Carnegie Mellon University

Technical Communication Track

The Technical Communication track (TC) prepares students for careers in the rapidly changing areas of computer-based communication. Students learn the fundamentals of visual, verbal, and online communication as well as the technical skills needed to design, communicate, and evaluate complex communication 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 TWCM/TC major can be pursued as a primary major within DC or as a secondary major for students in other Carnegie Mellon colleges with an interest in combining their specialized subject matter knowledge with strong writing and communications skills.

Graduates of this track are likely to follow in the footsteps of previous Technical Writing students from Carnegie Mellon who are currently employed as web designers, information specialists, technical writers, and information consultants in a range of technology and communication-based organizations including IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and Hewlett Packard, all of whom actively recruit on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

Prerequisites (4 courses):

All Technical Writing & Communication (TWCM) majors must satisfy the Dietrich College requirements for the B.S. degree, and a set of 4 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 H&SS 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 (2 courses):

15-110 Principles of Computing
15-112 Fundamentals of Programming & Computer Science

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

76-359 Planning and Testing Documents
76-397 Instructional Text Design
76-419 Communication Revolutions and Technologies
76-428 Visual Verbal Communication
76-474 Software Documentation
76-476 Rhetoric of Science
76-481 Writing for Multimedia
76-491 Rhetorical Analysis

Additional Options:

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
76-395 Science Writing
76-396 Non-Profit Advocacy
76-397 Instructional Text Design
76-492 Rhetoric of Public Policy
39-605 & 39-606 Engineering Design Projects

Technical Communication Electives (3 courses)

Complete three advisor-approved electives in management, technology, and social issues, chosen from the following options. Additional options may be advertised on a semester-by-semester basis. Note that at least some of these courses may have prerequisites. Please check course listings for details and plan accordingly. Courses in this category may double count for both the TWCMM/TC degree and a major or minor in another department.

05-341 Organizational Communication
05-410  User-Centered Research and Evaluation
05-413 Human Factors
05-499 Special Topcs in HCI
15-xxx Computer Science courses (beyond the 2 required)
19-211 Ethics and Policy Issues in Computing
19-448 Science, Technology, and Ethics
36-309 Experimental Design for Behavioral and Social Sciences
36-350 Statistical Computing
51-261  Communication Design Fundamentals: Design for Interactions for Communications
51-262 Communication Design Fundamentals: Design for Interactions for Communications
51-263 Industrial Design Fundamentals
70-311 Organizational Behavior
70-332 Business, Society, and Ethics
70-342 Managing Across Cultures
80-180 Nature of Language
80-220 Philosophy of Science
80-221 Philosophy of Social Science
80-241 Ethical Judgments in Professional Life
80-242 Conflict and Dispute Resolution
80-243 Ethics of Leadership
80-244 Environmental Ethics
80-341 Computers, Society, and Ethics
85-211 Cognitive Psychology
85-213 Human Information Processing and Artificial Intelligence
85-241 Social Psychology
85-370 Perception
85-392 Human Expertise
85-395 Applications of Cognitive Science
85-417 Cognitive Modeling and Intelligent Tutoring Systems
88-223 Decision Analysis and Decision Support Systems
88-260 Organizations
88-341 Organizational Communication