MRSD Program - Frequently Asked Questions
- How is the MRSD program different from other Master's
- The MRSD program distinguishes itself by not only offering a quality
education in the sciences and technologies of robotics within The Robotics
Institute at CMU's School of Computer Science, but also by providing students
with extensive hands-on laboratory/project work coupled with invaluable
experience in project and business management. Students in this program will
get an experience unique to any other by being provided an opportunity to learn
the full spectrum of knowledge needed to succeed in today's extremely
competitive high-technology industry. Through a combination of two semesters
of classroom learning, hands-on laboratory work, and a required 7 month
internship, students will graduate and enter the working world operating at a
higher technical / managerial level within a company armed with a well-rounded
education and background.
- Can foreign students (non-US
citizens) from outside the US apply to this program?
- Yes, we will be accepting applications and students from all foreign
countries. Students will be responsible for applying and receiving
visas in a timely manner to participate in the program. Please refer to
for more information.
- Are there any minimum requirements
for the GRE and TOEFL (IBT or PBT)?
- The MRSD program acceptance weighs all elements of the application material. While we do not require a certain GRE score-level, their values are used in conjunction with (in no particular order) the statement of purpose, university transcripts, letters of reference and prior work experience (if applicable). Foreign students are required to achieve a minimum proficiency level in English, as measured by the TOEFL (IBT or PBT). We also accept IELTS scores in place of the TOEFL scores.
- How long does it take to complete the program?
- The program consists of 2 semesters of study (9 months) and a 7 month
internship totaling 16 months.
- How many credits does it take to
complete the MRSD degree?
- Carnegie Mellon uses units; one unit representing one hour of work per week
for the duration of the course. The MRSD program requires a total of 150 units
for degree completion.
- Can the MRSD degree be completed with
- The MRSD program offers part-time status in this program, subject to
certain requirements. The part-time candidate has to apply and be
accepted into the MRSD program, and commit to completing the entire
coursework (incl. the internship) in no more than 36 months (3 calendar
years). At the discretion of the MRSD program office, internship credit
may be given for industrial-setting work-scope carried out in parallel
with part-time coursework, subject to industrial-partner and workscope
acceptance by the MRSD Program Director. No distance-learning option is
currently being offered, thereby requiring the student(s) to be present
on campus to complete their core / elective / laboratory and
business / management courses; the internship will need to be carried out
at an off-site location with an approved industrial partner. Part-time
students are expected to include local robotics / automation / industrial
company employees, CMU and other local-university employees, etc. The
MRSD program will not accept the enrollment of non-MRSD (accepted)
students in any of its offered courses (excl. electives).
- How do students choose the company
for their internship?
- Participating companies/laboratories will provide brief overviews of
their companies and products activities, to all students allowing them
to form an impression of their choice internship companies. The MRSD
will match students to companies using a simple "pairing" process. The
MRSD Program Director, jointly with the various companies, shapes a
suitable practicum scope for each student in the program. Students can
also choose an automation/robotics company that they would like to do
their internship with, including ones abroad. However, all internships
must be approved by the MRSD Program Director based on an acceptable
practicum effort agreed to between the MRSD Program Director and the
respective companies, regardless of whether the internship is with a
company in the US or abroad.
- Does CMU or the MRSD program offer
any financial aid for accepted students?
- This program does not currently offer any financial aid for its accepted
applicants. All accepted students are expected to be fully
self-supported, including tuition, fees and any additional costs for
room and board.
- What is the program cost and how / when is it paid?
- Please refer to the tuition link on the main MRSD website within CMU for
the current tuition and fee structure. Each semester's tuition
is typically due to be paid in full at the beginning of each
semester. For the MRSD program, the total cost will be payable in two
installments, each at the beginning of each of the two on-campus
- Is the internship a paid-for
- The internship is expected to be a paid-for arrangement, seeing as per
IRS rules, the student is providing a service-of-value to the respective
company, thus requiring consideration of compensation. The student and
the respective company to be offering the internship are expected to
enter into a separate and stand-alone contractual employment/internship
arrangement spelling out the relevant employment conditions. The
financial compensation arrangement is thus left to be negotiated between
the student and the company itself.
- Do you accept transfer credits
from other universities for courses previously taken?
- Due to the variety of course-content, university teaching levels and
foreign/national standard differences, the MRSD program will not
accept any transfer credits. The MRSD courses are tailored to a specific
content not typically available in other programs resulting in an
unlikely acceptance of transfer credits. However, the MRSD Program
Director, may at his / her own discretion, suggest a potential student be
given potential credit, assuming (1) the student provides
sufficiently-detailed descriptions of the previously taken course
(syllabus, etc.), (2) said student be willing to take and successfully
pass a commensurate final exam in the offered MRSD course, as given by
the course instructor, and / or (3) successfully pass a verbal and
interactive discussion/review/test on the various subjects taught in a
particular course, as administered by the respective faculty member
teaching said course. Students should assume that these waivers or
transfer-credits will not be given, and that such consideration will
only be given at the sole discretion of the MRSD Program Director.
- How do foreign students satisfy
the MRSD internship requirement, given work restrictions in the US?
- Foreign students will be able to use their Curricular Practical Training
(CPT) allowance as provided by the DHS, to apply for a period of
work-study" to be legally allowed to engage in work for the internship
as part of the MRSD program. Upon graduation and upon conclusion of
their 7-month CPT, should students want to continue their practical
training, they will have to resort to using their OPT allowance, for up
to an additional 16-month training period. Note that for the OPT, the
process of applying has to be started at least three months prior to the
beginning of the end of the CPT itself, and that it is the sole
responsibility of the student to secure said permission. Please see https://www.studentaffairs.cmu.edu/oie/forstu/jobs.html
for information on applying for your CPT and OPT.
- What is the Technology
Development Plan (TDP) all about?
- A TDP is not to be confused with a Business Plan as typically defined
within an MBA setting. The TDP is a written document that fully details
the what / how / when to take a new / modified product idea from concept
through to production and sales. It will offer a technical system
solution based on market needs, customer requirements, competition,
development resources (people, and costs), development timelines and
associated production, pricing and sales needs. Students will form teams
to work on a specific project defined by the responsible faculty member
and/or through suggestions from MRSD-affiliated companies. The project
may involve the development or improvement of a new product or feature
to an existing product. Teams will be required to develop a feasible
solution based on an analysis of alternatives, consider market needs,
customer requirements, market competition, production constraints, cost
and pricing drivers, as well as marketing and sales / support
strategies. In addition, a complete and reasonable technology
development / product realization timeline (tasks, resources,
milestones, etc.) and task structure has to be developed and associated
costs-to-market estimates developed. All this information has to be
structured in a TDP, which will not only be submitted in written form,
but will also be presented by the team orally in an all-hands meeting
attended by all students, faculty and MRSD Program Staff. The entire
team will receive one grade from the instructing faculty member which
will represent their grade for the two-semester Mini-Course (Mini-1 and
- What is contained in the
Internship Report (IR) to ensure completion of the MRSD degree
- The IR is required from each student at the conclusion of their
internship. Besides monthly (email) status updates to their CMU advisor
(and MRSD Program Office), which will have been assigned prior to the
internship, the degree candidate will have to give an oral presentation
in person to an open group of students and faculty, as well as company
representatives. The report and presentation should summarize their
efforts and outcomes during their 7-month internship. This presentation
may be given onsite at CMU and in person, or via remote quasi realtime
means (procedure currently in process) over the internet. The IR should
cover all non-proprietary aspects of the job responsibilities, tasks and
challenges assigned and faced, solutions applied and tested, and the
outcome (lessons learned) of their respective project work during the
internship. The IR should relate closely to the scope of work that the
MRSD Program Office / Director and respective company had agreed to at the
outset of the internship (or modified as mutually agreed to
thereafter). This is enforced in order to ensure the internship experience is
rewarding for both parties (student & company) and also relevant to the
technical and business knowledge acquired by students during the MRSD
instructional sessions, as well as being of a level expected for, and
commensurate with, a graduate degree.
- What does it take to graduate?
- A successful candidate will have had to have completed all courses,
including the core and electives as well as the lab/project course, with
a passing grade. Furthermore, the TDP will have to have been submitted
(written and oral presentation) and graded with a passing
grade. Additionally, an IR will have to have been submitted, orally
presented and graded by the faculty with a passing grade. Failure to
complete any one of these will not allow the candidate to receive their
MRSD degree nor diploma from CMU.
- Does the MRSD Program Office
offer any job placement support?
- No. However, CMU has several annual job fairs and job-placement
for CMU students. Note further that one of the main benefits of the
MRSD-required internship, is that the student is offered an invaluable
chance to work for a company in their field of interest under
company-favorable conditions, offering in essence a tremendous
opportunity to the candidate to showcase his/her capabilities, subject
matter mastery and learned business / management skills, thereby
dramatically improving their potential of being considered for a
potential job opening at their respective company.
- How will the MRSD better position me for the future?
- The MRSD degree offers substantial value to all graduates. In less than
12 months the knowledge you gain will set you apart from the
competition. Your technical knowledge will apply to most high-technology
industries. Learning business principles and critical thinking will
allow you to manage a complete concept-to-project plan. The hands-on
development techniques you've learned will enable you to move projects
from theory to reality and your team management skills will ease the
transition from prototype to commercialization. Everything you've
learned can be immediately applied in a practicum with an
industry-leading company providing validation, exposure, and immediate
financial return on your investment in the MRSD degree program.
- How long is the required internship before I may be considered for graduation with the MRSD degree?
- The required internship is 7 months. Typically the internship period will be from June through the end of December. In order for students to complete the internship portion of the degree and be considered for graduation they must submit seven (7) monthly progress reports as well as receive a favorable internship-assessment report from their internship supervisor (subject to successful completion and with passing-grades for all other required and elective MRSD courses).
- How many courses can/should I take within/outside of the MRSD curriculum? Any suggestions and ramifications?
- The MRSD curriculum,as spelled out on the MRSD website, has both core- and elective courses. The course load is extremely high and considered more demanding time-wise than the other academic graduate degrees in RI. The MRSD Program Office thus discourages students from signing up for additional courses outside of those required for the MRSD degree (both core and elective), as a student’s main objective should be to complete all required/elective courses with passing grades while maximizing their learning experience within each of these courses.
Students may however still decide to sign up for an additional course (whether audited or for credit) during their tenure at CMU (Fall, Spring and Summer).
NOTE: Any additional course taken outside of the core MRSD-curriculum and its required single technical and single business (12-unit) electives, will not be covered by the tuition paid for the MRSD degree, and thus will incur an additional per-unit cost the student will be required to pay at the beginning of the term in which said additional course is taken. The additional per-unit tuition cost for courses outside of the required MRSD curriculum, is detailed in the tuition-section of the program website.
- Can/should I apply for a Ph.D. program after the MRSD degree? Do any courses form the MRSD count towards the RI Ph.D.?
- Anyone is perfectly free to apply for the RI Ph.D. degree program at any point in their career. Note that the MRSD program is primarily slated as a professional master’s degree, intended to provide a mix of technical and business training to first-/early-entry career professionals to better prepare them for the business- or start-up environment. The MRSD program should not be viewed as a preparatory or stepping-stone degree program for the RI Ph.D. program, but rather as a stand-alone degree program for those primarily interested in a professional career-track (in an existing technology-centric company or start-up; not necessarily even in robotics!).
Admission to the MRSD program does not in any way signify admission to the M.Sc. nor the Ph.D. program. Admission to those programs is distinct and separate, and before being considered a Ph.D. degree candidate, a student would have to distinctly apply, and be admitted into the RI Ph.D. program. Each of RI’s graduate programs (M.Sc., MRSD, MS-RT, Ph.D.) are distinct, separate and have their own application-steps, admission criteria, selection-processes and admission decisions.
Whether any course from the MRSD applies to the RI Ph.D. program depends on what courses are listed in the RI Ph.D. program course requirements and are further subject to the approval of the Ph.D. Program Committee.