This is an archived copy of the 2010-2011 Catalog. To access the most recent version of the Catalog, please visit

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

John P. Lehoczky, Dean
Kristina Straub, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Joseph E. Devine, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Gloria P. Hill, Assistant Dean and Director, H&SS Academic Advisory Center

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS) 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 a college-wide 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 203 full-time faculty, and approximately 30 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 H&SS undergraduates benefit from contact in the classroom with highly accomplished faculty researchers and artists.


Liberal/Professional Education

Edward Fiske, former Education Editor of The New York Times and author of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, has 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.” 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 general emphases on analytical sophistication and application, and also from a subset of in-depth major programs which prepare students for specific 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, H&SS 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 practical skills are 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.


Degree and Program Options

H&SS offers a large number and wide range of innovative, rigorous majors and a comparable number of minors. In addition, H&SS students may also apply for admission to one of a number of accelerated masters programs that result in both a bachelor's and master's degree, usually after one additional year.

H&SS Majors 

DepartmentName of Major (Degree Options)
Economics Economics (B.A./B.S.)
Economics*Economics and Mathematical Sciences (B.S.)
English English (B.A.)
EnglishCreative Writing (B.A.)
EnglishProfessional Writing (B.A.)
EnglishTechnical Writing and Communication (B.S.)
HistoryGlobal Studies (B.A.)
History History (B.A.)
InterdepartmentalEconomics and Statistics (B.S.)
InterdepartmentalEnvironmental Policy (additional major only)
InterdepartmentalEthics, History, and Public Policy (B.A./B.S.)
InterdepartmentalEuropean Studies (B.A.)
InterdepartmentalInformation Systems (B.S.) (by admission)
InterdepartmentalLinguistics (B.A.)
InterdepartmentalStudent Defined (B.A./B.S.)
Modern LanguagesChinese Studies (B.A.)
Modern LanguagesFrench and Francophone Studies (B.A.)
Modern LanguagesGerman Studies (B.A.)
Modern LanguagesHispanic Studies (B.A.)
Modern LanguagesJapanese Studies (B.A.)
Modern LanguagesRussian Studies (B.A.)
PhilosophyLogic and Computation (B.S.)
Philosophy Philosophy (B.A.)
PsychologyCognitive Science (B.S.)
Psychology Psychology (B.A./B.S.)
Psychology**Psychology and Biological Sciences (B.S.)
Social and Decision Sciences Decision Science (B.S.)
Social and Decision SciencesInternational Relations and Politics (B.S.) 
Social and Decision SciencesPolicy and Management (B.S.)
Statistics Statistics (B.S.)


* with the Department of Mathematical Sciences

** with the Department of Biological Sciences

Additional Majors

H&SS students may pursue additional majors and/or minors in the college, and in some cases in other Carnegie Mellon colleges. An additional major refers to the completion of the requirements for a major program in addition to those required for the primary major. In most cases, requirements for an additional major are the same as those for a primary major.

Most H&SS majors are also available as additional majors; one (Environmental Policy) is available only as an additional major. Students from outside H&SS are also eligible to attain an additional major in H&SS programs that offer an additional major option. In such cases, non-H&SS students would be required to complete only those courses in the H&SS general education (GenEd) program that are prerequisites to courses required for the H&SS major they are pursuing. A number of additional majors and minors elsewhere in the university are also available to H&SS students.


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.

In H&SS, there are two types of minors: departmental minors, which are housed in an H&SS academic department; and interdepartmental minors, which are sponsored by more than one department and administered through the faculty advisor's academic department. H&SS minors are available to students from all colleges in the university.

DepartmentName of Minor
Economics Economics
English English
History History
InterdepartmentalAfrican and African American Studies
Interdepartmental Environmental Studies
Interdepartmental Film and Media Studies
Interdepartmental Gender Studies
Interdepartmental Global Systems and Management
Interdepartmental Health Care Policy and Management
InterdepartmentalInnovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development
Interdepartmental Linguistics
Interdepartmental Religious Studies
Interdepartmental Science, Technology and Society
Interdepartmental Sociology
Interdepartmental Student-Defined
Modern LanguagesChinese Studies
Modern Languages French and Francophone Studies
Modern Languages German Studies
Modern Languages Hispanic Studies
Modern Languages Japanese Studies
Modern Languages Russian Studies
Philosophy Ethics
PhilosophyLogic and Computation
Social and Decision StudiesDecision Science
Social and Decision SciencesInnovation, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Development
Social and Decision StudiesPolicy and Management

Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Science 

H&SS majors lead in some cases only to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, in other cases only to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, and in some cases to a choice 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 and (in some cases) arts disciplines. In contrast, B.S. degrees are offered in areas requiring more technical, quantitative or scientific competencies.

H&SS General Education Program 

Carnegie Mellon's educational legacy emphasizes the connection between theoretical knowledge and praxis. The university's interdisciplinary approach to education embraces the practical application and analysis of knowledge in institutional, social, and historical contexts. Carnegie Mellon graduates are excellent practitioners in their chosen fields. The H&SS general education program (herafter referred to as the "GenEd program") supports that expertise and ensures that students gain the well-informed perspectives and methodologies necessary to grow and change with their professions, to interact wisely with the natural environment, and to be responsible and informed citizens in an increasingly technological world and complex global culture.

Broad Aims

The GenEd program provides the integrative component to a Carnegie Mellon H&SS education and extends through the entire undergraduate experience. It sets crucial cornerstones and draws important connections among different facets of students' education. Its distinctive emphases and directions foster intellectual curiosity and encourage students to gain wide, historically informed appreciation of the arts, humanities and sciences; broad understanding of mathematics and experimental methods; critical openness to ethical reflection and social responsibility; and an acute global and environmental awareness.

The GenEd program differs sharply from more traditional liberal arts or general education programs in its emphasis on integration, and not simply breadth. Its courses give students essential knowledge in academic disciplines, while encouraging them to connect fields and to think comparatively about the methods and materials constituting a field of knowledge. The integrative feature of the program goes beyond the purely academic and disciplinary: it asks students to reflect on their role as citizens in a world that demands informed perspectives on social and international issues, diverse cultures, the natural environment, uses of technology, the allocation of human and material resources, and many other challenges in our future.


To transcend narrow disciplinary confines, the GenEd program focuses on five broad intellectual activities that are exercised in almost all disciplines: communicating, reflecting, modeling, deciding and creating. To indicate their primary or perhaps most striking applications, the activities are supplemented by indications of general subject areas. These form the bases for GenEd curriculum categories, in which suitable courses are organized from all parts of the university.

There are five categories:

  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

The schematic framework highlights central features of an ideal learning environment and the university's core intellectual mission, which is seen as part of a broader human and social enterprise. These features have been identified because they are pervasive and by no means limited to the indicated areas; for example, communicating is crucial across all fields and reflecting is not restricted to thinking about societies and cultures. Students learn to communicate, reflect, model, decide, and create as crucial components of a holistic, integrated educational experience. Later, as students gain expertise in their chosen major, they find that they can exercise these integrative skills both within their primary field a well as with others outside of their primary field.

The GenEd program includes a rich variety of courses. Some courses encourage students to explore a subject in a basic way, providing them with the key building blocks of knowledge in the particular subject. Others are designed to ask students explicitly to reflect on knowledge, to look at the building blocks from different disciplinary, social, or global perspectives in order to gain a deeper understanding of the arts, humanities, and sciences.



(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
(Topics vary by section; for current topics, see the HSS GenEd website:
xx-xxx One additional "communicating" course; for approved "communicating" courses, see 

Note: Non-native English speakers may be placed into 76-100, Reading and Writing for an Academic Context, instead of 76-101 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.

For updated lists of other “communicating” courses, go to the H&SS general education website (


(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.

79-104 Global Histories 9
xx-xxx One additional "reflecting" course; for approved "reflecting" courses, see 

For more details about 79-104, and other course listings for this category, visit the H&SS general education website at


(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 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.

  • mathematics (complete a minimum of 9 units)
  • natural science (complete a minimum of 9 units)
  • one other modeling course (complete a minimum of 9 units)

For updated course offerings, visit the H&SS general education website at


(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; for approved "deciding" courses, see 

For updated course offerings, visit the H&SS general education website at


(18 units)5. Creating: Designs and Productions

In the arts, the humanities, the sciences, and in engineering, it is essential to produce artifacts: ex., 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.

For updated course offerings, visit the H&SS general education website at


(18 units)6. TWO Additional GenEd courses

These courses can be complete from any GenEd category.


(3 units)7. University Requirement (UR)

This course is a 3-unit mini-course, pass/no credit, completed in the 1st semester.

99-101 /102 Computing @ Carnegie Mellon 3


(9 units)8. Freshman Seminar Requirement (FSR)

This requirement ensures that all first-year students in H&SS have a small-group course experience in their first year. These seminars consist of substantive academic content drawn from faculty expertise, and also provide a supportive environment for the enhancement of academic skills. For current seminar topics and course descriptions, visit the H&SS general education website at  NOTE: The freshman seminar will not simultaneously fulfill any other requirement (e.g., general education, major or minor requirement).


College Services and Programs

The educational programs in H&SS are complemented by a number of services, special programs, centers, and computing facilities.

H&SS Academic Advisory Center

Gloria P. Hill, Assistant Dean and Director
Office: Baker Hall A57

The H&SS Academic Advisory Center (AAC) is primarily responsible for monitoring the progress of H&SS students prior to entering a major program. As the home base for H&SS students, the AAC provides information, advice, and counsel about scheduling, the college's general education program requirements, and the various majors and minors available. Just as important, advisors also support students' efforts to make a successful transition to university life and study. The advisors consider this kind of information and advice to be vital for students adapting to a new and demanding environment, working their way through the H&SS GenEd program, and preparing for various academic and professional choices to follow.

The AAC is a walk-in center, although individual appointments can be made. 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,, 412-268-7082, Baker Hall A60C
Faculty Director (IRP): Kiron K. Skinner,, 412-268-3238, Porter Hall 223F
Faculty Advisor (IRP): Silvia Borzutsky,, 412-268-3250, Porter Hall 223B
Faculty Directory (GS): John Soluri,, 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 ofrelevant areas, two H&SS majors have emerged from a common foundation in what had been a single interdisciplinary major in International Relations. 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 navigation their way throught 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.


H&SS Senior Honors Program

Joseph E. Devine, Director; Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Office: Baker Hall 154F

From its inception in 1982, the H&SS 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 to the Program 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. Upon successful completion of the honors thesis, a student qualifies for graduation with H&SS “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 at this level, 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 H&SS who have a special interest or affinity in the humanities as they are conceptualized at the university. These students are invited into a program that includes a shared set of courses as well as a 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 H&SS but open, in principle, to students majoring in other subjects. 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 H&SS 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 get applied both in frontier 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 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 H&SS
  • 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 H&SS 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.


Student-Defined Program

Joseph E. Devine, Director; Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
Office: Baker Hall 154

For H&SS students whose educational goals cannot be as adequately served by the curricula of existing majors, 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's dean's office. This proposal, which is to be built on the college's general education program, 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 majors.

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.


Study Abroad Scholarships

The H&SS 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 H&SS, 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 H&SS, 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 H&SS 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.


H&SS Summer Internship Opportunity Grants

H&SS encourages students to pursue interesting 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 H&SS 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 H&SS, 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 available resources open to them through the university Career Center and TartanTrak, in their own particular schools and departments, and through experiences of fellow students who have participated in internships during past summers. Preference is given to students who find positions in government or non-profit agencies.


Washington Semester Program

From embassy headquarters to non-governmental organizations, from think tanks to lobby groups and advocacy organizations, and from consulting firms to media outlets, Washington, D.C. is both the capital of the United States and a focal point for many of the world's international and public policy activities. Undergraduates from any course of study who would value first-hand policy experience are invited to apply to Carnegie Mellon University's Washington Semester Program, which is sponsored by the university's International Relations and Politics Program. Through this semester-long program, students live, work, and study in Washington, D.C., coming into direct contact with political, business, and community leaders and learning about the most pressing policy issues of the day. The International Relations and Politics Program sponsors policy events and forums in Washington for CMU students participating in the program to further enrich their Washington experience and to help them better understand how Washington functions as a hub of international and public policy decision making. Carnegie Mellon students accepted to WSP are eligible to apply for a Friedman Fellowship, which helps to defray the costs of a semester in Washington, D.C.


Academic Standards, Regulations and Protocols

Transferring into H&SS

Undergraduate students in other Carnegie Mellon colleges who wish to transfer to H&SS apply through the H&SS Academic Advisory Center, Baker Hall A57. If approved, the transfer is into the college first and, 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 H&SS major requested. For more information, see

Academic Actions

In order to maintain good academic standing, H&SS students must attain at least minimum quality point averages for each semester and 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.

When a student fails to meet minimum performance criteria, it normally results in an “academic action.” Depending on the circumstances, one of three actions is taken: academicprobation, suspension, or drop. These academic actions are recommended by the college's departments based on the guidelines below. However, the academic actions are not automatic in all cases. They are based on individual student performances and circumstances and are not determined purely by formula.


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.


Academic Suspension is the usual action taken when a student fails to meet the minimum semester and 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 two semesters. At the end of that period, a student may seek readmission. In order to receive approval to return, the student must do the following: formally request this approval in writing, describing in detail the relevant activities pursued during the academic suspension period; 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 and addresses of three individuals with whom he or she has worked or studied, to whom the college will write with a request for a letter of reference on the student's behalf.

Once cleared to return from academic suspension, the student must file an application for return from a leave of absence and obtain all necessary signatures. While on academic suspension, students are considered to be on a “leave of absence” [albeit mandatory], 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 is not permitted to enroll again as an H&SS student. 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.


H&SS Dean's Honor List

Each semester the college recognizes those students who have attained outstanding semester quality point averages by naming them to the H&SS 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.


Course Overloads

Overloading is defined as taking more than the equivalent of five full-semester courses, and for H&SS students it usually means registering for more than 50 units in one semester. Eligibility to overload is defined as having a QPA of 3.00 (or higher) in the last completed semester and a current cumulative QPA of at least 3.00. Eligibility does not automatically allow the student to register for an overload. Rather, eligible students must request and receive permission through completion of an overload petition and meeting with the student's primary academic advisor to discuss overloading. If approved, online processing of the unit increase is done through the academic advisor.

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.

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 who could be thus affected are responsible for  resolving this in consultation with their academic advisor.


Physical Education, StuCo* and Military Science Courses

A maximum of nine units of credit for any combination of physical education, StuCo and all military science courses 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-college" — i.e., courses designed by students, and approved to be offered for academic credit. For more information, see


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). Exception: H&SS freshman seminars may not be repeated. 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.

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.



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 and for which a student earns academic credit.

Policies and practices with respect to internships for credit vary among the college's departments. No department is obligated to provide or offer credit for an internship for its majors.

Each department in the college that allows its majors to earn academic credit for an internship determines if and how an internship may be applied to its curriculum for fulfilling course requirements (i.e., whether as a course that fulfills a major requirement, or as an elective course).

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)

An H&SS student may not earn more than 18 units of internship credit during a semester or count more than 27 units of internship credit toward fulfilling graduation requirements.

An internship-for-credit is a graded experience. Each department will determine appropriate criteria for the grade in an internship. Students doing an internship for credit must be registered for the internship during the term (including the summer) when they are doing the work.

Some internship sponsors offer payment to an intern in addition to whatever academic credit the university offers.

The university's liability insurance for students does not cover a student while they are doing an internship.


H&SS Credit Policy for Non-Carnegie Mellon Courses

The following policy governs the practice of H&SS 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 they and the institution offering them are of a level and rigor comparable to Carnegie Mellon University.


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 CMU degree. No courses may be transferred for the following H&SS general education requirements:

  • 76-101 , Interpretation and Argument (or 76-100 ) from H&SS general education category “communicating”
  • 79-104 , Global Histories from H&SS general education category “reflecting”
  • 36-201 , Statistical Reasoning from H&SS general education category “deciding”
  • FSR, freshman seminar
  • C@CM, Computing @ Carnegie Mellon

In addition, no more than two courses from another institution may be counted for H&SS general education requirements; no more than one course from another institution may count in any one H&SS 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 PCHE, Washington Semester program, study abroad or exchange programs. Exceptions to these restrictions may be made only by way of written petition to the H&SS College Council (c/o the H&SS 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 or 70%. Only units, and not grades, transfer for courses taken elsewhere, and thus do not affect a student's CMU QPA.

External Transfer Students

For students entering CMU/H&SS as external transfers, the same five-course limit applies after they become CMU degree candidates, and until and unless their transfer credits reach the 180 unit ceiling stipulated by university policy. The university has a residency requirement stating that candidates for a bachelor's degree must complete at least four semesters of full-time study (or 180 units). If a degree has been already obtained at another institution (outside of CMU), courses that were counted toward that degree may not be used again as transfer credit toward a CMU undergraduate degree.

Internal Transfer Students

This policy applies retroactively to students who enter H&SS through internal transfer and counts courses taken elsewhere and approved for transfer credit prior to internal transfer to H&SS.

Students on Academic Suspension

Students on academic suspension from H&SS will be permitted to receive credit for no more than three courses per semester elsewhere, and no more than a total of five courses elsewhere, while on suspension. These limits may be lower if the student has already (prior to suspension) had credits transferred under the quota limits. Approval to take these courses for credit is to be obtained in advance.

H&SS Department Limits

H&SS 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 Courses

“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 H&SS 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 H&SS section of this catalog, and particularly in the case of major and minor programs that students frequently pursue in combination.

Graduation Requirements

Eligibility for graduation in H&SS requires that a student:

  1. complete all general education requirements,
  2. complete all course requirements in the primary major,
  3. 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),
  4. earn at least 360 units with a minimum of 180 units taken at Carnegie Mellon University,
  5. be recommended (certified) by the faculty of the college,
  6. meet all financial obligations to the university, and
  7. 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

H&SS 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 H&SS senior honors program qualify for graduation with “H&SS college honors.”