The Writing Skills Requirement

All Williams students must take two writing skills (WS) classes to graduate, one by the end of your sophomore year and one by the end of your junior year. As explained in the course catalogue, “[t]he goal of this requirement is to improve student writing proficiency across disciplines.”

Incoming students sometimes believe they must take an English course to fulfill the WS requirement, but Williams offers WS courses in all three divisions. We in the Writing Center encourage you to take a deep dive into the catalogue to find courses that interest you. After all, the more interesting you find the material, the more fun it will be for you to write about it!

Check out the current list of courses that meet the WS requirement.

Here is what you can expect in a WS course, as described in the course catalogue:

Students in these courses will receive guidance on structure, style, argumentation, and other significant aspects of writing throughout the semester. This may be achieved through brief assignments spaced over the semester, sequenced assignments leading to a longer final paper, etc. WS courses may also include multiple drafts, peer review, conferences or class discussions designed to improve writing skills.

The primary function of the WS designation is to indicate that the course will provide consistent and ongoing feedback on students’ writing. Thus, the amount of writing should be substantial and well spaced, followed by timely evaluation and suggestions for improvement. Specifically, a WS course should require multiple assignments, each returned with comments which address writing problems and strategies, as appropriate. Because WS course instructors must pay attention to students’ writing skills as well as to their mastery of the content of the course, WS courses have a maximum enrollment of 19.