Carnegie Mellon University

First-Year Writing at CMU


View the Fall 2019 course schedule and descriptions for the Option 1 mini courses.

View the Fall 2019 course schedule and descriptions for the Option 2 full-semester courses.

View the Fall 2019 schedule and descriptions for the 76-100 courses.

Click here for details about the First-Year Writing course placement process.


All students at Carnegie Mellon must complete the First-Year Writing requirement—we do not accept any Advanced Placement exemptions. However, students have several options for fulfilling this requirement. All First-Year Writing courses are designed to teach students how to adapt to new writing situations and connect their learning to future communication tasks, so you can feel confident about any course option you choose.

Option 1: Take two half-semester mini courses

  • 76-106 Writing About Literature, Art, and Culture
  • 76-107 Writing About Data
  • 76-108 Writing About Public Problems

Option 2: Take one full-semester course

  • 76-101 — Interpretation and Argument
  • 76-102 — Advanced First-Year Writing*
*By application/invitation only

Why choose option 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

Why choose option 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

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 above options 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.