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Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences

Writing Department

Undergraduate Programs

Why major in writing?

The undergraduate Professional Writing program gives form to a contradictory fact of life about American writers: They are both specialists and generalists. Professional writers find themselves frequently crossing writing genres even as they are called upon to specialize in some specific genre. Business and technical writers may find they are sometimes asked to do PR; poets might not make a living writing poetry, but they might pair their artmaking with a career in teaching or in other writing fields such as technical writing, marketing, or journalism.

Even if your eventual career isn’t writing per se, expanding your ability to write concisely and fluently provides an invaluable set of skills that can be used to speed you along in virtually any career path: the law, teaching, internet and multimedia, nonprofits and government, business, health care and many others. The ability to write well is increasingly valued, as fewer and fewer college graduates in our visual and Twitter bound culture are trained to write anything of length and complexity.

Some of the skills a writing major acquires include persistence, imagination, resourcefulness, flexibility, confidence, the ability to analyze an issue and make sense of it, the ability to communicate that sense, the ability to explain and argue effectively, the ability to detect flaws in arguments and address them, the ability to know how to accept and mold criticism to make a more effective product, and the ability to be creative.

Courses within the Professional Writing major are mixed and matched so that they both contribute to the specific writing profession the student is aiming toward and demonstrate the interrelation of one type of writing with another. This is particularly important in an era when the boundaries between writing genres are breaking down. To take just one example from journalism, news stories these days are much closer in presentation techniques to creative writing and advertising. It is easy enough to bemoan this fact, but we think it is more important to teach writers how to write creative nonfiction in an ethically and professionally sound way, understanding both the advantages of a creative approach in terms of reader interest, and the dangers of allowing the creative form to falsify and distort the reality they report. Our courses also orient students to the professional side of all writing genres and fields—the business side of literature, the publishing world, the editing process, promotion and marketing.

The Professional Writing faculty (who are themselves professional writers) believe it is our responsibility to train writers to see themselves as professionals and to move into the professional world (or graduate school) with confidence.

Professional Writing Options

Senior Portfolio Requirements

Why Minor in Writing?

The Undergraduate Curriculum

Organization of the Undergraduate Program

The department is thrilled about its 2020 revised curriculum. Students who are seniors in 2020-21 most likely will complete their degrees on the plans posted in the 2019-20 Undergraduate Catalog and in the program sheets that are available on the department and university websites. All other students, however, will adopt the new, more flexible degree requirements that are described here.

WRITERS’ STUDIO (9 SH): This three-course sequence brings together all first-year through third-year Writing majors for communal learning experiences and small-group workshops that reinforce our department’s strong sense of community and commitment to making connections between creativity and professionalism. Each fall, students will enjoy guest writers, panel discussions, opportunities to work with student publications, and hands-on learning all wrapped into an experience that will orient them to learning success and professional success.

CORE WORKSHOPS (9 SH): These three workshops invite students to engage with significant models of writing in many genres. Students will read texts by such important writers as Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, Ralph Ellison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Virginia Woolf, Homer, and many others and will create their own texts in response. Students will consider the creative process, will grapple with the relationship between form and insight, and through writing and reading will enter directly into the conversation between and among writers over the centuries. In these workshops, texts will be used as models, prompts, and inspirations for student writing projects. Much as student painters are asked to imitate the Masters, we will invite our students to write in the context of the models and exemplars presented in these courses and through rigorous attention to craft to find inspiration for their own innovations.

UPPER-LEVEL COURSES (9 SH): Each Professional Writing student will take LNG320 Modern English Grammar, WRT442W Publication Design and Development, and, in their final semester, WRT465W Thesis.

WRITING ELECTIVES (6 SH): Each Professional Writing student will take any two additional WRT courses at the 200-level or above.

COURSES IN THE OPTION (18 SH): Students will take 18 hours of courses that are appropriate for their specific option (Creative Writing, Journalism and Public Relations, Business and Technical Writing). These courses are practically oriented workshops and seminars.

Creative Writing Option

     Six courses from among the following:

WRT242W Poetry Workshop I

WRT243W Fiction Workshop I

WRT/THR244W Playwriting Workshop I

WRT247 Multimedia Writing

WRT261 Forms of Poetry

WRT262 Forms of Fiction

WRT271W Human Interest Writing

WRT273W Writing Identity

WRT339W Creative Essay

WRT342W Poetry Workshop II

WRT343W Fiction Workshop II

WRT/THR 346W Playwriting Workshop II

WRT345 Writing Prose Poetry and Flash Fiction


Journalism and Public Relations Option

WRT 270W News Writing

WRT 340W: Public Relations Writing, Concepts and Practice

WRT 373W: Editing and Copyediting


     Plus any three courses from among the following:

WRT247 Multimedia Writing

WRT 255W: Advertising, Copywriting, and Promotion

WRT 271W: Human Interest Writing

WRT279 Sports Writing

JLA/WRT 321W: Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis (W2)

WRT 335W: Fact-Based Opinion Writing

WRT 338W: Writing about Specialized Subjects

WRT375 Book, Performance, and Restaurant Reviewing

WRT 490: Practicum/Internship

COM 230: History of Mass Media

COM 243: Broadcast Writing


Business and Technical Writing Option

WRT 210W: Managerial Writing (W2)

WRT 245W: Technical Writing (W2)

Plus any four courses from among the following:

WRT246 Science Writing

WRT247 Multimedia Writing

WRT 255W: Advertising, Copywriting, and Promotion

WRT 270W: News Writing

JLA/WRT 321W Legal Writing, Research, and Analysis

WRT 340W: Public Relations Writing, Concepts, and Practices

WRT 490: Practicum/Internship