The Writing Requirement

Brown's open curriculum has long supported one general education requirement: that all students demonstrate the ability to write well. This fundamental aspect of liberal education has been a part of the curriculum since the late nineteenth century. Why? Good writing is essential to learning. Across the disciplines, scholars, teachers, and students write to explore ideas, uncover nuances of thought, and advance knowledge. Writing is not only a medium through which we communicate and persuade; it is also a means for expanding our capacities to think clearly.

Learning to write well is a developmental process that occurs over time. For this reason, all students must work on their writing at least twice: once during the first half of their college experience, and once during the second half. Students meet the first half of this requirement in their first four semesters by completing an approved writing course at Brown. Reflection is an important part of your development as a writer, so we also ask that you go into ASK to verify completion of this part of the writing requirement.

Transfer students admitted as sophomores may meet the first part of Brown’s writing requirement with an approved course taken at their prior institution. Sophomore transfers with no such course must take an approved course at Brown, but have an additional two semesters to meet this part of the requirement. Transfer students admitted as juniors are exempt from part one of the requirement.

In semesters 5 through 7, students work on their writing a second time, by taking another approved Brown course or by documenting that they have worked on their writing in another Brown course. The final step is to go into ASK to verify completion of the requirement and to reflect on your development as a writer.

The PDF below provides more details on the writing requirement for each class. It’s important to know that the requirement as it is laid out here is a minimum expectation. Our hope is that students will work on their writing throughout their four years. By embracing this responsibility, students become stronger writers and thinkers, thus fulfilling a critical aspect of their liberal education.