Carnegie Mellon University

Academic Policies

Students must receive an A or a B in a Survey of Forms (SOF) class to be eligible to enroll in a beginning workshop course in the same genre. A student who receives a C in a SOF course may enroll in a workshop of that same genre only with the permission of the workshop professor. A student who receives a D or R in Survey of Forms may not take a related workshop. Students may, however, retake the SOF course with the goal of earning an A or B. Any SOF course taken for a second time will count as general elective credit toward graduation but not in place of any requirement for the student’s degree in English.

Students majoring or minoring in English may double-count up to TWO courses from their major or minor to fulfill requirements in a major or minor in another department. See Requirements For English Double Majors[.pdf] for additional information.


English department majors may combine any two English department degrees for an additional major within the department, with the exception of Professional Writing (PW) and Technical Writing (TWC) because so many of the required courses overlap.

Which department courses double count for a primary & additional major in the English Department?
One Survey of Forms double counts for both a primary and additional major. Example: a student doing both a BA in English (EBA) and a BA in Creative Writing (CW) may count a Survey of Forms (SOF) course for both requirements.
The English Electives also double count for both majors, as long as:
  • You complete the number of English Electives required by the degree with the higher number.
  • The courses being used for English Electives are not also used to complete major requirements for either of your department majors.

Example: A student with majors in the BA in English (EBA) and Creative Writing (CW) would need to take the four English Electives required for CW rather than the three required for the EBA.

Required courses for one English department major may not count as English Electives for the additional major. Example: A student majoring in CW and the EBA cannot count the second SOF course needed for your CW degree as an elective for the EBA. Similarly, a student with majors in PW and CW cannot use Argument or one of the advanced professional writing courses as an elective for CW. Both the EBA and PW have a Rhetoric course requirement. The Rhetoric course taken for one may not double count for the other. The student would need to do two separate rhetoric courses.
In other words, for electives to double-count, they need to be English courses that are not used as core course requirements for either degree.


Usually 6 or 7. See Requirements For English Double Majors[.pdf] for a detailed layout of the required and total number of courses for the various combinations of the EBA, CW, and PW degrees.
If you wish to combine the TWC degree with either the EBA or the CW degree, you will need to do an additional 9 courses for the additional degree because the TWC degree has no English Electives.

Questions? Contact the Undergraduate Coordinator(link to email TBD).


Two of the “English Elective” courses for CW and PW majors must be in designated “Literature” (for CW) or “Text/Context” (for PW) courses. A list of courses being offered each semester that fulfill the literature and text/context requirements is included in the “What Counts for What”[.pdf] document available from the English Department. This document is updated before advising week each semester, so be sure to consult the current version.

English electives beyond the two literature and text/context requirements can be chosen from among all courses offered by the English Department except for 76-201, 76-205, and 76-206, which serve as GenEd courses.

Students who combine the EBA with either CW or PW need not include two literature or text/context courses among their English Electives but may choose all of their English Electives from all courses offered by the department except 76-201, 76-205, 76-206, 76-270, and 76-272.

To graduate from Dietrich College, you must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • You must complete 360 units of credit and have an overall QPA of 2.0. You can count a total of 9 units of physical education, ROTC, and STUCO courses combined as part of your total units.
  • You must meet ALL of your Dietrich College General Education requirements and have them show up as completed on your record.
  • You must complete ALL of the specific requirements for at least one major within Dietrich College.

Independent studies are designed to allow you to pursue areas of study that are not covered in regular courses offered by the department. Except in exceptional circumstances, they are not an alternative way to take a regularly offered course.

To do an independent study, you must propose a course of study that is the equivalent of a regular 9 unit course (i.e., about 9 hours of work/week, including meeting times with faculty) and a faculty member must agree to supervise your work.

If you are interested in doing an independent study, schedule a meeting with a faculty member, preferably one with whom you have already had a course, whose area of expertise overlaps with your area of interest to explore whether that faculty member is interested and able to serve as a sponsor. You and your faculty sponsor must define the scope and expected outcomes of the course (e.g., learning objectives, reading list, schedule of readings, number and length of papers/project) and complete an "Independent Study Contract" [.pdf] before you can register for the course.

Independent studies are usually done for 9 units and counted as English Electives. In exceptional circumstances, when the independent study is the equivalent of a required course for the major, you may petition to have the independent study count toward one of your English requirements.

Your faculty advisor can help you determine whether a minor can help you meet your educational goals. Consult the list of possible CMU minors

If you are interested in doing a minor in other Dietrich College departments, contact the Dietrich College Academic Advising Center in Baker Hall A57 for information and procedures. Dietrich College sponsors over 14 possible minors including minors in Film & Media Studies, Gender Studies, International Relations, etc.

Minors are also available in other CMU colleges. Students interested in a minor from another CMU college should consult the list of Additional Majors and Minors [.pdf] to see who to contact for more information.

A number of students majoring in the English Department are doing one of the concentrations or minors in the cross-college Integrative Design, Arts, and Technology (IDeATe) program. Contact the IDeATe advisor.

A full-time student is required to take a minimum of 36 units (4 courses) to maintain full-time status. In order to graduate in the normal 4 years, students must generally complete 5 classes (45-50 units) per semester.

During registration week, DC students are limited to registering for 5 courses (max of 50 units). The rationale here is one of fairness. All students should be able to register for the 5 courses they most want and need before any student is able to register for an overload. Note: The 50 unit limit does not apply to units for StuCo (98-xxx), PhysEd (69-xxx) or ROTC courses. Students should be able to add these units via OLR without their counting toward the 50 unit limit.

Students who have both a cumulative and previous semester QPA of 3.00 or higher, with previous semester defined as “last completed semester,” are eligible to apply to have their maximum units increased to allow for a sixth course. Note, however, that eligibility does not necessarily mean that permission will be granted, only that the student is eligible to apply. Additionally, any increase in units that allows a student to register for a sixth course will take place only after, not during, registration week.

Exceptions to the 5-course limit during registration week will generally be made only in very exceptional circumstances, e.g., for a senior in the last semester of coursework who must have 6 courses in order to graduate in that semester.

One rather pro forma exception is the situation in which a student wishes, as part of a normal load of 5 courses, to take 2 courses of 12 units each, leading to a total of 51 units. This permission can be granted prior to or during registration week but still requires that a petition be filed. The DC reasoning behind setting the usual limit at 50 instead of 51 units is that 51 units would allow students to routinely take 6 courses (5 9-unit courses plus a 6-unit mini).

To get permission to register for more than 50 units, eligible students must successfully complete all of the following steps:

  • Have a semester and cumulative QPA of 3.0
  • Complete the “Petition to Carry an Overload for Dietrich College Students”[.pdf] form downloadable from the Dietrich College website.
  • Attach a current Registrar’s transcript of all courses and grades to date (these can be downloaded from the HUB)
  • Meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the department to discuss the possible overload.

Approved unit increases can be entered into the OLR system anytime beginning on Monday of the week following registration week, after all students have had the opportunity to register for 5 courses.

All petitions approved before the posting of final grades for the semester preceding the overload semester are subject to revocation if the student does not achieve a 3.0 or higher QPA in the semester preceding the overload semester.

Transfer credit for courses students wish to have counted toward their English Department requirements must be approved in advance by the Undergraduate Studies Director. Students should complete and submit the appropriate forms before taking courses elsewhere. This applies to courses taken through study abroad programs, courses taken through cross-registration at other Pittsburgh colleges, and summer courses taken at other colleges or universities.

Any student who would like to substitute one course for another or request an exception to other department policies must petition the Department, in writing, for approval. See the Undergraduate Coordinator for Petition forms.