The College

Courses That Develop Writing Skills

Seek out courses that will help you improve your ability to communicate.

Regardless of your writing abilities when you enter Brown, you will benefit from taking courses that aim to further develop your writing skills. These courses also improve your confidence in other courses and frequently result in higher course grades overall.

With guidance from academic advisors, you should consider which writing courses will best address your academic goals and professional aspirations. First-year students are especially encouraged to enroll in one or more of the courses described below.

Types of Courses that Satisfy Brown's Writing Requirement

Brown’s English Department offers a number of intensive writing courses designed to help you master the skills needed for University-level writing. Many first-year students benefit from enrolling in a section of English 0900, in which you'll learn the fundamentals of a variety of essay styles, or English 1030, which focuses on the research essay. Sections of both courses are limited to 17 students, and both courses are graded S/NC. Other courses focus on journalistic writing (English 1050) and creative nonfiction (English 0930).

All courses in the EnglishComparative Literature, and Literary Arts departments, regardless of whether they are labeled writing-designated or not, satisfy the University's writing requirement. Across a range of media and genres, each of the courses offered in these departments requires substantial writing and instructors provide substantive feedback for student writing and opportunities for revision.

Brown's Writing Fellows program trains undergraduate students to work intensively with peers in select classes to help improve student writing. Writing Fellows read drafts of your papers and meet in individual conferences with you to discuss your drafts. You then revise your work and submit both versions (the original with the fellow’s comments and the revision) to your course instructor. When grading papers, professors in Writing Fellows courses consider both the drafting and revision process as well as the final paper. Like English, Comparative Literature and Literary Arts courses, Writing Fellows courses satisfy the writing requirement regardless of whether they are listed as writing-designated.

If you have questions about the Writing Fellows program or are a faculty member with an interest in having a fellow assigned to one of your courses, contact the Writing Center at

You can develop your skills as a writer through a broad range of coursework beyond traditional writing courses and in a diverse array of disciplines. Writing-designated (WRIT) courses are designed to help you learn how to think and communicate in writing either by learning the conventions of academic writing at the college level or by learning the conventions and expectations for writing in a particular discipline.

To further these objectives, WRIT courses should:

  • Require at least two written assignments of any length and in any language;
  • Provide you with substantive feedback on each writing assignment (for example, you may draft and revise a written assignment or may simply be able to apply feedback on their writing to later assignments); and
  • Provide instruction, feedback and guidance in either disciplinary or academic writing conventions.

Offered in nearly all departments, WRIT courses for a particular semester may be viewed in Courses @ Brown by selecting "Writing-Designated Courses" in the Curriculum Program section on the left-hand navigation.

Only course instructors may request the WRIT designation. As a student, you may not petition to add the WRIT designation to particular courses.

Important considerations regarding writing-designated courses:

  • WRIT during semester of enrollment
    Faculty may add or remove the WRIT designation from one offering of the course to the next. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that a course is approved as WRIT in C@B in the semester of enrollment. 

  • Writing-intensive may not mean writing-designated
    A course with many and/or lengthy writing assignments will not necessarily qualify as a writing-designated course. For example, without an instructor or teaching assistant's feedback on the prose that can be applied to a revised version of the assignment or a subsequent assignment, a course with weekly response papers or a large final paper at the end of the course will not allow you to develop your writing sufficiently to meet the spirit of the writing requirement.