Carnegie Mellon University

Due to the ongoing considerations related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pre-College program will be offered only through remote instruction in the summer of 2021. Please view the Online Academic Information section below to review the updated program overview, curriculum, and requirements for our online Pre-College Writing & Culture program.

Online Academic Information:

We are excited to offer the Writing & Culture Pre-College Program remotely. Our faculty have been teaching in creative new ways using multimodal text and cutting edge technology. In our discussions about moving to a remote program, we decided we should exploit the technologies available to us. 

  • For creative writing, we will spotlight multimodal poetics, learning about changing trends in today’s poetry scene, and understanding writing in our current moment. 
  • For Shakespeare, we will draw upon exclusive productions and interact with speakers who can bring Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to us.
  • For visual design, we will supply all of our students with an Adobe Creative Suite license to work from home for the visual communication and editing portion of the program. 

We have decided that we will keep instruction focused, laughter and social interaction high, and Zoom fatigue low.


  • Required Equipment and Applications. [If anything other than home computer, Internet access and programs supplied by CMU]
  • U.S. Location. The Program is available only to individuals in the United States. Students are required to be physically located in the United States at all times when accessing Program courses and/or activities.
  • The expectation will be students are committed to the academic experience between the hours of 9AM – 4PM (Eastern Standard Time-EST) which will be delivered in a variety of methodologies including asynchronous and synchronous instruction.



Over the course of 6 weeks, students will be exposed to writing and culture through the lens of CMU’s English Department.

Guided by the mentorship and instruction of our highly distinguished faculty members, students will improve their ability to analyze complex, ever-changing problems through astute investigations of culture and society. 

  • Bring your readings and discussions in writing and culture to life by attending readings and events with local artists and authors, and experiencing productions in Pittsburgh’s world-class music and theater scene.
  • Investigate writing and culture in rich historical context, across print, visual, and film media, through hands-on visits to the Carnegie Mellon archives and Rare Book room, docent-led tours of exhibits and permanent collections at Pittsburgh’s many museums, and tours of Pittsburgh film locations.
  • Experience mentorship, rich discussion, and a workshop-like environment with distinguished, permanent faculty in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of English, who include published creative writers, program directors, literary and cultural studies scholars, and technologists at the cutting edge of digital humanities scholarship.
  • Gain access to college-level professionalization opportunities, such as networking opportunities with alumni, insights into career paths in English, and mentored help on college application essays from professors who direct Carnegie Mellon’s writing and communications programs.


Throughout the program, students will analyze literature, art, and culture through historical, critical, and technological lenses, and will also produce their own body of work. They will learn about visual principles for document design, revise their own work, and produce their own publication by the end of the program. They will also take part in cultural events throughout Pittsburgh that will reinforce their learning and deepen their knowledge about possible professional trajectories. 

Make Your Words Count: Writing for Impact 

Weeks 1-4

Creative Writing

Each morning, students will engage with the craft of creative writing, selecting the topics of their writing based solely upon their own interests. This course will help students learn how to connect their writing to larger, significant messages, both personal and political. 

Literary Analysis

In the afternoon, students will shift their focus to historically canonical literature and production (e.g., Shakespeare) to sharpen their interpretive and analytical reading and writing abilities. This course focuses upon the emotional and political impact of literature and art, but from a reader’s perspective rather than a writer’s perspective. 

Connect with Your Readers: Designing a Lasting Impression

Weeks 5-6

Visual Communication and Editing

In the final two weeks, students will learn about visual communication and editing to prepare their writing for a Writing and Culture Pre-College publication. Additionally, students will use new CMU-developed technologies to notice their written patterns and learn strategies for designing documents. Students will also visit the rare book room in Hunt Library to consider historical contexts for visual design conventions.

Humanities Pathways

Also in weeks 5-6, students will meet with guest-speaker alumni who will discuss their own career journeys and the pathways out from a humanities and English-focused undergraduate degree. Students will also produce a few college application materials (e.g., resume, college application essay).

Humanities in Pittsburgh: Exploring the City

Throughout the 6 weeks, students will participate in an average of one curricular enrichment event each week, such as viewing a theatrical production or attending a poetry reading with City of Asylum. These activities will occur at various times during the 6 weeks, some during the day and some during the evening. 


To be eligible for Pre-College Writing & Culture students must:  

  • Be at least 16 years old by the program start date (to participate in the residential program).
  • Be a current sophomore or junior in high school.
  • Have an academic average of B (3.0/4.0) and/or have received a B or higher in their last English class.

Application Requirements

The application for Pre-College Writing & Culture will consist of the following:

  • Completed Online Application
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Standardized Test Scores (optional)
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Responses to the following essay prompts (300-500 words):
    • What do you hope to gain from participating in the Carnegie Mellon Pre-College program?
    • Why are you interested in studying Writing and Culture?
    • What kinds of reading do you enjoy most, and why?
    • What writing experiences have you enjoyed most, and why?
  • Up to 3 samples of your writing (optional, but recommended). If applicant’s cumulative GPA is below a B average (3.0/4.0), submitting writing samples is strongly encouraged.