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Writing Requirement

The third facet of Liberal Education at the University of Minnesota is the Writing Requirement, which has two components: First-Year Writing and Writing Intensive courses.


You are expected to complete the first-year writing requirement (WRIT 1301, 1401, or equivalent) within your first two semesters of registration. First-year writing gives incoming students the fundamental writing skills demanded in university study. You will write essays, summaries, and research papers while learning the conventions and styles that make those forms convincing. In workshop settings, you will practice and study the processes of critical thinking, reading, and research which lead to strong writing.

In addition to the first-year writing requirement, you must complete four Writing Intensive (WI) courses. These courses help students understand what it means to write in various disciplines. Two of the four courses must be completed at the upper-division (3xxx or higher) level, and one of the two upper-division courses must be within your major field of study. WI courses must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Writing is comprehensively integrated into the course

  • Writing is a significant part of the course work

  • Writing is a significant part of the course grade

  • Writing is learned through revision

  • Writing within the discipline is explained and practiced in the course

  • Instructors should understand the practice of writing instruction

You can identify whether a course has been approved to meet the WI requirement by looking for a W at the end of a course number. If a course number does not have a W (or a V for Honors courses), it is not a WI course.

In order for a course to meet the WI requirement, departments submit course materials and responses to a set of guided questions about proposed writing and writing instruction to the Campus Writing Board (CWB). The CWB reviews WI course proposals based on the criteria listed above. If approved, the course will be given a W at the end of the course number and added to the course catalog. Courses which have not been reviewed and approved by CWB do not count toward the WI requirement.