What is the CMU-Robotics Institute Summer Scholar Program?2016-11-15T16:44:53-05:00

The Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS) Program is an intensive summer research program for talented undergraduate students. Summer Scholars have the opportunity to participate in state-of-the-art research projects, interact with a diverse research team, and be mentored by leading faculty and technical staff. The program introduces aspiring students to dynamic research resources and methods, Robotics Institute graduate education programs and research projects.

What are the RISS program dates?2016-10-21T09:22:26-05:00

The RISS Program dates are generally June 1 to August 15. Applicants must be available for these core program dates. Some scholars may be invited by the supporting lab to stay for an additional period (e.g. arriving earlier and/or departing later than the core dates).

Is admission competitive? How many students participate in the program every year?2016-10-21T09:23:23-05:00

Yes. Several hundred students apply each year for the Robotics Institute Summer Scholar (RISS) Program from the U.S. and international institutions. Approximately 35 applicants are selected to participate in the program as RI Summer Scholars.

What is the profile of a successful applicant?2016-11-16T14:36:24-05:00

Past successful applicants have had:

  • A strong academic record (for example a 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 GPA scale)
  • One or more research experiences at their home institution or with industry
  • Relevant programming (e. C; C++) or other experience
  • One or more years of college or university
  • An engaging and meaningful statement of purpose with clear goals
  • Particular Robotics Institute labs or areas of interest
  • Strong letters of recommendation from academic advisors or faculty members


Which countries have past RI Summer Scholars represented?2016-11-16T14:42:48-05:00

Past RI Summer Scholars have come from various countries including China, India, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Romania, Spain, Turkey  and the United Kingdom.

Do Summer Scholars receive financial support?2016-11-15T16:46:05-05:00

All selected scholars will be considered for financial support. We anticipate that all scholars will receive financial support from either the Robotics Institute or program partners (e.g. the U.S. National Science Foundation).

What is the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) scholarship?2016-11-16T14:44:40-05:00

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and NSF Supplemental programs support active research participation by undergraduate students.

U.S. applicants can receive financial support through the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). To qualify for an NSF REU scholarship applicants must be still be undergraduate students in the fall immediately following the summer research experience. NSF REU scholarship recipients will receive financial support and additional travel support.

NSF REU scholarship requirements:

  • U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or U.S. Permanent Resident
  • Completion of at least sophomore year
  • Must still be an undergraduate during BOTH the summer during and fall following the summer scholar program
  • GPA of 3.0 or above
I was accepted to RISS in the past, but could not attend. Do I need to reapply?2016-10-21T09:47:08-05:00

Yes. You need to reapply and your application will have to go through the regular review process.

If I am a graduating senior, can I still apply?2016-11-16T14:45:02-05:00

Yes. You can apply for the RISS Program. However, the program is targeted at undergraduate sophomores and juniors.

Which labs participate in the program?2016-11-16T14:27:59-05:00

Please see the previous year’s  Summer Scholars posters to see which labs have recently participated.

Can I get course credit for the internship?2015-08-31T14:00:04-05:00

Yes. It depends on your home university policies, please check with them to discuss.

May I register for classes at Carnegie Mellon University or work part-time during the program while I am a RI Summer Scholar?2016-11-16T14:29:10-05:00

The program is a full-time intensive research experience. There are many free and open workshops and seminars on-campus that will enhance your research experience. However, scholars should not anticipate taking CMU courses or working part-time while participating in the program.

Scholars electing to explore signing up for regular credit-carrying classes should discuss with their RISS faculty advisor. Tuition and fees for summer courses are not covered by RISS. Course schedules and tuition information are available at www.cmu.edu/hub.

Will attending RISS help me to prepare for graduate school?2016-10-21T09:51:02-05:00

RISS will provide tools for you to help you explore graduate school options available to you at CMU and other universities

Can I live on campus during the program?2016-10-21T09:51:53-05:00

No. RI Summer Scholars are not housed on campus; on campus housing is not available for the entire length of the program. Summer Scholars are responsible for finding housing.

Where do RI Summer Scholars find housing?2016-10-21T12:27:40-05:00

Once accepted, RI Summer Scholars will receive more information about housing during online information sessions and pre-arrival online orientation. Some resources you might begin to explore are:

Many scholars choose neighborhoods close to the CMU campus, such as Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, or Oakland. We also provide information about possible sublets from graduate students.

What documents are required to apply?2016-11-16T14:31:55-05:00

The application requires a resume or curriculum vitae, statement of purpose, one letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor or instructor, and unofficial transcripts (with overall GPA and major GPA) from one’s entire undergraduate period. Please note that documents will need to be saved as a Microsoft Word Document or PDF in order to be uploaded to the application website.

What should I do if my school, college, or university is not listed in the drop-down menu?2017-06-23T11:29:08-05:00

Contact us at riss-info@andrew.cmu.edu with the full name of the educational organization and its website. Your institution will be added to the database within 3 business days.

If I will need a visa, how do I answer the “Visa Status” question in the Biographical Information section?2016-10-21T10:41:54-05:00

If you are currently an international student studying in the US, please choose your current visa status. If you are currently studying internationally, please select J-1.

How many recommendations are required?2015-08-31T13:51:15-05:00

Only one recommendation is required. However, you may choose to add additional recommenders for a maximum of three.

How should I choose a recommender?2016-10-21T10:43:21-05:00

Your recommender should be able to speak about your academic potential and ability. A faculty member from your college or university with whom you have done research would be an excellent choice. The strongest recommendations often come from individuals who have known you for an extended period of time and had the opportunity to work with you in a research and academic setting.

May I get a recommendation from outside of academia?2016-10-21T10:44:39-05:00

Yes, but please be sure to have at least one recommender who can discuss your research experience and potential.

Can I submit other additional materials to strengthen my application?2016-10-21T11:28:41-05:00

Yes, links and publications are encouraged. Additional materials can be added as supplemental pages to your CV/resume and submitted with your CV/resume. No CDs or physical mail will be considered.

How do I check if my application is complete?2017-06-23T11:29:08-05:00

The submission button will appear on the main page/checklist page of your application after you have completed all the required parts. Upon submission, you will receive a confirmation message.

How and when will applicants be notified of admissions decisions2015-08-31T13:48:45-05:00

90% of the selected participants will be notified by April 1st via email.

I am an international student studying at another United States institution. Can I participate? If so, will I need to apply for a visa?2016-10-21T11:30:46-05:00

Yes. The program welcomes applications from international students. For currently enrolled international students in the United States, ask your international services office or academic advisor for the options that best fit your needs. You may be eligible to apply for Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training, or Academic Training. You may not need immigration processing. Speak to your international services office or academic advisor before submitting your RISS application.

I am an international student studying outside of the United States. Can I participate? If so, will I need to apply for a visa?2015-10-20T10:58:39-05:00

The RI Summer Scholar Program welcomes students from around the world to our labs and classrooms. Most non-US participants apply for a J-1 intern visa. Once you are accepted into the program, Carnegie Mellon will help you obtain the correct visa documents.

I am an international student and I was part of the RISS cohort last year. Do I need to do anything differently for the J-1 Intern visa?2017-06-23T11:29:08-05:00

You will only need to include that information on your J-1 Intern checklist and include a copy of your previous DS-2019 in the paperwork that you mail to CMU for this year’s cohort.

What are the English requirements for international students?2016-11-16T14:52:01-05:00

English requirements for J-1 Intern Visa Documents are set by U.S. Department of State regulations.

You will need to provide your TOEFL or IELTS scores if you have taken one of these exams in the last 2 years. If you haven’t taken the test during this period, please schedule an English assessment interview with your hosting lab as soon as your participation in the program is confirmed.


What forms do I need to complete after being accepted as an international scholar?2016-10-21T11:33:15-05:00

If you have any questions, that were not answered here, email riss-info@andrew.cmu.edu.

What is the TIPP form (Training/Internship Placement Plan Form)?2016-10-21T11:35:19-05:00

You will receive an email from the Robotics Institute after you accept your offer. This email will contain instructions on how to begin the immigration process.

What if the RI Summer Scholars Program does not fulfill a requirement of my graduation at my home university?2015-08-31T13:42:50-05:00

As part of the J-1 intern status, this internship must fulfill a part of your degree program. Otherwise you may not qualify for a J-1 Intern visa according to U.S. Department of State regulations.

If I graduate before arriving on campus, will I need a J-1 or a J-1 intern visa?2016-10-21T11:36:41-05:00

You will need to fill out the paperwork for the J-1 if you complete your undergraduate degree before departing your home country for the US. However, we recommend that you contact us to discuss before sending your documents to start your visa request process.

If I’m in a combined undergraduate and graduate program (e.g. a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science) program, which visa forms should I fill out?2016-11-16T14:49:50-05:00

Most likely, if you are in your 4th or 5th year, you are considered a master’s-level student and should fill out the standard J visa paperwork, not the J-1 intern paperwork (http://www.ri.cmu.edu/ripublic/J1Details.html). If you are in your 2nd or 3rd year, please fill out the J-1 intern paperwork.

A friend/classmate was able to receive their visa much faster than 75 days at another school by just sending scans of documents. Will I be able to do that as well?2016-10-21T11:37:33-05:00

Due to the high volume of J-1 visa requests the 75 days allows for requests to be processed on time. Only J-1 Interns (not J-1 short or long-term scholars) can send scans of original documents, but must keep the original documents as OIE reserves the right to request the original documents at any time. J-1 short or research scholars will need to send original, physical documents.

I don’t have an up-to-date passport. Will this delay processing?2016-11-16T14:48:53-05:00

Yes. You must have an up-to-date passport in order to get your DS-2019. If you do not have an up-to-date passport, your processing will be delayed. Please check with your passport authority government for expedited processing options.

How do I obtain health insurance while I’m in the Summer Scholars’ cohort?2015-08-31T13:37:51-05:00

Please see the following site for insurance information while you are at CMU: http://www.cmu.edu/health-services/student-insurance/index.html You may also want to explore options with your home institution and providers of international health insurance.

When should I buy my airplane ticket?2016-11-16T14:48:15-05:00

International students who need CMU immigration documents should not purchase an airline ticket until they have received a visa sticker in their passport.

What is required of me before I depart my home country?2016-10-21T11:39:42-05:00

You will need to apply for your visa sticker at the U.S. embassy or consulate once you receive your DS-2019 from the CMU Office of International Education (OIE).

How long will CMU take to process the J-1 Request and DS-2019 document?2016-10-21T12:24:57-05:00

A minimum of 60 days before your internship start date is required by the CMU Office of International Education (OIE) to process the J-1 Visa rquest and DS-2019 document.