Writing-Intensive (W) Courses

What is a Writing-Intensive (W) Course?

Every student at Queens College must take College Writing 1 (ENG 110), College Writing 2, and two additional writing-intensive courses—known as W courses.

A writing-intensive course typically uses writing to help students develop their understanding of course materials and concepts. W courses tend to be smaller than non-W courses, so that instructors can devote time and attention to the writing and writing process of individual students. W courses also give students a chance to practice writing in ways that are particular to specific disciplines.

There are as many types of W courses as there are fields of academic study—for example, English 140W (Introduction to Poetry), Mathematics 213W (Writing with Mathematica), Psychology 213W (Experimental Psychology), Media Studies 330W (The Music Industry), or Sociology 381W (Senior Seminar).

Get the Quick Guide to Teaching Writing Intensive Classes (PDF).

As a Fall 2018, the Writing Intensive requirement has been revised as follows:

Courses shall be designated writing intensive by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. To be considered for this designation the course must meet the following four criteria:

  • Syllabi must include this statement: “This course is a Writing Intensive (W) course and fulfills one Writing Intensive requirement. W classes include a significant portion of time devoted to writing instruction. This may include things such as revision workshops, discussions of rhetorical strategies, or reflective writing about writing assignments.”

  • At least 5000 words (15 pages) of evaluated writing in three or more assignments (either separate papers or one term paper done in stages) so that the students have the opportunity to develop and improve. At least one assignment (graded or ungraded) must require student revision in response to instructor feedback.

  • At least three separate class hours (either one hour in three class sessions or shorter time periods over multiple sessions) be devoted to explicit writing instruction, including such things as peer review, revision strategies, disciplinary concerns, proper attribution, the writing process, research, rhetorical strategies, or writing in online environments.

  • If exams are given, they must include essay questions.


  • Transfer students may petition the Director of Writing at Queens to receive W credit for a course taken at other accredited institutions, so long as either (1) that other institution has a college-wide policy on writing intensive courses and those courses are explicitly listed in the institution’s bulletin or (2) the course is a writing workshop, such as creative writing, technical writing, or journalism. One writing intensive course must be taken in residency.

  • Undergraduate students in cross-listed BA/MA may receive W credit upon appeal to the Director of Writing at Queens.

  • Class size limit of 25.

The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee shall appoint a Writing Subcommittee to oversee the list of courses designated “writing intensive.” This committee will receive requests for additions to the list, collect syllabi from already designated courses on a regular basis, and make recommendations to the UCC for adding or dropping courses from the list. Syllabi for courses designated “writing intensive” will be reviewed by the committee every five years. The committee membership will include two representatives from each of the four divisions and the directors of First Year Writing (English), Writing at Queens, the Writing Center, and Academic Advising.

Date: October 02, 2017

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