Writing Program

Writing Program Faculty Profiles

Writing is central to academic life at Wellesley and will continue to play an important role in most students’ lives after they graduate, whether they choose majors in the sciences, the social sciences, or the humanities. The starting point for writing at Wellesley is the First-Year Writing (FYW) requirement. All students are required to fulfill the FYW requirement by taking an introductory course in expository writing during their first year at Wellesley. Courses fulfilling this requirement make up the majority of the course offerings in the Writing Program. These courses are taught by faculty from many departments as well as by a team of writing professionals based in the Writing Program. All FYW faculty view writing as an important part of their own professional lives and are committed to helping Wellesley students learn to use writing as a powerful tool of thought and expression, and as a way to participate in civic life.

All FYW courses have the primary goal of helping students establish a useful writing process, from developing ideas through drafting and revision. All sections provide instruction in analysis and interpretation, in argument and the use of evidence, in the development of voice, and in the conventions of academic writing, including writing from sources. Students may choose to take a standard FYW course (meeting two periods a week and addressing a well-defined topic related to the instructor’s expertise), or to study writing as part of an introductory course in another department. These combined courses have departmental course numbers in their titles, for example, WRIT 105/ENG 120. The combined courses carry one unit of credit, fulfill distribution and/or major requirements, and meet for at least three class periods each week.

Students who need additional help making the transition from high school to college writing may take one of several courses specifically designed for them. In 2018-2019, students enrolled in the Wellesley Plus Program will enroll in WRIT 121, 122, or WRIT 128 in the spring. In the fall, we will offer several courses which provide extra support for students for whom one or more of the following is true: they did not do much writing in English in high school; they received scores of less than 600 on the Writing or Critical Reading sections of the SAT; or they find writing especially challenging or anxiety-producing. Placement into these sections occurs during summer pre-registration, and students interested in them should contact the Writing Program director.
In 2018-2019, the Writing Program will offer WRIT 116Y/WRIT 117Y, a full-year experience combining a First-Year Writing course and a First-Year Seminar. Students electing this option must complete both semesters of the course in order to fulfill the First-Year Writing requirement.

Students who wish to pursue the study of writing beyond the introductory course may select WRIT 201 (an intensive workshop and tutorial for students who want more practice with academic writing), WRIT 307 (on grant writing), or independent study in writing (WRIT 250 for a full unit or WRIT 250H for a half-unit of credit). Many Wellesley courses outside the Writing Program curriculum emphasize writing, offering students the opportunity to practice writing as part of their disciplinary study. Students wishing to pursue course work in creative writing should consult the English Department course listings.

FYW courses offered in the fall semester will be covered by the college's shadow grading policy. In most writing courses, faculty members will give students letter grades during the semester and on their semester grade reports, though those semester grades will be shadowed on students' transcripts. In other writing classes, no letter grades will be given at any point. These latter types of courses are designated with "No letter grades given" in the course notes.

FYW courses in the spring will be offered either with standard grading or as “mandatory credit/no credit.” These latter types of courses will be so designated in the course notes.

Writing courses offered at Wellesley during the summer do not fulfill the College’s writing requirement.

Writing Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete their first-year writing (FYW) course will have shifted their orientation as writers from an inward-facing mindset (writing as a perfunctory performance of competence, reliance on the five-paragraph essay, emphasis on the writer) to an outward-facing approach (writing as a form of learning and of teaching, use of more flexible and sophisticated forms of writing, emphasis on the reader).

This shift in orientation will be reflected in students being able to:

  • Approach writing as an evolving process that requires them to brainstorm, draft, share, reflect, and revise.
  • Understand the mechanisms of sentence structure and writing design that produce precise and reader-friendly prose.
  • Write with an attentiveness to genre, medium, and audience, and make appropriate choices regarding language, register, evidence, and argument.
  • Locate, analyze, and evaluate different types of sources, and integrate them effectively into evidence-based writing.
  • Write with purpose and have a stake in their ideas.


Departments and Programs