Carnegie Mellon University is one of the country's preeminent geek schools; think Stanford, without all the nonsense preening, bullshit self-aggrandizement, lustful VCs and palm trees. This year, more than 1,200 students applied for its M.A. program in computer science; yesterday an untold number of them received a computerized fuck-you in return.

A Gawker tipster forwarded us two embarrassing emails from CMU's admissions department:

Part one (the name of the affected student in this email has been redacted by request):

————— Forwarded message —————

From: Carnegie Mellon Admissions [SCS::44621] <>

Date: Mon, Feb 16, 2015 at 12:49 PM

Subject: [SCS::44621] CMU Admissions Decision



Congratulations on your acceptance into the Master of Science program in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. You are one of the select few, less than 9% of the more than 1200 applicants, that we are inviting. We're convinced this is the right place for you. Welcome to Carnegie Mellon!

If you'd like some bragging points, Carnegie Mellon has one of the longest records for world-leading computer science research and education — more than 50 years. US News & World Report ranks us as the #1 computer science program (though some claim we are tied). Our fall recruiting event, known as the Technical Opportunities Conference (TOC) brings nearly 300 computer science and engineering employers to campus each year, many of which continue a program of technical collaboration and recruiting all year long. Our computer science faculty, which span seven different departments, number nearly 200. During their time here, students from last year's class got top engineering jobs, were admitted to leading PhD programs (including ours), and engaged in world-class thesis research, including multidisciplinary thesis work.

Pittsburgh, our home, is truly wonderful place. You'll love it here. (We do!) As described, for example, within Wikipedia:

"Pittsburgh [has earned] the title of America's 'most livable city' by Places Rated Almanac, Forbes, and The Economist...Apple, Google and Intel are among 1,600 technology firms generating $10.8 billion in annual Pittsburgh payrolls....the city has earned the top rank as "America's smartest" with a total of 68 area colleges and universities, 38 of them non-profit." (2/12/2014)

We look forward to hearing from you as soon as you are ready, but no later than April 15th. Once you confirm that you'll be joining us, it will be our pleasure to begin helping you prepare for next year. Should you decide on other plans, we'd love to learn about your next adventure. We'll wish you well whatever path you take, to be sure.

In the meantime, we'll soon email you a copy of the program handbook, which explains many of the program's details. And, we look forward to meeting you. If you'd like to visit, please let us know and we'll gladly help you plan, show you around, answer your questions, and welcome you in person.

If you have any questions, please contact Tracy Farbacher 412-268-8824, or Gregory Kesden 412-268-1590, We're here to help.

On behalf of the Computer Science Department and Carnegie Mellon University, welcome.

Frank Pfenning

President's Professor of Computer Science and Department Head

Computer Science Department

Carnegie Mellon University

Great! A standard, congratulatory college admissions email—the sort of thing that can make your week (and your career). But then, seven hours later, you get this:

From: <>

Date: Feb 16, 2015 7:23 PM



Earlier this morning, we mistakenly sent you an offer of admission to Carnegie Mellon's MS in CS program. This was an error on our part. While we certainly appreciate your interest in our program, we regret that we are unable to offer you admission this year.

We received a large number of applications this year from well-qualified applicants and we had many difficult decisions to make.

Thanks you very much for your interest in Carnegie Mellon's MS in CS program. You are certainly free to reapply in the future, at which time your application will again receive full consideration.

Again, we are sorry for our miscommunication earlier today and we apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this has caused.

PS: Please acknowledge receipt of this retraction.

Frank Pfenning

President's Professor of Computer Science and Department Head

Computer Science Department

Carnegie Mellon University

Oops! By the way, please acknowledge receipt of this humiliating screw-up, thanks. As our tipster points out, "it is beyond imagination that the top Computer Science program in the United States, sent computer-generated communication errors." But the mishandling of the error was a botched botch:

To allow 7 hours to pass before issuing a correction / retraction is an insane amount of time. Within that time frame, my personal friend notified his/her friends and family. He/she notified the professionals who wrote letters of recommendation. More importantly, ecstatic from the news, he/she notified her supervisor of his/her plans—to ensure the supervisor would have ample time to fill his/her spot.

Furthermore, my friend's direct supervisor was unaware of anyone on the team applying to graduate programs. And now my friend's job is in jeopardy. Awesome.

I've asked Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science department how many applicants were affected by their computer error. I'll update when I hear back.