W & C Course Facts

Words of Wisdom

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.

— E. L. Doctorow

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 (writing) courses in the major. Since 2008, students have been able to take either one W and one C (communication) 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 communication-in-the-disciplines program. The approval process is outlined on this site at Apply for W or C Course Approval. A current list of approved W & C Courses appears on this site.

Students must take two different courses to satisfy the W/C requirement. If departments need to use the same course twice for its students to satisfy this requirement, consultation with their college representative on the W/C Course Advisory Committee  and approval from the committee is needed. Departments should be able to demonstrate a substantial difference between the two versions of the course so that students are not simply completing identical course

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 concepts such as audience awareness and the ability to match language to the occasion or type of document being produced. A proficient communicator argues well, thinks critically, and solves problems. A proficient communicator can analyze, evaluate, and 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. Proficiency in communication cannot be achieved all at once, during a single, First-Year English or speech course, but must be acquired through practice 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 proficiency in writing and speaking requires practice and an investment of time and energy. Experienced writers produce multiple drafts, edit and proofread, and participate in reviews and critiques of their work. Good prose and fluent speaking requires the investment of time and effort.

W Courses must:

  • be offered for at least one credit
  • Include writing assignments related to the major
  • provide instruction in writing and formative feedback that allows improvement of some major assignments
  • base part of the final course grade on writing quality (at least 25% for a 4-credit course, 33% for a 3-credit course, 50% for a 2-credit course, and 70% for a 1-credit course)
  • include at least of 2000 words of finished, graded writing

C Courses must:

  • be offered for at least one credit
  • include writing and public speaking or other oral communication related to the major
  • provide instruction in writing and speaking and formative feedback that allows improvement of some major assignments
  • base part of the final course grade on writing or speaking quality (at least 25% for a 4-credit course, 33% for a 3-credit course, 50% for a 2-credit course and 70% for a 1-credit course)
  • assign at least 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 without fulfilling the W or C graduation requirement. This action should be taken only 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?
Departmental academic advisors can help students identify W amd C course that count in their degree plans. Rather than being listed as W/C in course catalogs, W/C courses are designated by section numbers in the 900 range in the online Schedule of Courses in Howdy. For further detail on numbering, see the table below. 

Section Numbers

Course Type




W Honors




C Honors

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 approved for the student's major to count as the W or C course on that student's degree plan.

Can the W/C course requirement be waived?
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 (v-balester@tamu.edu).

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 should meet the requirement in one of their majors; in other words, they should take two (not four) W/C courses, both in the same major.

Are there restrictions on the types of courses that can be designated W/C?
So long as a course designated as W or C meets the basic requirements for writing or oral communication as agreed upon during certification, it can qualify as a W or C course, regardless of format. Thus, for example, summer courses, online courses, and study-abroad courses can all be W or C courses. Likewise, W/C courses can be pass/fail. However, they cannot be taken for 0 credit. 

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. Students 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 writing and speaking guides and one-to-one consultations with College Reading and Learning Association certified consultants. Consultants work with individual students or with groups working collaboratively on projects. The focus is on the composing process, not on creating a perfect product; consultants work to help students improve 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 and public speaking pedagogy, as well as through an email discussion list, a blog, podcasts, and workshops. Watch our News for announcements, or join our discussion list by contacting uwc@tamu.edu. See Faculty Resources for more information. 

The UWC supports all Texas A&M students working on writing or public speaking projects. See Help for Students on this website. We can also present workshops in your classroom.

The UWC offers customized training for graduate student graders and faculty. Workshops can cover topics such as designing a rubric for a major assignment and working with graduate students to norm their grading when using it; reviewing basic rules of grammar and punctuation; reviewing documentation; and making 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 at uwc@tamu.edu 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 Faculty Senate and signed April 1, 2003, by President Robert Gates, establishes the procedure for implementation and provides guidelines for W courses.

Office of the Registrar

Office of Undergraduate Studies

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