Carnegie Mellon University

Curriculum

The coursework will require students to complete six (6) foundations courses, five (5) disciplinary perspectives courses, and three (3) special seminars and topics.

curriculum-min.jpegView full-size image in new window Foundations 54 units
Disciplinary Perspectives 42 units
Special Seminars and Topics 27 units
Total General Education 123 units

Foundations

Foundations courses teach the competencies, skills, and knowledge that are critical for all students no matter what major they choose and what career they pursue. Being equipped with these skills will ensure that students are able to work collaboratively with others across different fields to solve today’s most complex problems.

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Description

Units Required

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Communication

Communication is the process of gathering, organizing and conveying information and ideas. Our students will learn how to communicate through various means and grow in their ability to be coherent, concise and persuasive. Completed in Year 1, this requirement will teach students how to write in an academic context so they are well prepared for effective communication throughout their time at CMU and beyond.

9 units

Required in Year 1

Visit the First-Year Writing Program website to explore the pathways to completion.

Data Analysis

Data Analysis focuses on how to make statistical decisions and inferences from data. Students will learn how to collect, analyze and ethically communicate the conclusions of data to a general audience. Data is present and valuable in any field, so being able to manipulate and understand it is a skill necessary for all Dietrich students.

9 units

Required in Year 1

36-200, Reasoning with Data

Computational Thinking

Computational Thinking, which focuses on understanding the value and impact of technology and computation, is a vital skill in today's world. Our students will learn how to solve problems using computation and will gain hands-on experience in the practical use of computer programs. By doing so, they will consider the impact of technology on society and humanity both short and long term.

9 units

Can be completed in Year 1, 2, or 3

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Contextual Thinking

Contextual Thinking is the ability to explore the circumstances and history that surround a particular issue or event and to consider and apply the larger picture surrounding it. Our students will learn to explain why and how problems persist and what attempts have been made to solve them. The ability to think contextually is applicable and essential to everyone, but especially those in the humanities and social sciences.

9 units

Can be completed in Year 1, 2, or 3

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Intercultural and Global Inquiry

Intercultural and Global Inquiry is the ability to interpret the world through both a personal lens and through perspectives outside of one’s own experiences and expectations. Students will work to increase their cultural awareness and their ability to work with people from different disciplinary and demographic backgrounds. This skill will be increasingly crucial as the world’s countries become even more interconnected.

9 units

Can be completed in Year 1, 2, or 3

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Scientific Inquiry

Scientific Inquiry involves informed decision making in the quest for understanding why science is so important within society. Students will learn science as a way of knowing and how to apply science in their everyday lives. They will also learn the scientific process, from hypothesis generation to experimental design through data collection, analysis, and interpretation.

9 units

Can be completed in Year 1, 2, or 3

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Disciplinary Perspectives

Disciplinary Perspectives courses provide students a broad and reflective understanding of the academic landscape, enticing students to take advantage of all the expertise that Carnegie Mellon faculty have to offer. Students will explore why these disciplines are important for all citizens, the classic and revolutionary methods used to advance each discipline, the major discoveries that have impacted society, and the exciting areas of cutting edge inquiry.

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Description

Units Required

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Humanities

The Humanities is one of the cornerstones of Dietrich College. All Dietrich students will take an introductory Humanities course in their first year, so they can begin to study human culture and society via analytic and critical methods of inquiry, as well as expand their ability to examine a problem socially, politically, and morally.

9 units

Required in Year 1

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Social Sciences

The Social Sciences are an integral part of Dietrich College. While many students will pursue a degree in one of our Social Sciences, we expect all Dietrich students to explore the Social Sciences through an introductory course in their first year. These courses will help students begin to explore causes and consequences of individual or social behavior through analytical and mathematical models.

9 units

Required in Year 1

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Logic/Mathematical Reasoning

Logic/Mathematical Reasoning is an ability to form arguments that support a claim with solid evidence and prepare to respond to counterclaims. Practicing this skill will enable students to interpret and apply these reasoning principles meaningfully within their own fields of study.

9 units

Can be completed anytime in a student’s undergraduate career

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The Arts

The Arts introduces students to questions about beauty, value, creativity, and societal change. Courses in the Arts build interpretive and perceptual skills, prepare students to understand and share culture through the arts, and set students on a course for balanced, healthy lives enriched and challenged by human artistic expression.

9 units

Can be completed anytime in a student’s undergraduate career

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Additional Disciplines: Business, Design, or Engineering

The final Disciplinary Perspectives requirement offers students the choice to explore a course in either Business, Design, or Engineering, according to their unique interests and potential applications to their career preparation.

  • Business courses teach students the tools needed for understanding people and processes in order to solve complex problems in accounting, management, marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, globalization, etc. With a focus on management science, quantitative reasoning, leadership development, and/or communication skills, business courses aim to teach the science and practice of business in a variety of contexts, settings, and cultures.
  • At its heart, Design is about solving problems. Design courses teach students to design products (industrial design), communications (graphic design), and environments (both physical and digital) with future generations in mind.
  • Engineering courses stress creativity and independent thinking, while requiring students to define a problem, to design in the presence of technical and socioeconomic constraints, to make judgments among alternative solutions, and to explore innovative alternatives to more conventional solutions.

Select 1 course from any additional discipline, 6 units

Can be completed anytime in a student’s undergraduate career

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Special Seminars and Topics

The Special Seminars and Topics offer opportunities for students to engage in high impact learning practices to ensure transformative and integrative learning.

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Description

Units Required

Timeline

Course Options

Grand Challenge Seminar

All first-year students are required to take one of our Grand Challenge Seminars, which focus on real, complex global problems like environmental sustainability, equity in health care, or racism. Seminars are co-taught by multiple faculty members who bring a multi-disciplinary lens to problem-solving. Faculty teams propose seminar topics and engage with students in critical thinking, communication and collaboration. The courses harness the intellectual power of humanists and social scientists from Dietrich College, in collaboration with engineers, roboticists, chemists and other experts from across the university.

9 units

Required in Year 1

Refer to Grand Challenge Seminar website to see section topics

Equity and Justice

The Equity and Justice course explores how income, wealth, and power are distributed around Pittsburgh, across the nation, and worldwide. What are the implications of inequality in society? Does inequality look the same the world over, or does it vary depending on time and place? What can and should be done to change the disparities in local communities, the nation at large, or globally? Who are the people leading the charge for justice and equity, and what can we learn from their experiences?

9 units

Can be completed in Year 1, 2, or 3

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Senior Capstone

The Senior Capstone serves as a culminating experience to undergraduate study in Dietrich College. Partnering with our supportive faculty, the capstone gives students the opportunity to deeply explore their field and to implement all they have learned about complex problem solving, argumentation, and research/creative inquiry.

9 units

To be completed in the 4th year unless the major offers a capstone course in the spring of junior year

Completion of a capstone project, course, or other experience, to be provided through the academic departments and through the Dean’s Office