The Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
John P. Lehoczky, Dean
Brian Junker, Associate Dean
Joseph E. Devine, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Gloria P. Hill, Assistant Dean and Director, Dietrich College Academic Advisory Center
The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences is one of Carnegie Mellon's seven principal colleges. The college consists of the undergraduate program in Economics, and the departments of English, History, Modern Languages, Philosophy, Psychology, Social and Decision Sciences, Statistics, and an interdepartmental program in Information Systems. The college accounts for approximately one-fifth of the university's undergraduate population; 80% of the college's students are undergraduates. The college is staffed by 224 full-time faculty, and approximately 27 part-time faculty.
Like its counterparts in engineering, science, computer science, business, and the fine arts, the college has three primary and interrelated foci: undergraduate education, graduate education, and research or creative pursuits. Thus, the college shares in the university’s mission of merging first-rate, innovative research and creativity with undergraduate and graduate education. Since all faculty engage in both teaching and research or creative work, all Dietrich College undergraduates benefit from contact in the classroom with highly accomplished faculty researchers and artists.
Edward Fiske, former Education Editor of The New York Times and author of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, long ago noted that the college and university have done “perhaps the most original thinking of any American university in pursuing the twin goals of liberal-professional education.” These goals continue to guide the college's educational enterprise. The college's educational program is "liberal" in that it stresses breadth and invites wide-ranging inquiry, both through its general education curriculum and through programs in the humanities, behavioral sciences, and social sciences. The “professional” dimension of the college's educational program derives from practical application of analytical and problem-solving skills and also from a subset of in-depth major programs which prepare students for a range of career fields as well as for graduate or professional school. In its belief that these two types of knowledge (“liberal” and “professional”) are highly complementary, Dietrich College embraces a philosophy that has its roots in Carnegie Mellon's institutional origins: namely, that the traditional liberal arts disciplines merit close, rigorous study, while at the same time practical skills are also mastered.
The rationale for this liberal/professional approach stems from the premise that the intellectual foundations of a challenging liberal education and meaningful professional education are essentially the same. Knowledgeable and effective citizens are as much in need of broad intellectual perspectives, analytical skills, and problem-solving strategies as are most professionals. Moreover, as leaders in American higher education generally agree, undergraduate education is not well served if professional specialization in undergraduate programs is achieved prematurely. The challenge is to strike a balance between breadth and depth, both within and outside of one's specialty. Such a balance insures versatility in one's profession and the knowledge and ability to keep pace as individuals and citizens with changes in our social, technical, and cultural environments. Thus, the objectives of both liberal and professional education can and should work in tandem to complement and enhance one another.Back To Top
Degree and Program Options
Dietrich College offers a wide range of innovative majors, and minors which provide a secondary focus to one's primary area of study. In addition, there are a number of special programs which add breadth and enhance a student’s overall experience.
Dietrich College Majors
|Department||Name of Major (Degree Options)|
|English||Creative Writing (B.A.)|
|English||Professional Writing (B.A.)|
|English||Technical Writing and Communication (B.S.)|
|History||Global Studies (B.A.)|
|Interdepartmental*||Economics and Mathematical Sciences (B.S.) (by admission)|
|Interdepartmental||Economics and Statistics (B.S.)|
|Interdepartmental||Environmental Policy (additional major only)|
|Interdepartmental||Ethics, History, and Public Policy (B.A./B.S.)|
|Interdepartmental||European Studies (B.A.)|
|Interdepartmental||Information Systems (B.S.) (by admission)|
|Interdepartmental**||Psychology and Biological Sciences (B.S.)|
|Interdepartmental||Student-Defined (B.A./B.S.) (by admission)|
|Modern Languages||Chinese Studies (B.A.)|
|Modern Languages||French and Francophone Studies (B.A.)|
|Modern Languages||German Studies (B.A.)|
|Modern Languages||Hispanic Studies (B.A.)|
|Modern Languages||Japanese Studies (B.A.)|
|Modern Languages||Russian Studies (B.A.)|
|Philosophy||Logic and Computation (B.S.)|
|Psychology||Cognitive Science (B.S.)|
|Social and Decision Sciences||Decision Science (B.S.)|
|Social and Decision Sciences||International Relations and Politics (B.S.)|
|Social and Decision Sciences||Policy and Management (B.S.)|
* with the Department of Mathematical Sciences
** with the Department of Biological Sciences
Dietrich College students may pursue additional majors and/or minors in the college, and in other Carnegie Mellon colleges. An additional major refers to the completion of the requirements for a second major while also completing the requirements for the primary major and degree.
Most Dietrich College majors are also available as additional majors; one (Environmental Policy) is available only as an additional major. Students from outside Dietrich College can pursue available additional majors offered by the college, and would be required to complete only those courses in the college's general education program that are prerequisites to courses required for the Dietrich College major in question.
Minors are like majors in that they consist of coherent programs of study in a department, or across departments. Minors differ from majors in the number, breadth and depth of the courses required. Dietrich College students can also pursue minors offered and made available by other Carnegie Mellon colleges and departments.
There are two types of minors in Dietrich College: departmental minors, which are housed in a Dietrich College academic department; and interdepartmental minors, which are sponsored by more than one department and administered through the faculty advisor's academic department. The college's minors are available to students from all colleges in the university.
|Department||Name of Minor|
|Economics||Innovation, Economics, and Entrepreneurship|
|Interdepartmental||African and African American Studies|
|Interdepartmental||Film and Media Studies|
|Interdepartmental||Global Systems and Management|
|Interdepartmental||Health Care Policy and Management|
|Interdepartmental||Science, Technology and Society|
|Interdepartmental||Student-Defined (by admission)|
|Modern Languages||Chinese Studies|
|Modern Languages||French and Francophone Studies|
|Modern Languages||German Studies|
|Modern Languages||Hispanic Studies|
|Modern Languages||Japanese Studies|
|Modern Languages||Russian Studies|
|Philosophy||Logic and Computation|
|Social and Decision Sciences||Policy and Management|
Multiple undergraduate degrees are defined as more than one undergraduate degree granted by the university (whether simultaneous or sequential). One diploma is awarded for each degree, and each degree has one primary major associated with it, and the possibility of an additional major and/or minor.
Dietrich College undergraduate students who wish to earn an additional undergraduate degree with a primary major also from Dietrich College must:
- Satisfy all requirements for the primary major to be linked to the additional degree
- Complete at least 90 units beyond the total units required for the first degree. If the major associated with the additional degree requires less than 90 units, the student would earn additional elective units to reach the 90-unit minimum. If the major associated with the additional degree requires more than 90 units, the student would perforce exceed the 90-unit minimum in order to fulfill all of the requirements for the additional degree’s primary major.
- Comply with CMU's Statute of Limitations: All units required for an undergraduate degree, whether earned in residence, transferred from another institution or granted via advanced placement, must have been earned within eight (8) years prior to the date on which the degree is granted.
Non-Dietrich College undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon who wish to earn an additional undergraduate degree with a Dietrich College primary major must complete all of the requirements listed above, plus any portion of the Dietrich College general education program not already fulfilled by prior undergraduate course work.
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Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Science
Some Dietrich College majors lead to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and others lead to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. In some cases students may choose between a B.A. or a B.S. degree. B.A. degree programs usually require less course work in technical and/or quantitative disciplines, and more depth and breadth in various humanities, social sciences, and (in some cases) the arts. In contrast, B.S. degrees are offered in majors requiring more technical, quantitative or scientific competencies.Back To Top
Dietrich College General Education Program
Carnegie Mellon's educational legacy emphasizes the connection between theoretical knowledge and practice. Similarly, the university's interdisciplinary approach to education embraces the practical application and analysis of knowledge in institutional, social, historical, and global contexts. Carnegie Mellon graduates are excellent practitioners in their chosen fields. The Dietrich College general education program (hereafter referred to as the "GenEd program") supports the development of that expertise and ensures that students gain well-informed perspectives and methodologies by providing the foundational knowledge required for in-depth study. Additionally, the GenEd program provides freshmen and sophomores - whether they have a specific interest, multiple interests, or are undecided about majors - with a systematic, intentional way of sampling the many options available in order to formulate, pursue and achieve their academic goals.
To transcend narrow disciplinary boundaries, the GenEd program focuses on five broad intellectual activities that are exercised in nearly all disciplines: communicating, reflecting, modeling, deciding and creating. General subject areas associated with each activity are also indicated below. These activities form the bases for GenEd curriculum categories, in which suitable courses are included from all parts of the university.
The five categories are:
1. communicating: language and interpretations
2. reflecting: societies and cultures
3. modeling: mathematics and experiments
4. deciding: social sciences and values
5. creating: designs and productions
This framework highlights central features of an ideal learning environment and the university's core intellectual mission.Back To Top
(18 units)1. Communicating: Language and Interpretations
Courses in this category give special attention to the study of language as interpretation, expression and argument within and across multiple discourses. Students examine language for its internal logics and structures. They also explore its rhetorical, historical, cultural, or philosophical dimensions, assessing how it functions while expanding their writing skills and sharpening their analytical abilities.
|76-101||Interpretation and Argument||9|
|xx-xxx||One additional "communicating" course||9|
Note: Non-native English speakers may be placed into 76-100, instead of 76-101, Reading and Writing for an Academic Context (9 units), in their first semester. After successful completion of 76-100, they must take 76-101. For these students, these two courses will fulfill the GenEd "communicating" requirement category.
(18 units)2. Reflecting: Societies and Cultures
This category emphasizes the study of history, society, and culture from local and global perspectives. Courses investigate contemporary societies as well as those of the past, along with their rich array of cultural products, artifacts, and ideas. They encourage a comparative and reflective approach to the understanding of the past and what it can bring to the constitution of present social relations and cultural outlooks.
|xx-xxx||One additional "reflecting" course||9|
(27 units)3. Modeling: Mathematics and Experiments
Courses in this category stress the interplay of mathematical (formal) theories and experimental work. Some courses investigate the internal structure of theories, whereas others use them as models for producing real-world knowledge. Such models may be drawn from a variety of disciplines including the natural and mathematical sciences, but also such fields as psychology and computer science. The interactions between theorizing and experimenting (observing) can be understood within an intellectual framework that invites comparative assessment.
- mathematical sciences (complete a minimum of 9 units)
- natural sciences (complete a minimum of 9 units)
- one other modeling course (complete a minimum of 9 units)
(18 units)4. Deciding: Social Sciences and Values
The theme of this category is the exploration of cognitive, behavioral and ethical dimensions of decision-making on both the individual and social level. Making decisions requires a broad understanding of human rationality and social interaction. Some courses examine the critical collection and analysis of data for achieving such an understanding, whereas others emphasize the historical development of policies and values which form the matrix for decision-making.
|36-201||Statistical Reasoning and Practice||9|
|xx-xxx||One additional "deciding" course||9|
(18 units) 5. Creating: Designs and Productions
In the arts, the humanities, the sciences, and in engineering, it is essential to produce artifacts: e.g., a painting, a poem, a musical performance, a piece of technology, the design of an experiment, or the proof of a mathematical theorem. Courses may center on the students' creation of artifacts, but they may also analyze such creations by exploring creative processes at work within and across disciplines. Such explorations should be informed by a deep understanding of contexts of production and reception.
(18 units)6. TWO Additional GenEd courses
These courses are selected from any GenEd category.
(3 units)7. University Requirement (UR): Computing @ Carnegie Mellon (99-101 or 99-102)
This course is a 3-unit mini-course, pass/no credit, completed in the first or second semester of the first year.
(9 units)8. Freshman Seminar Requirement (FSR)
This requirement ensures that all first-year students in the Dietrich College have a small-group course experience in their first year. Taught by selected members of the college's faculty, these seminars enroll 15-17 students, are centered around topics based on faculty research and expertise, and are formatted to encourage a high level of student participation. For current seminar topics and course descriptions, visit the Dietrich College general education website. NOTE: The freshman seminar will not simultaneously fulfill any other requirement (e.g., in a major or minor).Back To Top
College Services and Programs
The educational programs in the Dietrich College are complemented by a number of services, special programs, centers, and computing facilities.
Dietrich College Academic Advisory Center
Gloria P. Hill, Assistant Dean and Director
Office: Baker Hall A57
The Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences' Academic Advisory Center (AAC) is primarily responsible for advising and monitoring the progress of students prior to deciding on a major. As the “home base” for undergraduates who are new to the college, the AAC provides an accessible, welcoming environment where students can seek information, advice, and counsel about selecting courses, the college's general education program requirements, and the various majors and minors available. Just as important, advisors support students' transition to the university and, through the advising process, all of the major dynamics of a student’s life. The advisor-student relationship is a reciprocal one. Advisors' goals are to meet students where they are, to help them learn to successfully navigate the Carnegie Melon environment, to become increasingly self-sufficient, and to make viable academic and personal decisions. This kind of relationship is vital to a student’s ability to progress, grow and thrive in a new and demanding educational environment.
The AAC is a walk-in center, although individual appointments may be made and are encouraged. The center's hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Globalization and International Politics
Academic Advisor: Emily Half, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-268-7082, Baker Hall A60C
Faculty Director (IRP): Kiron K. Skinner, email@example.com, 412-268-3238, Porter Hall 223F
Faculty Director (GS): John Soluri, firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-268-7122, Baker Hall 363
As "globalization" accelerates across many domains (politics, economics, trade, culture, the environment, health, etc.), interest in international issues and topics grows steadily. In order to better reflect Carnegie Mellon's comparative strengths in a range of relevant areas, two Dietrich College majors have emerged from a common foundation. One (International Relations and Politics) offers strong conceptual and methodological roots in the social sciences, while the other (Global Studies) is more squarely planted in humanities methodologies and disciplines such as history, anthropology, languages, and cultural studies. Students are thus able to capitalize on the strengths of each major's faculty research and teaching in their respective home departments. Having an academic advisor common to both majors provides a a critical linchpin to help students with interests in these fields to see and understand their distinctions. They may then work closely with each program's faculty director for assistance in navigating their way through requirements, vigorously pursuing special opportunities such as a semester in Washington, D.C. or study abroad, and taking part in opportunities for inter-program collaboration.
Dietrich College Senior Honors Program
Joseph E. Devine, Director; Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Office: Baker Hall 154F
From its inception in 1982, the Dietrich College senior honors program has provided outstanding undergraduate students with the opportunity to work individually with faculty members throughout the college. The honors program is a senior-year program. Admission is based on achievement of a cumulative QPA of at least 3.50 in the major and 3.25 overall, endorsement of a thesis proposal by the faculty member who will serve as thesis advisor, and department head approval. Honors students enroll in an honors thesis course sequence for both semesters of the senior year (9 units per semester). Upon successful completion of the honors thesis, a student qualifies for graduation with Dietrich College Honors, and will have this designation as well as the thesis title noted on the final transcript.
Students have found the honors program to be a very positive experience in allowing for focused, individualized work on a sustained independent project. In the opportunity it provides to demonstrate one's capacity for independent and original work, the senior honors program comprises an experience that helps significantly in presenting oneself to prospective employers or graduate programs.
Humanities Scholars Program
Timothy Haggerty, Director
Office: Baker Hall 154Q
The Humanities Scholars Program (HSP) is a rigorous, four-year undergraduate program dedicated to fostering innovative interdisciplinary study and research in the humanities. The program works with the undergraduate admissions office to identify a subset of students admitted to Dietrich College who have a special interest in the humanities as they are conceptualized at Carnegie Mellon. These students are invited into a program that includes a shared set of courses as well as an optional residential component.
As practiced within its four departments - English, history, philosophy and modern languages - the humanities at Carnegie Mellon provide broad reflective analysis of humanity and its artifacts. Scholarship may incorporate, as examples, hermeneutic, ethnographic, critical, formal, or quantitative analyses within its arguments. At Carnegie Mellon, research has yielded original themes that have become institutional strengths, including social and global perspectives on culture, science and technology; languages, literature and discourse; the arts in society; cognition and rational decision making; and ethics and public policy.
During the first two years of the program, scholars take a series of four seminars that are designed to introduce them to different fields of the humanities and their disciplinary approaches (representative HSP seminars can be viewed on the program website). The program complements, rather than replaces, a major or minor course of study. In addition, HSP courses help fulfill breadth requirements, including the freshman seminar requirement and selected college general education requirements.
While in the program, scholars also participate in extracurricular events on campus and in the community that include talks by visiting scholars, theater performances, conferences, and exhibits that highlight the importance of humanistic inquiry and its relevance in public discourse.
Students complete their research under the direction of a faculty advisor and meet in a research seminar headed by the director of the program in the spring of their fourth year. This seminar is designed to develop and showcase their abilities in addressing a topic from multiple disciplinary standpoints.
Quantitative Social Science Scholars Program
Russell Golman, Director
Office: Porter Hall 223J
The Quantitative Social Science Scholars Program (QSSS) offers a unique opportunity in undergraduate education at Carnegie Mellon. In recent years, advances in computing power, increasingly powerful models of human behavior, and the exponential growth of data sets recording human economic and social activity have created exciting new possibilities for entrepreneurs, policymakers, and scholars seeking insight into human social behavior. Firms throughout the economy can now use data analytics to identify new markets, avoid errors, and improve efficiency. Policymakers can use the same techniques to shape the direction and expand the impact of social policies designed to promote the public good. Social scientists can also use these techniques to create a broader and deeper scientific understanding of human behavior that serves as the foundation upon which both entrepreneurs and policymakers can build.
The QSSS program is designed to help outstanding undergraduates impact society through the use of these techniques. It does so by laying out a structured program of training in advanced quantitative techniques that can be broadly applied across a range of social science disciplines and topics. Students combine this methodological training with more traditional coursework in the social science major of their choice. The program equips students to undertake sophisticated analysis of their own, and features an integrative senior thesis project that applies their methodological training to a research question of their own choosing.
The QSSS program is not a freestanding major or a minor, per se. It is a program designed to be taken in conjunction with a social science major in Dietrich College but open, in principle, to students majoring in other programs. The program explicitly seeks to recruit students from a range of disciplines and create a cohesive interdisciplinary learning community among its students. Majors that could fit well with this program include (but are not limited to) economics, decision science, policy and management, international relations and politics, and statistics.
Special features of the QSSS program include:
- An optional residential component that allows QSSS students to live together in their first year
- A common freshman seminar that emphasizes QSSS topics (this seminar fulfills the Dietrich College freshman seminar requirement)
- A core curriculum in five segments: mathematical and statistical foundations, social science modeling, regression analysis of large data sets, data collection and generation, and computational data methods.
- A required senior thesis under the dual supervision of a QSSS-affiliated faculty member and a faculty advisor from the student's home department.
- A QSSS seminar series that invites speakers to campus to help students in the program see how the skills they are developing are applied both in research and in practice.
Science and Humanities Scholars Program
William Alba, Director
Office: Doherty Hall 2201
The Science and Humanities Scholars Program (SHS) is designed to enable talented students to develop and pursue an undergraduate program that builds upon their interests and achievements in the humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, or social sciences. The program is based on a special general education core that provides an academic foundation from which students can select a major in either the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences or the Mellon College of Science.
Features of the SHS program include:
- Equal access to courses in both MCS and Dietrich College
- An optional residential program that allows a group of SHS first-year students to live together in a dormitory cluster
- Opportunities to collaborate with faculty in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research
- A broad selection of freshman seminars led by distinguished faculty from across the two colleges
Selected students admitted to Dietrich College and/or MCS are invited to join the SHS program at the same time that they receive their notification of admission to the university. Those accepting are advised by the SHS program director until they declare a major.
Joseph E. Devine, Director; Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Office: Baker Hall 154
For students whose educational goals cannot be as adequately served by the curricula of existing programs, the college provides the opportunity to self-define a major or minor. The procedure for establishing such a major centers on a written proposal, submitted to the college dean's office. This proposal consists of two parts:
Major description and rationale: A description of the components of the proposed program of study; a presentation of the objectives of the program of study, why it represents a coherent and (given available faculty, courses, and other resources) viable course of study, and the reason(s) why these objectives cannot be accomplished within one or more of the college's existing programs.
The curriculum: Presentation of a complete outline of all courses that will comprise the requirements for the major, categorized according to that component of the major program to which each belongs (e.g., mathematics prerequisites; research methods; theoretical perspectives; etc.), and second, a semester-by-semester outline that indicates when each course is to be taken (or, for any already taken, when taken and grade received). The minimum requirement for graduation is, as with all majors in the college, 360 units of credit.
Proposals and curricula are evaluated for clarity of focus, coherence and depth in related areas, and viability within the context of the college and university. Proposals should generally be developed no later than the sophomore year, and approved majors begin their program generally no later than the junior year.Back To Top
Study Abroad Scholarships
The Dietrich College Dean's Office offers the following scholarships to encourage and support study abroad.
The Abel M. Bomberault Study Abroad Fellowship
This fellowship is given in memory of Abel M. Bomberault (class of 1956). Multiple scholarships of up to $2,000 are awarded to Dietrich College, BHA, or SHS students for a semester, a full year, or summer study in a French-speaking country, with preference for France. Majors and minors in French are given preference.
The Brona Stein Buerger Scholarship
These annual scholarships provide funds for up to two Dietrich College, BHA or SHS students, from any class or major, to be used toward a semester or full year of study in an accredited program of education abroad. Current sophomores and juniors receive preference. This award has been given in memory of Brona Stein Buerger, Margaret Morrison class of 1962.
The Hannah Estermann Bergman Study Abroad Fund
This annual scholarship provides funds for one Dietrich College student who is currently studying Spanish. Preference is given to sophomores and juniors who are modern languages majors. This award has been given in memory of Hannah Estermann Bergman, Margaret Morrison class of 1946.Back To Top
Dietrich College Summer Internship Opportunity Grants
Dietrich College encourages students to pursue interesting and professionally relevant internship opportunities for summer employment. Often the very positions that provide students with first-rate, challenging work experiences are unpaid or provide minimal pay. To help compensate students for taking on work experiences that will be invaluable in helping them define and move toward their career goals, the Dietrich College Summer Internship Opportunity Grants Program seeks to make it more possible for students to take advantage of unpaid but worthwhile internship opportunities with grants of up to $2,000.
Undergraduates with primary majors in Dietrich College, BHA and SHS and strong academic records are eligible and encouraged to apply. Current sophomores and juniors receive preference. NOTE: Graduating seniors are not eligible.
Students are expected to find their own internships. There are many resources available to help in finding internships, including the university's Career and Professional Development Center's TartanTrak database. Preference for grants is given to students who find positions in government or non-profit agencies.
Washington Semester Program
Kiron Skinner, Faculty Director; email@example.com
Emily Half, Academic Program Manager; firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-268-7082, Baker Hall A60C
From embassy headquarters to nongovernmental organizations, think tanks to advocacy organizations, and consulting firms to media outlets, Washington, DC, is a focal point for many international and public policy activities.
Undergraduates from any course of study who would value firsthand policy experience are invited to apply to Carnegie Mellon University's Washington Semester Program, sponsored by the university's Center for International Relations and Politics. In this semester-long program, students live, work, and study in Washington, DC, coming into direct contact with political, business, and community leaders and learning about the most pressing policy issues of the day.
Students earn 45 units for the Washington Semester Program, interning three days per week in any sector or field of interest within Washington, DC, while taking classes two days per week and in the evenings. The Center for International Relations and Politics sponsors events and a policy forum in Washington for students participating in the program to further enrich their experience and enhance their understanding of how Washington functions as a hub of international and public policy decision making.
Students should contact the academic program manager for more information or to discuss how the CMUWSP may fit into their curriculum.Back To Top
Academic Standards, Regulations and ProtocolsBack To Top
Transferring into the Dietrich College
Undergraduate students in other Carnegie Mellon colleges who wish to transfer to the college apply through the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences' Academic Advisory Center in Baker Hall A57. If approved, the transfer is into the college first and then, when appropriate, into a primary major. Decisions regarding transfer requests will be based on evidence of adequate prior academic performance and on the applicant's prospects for success in the major requested. Students interested in transferring into the college should begin the process well before the registration period for the semester. Applications for transfer and will not be considered during the two weeks prior to the registration period and registration week of each semester. The earliest point when undergraduates are considered for transfer into Dietrich College is the second semester of the first year.
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In order to maintain good academic standing, Dietrich College students must attain at least minimum quality point averages for each semester (as well as cumulatively) and also maintain adequate progress toward completing graduation requirements. Minimum quality point averages for good academic standing are 1.75 in the freshman year and 2.00 thereafter. “Adequate progress towards graduation” generally means that students are successfully completing 45-49 units per semester so that at the end of eight semesters they will have accumulated the 360 units required for graduation.
When a student fails to meet minimum performance criteria, it normally results in an “academic action.” Depending on the circumstances, one of the following actions is taken: academic probation, continued probation, suspension, or drop. These academic actions are recommended by the college's departments based on the guidelines below. However, the sequence of the academic actions is not automatic in all cases. Decisions may be based on individual student performance and circumstances, and are not determined purely by grades and quality point averages.
A student is placed on academic probation when performance either for the semester or cumulatively fails to meet the minimum standard. The term of academic probation is one semester, and signifies to the student the college's insistence that academic performance return to at least the minimum acceptable level. A student is removed from academic probation and returned to good academic standing when both the semester and cumulative quality point averages meet at least the stated minimums. A student who has had one semester on probation and is not yet meeting minimum requirements but is making significant progress may be continued on probation.
Academic suspension is the usual action taken when a student fails to meet the minimum semester or cumulative requirements for two consecutive semesters. In general, a freshman will be suspended if the semester and overall QPA are below 1.75; for sophomores, juniors, and seniors, if these are below 2.00. Failure to maintain adequate progress toward graduation may also be a contributing factor in such decisions.
The minimum period of academic suspension is normally two semesters. At the end of that period, a student may seek readmission through the Assistant Dean’s office. In order to receive approval to return, the student must do the following: formally request approval to return in writing, describing in detail the relevant activities pursued during the academic suspension period; complete the "Petition to Return From Leave of Absence" form, provide transcripts from other colleges and universities if courses have been taken while on suspension; provide evidence of satisfactory on-the-job performance if the student has worked while on academic suspension; and furnish the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of three individuals with whom he or she has worked or studied, to whom the college will write to request a letter of reference on the student's behalf. Once the return packet is complete, the student's advisor is asked to review it and submit a recommendation to the Assistant Dean along with any conditions to be imposed.
Once cleared to return from academic suspension, Enrollment Services will be notified and the student will be eligible to enroll. While on academic suspension, students are considered to be on a mandatory “leave of absence,” and are governed by college and university policies concerning leaves of absence and withdrawals. See subsequent discussions of “Leave of Absence and Withdrawal from the College.” Students returning from academic suspension do so on final academic probation.
The most severe academic action occurs when a student is dropped from the college and the university, and is not permitted to enroll again. This normally results when a student, already on final academic probation, continues to perform at levels below the minimum set by the college for good academic standing, and shows no indication of being able to reach an acceptable level of performance or maintain steady progress toward completing graduation requirements. It is also an option where, in unusual cases, a student has performed poorly, and been unresponsive to outreach efforts.
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Dietrich College Dean's Honor List
Each semester the college recognizes those students who have attained outstanding semester quality point averages by naming them to the Dietrich College dean’s honor list. To be eligible, students must have no conditional grades (i.e., I [“Incomplete”] or “X” [“Conditional Failure”]) at the time when final semester grades are recorded.
Students who complete at least 45 factorable units and attain a semester QPA from 3.50 through 3.74 are named to the Dean’s List, with Honors; if the semester QPA is 3.75 or higher, students are named to the Dean’s List, with High Honors.
Students who complete at least 36 or up to 44 factorable units and attain a semester QPA of 3.75 or higher are named to the Dean’s List, with Honors.
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Overloading is defined as taking more than the equivalent of five full-semester courses in one semester; for Dietrich College students it usually means registering for more than 50 units in one semester. Eligibility to overload is defined as having a QPA of at least 3.00 in the last completed semester and a current cumulative QPA of at least 3.00. Students new to the college and university (i.e., first-year students and new external transfer students) may not overload during their first Carnegie Mellon semester. Eligibility does not automatically allow the student to register for an overload. Rather, eligible students must complete an overload petition, and meet with their primary academic advisor to discuss the proposed overload. If approved, the academic advisor will increase the student's unit maximum in the student record system.
The first opportunity to register for a course overload is after registration week for the proposed overload semester. Registration week for the spring semester is usually the third week in November; for the fall semester, it is usually the third week in April. Consult the official academic calendar for the exact dates.
If as a result of final grades for the current semester a student approved to overload for the next semester falls below the QPA overload eligibility criteria, the academic advisor may withdraw the overload permission. Students affected are responsible for resolving this in consultation with their academic advisor.
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Physical Education, StuCo* and Military Science Courses
A maximum of nine units of credit for any combination of physical education (69-xxx), StuCo (98-xxx) and all military science courses (30-xxx, 31-xxx, 32-xxx) may be counted for credit toward graduation. Physical education, StuCo and military science courses are not included when calculating a student's QPA or when calculating units to determine eligibility to “overload.”
* StuCo refers to "student led courses" — i.e., courses designed by students, and approved to be offered for academic credit.
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Course Failures and Course Repetitions
Students who fail a required course must repeat and pass it (or take and successfully complete another approved course that fulfills the requirement). If a failed course is a prerequisite to more advanced course work within a particular course sequence, the failed course must in general be repeated before moving on to the higher level course. Exception: Dietrich College freshman seminars may not be repeated, or replaced by a second seminar.
Failed courses that are repeated and passed, or courses that are passed but repeated in order to obtain a higher grade, are not replaced on the student's record. Both course grades remain on the record, and are included in calculating the student's QPA. Students who repeat a course that they have already passed will not be able to apply the second set of units for the course toward graduation requirements.
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An internship-for-credit is a supervised, professional work experience with clear links to a student's academic program performed primarily or totally outside a regular course structure, and for which a student earns academic credit. Students doing an internship for academic credit must be registered through the academic department of the faculty member supervising the internship, and must register for the internship course during the term (including the summer) when the internship work is being performed. There is no additional tuition charge for internships that are taken during the academic year. Students registered for internships during the summer will be billed for tuition at the per-unit rate set by the university.
To receive academic credit, the internship:
- requires the involvement of a Carnegie Mellon faculty sponsor and an on-site supervisor in the internship, design and evaluation;
- may include regular or periodic meetings between the student, the faculty sponsor, and/or the internship site supervisor to monitor progress;
- requires an end-product for submission to the faculty sponsor. This usually takes the form of a paper, but may also include a presentation, or some other approved form;
- can be taken for a regular letter grade by registering for the internship course through the sponsoring department. With department approval, the grade may be counted toward program requirements.
- can vary from 3-18 units in any one semester, and is limited only by the college rule of a maximum of 27 units of internship credit that can be applied to graduation requirements.
Policies and practices regarding internships-for-credit vary among departments. Departments are not obligated to allow such credit for its majors, and are free to determine whether an internship may be used to fulfill requirements or electives. An internship-for-credit is a graded experience. Each department will determine appropriate criteria for the grade if an internship is approved for credit.
Credits are earned according to the following scale: 9 units = the equivalent of 1 day (9-12 hours) per week during a semester (100 hours), 18 units = the equivalent of 2 days (12-20 hours) per week during a semester (200 hours). A Dietrich College student may not earn more than 18 units of internship credit during a semester or count more than 27 units of internship credit toward fulfillment of graduation requirements.
When the internship sponsor requires that a student receive academic credit from the home institution, the student should contact the Dietrich College Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies for information and advice about available options.
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Dietrich College Credit Policy for Non-Carnegie Mellon Courses
The following policy governs the practice of Dietrich College undergraduates taking courses elsewhere and requesting that credits for these courses transfer to their Carnegie Mellon University academic record. Courses taken elsewhere will be considered for transfer credit if the institution offering them is fully accredited, and if the courses in question are judged to be acceptable for the purposes proposed by the student.
Once a student enrolls in the university as a degree candidate, he or she may take a maximum of five courses (or their rough unit equivalent) elsewhere and transfer these back for credit toward their Carnegie Mellon degree.
No courses may be transferred and be substituted for the following general education requirements:
- 76-101 Interpretation and Argument or 76-100 Reading and Writing for an Academic Context
- 79-104 Global Histories
- 36-201 Statistical Reasoning and Practice
- 99-101 Computing @ Carnegie Mellon or 99-102 Computing @ Carnegie Mellon
- Freshman Seminar requirement
In addition, no more than two courses from another institution may be counted for Dietrich College general education requirements; no more than one course from another institution may count in any one general education category (e.g., “communicating,” “reflecting,” etc.)
These limits do not apply to courses and credits approved through Advanced Placement examinations, International Baccalaureate examinations, cross-registration through the Pittsburgh Consortium for Higher Education (PCHE), Washington Semester program, and approved study abroad or exchange programs. Exceptions to these restrictions may be made only by way of written petition to the Dietrich College Council (c/o the Dietrich College Academic Advisory Center).
Courses taken elsewhere must be taken for a regular letter grade (not pass/no credit). Students must earn a final grade of at least "C" in order for the credit to transfer. A “C-” grade is not transferable when its equivalency is below a 2.00 on a 4.00 scale, or 70%. Only units, not grades, transfer for courses taken elsewhere, and thus do not affect a student's Carnegie Mellon QPA.
External Transfer Students
For students entering Carnegie Mellon and Dietrich College as external transfers, the same five-course limit applies after they become Carnegie Mellon degree candidates, unless their transfer credits reach the 180 unit limit for transfer credit stipulated by university policy. A candidate for the bachelor's degree must complete at the university a minimum of four semesters of full-time study, or the equivalent of part-time study, comprising at least 180 units of coursework. If a degree has been already obtained at another institution, courses that count toward that degree may not be used again as transfer credit toward a Carnegie Mellon University undergraduate degree.
Internal Transfer Students
This policy applies retroactively to students who enter Dietrich College through internal transfer, and counts courses previously approved for transfer credit. These courses will be re-evaluated for consistency.
Students on Academic Suspension
Subject to the college's policy limiting transfer course credit, students on academic suspension from Dietrich College will be permitted to receive credit for no more than three courses per semester taken elsewhere, and no more than a total of five courses elsewhere, while on suspension. Approval to take these courses for credit is to be obtained in advance.
While on academic suspension, students are considered to be on a mandatory "leave of absence" and are governed by College and University policies concerning leaves of absence and withdrawals.
Dietrich College Department Limits
Dietrich College academic departments may not exceed these college limits, but may impose stricter limits regarding courses that students propose to take elsewhere to fulfill major requirements.
Double-counting refers to instances when a course taken to fulfill one requirement counts simultaneously toward a requirement in another major or minor program. While the college encourages study in complementary areas where majors and minors frequently share common requirements, it also wants to keep clear the meaning and integrity of the labels “major” and “minor.” To preserve the integrity of these definitions, double-counting is permitted in Dietrich College on a very limited basis, and only in those instances when the course(s) in question represent only a small portion of the second program.
The college and its departments have developed program-specific guidelines for this practice that appear throughout the Dietrich College section of this catalog, and particularly in the case of major and minor programs that students frequently pursue in combination.Back To Top
Eligibility for graduation in Dietrich College requires that a student:
- complete all general education requirements,
- complete all course requirements in a primary major,
- achieve a cumulative quality point average of at least 2.00 for all courses taken (or, alternatively, for all courses taken after the 1st year),
- earn at least 360 units with a minimum of 180 units taken at Carnegie Mellon University,
- be recommended (certified) by the faculty of the primary major in the college,
- meet all financial obligations to the university, and
- qualify for graduation within eight years of the date on which the degree is granted.
The college reserves the right to modify these academic standards, actions, and regulations.
Graduation with University Honors
Dietrich College students who achieve an overall QPA of at least 3.50 (by the end of the 7th semester) will be recommended for graduation with university honors.
Graduation with College Honors
Students who successfully complete a senior honors thesis under the auspices of the Dietrich College senior honors program qualify for graduation with Dietrich College honors.