First-Year Writing Program
First-Year Writing at Carnegie Mellon offers unique, cutting-edge course options designed to help students develop and apply writing and communication knowledge across diverse academic and professional contexts.
All Carnegie Mellon undergraduates take First-Year Writing—any Advanced Placement exemptions are not accepted. However, First-Year Writing empowers students to choose among multiple paths in their fulfillment of the requirement.
Students may decide to take two out of three half-semester mini courses, each focused on specific kinds of writing and organizational strategies. Alternatively, students might decide to take one of several immersive full-semester courses built around specific themes and research areas. No matter the path, students learn to adapt to new writing situations and connect their learning to future communication tasks—both in later coursework at CMU and beyond.
To learn more about our mini and full-semester course offerings, please visit the Course Options and Topics page.
Some students whose first or primary language is not English may be required to take a placement exam and/or complete a prerequisite course during their first semester. To learn more about the placement process, please visit the Course Placement page.
Spotlight: David Brown
Prof. David Brown Brings Diverse Expertise and a Data-Informed Approach to Writing Instruction
As First-Year Writing's Associate Director for Research and Assessment, and as an Associate Teaching Professor of Rhetoric, David Brown plays several crucial roles. He serves as the lead instructor in charge of teacher training and curricular development for the Writing About Data course. He also leverages his field-leading research in corpus linguistics and English language studies to coordinate data collection and assessment efforts for the First-Year Writing program as a whole, as well as to develop and implement technology-enhanced learning tools that help students identify features of their own writing and of the written genres they practice in their coursework. Finally, David is also an inspiring and multi-talented teacher. In addition to Writing About Data, he teaches a Methods in Humanities Analytics course within the Department of English and a Special Topics: Text Analysis course within the Department of Statistics.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which option is easiest, two mini courses or one full-semester course?
What are the advantages of taking two mini courses instead of a full-semester course?
What are the advantages of taking a full-semester course instead of two mini courses?
I'm an international student. How do I know if I need to take the placement test or the prerequisite First-Year Writing course?
The First-Year Writing course I wanted is full. Will I get in off of the waitlist?
I'm not sure I understand how to enroll in the minis. Are there any guidelines?
Yes! There are a few things First-Year Writing students should keep in mind, to ensure they understand proper enrollment and their schedules:
- The minis are designed to be taken consecutively within a single semester. If students register for the Fall semester, they will take a "mini 1" and a "mini 2." If registering for the Spring semester, they will take a "mini 3" and a "mini 4." The available course sections will include these numbers. For example, if registering for the Fall semester, one valid option would be sign up for 76-106 A1 and 76-107 B2. If registering for the Spring, one valid option would be 76-106 A3 and 76-107 A4. Students cannot sign up for two sections ending in the same number (e.g., 76-108 A1 and 76-107 A1).
- First-Year Writing Students should make sure to sign up for two out of the three separate courses: 76-106, 76-107, and 76-108. Do not sign up for two sections of the same course (e.g., 76-106 A1 and 76-106 B2).