding process. In particular, if your stipend stays solely for the advancement of your education, your work is closed supervised and primarily for your benefit and required of all students in your degree program, it will generally not be subject to local EIT (earned income taxes), which are imposed by the City of Pittsburgh and other municipalities. Other employment, such for example as a second position grading papers, would be subject to EIT withholding. In any event, you must also e-sign the PA Residency Certification form as part of the onboarding process. Questions about your specific tax situation may be reviewed with the CMUworks Service Center or your personal tax advisor.

Please note that the cost of your health insurance must be paid separately.


If you have been awarded any type of fellowship, external funding or was awarded any NSF or NDSEG fellowship, please contact Connie Herold, Ph.D. Student Programs Coordinator for ISR (412-268-4545) or


  • DoD fellowships - known as "NDSEG" (National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate fellowship).
  • NASA fellowships - it's up to the grad student to work with the department's admin to write a proposal.
  • Department of Energy has a fellowship. It's run through Krell Institute.
  • At the University level there is "FRAC" which is the Fellowship Resource & Advicing Center.
  • Barbara Lazarus - Women@IT Fellowships

Dependency Allowance

If your spouse is unemployed, or earns less than $200 per month, you are entitled to a dependency allowance. A dependency allowance of 10% per month of the SCS base stipend amount for each eligible dependent is paid to a Ph. D student provided that his or her spouse or qualifying domestic partner earns $200.00 or less per month. In Academic Year 2016-2017, base stipend is $2,781 and the allowance per eligible depend is $278.00.

For the recipient of an outside fellowship, the dependency allowance is added after the student's monthly stipend amount has been determined based on the "Stipend Supplement for External Support" policy.


If you are NOT a U.S. Citizen you will receive the I-20 Form, which will allow you to obtain the F-1 student visa. However, the I-20 cannot be issued until we receive a completed International Student Information Form from you. Please note that you are not required to provide any proof of financial support unless you have legal dependents (spouse and/or children). In that case you may be required to show that you have additional funds available to support the dependents. If you are already in the U.S., you will request a transfer through your Foreign Student Advisor rather than receiving a new I-20 form. For additional information regarding visas you may want to visit the Office of International Education web site.

International students will also receive information with your I-20 Form regarding the International Student Orientation program sponsored by the Office of International Education. If you are not able to attend during this period, you will be required to attend an orientation session before the end of the first week of the semester in order for your enrollment to be complete, and to maintain your valid visa status. An important part of the orientation are instructions of how to obtain a social security number which you will need in order to receive your monthly stipend.

Change of Address

Please notify Connie Herold or Helen Higgins of any address changes throughout your time here at Carnegie Mellon. Also update your address in the Student Information System.

Student ID Card & Bus Sticker

You will be able to obtain your student ID card the week of the Immigration Course. International students will receive their CMU ID cards during the International Student Orientation. You should also see on your ID card a PAT (Public Transportation) imprint that entitles you to free public transportation. You may also apply for your student card online prior to arriving atID Card Services.