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Writing-Intensive Course Proposals

Guidelines for Writing-Intensive Courses

Definition of a W Course:

W courses follow the guidelines adopted by the faculty in the spring of 1987 and articulated in the language approved by the faculty in the spring of 2005. That language specifies that:

A writing-intensive course includes writing as an integral part of teaching and learning, with class time devoted to the discussion of the writing process and assignments designed to reinforce and develop writing skills. Students in these classes are encouraged to generate preliminary writing (e.g. brainstorming, outlines, early drafts) and are given direction and/or feedback in the process of developing assignments. Students complete a minimum of 4,000 words in final draft form. This word count serves as a general indicator of the importance of writing in the course and must be balanced by the other qualitative criteria of writing intensive classes.

In brief, writing tasks should be integrated into the course with the intent of helping students improve compositional and critical thinking skills. While ample opportunities to practice writing are certainly a factor in improving these abilities, the key element in a strong writing course is not the number of words demanded but the way the instructor uses the writing assignments to develop and reinforce skills. Logically sequenced assignments, an emphasis on the writing process, and opportunities to revise drafts typically serve these goals well.

In order to compensate for the time instructors devote to writing instruction and assessment in these courses, enrollment for all sections with a W designation is capped at 25 students.


The deadline for W course proposals is usually the last Monday of September for Spring courses and the last Monday of February for Fall courses.

If you are repeating a course already approved for W credit, you do not need to submit a proposal again unless there are substantial changes in the kinds of writing required and the type of instruction used.

If you have any questions about W courses, or if you would like Writing Center support for your course, please feel free to contact Mike Mattison at 327-7072 or by email at

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