Carnegie Mellon University

Course Options


Carnegie Mellon undergraduates can fulfill their first-year writing requirement with multiple course options. We believe that students learn best when they can pair their individual goals with their coursework, so we encourage students to consider their "fit" with the writing courses they choose.

We have designed the First-Year Writing Program at Carnegie Mellon to help students develop writing strategies that they will continue to use, both in future academic courses and throughout their personal and professional lives. The First-Year Writing courses introduce students to a variety of writing tasks and situations, so that students can adapt their communication for diverse purposes and audiences.

All undergraduate students must complete the First-Year Writing requirement—the Department of English does not accept any Advanced Placement exemptions. This requirement can be completed in two different ways: 

Option 1: Enroll in one of two full-semester courses (9 units each)
   76101: Interpretation and Argument
   76102: Advanced First-Year Writing (by invitation only). 

Option 2: Enroll in two of three half-semester “mini” courses* (4.5 units each)
   76106: Writing About Literature, Art and Culture
   76107: Writing About Data
   76108: Writing About Public Problems

*Minis should be completed back-to-back within a single semester. 

76-100, Reading and Writing in an Academic Context, is a prerequisite for some incoming students whose first or primary language is not English. Students who are placed in 76-100 should complete it during their first semester, before choosing one of the two above options to fulfill the First-Year Writing requirement during their second semester.

For more information about the course options, and a detailed list of course topics, click here

What kind of First-Year Writing course should I take?

Since we have designed all First-Year Writing courses to teach students how to adapt to new writing situations and to connect their learning to future communication tasks, you can feel confident about any course option you choose to fulfill the First-Year Writing requirement.

Why take a full-semester course?

If you enjoy exploring a particular domain in depth and examining controversial issues, you should enroll in the full-semester course, 76-101, Interpretation and Argument. (Students invited to enroll in 76-102 should expect a more immersive experience into a faculty member’s particular research area.)

Why take two half-semester mini courses instead of a full-semester course? 

If you want exposure to more than one kind of writing situation (e.g., professional, technical, arts & humanities), and you like the idea of a fresh start in the middle of a semester, you should enroll in the two half-semester minis option.