Requesting a W1, W2, or W3 designation for your course

There are three steps to getting your course approved as a writing-intensive course with a W designation in the catalogue.

Step 1. Review the W1 Common Understandings OR the W2/W3 Common Understandings. Write a short memo to the Writing Committee numbered, ideally, to match the Common Understandings. This memo should explain how your course will address each of the understandings for the W designation you’re requesting.

In your memo and supporting materials, please make sure the following is included:

  • Concrete writing- and research-related learning goals on the syllabus (i.e., more specific than “significant research is required” or “students will write frequently”)
  • Definition of the major writing assignments and how much they’ll contribute to course grade
  • Explanation of how writing assignments will (or could) be ordered as steps to a larger project or staged to build on each other across the semester (“scaffolding”)
  • Plan for direct writing instruction (in class) during the semester. e.g., mini writing workshops, guided revisions, in-class analysis of sample student writing, or discussions/lectures on specific writing topics.

Step 2. Send your memo, a course syllabus (for an existing course) or a working outline (for a new course), and any writing assignment examples you may wish to include to Stacey Sheriff, Chair of the Writing Committee, at

The Committee will review your materials and follow-up with any clarifying questions. After your course is approved, step three is for the Academic Affairs Committee:

3. Go to the online course proposal form* and complete a new course proposal OR, for an existing course, a revision proposal to add a W designation (and, perhaps, to reflect other changes).

*N.B. Near the bottom of this form, there is a “Rationale for Writing Designation” box with the stipulation that “a separate application must be approved by the College Writing Program Steering Committee” for a W designation. Completing steps 1-2, above, constitutes that approval. In this box, AAC requests that faculty write a short but specific explanation of how this course will be writing-intensive, referencing the relevant Common Understandings. (Feel free to cut and paste from your memo to WACAC.)