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W Courses

The Queens College curriculum reflects ambitious goals for student writing intended to foster a commitment to ideas, engagement with texts, and flexibility and confidence with language. To ensure that graduates are experienced, proficient, and flexible writers, the college requires every student to take three Writing-Intensive (W) courses in order to graduate. These courses are offered by most academic departments and may also fulfill requirements for a major or General Education requirements.

Take a look at “Goals for Student Writing” for a comprehensive description of the strategies and skills students will learn in their W courses. For more information, take a look at the guides below:

Writing-Intensive Courses: A Guide for Students

Writing-Intensive Courses: A Guide for Faculty

QUICK GUIDE to Teaching Writing Intensive Classes

An up-to-date list of W courses can be found by navigating to http://courses.qc.cuny.edu/, selecting the “Schedule” tab, and checking the “Writing Intensive” box.

What is a “W” Course?

(from the Academic Senate Agenda, May 16, 1996)

Courses are designated W (“Writing Intensive”) by the Academic Senate, on the recommendation of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) and its Writing Intensive Subcommittee (WISC). To be considered for the W designation, a course must meet the following four criteria:

  • 10-15 pages of evaluated writing in three or more assignments (either separate papers or one term paper done in stages) so that students have the opportunity to develop and improve.
  • Some attention to writing in class, in one or more of the following possible forms:
    • discussion of papers before they are written and after they are returned.
    • reading aloud of successful papers or models.
    • discussion of the rhetorical strategies or writerly qualities of course readings.
    • the use of informal, ungraded writing to stimulate class discussion
    • peer editing: opportunities for students to give each other feedback on first drafts.
    • discussion of goals for student writing and evaluation criteria.
  • Exams [if given] that include essay questions.
  • Maximum class-size of 30 students. *

* As of Spring 2010, the enrollment for W courses is capped at 25

Proposing a W Course

Course proposals can be submitted to either Writing Intensive Committee co-chair: Sue Goldhaber or Esther Muehlbauer.


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