Carnegie Mellon University

The Scientific 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 these specialized areas. It should appeal to students with interests in the health care professions, science and public policy, patient education, scientific journalism and related fields.

Like the TC track, the SMC track is designed to provide both the technical and the communication skills needed to analyze and solve complex communication problems.

Students learn the fundamentals of visual, verbal, and online 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.

Students 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 The TWC/SMC major can be pursued as a primary major within DC or as a secondary major for students in other Carnegie Mellon colleges, such as the Mellon College of Sciences, with an interest in science or medicine.

Prerequisites (3 courses):

All Technical Writing & Communication (TWCM) majors must satisfy the Dietrich College (DC) requirements for the B.S. degree, and a set of 3 prerequisite courses in calculus, statistics, and computer science. All prerequisites should be completed by the beginning of the fall semester, junior year. Prerequisites may double count toward DC requirements or requirements for other majors or minors.

Mathematics Prerequisite (1 course):

21-111 Calculus I
21-112 Calculus II
21-120 Differential and Integral Calculus

Concepts of Mathematics

Statistics Prerequisite (1 course):

36-201 Statistical Reasoning and Practice

Computer Science Prerequisite (1 course):

15-110 Principles of Computing

Core Courses (5 courses):

In addtion to prerequisites in mathematics, statistics, and computer science, students in both the Technical Communication (TC) and Scientific and Medical Communication (SMC) tracks take a common set of 5 Technical Writing & Communication (TWCM) Core Requirements in writing, communication, and information design.

Survey of Forms (choose one of the courses below):

76-260 Fiction
76-262 Nonfiction
76-265 Poetry


Other Core Courses:

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

*prerequisite = 76-271 Introduction to Professional and Technical Writing

**prerequisite = 76-271 Introduction to Professional & Technical Writing and 76-391 Document & Information Design

Theory/Specialization Courses (3 courses):

Complete three advisor-approved courses structured as follows. At least one of the three must be chosen from the "Recommended" options below. The remaining two courses can be from the "Recommended" or "Additional Options" lists.

Recommended Options:


Environmental Rhetoric


Science Writing

76-428 Visual Verbal Communication
76-474 Software Documentation
76-476 Rhetoric of Science
76-481 Writing for Multimedia
76-491 Rhetorical Analysis
76-494 Healthcare Communications

Additional Options:

39-605 Engineering Design Projects
76-3101 Internship
76-318 Communicating in the Global Marketplace
76-355 Leadership, Dialogue, and Change
76-372 News Writing
76-375 Magazine Writing
76-385 Introduction to Discourse Analysis
76-386 Language and Culture
76-387 Sociolinguistics
76-389 Rhetorical Grammar
76-397 Instructional Text Design
76-419 Communication Revolutions and Technologies
76-492 Rhetoric of Public Policy
79-330 Medicine and Society
79-331 Body Politics: Women and Health in America
79-333 Biology and Society: Evolution Animal Experimentation and Eugenics
79-335 Drug Use and Drug Policy
80-220 Philosophy of Science
80-244 Environmental Ethics
80-245 Medical Ethics
88-223 Decision Analysis and Decision Support Systems

Natural Sciences and Engineering Electives (3 courses):

Complete 3 advisor-approved courses that contribute to the student’s chosen focus. The courses may be all in one area such as biology, or spread across areas. The basic courses in biology, chemistry, and physics are listed below. Additional options include advanced courses in any of these areas as well as basic and advanced classes in statistics, or engineering. Consult your English Department 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.

03-121 Modern Biology
03-124 Modern Biology Laboratory
03-231 Biochemistry I
03-362 Cellular Neuroscience
09-105 Introduction to Modern Chemistry I
09-106 Modern Chemistry II
09-221 Laboratory I: Introduction to Chemical Analysis
33-106 Physics I for Engineering Students
33-111 Physics I for Science Students
33-112 Physics II for Science Students
42-101 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering
42-202 Physiology
42-444 Medical Devices