Writing is central to academic life at Wellesley, and it will continue to play an important role in most students’ lives after they graduate, whatever major they choose. The starting point for writing at Wellesley is the First-Year Writing (FYW) course.

Each year, we offer more than 30 different FYW courses, all of which fulfill Wellesley's writing requirement. FYW classes 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 focus and organization, in the development of voice and an awareness of audience, and in the conventions of academic writing, including writing from sources.

These courses are taught by faculty from many departments around campus, 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. They 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.

Students may choose to take a standard FYW course (meeting two periods a week and centered on one of a number of engaging topics), or to study writing in combination with an introductory course in another department. These combined classes have departmental course numbers in their titles, for example, WRIT 107/ARTH 100. 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 are assigned to their writing course based on preferences they express during the summer pre-registration process.

Students who need additional help making the transition from high school to college writing may take one of several courses specifically designed for them. Some sections offered in the fall are reserved for students participating in the Wellesley Plus Program. In addition, several other fall courses provide extra support for students for whom one or more of the following is true: they did not do much academic writing in high school beyond test prep; they lack confidence in their writing or find writing a source of stress; they feel they have a slow or inefficient writing process; or they speak English as a second or additional language. Courses reserved for students in the Wellesley Plus program or for students wanting extra support have this designation in the “Notes” section underneath the course description. These courses fulfill the Wellesley writing requirement. Placement into these courses occurs during summer pre-registration. 

Once students have completed the writing requirement, they are eligible to enroll in upper-level writing classes, including WRIT 201 (an intensive workshop and tutorial for students who want more practice with academic writing), WRIT 231D (an online summer course), WRIT 277/ANTH 277 (on ethnographic writing), WRIT 391 (a Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing on the topic of women's poetry), and WRIT 250 or WRIT 250H (independent study). Many Wellesley courses outside the Writing Program curriculum emphasize writing, giving students the chance to practice writing as part of their disciplinary study. Students interested in creative writing should consult the English and Creative Writing Department course listings.

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

FYW courses in the spring are offered either with standard grading or as “mandatory credit/noncredit.” These latter types of courses are so designated in the "Notes" section as well.

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 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: