Carnegie Mellon University

First-Year Writing Course Options and Topics

To complete the First-Year Writing requirement, students choose one of two pathways. Each pathway has its own series of course options. Students who choose Pathway 1 will take two half-semester mini courses from the following three options: 76-106: Writing About Literature, Art, and Culture; 76-107: Writing About Data; and 76-108: Writing About Public Problems. For a detailed listing of the Pathway 1 course topics, schedules, and descriptions for the current or upcoming semester, click here.

Students who choose Pathway 2 will take a single, full-semester course, normally 76-101: Interpretation and Argument. 76-101 courses are built around specific topics or themes, and during each semester, numerous variants or versions of the course are offered. A second full-semester course, 76-102: Advanced First-Year Writing, is offered during the Fall semester. Students are admitted into 76-102 by application/invitation only, and a link will be available on this page when applications are being accepted. For a detailed listing of the Pathway 1 course topics, schedules, and descriptions for the current or upcoming semester, click here.

Some incoming students whose first or primary language is not English may be required to take 76-100, Reading and Writing in an Academic Context. Students who are placed in 76-100 should complete this course during their first semester, before choosing one of the two Pathways to fulfill the First-Year Writing requirement during their second semester. For more information about the First-Year Writing course placement process, please click here. 

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Pathway 1 - Two Mini Courses

Choose two of three available half-semester mini course options:

  • 76-106  Writing About Literature, Art, and Culture

  • 76-107  Writing About Data

  • 76-108  Writing About Public Problems

Why Choose Pathway 1?

  • Research-based curriculum
  • Fresh start in the middle of the semester
  • Opportunity to focus upon strategies for particular types of communication situations and target genres
  • Exposure to more than one kind of writing (arts & humanities, technical, professional)
  • Strategies for adapting to different communication situations
  • Some students report a more dynamic structure and pace with a break at mid-semester

Learn More About Pathway 1 - Two Mini Courses



Pathway 2 - One Full-Semester Course

  • 76-101  Interpretation and Argument

  • 76-102 — Advanced First-Year Writing (by invitation only)

Why Choose Pathway 2?

  • Research-based curriculum
  • Sustained focus throughout the semester
  • Opportunity to read deeply about a controversial issue or topic
  • Strategies for reading, forming research questions, and writing research proposals/articles
  • Some students report a flexible, "marathon" pace throughout the course, albeit with no breaks
  • For 76-102: Immersive experience into a faculty member's particular research area

Learn More About Pathway 2 - One Full-Semester Course


of Students take Pathway 1 


of Students take Pathway 2