Carnegie Mellon University

Learning Areas

The General Education Program is grounded in 15 learning areas that will guide your learning path.

Each learning area has a set of specific learning outcomes that we will introduce explicitly in your courses and through advising, and we will measure through robust program assessment. The learning outcomes we have chosen were identified by our faculty and your future employers as the skills essential for work, citizenship, and life. Every General Education course will target specific learning areas and we will also ensure your Dietrich experience helps you grow in personal and professional development.

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Personal and Professional Development Learning Areas

Woven throughout the Dietrich College student experience and the way our faculty teach courses in the new curriculum are learning outcomes in the following four learning areas:

  1. Self-Directed Learning - Develop an independent growth mindset through self-reflection and proactively exploring opportunities, acquiring feedback from others, assessing progress, and challenging oneself beyond the current comfort zone.
  2. Health and Well-Being - Monitor physical and mental health, identify related resources, seek care when needed, and maintain social connections that positively impact well-being.
  3. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion - Describe how and why perspectives of people with various identities differ, analyze how power and privilege influence inequality, and examine responsibilities to address systemic inequities.
  4. Ethical Reasoning - Describe ethical issues in society, articulate one's core beliefs, identify various perspectives in decision-making, and communicate ethical positions effectively.

Foundations Learning Areas

The following areas of learning focus on foundational skills and knowledge that all Dietrich students should acquire and aim to apply within their major and across disciplines. Each of these learning areas has a corresponding course category in the curriculum. 

  1. Communication - Produce compelling written, oral, and visual content that is well organized in its purpose, genre, and context, then seek and incorporate feedback to improve communication for target audiences with broad perspectives.
  2. Data Analysis - Interpret, design, and critique studies and related reports, and analyze datasets using statistical methods to make appropriate inferences.
  3. Computational Thinking - Incorporate computation as a tool for representing information and solving problems, use, design, and/or develop computer programs; and evaluate the ethical implications and impact on individuals and society.
  4. Contextual Thinking - Raise questions for interpreting issues, objects and events by using a variety of source materials, considering varied perspectives across historical periods, and situating personal perspectives among them.
  5. Intercultural and Global Inquiry - Examine how cultural contexts impact our worldviews, which in turn influence our perception of communities and our interpretation of events in ways that impact equity and justice in the world.
  6. Scientific Inquiry - Distinguish between scientific and non-scientific explanations, develop hypotheses and describe how they might be tested, understand the stages of scientific inquiry, and consider the relationship between science and society.

Disciplinary Perspectives Learning Areas

The two learning areas below will be addressed in the Disciplinary Perspectives courses of the curriculum. These course requirements are meant to ensure that students will be exposed to a wide array of academic disciplines. Regardless of the discipline, there are two sets of learning outcomes that each course will address.

    1.  Argumentation - Analyze the structure and quality of arguments, as well as generate and communicate substantive arguments in written, oral, and visual forms. Or:
    2. Critique and Creative Synthesis - Analyze, critique, and assess an artwork, create an artwork, and contextualize an artwork to gain broader understanding.
    1. Disciplinary Research - Formulate a research question, identify and use methods to gather and analyze evidence or progress toward the objective, synthesize discoveries, and communicate those discoveries. Or:
    2. Creative Inquiry - Formulate an artistic goal, identify techniques, devise and follow an artistic process, and communicate the project's intent.

Special Seminars and Topics Learning Areas

The Special Seminars and Topics requirements help learn to apply multiple disciplinary perspectives to approach complex problems by working on diverse teams. The following learning areas will be introduced in the Special Seminars and Topics.

  1. Interdisciplinary Perspectives - Engage, compare, and contrast diverse disciplinary perspectives, ultimately integrating them to solve problems.
  2. Complex Problem Solving - Identify components of problems and propose multiple solutions, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each based on its implications and consequences.
  3. Collaboration - Participate in constructive dialogue and navigate differences and interpersonal dynamics, while engaging with the team to set goals and complete tasks.