General Education Program-Academic Advisory Center (AAC) - Carnegie Mellon University


The H&SS General Education Program allows you to combine required courses that teach key analytical skills with a wide range of elective courses.

During your four years of study, you are also expected to complete a series of elective courses in General Education. The range of courses from which you can choose is very wide. These options are designed to help you to maintain and enhance your intellectual breadth in ways that are more closely tailored to your particular interests and concerns. In your first two years, you can use elective courses to explore potential majors as well as additional lines of interest that you might want to pursue as an additional major or a minor. In your third and fourth years, you can use them to enhance your knowledge of disciplines beyond your chosen major(s) and minor(s). And, throughout your studies, you can use them to enhance your intellectual growth by creating stimulating comparisons and synergies from disparate fields of study.


No more than two courses from another institution may be counted for the GenEd program; no more than one course from another institution may count in any one category (e.g. "Communicating," "Reflecting," ect.

Categories & Courses

    * Communicating: Language and Interpretations, 18 units. Courses in this category give special attention to the study of language as interpretation, expression and argument within and across multiple discourses. Students examine language for its internal logics and structures. They also explore its rhetorical, historical, cultural, or philosophical dimensions, assessing how it functions while expanding their writing skills and sharpening their analytical abilities.

    * Reflecting: Societies and Cultures, 18 units. This category emphasizes the study of history, society, and culture from local and global perspectives. Courses investigate contemporary societies and those of the past, along with their rich array of cultural products, artifacts, and ideas. They encourage a comparative and reflective approach to the understanding of the past and what it can bring to the constitution of present social relations and cultural outlooks.

    * Modeling: Mathematics and Experiments, 27 units. Courses in this category stress the interplay of mathematical (formal) theories and experimental work. Some courses investigate the internal structure of theories, whereas others use them as models for producing real-world knowledge. Such models may be drawn from a variety of disciplines including the natural sciences, but also, for example, psychology and computer science. The interactions between theorizing and experimenting (observing) can be understood within an intellectual framework that invites comparative assessment.

    * Deciding: Social Sciences and Values, 18 units. The theme of this category is the exploration of cognitive, behavioral and ethical dimensions of decision-making on both the individual and social level. Making decisions requires a broad understanding of human rationality and social interaction. Some courses examine also the critical collection and analysis of data for achieving such an understanding, whereas others emphasize the historical development of policies and values, which form the matrix for decision-making.

    * Creating: Designs and Productions, 18 units. In the arts, the humanities, the sciences, and in engineering, it is essential to produce artifacts: ex., a painting, a poem, a musical performance, a piece of technology, the design of an experiment, or the proof of a mathematical theorem. Courses may center on the students' creation of artifacts, but they may also analyze such creations by exploring creative processes at work within and across disciplines. Such explorations should be informed by a deep understanding of contexts of production and reception.

    * Plus, 18 additional units from any of the above categories.

    * University Requirement: Computing@Carnegie Mellon.

    * Freshman Seminar: must be taken in the first year.

Freshman Requirements

Beginning Your General Education
The five courses required by the College General Education Program must be completed, at the latest, by the end of the Fall semester of your second year.

Statistical Reasoning and Practice, 36-201
You must complete this course by the end of your first year.

This course will introduce students to the basic concepts, logic, and issues involved in statistical reasoning, as well as basic statistical methods used to analyze data and evaluate studies. The major topics to be covered include methods for exploratory data analysis, an introduction to research methods, elementary probability, and methods for statistical inference. The objectives of this course are to help students develop a critical approach to the evaluation of study designs, data and results, and to develop skills in the application of basic statistical methods in empirical research. An important feature of the course will be the use of the computer to facilitate the understanding of important statistical ideas and for the implementation of data analysis. In addition to three lectures a week, students will attend a computer lab once a week. Examples will be drawn from areas of applications of particular interest to H&SS students. Not open to students who have received credit for 36-207/70-207, 36-220, 36-225, 36-625, or 36-247.

Interpretation and Argument—76-101
(Reading and Writing for an Academic Context—76-100)
You are required to complete at least one writing course by the end of your first year. In most cases, this will be Interpretation and Argument (76-101). If you are placed in Reading and Writing for an Academic Context (76-100), you must complete Interpretation and Argument during the following semester. For example:

    * If you take Reading and Writing for an Academic Context (76-100) in the Fall semester of your first year, you must take Interpretation and Argument (76-101) in the Spring semester of your first year.
    * If you take Reading and Writing for an Academic Context (76-100) in the Spring semester of your first year, you must take Interpretation and Argument (76-101) in the Fall semester of your second year.

Global Histories, 79-104
You must complete this course by the end of your first year unless you take Reading and Writing for an Academic Context (76-100) during your first year. In this case, you should consult with an advisor from the Academic Advisory Center about when to take Global Histories. For example:

    * If you take Reading and Writing for an Academic Context (76-100) during the Fall semester of your first year, you should take Global Histories either in the spring semester of your first year or in the Fall semester of your second year, depending on the advice you receive from your advisor.
    * If you take Reading and Writing in an Academic Context (76-100) during the Spring semester of your first year, you should take Global Histories either in the Fall semester of your second year or in the Spring semester of your second year, again depending on the advice you receive from your advisor.

Freshman Seminar—Course numbers vary by department
You must complete a Freshman Seminar by the end of your first year.

Computer@Carnegie Mellon (99-101 or 99-102)
This course is required by the university. It is a three-unit mini-course. You must complete it by the end of your first semester.

Freshman Seminars

Freshman Seminars are designed to give new Humanities and Social Science students an intellectually exciting, first-year introduction to the research and teaching interests of the faculty. They are also intended to support first-year students through their transition from high school to college instruction. To these ends they are defined as intimate (15-20 students) learning communities, lead by a faculty instructor who is expert in the course topic and invested in helping students gain the skills and confidence they need in order to be successful students in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Computing@Carnegie Mellon University (C@CMU)

Computing@Carnegie Mellon (C@CM) is a 3-unit, pass/fail mini course that will help you develop foundational computing and information literacy skills, focusing on the tools and technologies that are specific to Carnegie Mellon so you can be successful in your other academic courses. All undergraduate students are required to take the course. C@CM is offered in a hybrid format through the Open Learning Initiative's (OLI) online course environment; allowing you to complete the course as quickly as possible and on your own time. Although the course can be completed independently, there are a number of requirements and support services that require your physical attendance. The course runs for half of the semester and meets once a week for 50 minutes. Students must pass the course with at least a 75% grade based on a final exam. Incoming students are expected to take C@CM during the fall semester. Mini 3 and 4 sections are reserved for spring transfer students and those that did not successfully complete the course previously. There are no test-out options and Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or college-level computing courses cannot be substituted for this requirement. C@CM is formerly known as Computing Skills Workshop (CSW).


Cross-Registration: Full-time Carnegie Mellon students may take subjects for credit through the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education (PCHE). The purpose is to provide opportunities for enriched educational programs by permitting full-time paying undergraduate and graduate students to cross-register for one course at any of the ten PCHE institutions. Carnegie Mellon students should not cross-register for a course that is offered at Carnegie Mellon during the semester unless the associate dean feels there are exceptional circumstances.

Students who are registered as full-time Carnegie Mellon students will not have additional tuition charges, except for special course or laboratory fees for cross-registered courses. Carnegie Mellon students do not acquire status at the host institution but have library and bookstore privileges. Credit and grades are transferred directly to the home institution. Cross-registration usually does not apply during the summer.


If you feel you have taken a course, internally at Carnegie Mellon, or externally at another institution, that you feel fits one of the categories in the GenEd program but is not listed you need to submit a College Petition form, with a copy of the course syllabus or course description to your Academic Advisor Center (AAC) advisor .