Carnegie Mellon University

Technical Writing & Communication (TWC) - Primary Major

The B.S. in TWC recognizes the important changes taking place in communication-based careers and includes two distinctive “tracks,” one in Technical Communication (TC) and one in Scientific and Medical Communication (SMC). Both tracks begin with a common core of foundation courses in print and on-line communication as well as a shared set of prerequisites in math, statistics, and computer programming. The two tracks differ in the set of theory/specialization courses beyond the core, with each track including a specialized set appropriate to its focus.

In addition to satisfying all of the Dietrich College degree requirements for B.S. candidates, which include the General Education curriculum, TWC primary majors must complete coursework in the following areas below, based on their chosen track.

Learn how to declare your primary major in Technical Writing & Communication.

Science and Medical Communication Track

The Scientific and Medical Communication track (SMC) is designed for students who seek careers that focus on communication and information design problems in health, science, and medicine. It should appeal to students with interests in the health care professions, science and public policy, patient education, scientific journalism or related fields. The SMC track is designed to provide both the technical and the communication skills needed to analyze and solve complex communication problems. Students will learn the fundamentals of visual, verbal, and on-line communication as well as the technical skills needed to design, communicate, and evaluate complex information systems and to manage the interdisciplinary teams needed to develop them. You will also become fluent in both print-based and electronic media across a variety of information genres and learn to design information for a range of specialist and non-expert audiences.

Curriculum: 15 courses, 137 units minimum

Prerequisite Requirements (3 courses, 29 units):

Mathematics Prerequisite
One of the following

21-111 Calculus I
21-112 Calculus II
21-120 Differential & Integral Calculus
21-127 Concepts of Mathematics

Statistics Prerequisite

36-200 Reasoning with Data

Computer Science Prerequisite

15-110 Principles of Computing

Departmental Core Survey of Forms Requirement (1 course, 9 units):

76-260 Survey of Forms: Fiction
76-261 Survey of Forms: Creative Nonficiton
76-262 Survey of Forms: Nonfiction
76-265 Survey of Forms: Poetry
76-269 Survey of Forms: Screenwriting

TWC Core Requirements (5 courses, 45 units):

76-271 Introduction to Professional & Technical Writing
76-300 Professional Seminar
76-390 Style
76-391 Document & Information Design
76-487 Web Design

Science & Medical Communication Track Courses (6 courses, 54 units minimum):

Theory/Specialization Courses

  • Recommended Course - 1 required
    Courses include but are not limited to:

76-319   Environmental Rhetoric
76-359   User Experience Methods for Documents            
76-361   Corpus Rhetorical Analysis          
76-388   Coding for Humanists    
76-395   Science Writing
76-419   Media in a Digital Age   
76-425   Science in the Public Sphere       
76-428   Visual Verbal Communication    
76-474   Software Documentation            
76-476   Rhetoric of Science         
76-481   Introduction to Multimedia Design
76-491   Rhetorical Analysis         
76-494   Healthcare Communications

  • Additional Options Course - 2 required
    Courses include but are not limited to:

76-318   Communicating in the Global Marketplace          
76-319   Environmental Rhetoric
76-325   Intertextuality  
76-340   American English             
76-351   Rhetorical Invention      
76-355   Leadership, Dialogue, and Change           
76-359   User Experience Methods for Documents            
76-360   Literary Journalism Workshop  
76-361   Corpus Rhetorical Analysis          
76-372   News Writing    
76-375   Magazine Writing            
76-378   Literacy: Educational Theory and Community Practice     
76-386   Language & Culture       
76-388   Coding for Humanists    
76-389   Rhetorical Grammar                
76-395   Science Writing
76-396   Non-Profit Message Creation    
76-419   Media in a Digital Age   
76-420   The Cognition of Reading and Writing: Introduction to a Social/Cognitive Process              
76-425   Science in the Public Sphere       
76-428   Visual Verbal Communication    
76-472   Topics in Journalism: Storytelling in a Digital Age
76-474   Software Documentation            
76-475   Law, Performance, and Identity
76-476   Rhetoric of Science         
76-481   Introduction to Multimedia Design          
76-484   Discourse Analysis            
76-491   Rhetorical Analysis         
39-605   Engineering Design Projects

Natural Science and Engineering Electives
Complete 3 advisor-approved courses that contribute to your chosen focus. The courses may be all in one area, such as biology, or spread across areas. Additional options include advanced courses in any of these areas as well as basic and advanced classes in statistics, or engineering. Consult your Department of English advisor on the appropriateness of specific courses for your interests. Courses in this category may double count for both the TWC/SMC degree and a major or minor in another department.

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Technical Communication Track

The Technical Communication track (TC) prepares students for a career in the rapidly changing areas of software and digital media. Students will learn the fundamentals of visual, verbal, and on-line communication as well as the technical skills needed to design, communicate, and evaluate complex communication systems and to manage the interdisciplinary teams needed to develop them. Majors will become fluent in both print-based and electronic media across a variety of information genres and learn to design information for a range of specialist and non-expert audiences. Graduates of this track are likely to follow in the footsteps of previous TWC students from Carnegie Mellon who are currently employed as web designers, information specialists, technical writers, and information consultants in a range of technology and communication-based organizations including Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, and HP Vertica.

Curriculum:

Prerequisite Requirements (4 courses, 41 units):

Mathematics Prerequisite
One of the following

21-111 Calculus I
21-112 Calculus II
21-120 Differential & Integral Calculus
21-127 Concepts of Mathematics

Statistics Prerequisite

36-200 Reasoning with Data

Computer Science Prerequisites

15-110 Principles of Computing
15-112 Fundamentals of Programming & Computer Science

Departmental Core Survey of Forms Requirement (1 course, 9 units):

76-260 Survey of Forms: Fiction
76-261 Survey of Forms: Creative Nonficiton
76-262 Survey of Forms: Nonfiction
76-265 Survey of Forms: Poetry
76-269 Survey of Forms: Screenwriting

TWC Core Requirements (5 courses, 45 units):

76-271 Introduction to Professional & Technical Writing
76-300 Professional Seminar
76-390 Style
76-391 Document & Information Design
76-487 Web Design

TEchnical Communication Track Courses (6 courses, 54 units minimum):

Theory/Specialization Courses

  • Recommended Course - 1 required
    Courses include but are not limited to:

76-319   Environmental Rhetoric
76-359   User Experience Methods for Documents            
76-361   Corpus Rhetorical Analysis          
76-388   Coding for Humanists    
76-395   Science Writing
76-419   Media in a Digital Age   
76-425   Science in the Public Sphere       
76-428   Visual Verbal Communication    
76-474   Software Documentation            
76-476   Rhetoric of Science         
76-481   Introduction to Multimedia Design
76-491   Rhetorical Analysis         
76-494   Healthcare Communications

  • Additional Options Course - 2 required
    Courses include but are not limited to:

76-318   Communicating in the Global Marketplace          
76-319   Environmental Rhetoric
76-325   Intertextuality  
76-340   American English             
76-351   Rhetorical Invention      
76-355   Leadership, Dialogue, and Change           
76-359   User Experience Methods for Documents            
76-360   Literary Journalism Workshop  
76-361   Corpus Rhetorical Analysis          
76-372   News Writing    
76-375   Magazine Writing            
76-378   Literacy: Educational Theory and Community Practice     
76-386   Language & Culture       
76-388   Coding for Humanists    
76-389   Rhetorical Grammar                
76-395   Science Writing
76-396   Non-Profit Message Creation    
76-419   Media in a Digital Age   
76-420   The Cognition of Reading and Writing: Introduction to a Social/Cognitive Process              
76-425   Science in the Public Sphere       
76-428   Visual Verbal Communication    
76-472   Topics in Journalism: Storytelling in a Digital Age
76-474   Software Documentation            
76-475   Law, Performance, and Identity
76-476   Rhetoric of Science         
76-481   Introduction to Multimedia Design          
76-484   Discourse Analysis            
76-491   Rhetorical Analysis         
39-605   Engineering Design Projects

Technical Communication Electives
Three advisor-approved courses in management, technology, and social issues that contribute to your focus.

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