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. This information has been updated for the Fall 2022 semester, but please continue to check back in case there are changes to the course times or topics.

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. For a detailed listing of the Pathway 2 course topics, schedules, and descriptions for the current or upcoming semester, click here. This information has been updated for the Fall 2022 semester, but please continue to check back in case there are changes to the course times or topics.

A second full-semester course, 76-102: Advanced First-Year Writing, is also offered, and students are admitted via an application process that takes place before the Fall semester of each year. This year's process should be completed by July 15, 2022.

Some first-year 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 first before choosing one of the two Pathways in the following semester to fulfill the First-Year Writing requirement. For a detailed listing of the Fall 2022 course schedule for 76-100, click here. 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

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Pathway 2 - One Full-Semester Course

  • 76-101  Interpretation and Argument

  • 76-102 — Advanced First-Year Writing (by application 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

47.5%

of Students take Pathway 1 

52.5%

of Students take Pathway 2