Faculty Spotlight

"Writing is not only something to be taught reactively, through feedback on drafts, but also proactively using exercises that help students think critically about the choices they will make when constructing papers." 

— Professor David Cunningham (Sociology)

Student Writing Requirements


First-year Requirements

Incoming students must satisfactorily complete one University Writing Seminar (UWS) course in their first year at Brandeis.  All students are required to complete, before graduation, one writing-intensive course and either a second writing-intensive course or an oral communication course.

All incoming first-year students are required to take an online writing assessment over the summer.  Upon evaluation of the assessments, some students may be placed in Composition, a course taken in their first semester. These students will then take a UWS in their second semester.

Non-native English Students

Certain students whose native language is not English may be required to have their English writing skills evaluated and to have an interview during Orientation, before the beginning of classes. On the basis of this evaluation, students may be advised to sign up for an individual, noncredit tutorial in the English Language Program to supplement their work in Composition, UWS, or other writing or oral communication courses.

Transfer Students

Transfer students may have their credits evaluated to see whether they have successfully completed the necessary course to satisfy the first-year writing requirement. If they have not, they should see the Director of University Writing, James Mandrell, for alternative ways to complete this requirement.

Writing Intensive/Oral Communication

The writing-intensive or oral communication components of this requirement are normally completed in a student's second or third year. Writing-intensive and oral communication courses, which are offered in departments throughout the university, are based in academic disciplines and include writing or oral communication as an integral part of the coursework. Writing-intensive courses involve frequent writing assignments, opportunities for rewriting, and consultations with the instructor. More specifically, all writing-intensive courses have at least 18 pages of writing throughout the term, some form of required revision, and some writing instruction during class sessions.  Oral communication courses involve instruction, feedback, and at least two assignments to develop oral communication skills. Writing-intensive and oral communication courses may serve multiple purposes, advancing students toward majors, minors, non-Western and comparative studies, or distribution requirements. Courses numbered at the 90 level shall not be eligible for a writing-intensive or oral communication designation.

Writing-Intensive Courses

The list of courses that satisfy the writing-intensive requirement changes each year and can be found here by semester when searched with the "WI" requirement. The list should be considered preliminary; courses that satisfy the requirement in a particular semester are designated "WI" in the registrar's Schedule of Classes for that semester. To find classes offered in a semester that are designated as writing-intensive, search for the attribute of "WI." Consult with the Director of University Writing, James Mandrell, if in doubt about whether a course satisfies the requirement in a specific semester.

For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions page.