Frequently Asked Questions About The Writing Certificate

  • What is the Writing Certificate?
    • The Writing Certificate is a five-credit minor that allows students of any major to earn recognition for proficiency in creative writing.

  • What is unusual about Wesleyan's Writing Certificate? What kinds of courses are offered to Writing Certificate candidates?
    • The Writing Certificate encourages students to explore a broad array of writing courses. Students may opt to take classes in those areas usually offered by creative writing programs -- fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and playwriting. Students also may elect to branch out into related or specialized areas of creative writing. These may include, for example, screenwriting; writing about art and film; journalism; literary translation; writing creatively in foreign languages; television writing; literary reviewing; writing about science; and writing about the social sciences.

      Many different Wesleyan departments -- in the sciences and social sciences as well as humanities -- offer courses credited toward the Writing Certificate. To give a sense of the variety of courses that can be explored by Certificate candidates: in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 academic years Writing Certificate courses have included a History Department class on "Writing about War"; an Anthropology course titled "Crafting Ethnography"; the Chemistry Department's "Writing about Science"; the NB&B Department's writing-intensive "Capstone Experience in Neuroscience and Behavior"; and the Film Studies Department's "Writing about Film for the Modern Media".

      Writing certificate courses include English Department and College of Letters creative writing classes in fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction; literary translation courses offered by the French Department and by The Center for Humanities; and journalism classes given by the Government Department's Koeppel Fellow in Journalism. In addition, certificate candidates may take Theater Department courses in Playwriting, and Film Department classes in screenwriting. We encourage students to design a curriculum that adds diversity, complexity and sophistication to their knowledge of creative writing.

  • Certificate requirements: What are the requirements of the Writing Certificate?
    • The Certificate requires five course credits, comprised of an entry-level or Level I writing course; three Level II electives; and a senior seminar (WRCT 350). Creative theses and seniors essays may count toward the certificate in lieu of a third elective. Consult the Writing Certificate website page to find out which courses can be counted toward the certificate, and to learn about more specific requirements of the Writing Certificate.

  • Finding course information: Where do I find information about courses listed on the Writing Certificate website?
    • Visit WesMaps 2013-2014, the current Wesleyan course catalog. Go to the Wesmaps Directory, and look for the subheading "Writing" in the list of Wesleyan certificates. If you click on "Writing," you will find a list of Writing Courses Offered in fall and spring, 2013-2014. This list includes any course with a "WRCT" prefix and courses that fall in traditional creative writing genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, playwriting and screenwriting.

      In addition, use the Wesmaps Directory to locate specific departments that offer writing classes approved as electives on the Writing Certificate website page. (For example, look at course descriptions under Anthropology, Film, French, Neuroscience & Behavior, Theater, etc.)

      To petition the Writing Programs for inclusion of a course not listed in the Writing Courses Offered, yet may still meet requirements for the Writing Certificate, please click here

  • Level I courses: Do I have to take a Level I course before enrolling in a Level II course?
    • No. Students may enroll in Level II courses before taking one of the courses listed under Level I.
  • Exemption from Level I courses: I believe I am writing on an advanced level, and I have completed several writing courses. I still have not taken any Level I courses, however. Do I have to backtrack to pick up a Level I course in order to obtain the certificate?
    • In limited circumstances, an advanced writing student may be granted an exemption from Level I courses. These are:

      (1) You have taken three Level II courses and received an A- (or the COL equivalent) in all. (Level II courses are those listed under "Level II" on the Writing Certificate webpage.)

      (2) You have taken two advanced writing courses and received an A (or the COL equivalent) in both. (For purposes of seeking an exemption from Level I classes, advanced courses are those that have the word "Advanced" in the course title -- for example "Advanced Fiction-Writing" or "Advanced Poetry Workshop".)

      (3) You petition for exemption from the Level I requirement on other grounds, and your petition is granted.

      Students may seek an exemption during any time in their candidacy. (You do not have to wait until completing all four courses required to enter the capstone course.)

      Please click here to petition for exemption from taking a Level I course.

  • Senior Seminar Requirements: Do I have to complete all other requirements before enrolling in the Writing Certificate senior seminar (WRCT 350)?
    • We strongly recommend that you complete all four other requirements before the end of your senior fall semester. However, if it is necessary in order to complete the certificate, you may take your final elective course concurrently with the senior seminar. Work on a senior thesis or essay may also overlap with the senior seminar. If you are completing a thesis while enrolled in the senior seminar, be sure to consult with your thesis advisor about your plans.

  • Junior Year Enrollment in Senior Seminar: I will have completed all Writing Certificate requirements by spring of my junior year except for the senior seminar (WRCT 350). Can I enroll in the senior seminar in my junior spring, instead of waiting until my senior year?
    • Yes.

  • COL and pass/fail courses: As a COL major, I am required to take writing courses pass/fail to count them toward my major. Writing Certificate guidelines, however, require that I show a GPA to declare my candidacy for the Writing Certificate; to determine eligibility for the senior seminar; and to show an exemption from Level I classes. How do I meet these requirements?
    • If you are a COL major, you may request a recommendation from COL writing faculty in lieu of showing a GPA. This recommendation should attest that you have done a high level of work in your relevant COL writing classes.

  • Writing classes not appearing on the list of approved courses: I took a class that is not included in the list of approved Writing Certificate courses (appearing on the Certificate's website page). Nevertheless, the course focused on creative writing, and all students in the course received intensive instruction in writing from the professor. I believe that the course should be counted toward the certificate. What should I do?
    • Contact the writing certificate coordinator, Anne Greene (agreene@wesleyan.edu) and explain why you think the course should be counted toward the certificate.

  • Credit for creative writing in non-writing courses: I took a class that is not included in the list of approved Writing Certificate courses. Although the course did not focus on creative writing, the professor allowed me to submit creative work in lieu of the usual assignments required by the class. Can I count that class toward the Writing Certificate?
    • Probably not. Determining factors in such as case will be (1) the length and quality of the creative writing project produced in the class; and (2) whether the instructor brought his or her expertise as a writer to guiding the student and evaluating his work. In addition, in such cases, (3) the professor should contact the certificate coordinator before the beginning of the semester to verify that the course has an optional creative writing component; and (4) the petitioning student must have received creative writing instruction in at least one other writing course during a previous semester.

      If, having considered these four factors, you think your question is meritorious, contact the writing certificate coordinator, Anne Greene (agreene@wesleyan.edu) and explain why you think the course should be counted toward the certificate.

  • Concurrent enrollment in two writing courses: Can I take two creative writing electives in a single semester and count both toward the certificate? Can I take a second writing course while enrolled in the Writing Certificate senior seminar? While writing a creative thesis or senior essay?
    • Generally, students are advised against enrolling in two creative writing courses in a single semester; some departments forbid this practice, and students should avoid violating departmental policies. Taking two writing courses reduces the quality of student work in both courses and also allows some students to monopolize free spaces in writing classes, while making the courses harder to get into for others. Writing Certificate candidates are warned particularly against taking two writing courses in one semester in a single genre (e.g., two fiction-writing courses, two poetry-writing courses, etc.).

      A new policy now allows seniors to take their final elective course if necessary along with the senior seminar (WRCT 350). In addition, seniors may complete honors theses and senior essays while enrolled in WRCT 350. As noted in question #7 above, if you plan to enroll in the senior seminar while completing an honors thesis, be sure to consult with your thesis advisor ahead of time about your plans.


  • Writing tutorials: I have been a writing tutor through the Teaching Apprentice Tutorial (Eng. 491/492) for more than one semester. How many semesters can I count toward the Writing Certificate?
    • A maximum of one credit (one semester) earned as a writing tutorial or mentor can be counted toward the writing certificate.

  • Student forums: I wish to teach or attend a student forum that will center on creative writing. Can I arrange to have this course count toward the Writing Certificate?
    • The question of whether student forums should count toward the certificate has not yet been determined, but will be addressed by the Writing Certificate Committee in 2011-2012.

  • Difficulty gaining admission to writing classes: I am having difficulty getting into writing classes. What should I do?
    • Make an appointment with a member of the writing faculty to ask for personal advice and help.

Other Questions

If you have a question that is not answered above, contact Writing Certificate Coordinator, Anne Greene (agreene@wesleyan.edu).

Please note that all members of Wesleyan's writing faculty are available to advise you about the Writing Certificate.