Undergraduate General Education Requirements

Updated December 2020

Undergraduate General Education Requirements

All undergraduate degrees in the School of Computer Science include depth in their particular field of study but also breadth through the general education requirements. General education requirements are part of SCS degrees to give students an opportunity to learn more about the world from scientific and humanistic points of view. These additional skills are useful for graduates since computing is often embedded in domains that are not entirely within the bounds of computing. SCS students will need to use their computing skills to solve problems alongside scientists and engineers, artists, social and cognitive scientists, historians, linguists, economists and business experts, and SCS students will need to communicate effectively and understand the ethical implications of their work. The general education requirements help SCS students gain this broad perspective so they can work well in a wide variety of domains.

Science and Engineering

All candidates for a B.S. degree in the School of Computer Science must complete a minimum of 36 units offered by the Mellon College of Science and/or the College of Engineering (CIT).

Computational Biology majors

For Computational Biology majors, consult the Computational Biology program page for specific science and engineering requirements. The required science and engineering courses for the Computational Biology major also satisfy the General Education requirement for SCS by default.

Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction majors

For Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction majors, four courses in science and engineering are required, 9 units or more for each course, at least one course must have a laboratory component and at least two courses must be from the same department.

Non-lab courses that are usually taken by AI, CS and HCI majors to satisfy this requirement are given in the list below. (Consult your academic advisor for additional choices available each semester.) Course descriptions are available on CMU's Course Catalog website.

02-223Personalized Medicine: Understanding Your Own Genome
(can be paired with a course in Biology 03-xxx for two courses in one department)
03-121Modern Biology9
03-132Basic Science to Modern Medicine9
03-133Neurobiology of Disease9
06-100Introduction to Chemical Engineering12
09-105Introduction to Modern Chemistry I10
09-106Modern Chemistry II10
09-217Organic Chemistry I9
09-218Organic Chemistry II9
09-225Climate Change: Chemistry, Physics and Planetary Science9
12-100Exploring CEE: Infrastructure and Environment in a Changing World12
18-100Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering12
18-220Electronic Devices and Analog Circuits12
18-240Structure and Design of Digital Systems12
24-101Fundamentals of Mechanical Engineering12
24-231Fluid Mechanics10
27-215Thermodynamics of Materials12
27-324Introduction to Polymer Science and Engineering9
33-114Physics of Musical Sound9
33-120Science and Science Fiction9
33-121Physics I for Science Students12
or 33-141Physics I for Engineering Students
or 33-151Matter and Interactions I
33-142Physics II for Engineering and Physics Students12
or 33-152Matter and Interactions II
33-224Stars, Galaxies and the Universe9
42-101Introduction to Biomedical Engineering12
85-219Biological Foundations of Behavior
(can be paired with a course in Biology 03-xxx for two courses in one department)

Courses meeting the lab requirement include:

02-261Quantitative Cell and Molecular Biology Laboratory
(can be paired with a course in Biology 03-xxx for two courses in one department)
03-124Modern Biology Laboratory9
09-101Introduction to Experimental Chemistry
(This 3 unit lab together with 09-105 satisfies the lab requirement.)
09-221Laboratory I: Introduction to Chemical Analysis12
27-100Engineering the Materials of the Future12
33-104Experimental Physics9
33-228Electronics I10
42-203Biomedical Engineering Laboratory9
85-310Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology9
85-314Cognitive Neuroscience Research Methods9

The following MCS and CIT courses cannot be used to satisfy the Science and Engineering requirement:

03-511Computational Molecular Biology and Genomics9
03-512Computational Methods for Biological Modeling and Simulation9
06-262Mathematical Methods of Chemical Engineering12
09-103Atoms, Molecules and Chemical Change9
09-108The Illusion and Magic of Food6
09-109Kitchen Chemistry Sessions3
09-110The Design and Making of Skin and Hair Products3
09-114Basics of Food Science3
09-204Professional Communication Skills in Chemistry3
09-231Mathematical Methods for Chemists9
12-215Introduction to Professional Writing in CEE9
12-271Introduction to Computer Application in Civil & Environmental Engineering9
18-090Twisted Signals: Multimedia Processing for the Arts10
18-200ECE Sophomore Seminar1
18-202Mathematical Foundations of Electrical Engineering12
18-213Introduction to Computer Systems12
18-330Introduction to Computer Security12
18-334Network Security12
18-335Secure Software Systems12
18-345Introduction to Telecommunication Networks12
18-411Computational Techniques in Engineering12
18-441Computer Networks12
18-461Introduction to Machine Learning for Engineers12
18-462Principles and Engineering Applications of AI12
18-465Advanced Probability & Statistics for Engineers12
18-482Telecommunications Technology and Policy for the Internet Age12
18-487Introduction to Computer Security12
18-540Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems12
19-101Introduction to Engineering and Public Policy12
19-211Ethics and Policy Issues in Computing
(or 17-200)
19-303Cryptocurrencies, Blockchains and ApplicationsVar.
19-351Applied Methods for Technology-Policy Analysis9
19-402Telecommunications Technology and Policy for the Internet Age12
19-403Policies of Wireless Systems12
19-411Science and Innovation Leadership for the 21st Century: Firms, Nations, and Tech9
27-410Computational Techniques in Engineering12
33-100Basic Experimental Physics6
33-115Physics for Future Presidents9
33-124Introduction to Astronomy9
33-232Mathematical Methods of Physics10
42-201Professional Issues in Biomedical Engineering3

All Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate courses [18-6xx, 18-7xx, 18-8xx, 18-9xx] cannot be used for this requirement. Students interested in Engineering & Public Policy (19-xxx) courses that are not excluded above must consult with the CS Program Director to determine suitability for this requirement. In general, any MCS or CIT courses that are crosslisted with SCS courses or have significant mathematical or computational content cannot be used for this requirement. Students must consult with an SCS undergraduate advisor about any course to be used for the Science and Engineering requirement before registration.

Humanities and Arts

All candidates for a B.S. degree in the School of Computer Science must complete a minimum of 63 units offered by the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences and/or the College of Fine Arts as prescribed below. Students pursuing a Bachelor's in Computer Science and Art should consult the general education requirements for that program.

A. Freshman Writing Requirement (9 units)

Complete one of the following writing options for 9 units: 
76-101Interpretation and Argument9
76-102Advanced First Year Writing: Special Topics
(by invitation only)
or two of these three writing minis for 9 units total: 
76-106Writing about Literature, Art and Culture4.5
76-107Writing about Data4.5
76-108Writing about Public Problems4.5

B. Breadth Requirement (minimum 27 units: 9 units each)

Complete three courses, one each from Category 1, Category 2 and Category 3. Students may use two minis totaling 9 units or more to satisfy one of the categories, with permission from the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education, if the minis meet the goals of the desired category. NOTE: Artificial Intelligence majors replace Category 1 with Category 1A: Cognitive Studies which is a subset of Category 1.

Category 1 (for all SCS majors except Artificial Intelligence): Cognition, Choice and Behavior

This requirement explores the process of thinking, decision making and behavior in the context of the individual.

70-311Organizational Behavior9
80-130Introduction to Ethics9
80-150Nature of Reason9
80-180Nature of Language9
80-221Philosophy of Social Science9
80-241Ethical Judgments in Professional Life9
80-242Conflict and Dispute Resolution9
80-270Problems of Mind and Body: Meaning and Doing9
80-271Philosophy and Psychology9
80-281Language and Thought9
80-330Ethical Theory9
85-102Introduction to Psychology9
85-211Cognitive Psychology9
85-213Human Information Processing and Artifical Intelligence9
85-221Principles of Child Development9
85-241Social Psychology9
85-390Human Memory9
85-408Visual Cognition9
85-421Language and Thought9
88-120Reason, Passion and Cognition9

Category 1A (for Artificial Intelligence majors): Cognitive Studies

This requirement explores how the brain and the mind work.

85-211Cognitive Psychology9
85-213Human Information Processing and Artifical Intelligence9
85-390Human Memory9
85-408Visual Cognition9
85-421Language and Thought9

Category 2 (all SCS majors): Economic, Political and Social Institutions

This requirement explores the processes by which institutions organize individual preferences and actions into collective outcomes.

19-101Introduction to Engineering and Public Policy12
36-303Sampling, Survey and Society9
70-332Business, Society and Ethics9
73-102Principles of Microeconomics9
73-103Principles of Macroeconomics9
79-245Capitalism and Individualism in American Culture9
79-299From Newton to the Nuclear Bomb: History of Science, 1750-19509
79-300History of American Public Policy9
79-310U. S. Business History: 1870 to the Present9
79-320Women, Politics, and Protest9
79-331Body Politics: Women and Health in America9
79-341The Cold War in Documents and Film9
79-383The History of Capitalism9
80-135Introduction to Political Philosophy9
80-136Social Structure, Public Policy & Ethics9
80-243Ethics of Leadership9
80-244Environmental Ethics9
80-245Medical Ethics9
80-324Philosophy of Economics9
80-335Social and Political Philosophy9
80-341Computers, Society and Ethics9
84-104Decision Processes in American Political Institutions9
84-275Comparative Politics9
84-310International Political Economy9
84-322Nonviolent Conflict and Revolution9
84-324The Future of Democracy9
84-326Theories of International Relations9
84-362Diplomacy and Statecraft9
84-380Grand Strategy in the United States9
84-386The Privatization of Force9
84-389Terrorism and Insurgency9
84-402Judicial Politics and Behavior9
84-414International and Subnational Security9
88-257Experimental Economics9

Category 3 (all SCS majors): Cultural Analysis

This requirement seeks to recognize cultures that have shaped and continue to shape the human experience; courses in this category are usually either broad in place, time, or cultural diversity.

57-173Survey of Western Music History9
60-205Critical Theory in Art III9
62-371Photography, The First 100 Years, 1839-19399
70-342Managing Across Cultures9
76-221Books You Should Have Read By Now9
76-232Introduction to Black Literature9
76-239Introduction to Film Studies9
76-241Introduction to Gender Studies9
79-104Global Histories9
79-201Introduction to Anthropology9
79-202Flesh and Spirit: Early Modern Europe, 1400-17509
79-223Mexico: From the Aztec Empire to the Drug War9
79-226African History: Earliest Times to 17809
79-229The Origins of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, 1880-19489
79-230Arab-Israeli Conflict Since 19489
79-240Development of American Culture9
79-241African American History: Africa to the Civil War9
79-242African American History: Reconstruction to the Present9
79-261The Last Emperors: Chinese History and Society, 1600-19009
79-262Modern China: From the Birth of Mao ... to Now9
79-265Russian History: Tsar, Power, and Rebellion9
79-281Introduction to Religion9
79-282Europe and the World Since 18009
79-311PaleoKitchen: Food and Cooking in the Ancient World6
79-316Photography, the First 100 Years, 1839-19399
79-333Sex, Gender & Anthropology9
79-345Roots of Rock & Roll9
79-350Early Christianity9
79-395The Arts in Pittsburgh & Beyond: Experiencing Music & Art in a Time of Pandemic9
79-396Music and Society in 19th and 20th Century Europe and the U.S.9
80-100Introduction to Philosophy9
80-250Ancient Philosophy9
80-251Modern Philosophy9
80-253Continental Philosophy9
80-254Analytic Philosophy9
80-261Experience, Reason, and Truth9
80-276Philosophy of Religion9
82-267Topics in Italian Language & Culture9
82-273Introduction to Japanese Language and Culture9
82-293Russian Cinema: From the Bolshevik Revolution to Putin's Russia9
82-29419th Century Russian Masterpieces9
82-303French & Francophone Cultures9
82-304French & Francophone Sociolinguistics9
82-314Literature of the Arabic-speaking World9
82-327The Emergence of the German Speaking World9
82-333Introduction to Chinese Language and Culture9
82-342Spain: Language and Culture9
82-343Latin America: Language and Culture9
82-344U.S. Latinos: Language and Culture9
82-345Introduction to Hispanic Literary and Cultural Studies9

C. Humanities and Arts Electives (minimum 27 units)

Complete three nontechnical courses of at least 9 units each from any of the departments in the Dietrich College of Humanities & Social Sciences or the College of Fine Arts. Some of the courses taught in these units are considered technical courses and may not be used to satisfy this requirement (see Deletions below). Additionally, a select set of courses from Business Administration and from Environmental and Public Policy can also count for this requirement (see Additions below). Students may combine humanities/arts courses with lower units together to form a single course of 9 units or more. Students are encouraged, but not required, to take courses from different departments to gain additional breadth and to create new opportunities for engagement with the university community.


Some courses from the Dietrich College or the College of Fine Arts may not count toward the unconstrained electives in Humanities and Arts in SCS due to the technical (computing and/or mathematical) nature of the courses. Courses from the following departments do not count toward the unconstrained Humanities and Arts electives:

  • Statistics and Data Science (36), except 36-303 Sampling, Survey and Society
  • Information Systems (67)
  • Economics (73), except 73-102 Principles of Microeconomics and 73-103 Principles of Macroeconomics

Additionally, the following courses do not count toward the unconstrained Humanities and Arts electives:

51-257Introduction to Computing for Creative Practices10
51-327Design Center: Introduction to Web Design9
51-328Design Center: UX for Digital Systems9
76-388Coding for Humanists9
76-481Introduction to Multimedia Design12
76-487Web Design12
80-110Nature of Mathematical Reasoning9
80-210Logic and Proofs9
80-211Logic and Mathematical Inquiry9
80-222Measurement and Methodology9
80-223Causality and Probability9
80-305Decision Theory9
80-310Formal Logic9
80-311Undecidability and Incompleteness9
80-314Causal Discovery, Statistics, and Machine Learning9
80-315Modal Logic9
80-405Game Theory9
80-411Proof Theory9
80-413Category Theory9
80-419Interactive Theorem Proving9
80-521Seminar on Formal Epistemology: Network EpistemologyVar.
85-219Biological Foundations of Behavior9
85-310Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology9
85-314Cognitive Neuroscience Research Methods9
85-414Cognitive Neuropsychology9
88-251Empirical Research Methods9
88-372Social and Emotional Brain9


The following courses outside of the Dietrich College and the College of Fine Arts may count toward the unconstrained Humanities and Arts electives:

11-423ConLanging: Lrng. Ling. & Lang Tech via Constru Artif. Lang.12
16-161ROB Freshman Seminar: Artificial Intelligence and Humanity9
16-397Art, Conflict and Technology12
17-333Privacy Policy, Law, and Technology9
17-562Law of Computer Technology9
19-101Introduction to Engineering and Public Policy12
19-351Applied Methods for Technology-Policy Analysis9
19-402Telecommunications Technology and Policy for the Internet Age12
19-403Policies of Wireless Systems12
19-411Science and Innovation Leadership for the 21st Century: Firms, Nations, and Tech9
32-201Leadership & Management9
32-402Leadership and Ethics9
70-100Global Business9
70-311Organizational Behavior9
70-321Negotiation and Conflict Resolution9
70-332Business, Society and Ethics9
70-340Business Communications9
70-341Team Dynamics and Leadership9
70-342Managing Across Cultures9
70-345Business Presentations9
70-350Acting for Business9
70-364Business Law9
70-365International Trade and International Law9
70-381Marketing I9
70-430International Management9