Writing Emphasis


The Writing Emphasis (WE) requirement is to provide all students with structured opportunities to practice their writing skills across the curriculum.


Students must complete four WE courses prior to graduation; at least two of the courses must be upper level.


Once a course has been approved by the General Education Council, it remains a WE course in subsequent semesters regardless of who teaches it. If a faculty member decides not to teach the course as a WE, he or she must submit a course change form which must be approved by appropriate governmance bodies before the schedule is published. After that, the course will no longer be a WE until another curriculum form is submitted.


  • All units are expected to offer a sufficient number of upper-level WE courses to meet the needs of their majors and minors as well as to offer some lower-level WE courses.
  • Faculty who teach WE courses are expected to adhere to the guidelines listed below.

Course Caps

WE courses are capped at 45 for lower-level courses and 35 for upper-level courses.

Faculty Responsibilities

  • Instructors of WE courses are not expected to teach writing skills. Instead, they are to provide a series of writing assignments and refer students with weak writing skills to the Writing Center for help.
  • Instructors are required to notify students at the start of the semester that the course is writing emphasis and to encourage students to use the resources of the Writing Center.
  • Instructors must evaluate the quality of the writing in addition to the content. This means considering such things as organization, thesis statement, clarity of expression, etc.

Required Assignments

  • Three or more “public discourse” writing assignments must be included as part of the course requirements. “Public discourse” means the work is written for someone other than the writer. (Thus, journals and diaries are excluded.) These assignments may include in-class work including essay exams.
  • These writing assignments must total a minimum of 2000 words.
  • Writing assignments must constitute at least 25% of the grade for the course.
  • One public discourse assignment must be evaluated and returned to the student before the end of the 4th week of class. (This is to allow students to seek help with their writing early in the course.)

Questions? Get in touch with the Associate Dean of College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in TH 335.