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MLT Policies and Procedures


There are significant differences between departments in philosophical approach, procedures, policies and regulations. Each department issues a handbook that informs graduate students of their program requirements and procedures and ensures that students have written access to the standard information outlined below. Copies of department handbooks are also available through the Hunt Library Reference Desk. Please bear in mind that you are responsible for knowing and abiding by your department and college policies.

All LTI policies not explicitly described in this document conform to School of Computer Science (SCS), and/or university policies, as defined at the university's Academic Integrity website (including the official academic integrity policy and graduate academic disciplinary actions).

Course Requirements and Grades


To complete the MLT program, you must register for and pass 120 or more units at a senior or graduate level. The program has no core courses, but of the units required, you must take 72 units (or six courses) in the LTI and 24 units in the School of Computer Science. (Note: A six-unit course with an 11-XXX course number counts as half of one LTI course. Unless otherwise specified, "course" means an actual classroom course, not credit given for research or independent study.)

As an MLT student, you must also meet SCS-wide requirements for master’s students by taking and passing 11-711 and 11-791; either 11-792 (lab) or a project-oriented master’s thesis; and one task-orientation focus class. Recommended electives may also contribute to fulfilling these school-wide requirements.

You can complete your electives by taking any senior- or graduate-level courses. Twelve of those units may come from 11-910: Directed Research. You may also take electives outside the LTI — either at Carnegie Mellon or cross-registered at the University of Pittsburgh — as long as you fulfill the requirements of your program. Please discuss any electives in advance with you advishttp://lti.cs.cmu.edu/node/8366/edit?render=overlay#or.


To pass a course, you must earn a grade of C or better. (C- is not passing). If you fail a class, it does not count toward your degree. Any class taken pass/fail does not count toward the LTI’s graduation requirements.

Semi-Annual Student Evaluation

The LTI does not have a fixed minimum grade point average or timeline for completing the MLT degree, although two years is considered normal. Instead, we carry out a student evaluation at the end of each semester for which you prepare a statement of your achievements from the current semester and plans for the next semester. The entire LTI faculty then meet to discuss your academic progress, known as “Black Friday,” and provide you with a letter indicating whether you are making satisfactory progress toward completing your degree. This evaluation is based solely on your coursework (including any directed research or independent studies).

If you appear to be in trouble, the faculty determine if you can finish your degree and provide you with feedback on what you need to do to get back on track. A bad letter should be considered a warning. It is not a permanent black mark, and there is no official record of the letter on your transcript. In the most serious cases, the faculty provide an N-1 letter, which outlines conditions you must satisfy by the next evaluation to remain in the program. Failure to meet the conditions may result in termination from the program and loss of financial support.

Optional Thesis

Some MLT students write a thesis as part of their degree. If you are interested in this option, view Guidelines for the Optional LTI MS Thesis. Proposals are always due October 31.

Research Speaking Requirement

To emphasize student research, improve public speaking skills and increase internal awareness of LTI work, all master’s students must complete an oral presentation in their second year (by the end of May). The presentation should consist of a 20-minute talk plus time for discussion. It will be advertised to the LTI mailing lists at least one week before your presentation, and the public will be invited.

At least two LTI faculty members will attend your presentation, including your research advisor. After your presentation, these faculty members will convene and provide written feedback to both you and the chair of graduate programs. This feedback will help you refine your speaking skills with respect to talk structure, content and delivery.

Program Length

The timeline for the MLT track is two full years (24 months). You must complete two summers of research to fulfill the degree requirements, and you should expect to graduate in August of your second year. The LTI’s "grandfather" policy assures that you can graduate under the policies that were current when you entered the program.


Length: Two full years (24 months), including two summers of research.

Courses: A total of 120 units of senior- or graduate-level courses

Complete 72 LTI units and 24 SCS units.
Pass both 11-711 and 11-791
Pass one lab (11-792) or a project-oriented master’s thesis
Pass one Task Orientation Focus class.

Other Requirements: Continuous “satisfactory progress” in semi-annual evaluations

Complete public speaking requirement.        

Financial Support

Funding Overview

Funding for LTI MLT students is based on individual arrangements with specific research projects. Since MLT students are not guaranteed funding — and loss of funding can lead to a student dropping out of the program — the LTI requires research projects to give a two-month warning in advance of any funding cuts. This policy gives you sufficient time to either improve your performance or arrange for other support.

Grading/Teaching Assistants, Lecturers

LTI graduate students are typically supported as research assistants on LTI projects. In return for full tuition and a stipend, we expect you to work 20 hours each week during the semester, and 40 hours each week during the summer. To document the research completed during the semester, you should register for 11-910: Directed Research (typically 24 units). To document your work during the summer, you should register for a summer research course.

External Fellowships

If you receive an outside graduate fellowship (e.g., NSF, Fulbright), you are expected to accept it in place of the LTI’s graduate fellowship. As an extra incentive to do so, we supplement the award so you receive full tuition and a combined stipend 10 percent higher than that of the standard LTI graduate fellowship. You must tell the LTI about any external funding you receive.


The Role of the Advisor

As a master’s student in the LTI, you’ll have a faculty advisor who will guide your research and help you strategically plan your courses and other educational activities. Toward the end of the program, your advisor will chair your thesis committee (should you opt to do one) and provide career counseling.

Finding Your Advisor: The Marriage Process

New LTI graduate students are matched to advisors via the Marriage Process. LTI faculty members present a series of talks at the beginning of the fall semester that you will attend. After the talks, you schedule meetings with the faculty members you’re most interested in working with, then indicate your first, second and third choice for advisor. Meanwhile, each faculty member determines how many new students they can take. Finally, the entire LTI faculty meet as a "Marriage Committee" to determine the best match. You will have an advisor before the end of September.

Some entering MLT students are prefunded, meaning they received and accepted a funding letter from a faculty member before the Marriage Process. (Even if you are already matched, you must still attend the research talks to become acquainted with the LTI’s research projects.) Even self-supporting MLT students are expected to perform research with a faculty advisor, since research experience is an important part of our graduate programs. Until you have found a specific advisor, the chair of the LTI graduate programs will serve as your advisor.

Changing Advisors

You should make your initial advisor selection carefully, but you can change advisors. To do so, you should identify a potential new advisor, and speak with him or her about funding and research opportunities. Both your new and old advisors must agree to the change.

Other LTI Policies Relevant to MLT Students

Graduate Course Transfers

The LTI may grant transfer credit or issue an exemption for equivalent graduate courses previously completed at another institution. This decision rests with the chair of your program. If you are exempt due to prior courses or experience, you can replace that course with an open elective. You do not get credit for it, but you can take any course that could normally count toward your degree in its place. If you receive credit for prior coursework completed at CMU or elsewhere, you receive that many units of credit, and the total amount of required coursework is reduced by that amount.

All LTI students must take eight 12-unit courses at CMU. Courses taken as a master's student at Carnegie Mellon or elsewhere toward your program requirements cannot count toward any other SCS master’s degree without prior, case-by-case approval.

Transferring From the MLT to PhD Program

The LTI does not allow direct transfers from the master’s program to the PhD program — you must apply. You do not need to retake your GREs or other exams, though, unless you want to try to improve your scores.

External Employment and Consulting

Students funded by LTI research projects are expected to work primarily for those projects. Since consulting provides useful experience, you are generally permitted to consult at most one day per seven-day week, with your advisor's consent and OIE approval.

External Internships

Some LTI MLT students receive summer funding. If that is the case, we expect you to work at Carnegie Mellon on a research project during the summer. If your funding was not extended into the summer, you are free to explore other research or internship opportunities. We caution all students to be aware of potential intellectual property (IP) problems with internships and review any IP agreements with their advisors before signing them. It is possible to lose control of ideas that you want to include in your thesis work.

MLT students taking a fall or spring internship should enroll in 11-935: LTI Practicum for 54 units. Full-time MLT students registered for 54 units are eligible for a partial stipend.

Leaves of Absence

In general, the LTI discourages leaves of absence (LOA), but if you are in good standing, you may be granted an LOA of at most one year. You must provide a written request to the graduate program coordinator, and your advisor must consent to the leave. Students on LOA should contact the LTI to initiate their return.

Summer and Winter Break

You can typically expect a two-week vacation in the summer. The normal LTI winter break policy is that students work 40 hours a week for two weeks, and take vacation for two weeks.

Conferences and Seminars

Students funded by a research project receive a conference budget set by the project. If you are not funded by a project, the LTI will provide you with $750 for attending a conference at which you’re presenting a refereed paper, and $250 for a conference if you aren’t presenting, with department approval. The travel request form can be obtained here.

Concerns and Grievances

If you believe you have been treated inappropriately, we encouraged you to discuss your concerns with the faculty member(s) involved or your faculty advisor. If you wish, the chair of the LTI graduate programs, his/her alternate and the department head are available at any stage of the process. All discussions will be considered confidential to the extent allowed by law. If you wish to file a formal appeal or grievance, refer to the university procedures at http://www.cmu.edu/graduate/policies/appeal-grievance-procedures.html.