All TAMU students must pass two courses in their major that fulfill the graduation requirement for writing and oral communication. The amount of course credit can vary; however, zero credit courses cannot be used to fulfill the requirement. Since the TAMU 2007-08 Undergraduate Catalog #130, the university has required two (2) W courses in the major. As of 2008, students may opt to take one W and one C (communications) course or two (2) W courses in the major.
The W/C graduation requirement may not be met by any course listed as a University Core Curriculum communication requirement.
W/C courses are designed and administered within departments and approved for a period of four years by the W & C Course Advisory Committee and the Faculty Senate. The W & C Course Advisory Committee ensures the integrity of Texas A&M’s communications-in-the-disciplines program. The approval process is outlined on this site at Apply for W or C Course Approval. You will find a current list of approved W & C Courses on this site.
A department may request that a course outside the major count in a specific degree plan if that course is relevant to the student's discipline. Both the department offering the course and the department offering the major should agree that the course can be added. To make the request, submit the Request for Approval of W- and C- Courses Outside the Major Form to the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies.
W and C Course Goals
Texas A&M students will write and speak in public with proficiency upon graduation. Proficiency requires a solid knowledge of rhetorical precepts such as audience awareness and ability to suit the occasion or type of document being produced. A proficient communicator argues well, thinks critically, and solves problems. A proficient communication can analyze, evaluate, synthesize information from various sources, document and cite properly, and organize text logically. Skill with grammar, mechanics, format, and usage is required.
Texas A&M students will master the forms of writing and speaking most commonly associated with and essential to their major field of study. Proficient communications skills cannot be learned once, in the isolation of a single, First-Year English or speech course, but must be practiced over time, for many different audiences, in different situations, and in different genres. Because writing conventions and ways of communicating vary somewhat from discipline to discipline, novice communicators need the guidance of experienced writers in the disciplinary communities they aspire to join.
Texas A&M students will understand that proficient writing and speaking require practice and an investment of time and energy. Experienced writers produce multiple drafts, proofread and edit, and participate in reviews and critiques of their work. Good prose and fluent speaking requires the investment of time and effort.
Requirements for a W Course
- be offered for at least one credit
- assign writing related to the major
- provide instruction in writing and formative feedback that allows for the improvement of some major assignments
- base a percentage of the final course grade on writing quality (about 25% for a 4-credit course, 33% for a 3-credit course, 50% for a two-credit course, and 70% for a one-credit course)
- assign a minimum of 2000 words of finished, graded writing
Requirements for a C Course
- be offered for at least one credit
- assign writing and public speaking or other form of oral communication related to the major
- provide instruction in writing and speaking and formative feedback that allows for the improvement of some major assignments
- base a percentage of the final course grade on writing or speaking quality (about 25% for a 4-credit course, 33% for a 3-credit course, and 70% for a one-credit course)
- assign a minimum of 1250 words of finished, graded writing and 5 minutes of oral communication
Frequently Asked Questions
What If a student passes a W or C course without passing the writing or speaking component?
W or C credit cannot be given. The syllabus should specify that a student will fail the course in this case. In some situations, the department (with the approval of the Dean) may change that student's section number from a 900 to a 500 (using a drop/add form), so that the student can pass the course but does not fulfill the W or C graduation requirement. This action should only be taken if another W or C course is available for the student to take.
How can a student plan which courses to take to fulfill the W/C requirement?
W/C courses are offered by section to give departments scheduling flexibility. They are not listed in the catalog. Instead, they can be found online and in the Schedule of Classes in Howdy. A 900-section number identifies both W and C courses, as follows:
It is recommended that departments add a note to the Schedule of Classes designating which sections of the course are W or C. Example: ACCT 320 - ACCOUNTING COMMUNICATION ACCT 320 SECTS 901 & 902 FULFILL THE WRITING GRADUATION REQUIREMENT
How does my department request a W or C Course section?
Departments that wish to offer a W or C section must submit a form to the Office of the Registrar. This form, available from the Office of the Registrar web site, verifies that a course is currently approved as W or C. Return the completed form to the Office of the Registrar at 0100 TAMU.
Can a student substitute a non-W/C course with writing or oral communication for a designated W/C course?
No. A course must have a 900 section number and be in the student's major to count as the W or C course on that student's degree plan.
Can a student be waived from the W/C course requirement?
In some cases, it may be appropriate to request a waiver. Students may request a waiver from the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies through the University Adjustment System. The request form is available on the web site of the Office of the Registrar. Questions may be directed to Dr. Valerie Balester (email@example.com)
Can the W/C graduation requirement be met by a course transferred from another institution of higher learning?
Yes, with the approval of the dean of the student's college and the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies. Upon request, students will provide their dean with a course description, syllabus, and/or writing sample from the course being transferred.
Can the W/C graduation requirement be met through credit-by-examination?
How do double majors meet the W/C requirement?
Double majors must take two, not four, W/C courses. They should take both courses in at least one of their majors, rather than one in each. In other words, students have to satisfy the W/C course requirement in at least one of their two majors or in one of their two degrees.
Are there restrictions on the types of courses that can be designated W/C?
It is expected that any course designated as W or C will meet the basic requirements for writing or oral communication as agreed upon during certification, whether it is offered in summer, through distance education, or as pass/fail. Courses may offer between 1 and 5 credits. Zero credit courses cannot carry W or C certification.
How do I advise students worried about their communication skills?
W/C courses are designed so that the student gets instruction, feedback, and other support to develop written and spoken communication skills. Student will be given an opportunity to revise major assignments after receiving feedback from instructors or peers and benefit from other forms of instruction and practice. In addition, the University Writing Center offers an array of online handouts and guides and one-to-one consultations with a College Reading and Learning Association certified consultant. Consultants work with individual students or with groups working collaboratively on a project. The focus is on the composing process, not on creating a perfect product; consultants work to help students master better composing habits and processes so their learning will transfer to new situations.
How can I get help teaching a W/C class?
The University Writing Center (UWC) offers information on writing pedagogy on this site, as well as through a listserv, a blog, podcasts, and workshops. Watch our News for announcements, or join our listserv.
The UWC supports all Texas A&M students working on writing or public speaking projects. See Help for Students on this website.
The UWC offers customized training for graduate student graders or for faculty. Workshops can cover topics such as designing a rubric for a major assignment and working with the graduate students to norm their grading when using it; reviewing basic rules of grammar and punctuation; reviewing documentation; or showing how to make effective comments on student papers.
We also offer one-to-one consultations for faculty to collaborate on solving specific problems related to writing/speaking pedagogy.
Contact us to request customized training or one-to-one consultations for faculty or graduate students.
For more information about W/C courses, contact the member of the W and C Course Advisory Committee for your college. Or, contact the Chair, Dr. Valerie Balester.
Faculty Senate Resolution 20.108 (FS.20.108), approved March 17, 2003, by the senate and signed April 1, 2003, by President Robert Gates, establishes the procedure for implementation and provides guidelines for W courses.
TAMU 2004-05 Undergraduate Catalog, #127, #130 and other catalogs
Office of the Registrar
Office of Undergraduate Studies