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First-Year Focus

To demonstrate their proficiency in writing, Northwestern students must satisfy the writing requirements established by their individual schools.

In WCAS, students typically complete the written and oral expression requirement through two courses: a first-year writing seminar (taken in winter or spring of their first-year) and an advanced expression course (taken anytime in their second-fourth years).

In McCormick, all students are expected to take Design 106, Design Thinking and Communication, in their first or second year. This two-quarter course is taught concurrently as English 106, Writing in Special Contexts, and fulfills the writing requirement for all engineering students.

Students in other schools frequently take English 105, Expository Writing, English 205, Intermediate Composition, or English 105-6 (first-year WCAS seminars that have openings) to fulfill their writing requirements; most do so in their first or second year.

For first-year students in any school who wish to augment their writing skills, English 105 and 205 are designed to help individual writers gain more control over the writing process and improve largely at their own pace. All of these core WP courses emphasize analysis, argument, and style.

Some Writing Program courses, like first-year seminars, have a special focus, which is more "creative," such as autobiography or creative non-fiction. However, students interested in fiction and poetry should contact the English Department. They should particularly investigate that department's Major in Creative Writing.

Students can take each writing course twice for credit, as long as they take it with a different instructor (and can therefore demonstrate that the course content is different). This flexibility in University requirements ensures that students who desire ample help with their writing will be able to receive it. Undergraduates uncertain about whether or not to enroll in a Writing Program Course to improve their writing should consult Why Should I Take A Writing Program Course? on this site as well as our FAQs.