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The Writing Center

Writing Intensive Courses

As with most universities and colleges, the University at Albany incorporates certain writing requirements into its undergraduate degree programs. According to the University at Albany Undergraduate Bulletin, in order to receive a Bachelor's Degree students must complete the following requirement:

Written Discourse: Students must satisfactorily complete with grades of C or higher or S a lower division Writing Intensive course, which is expected to be completed within the freshman or sophomore year, and a Writing Intensive course at or above the 300 level, normally completed within the student’s major. These courses use writing as an important tool in the discipline studied and are not designed primarily to teach the technical aspects of writing. The emphasis is on using writing as a means of sharpening critical thinking in and understanding of the subject.*

This means that in order to graduate from UAlbany, students must complete at least one course at either the 100 or 200 level ("lower level") that is designated as "Writing Intensive," as well as one course at either the 300 or 400 level ("upper level") that is designated as "Writing Intensive."

This may seem confusing to students who have heard of other institutions that require something known as "First Year Composition," which is typically a standardized writing course that all undergraduates, regardless of major or intended major, must complete. UAlbany does NOT have a First Year Composition requirement; instead, it has the two-course writing intensive requirement outlined above, which allows students to complete their writing requirment by seeking out lower and upper level Writing Intensive courses whose content more closely coincide with their academic and career interests.


What can I expect in a Writing Intensive course?

Courses must contain certain components in order to count as "Writing Intensive." According to the Undergraduate Bulletin, Writing Intensive courses must meet the following four criteria:*

1.  A Substantial Body of Finished Work: This is generally expected to be a total of 20+ double-spaced pages in at least two, preferably more, submissions. It may be in a variety of forms—journal, reports, essays, research papers, etc.—not all of which need to be graded.
2.  Opportunity for Students to Receive Assistance in Progress: Such assistance may take several forms, from visits to the Writing Center (HU-140) to conferences with the instructor.
3.  Opportunity to Revise Some Pieces: As revision is an essential characteristic of good writing, students should be able to revise some portion of their work.

4.  Response to Student Writing: Such response may take several forms—from extended comments from the instructor to peer evaluation in student groups. It is expected, however, that the instructor will respond in detail to some extended work of the student.

That said, the content and format of Writing Intensive Courses can vary greatly among departments and instructors, so it is best to take a close look at your course syllabus in order to understand the requirements and expectations of a particular course or instructor.


How do I find a Writing Intensive Course?

Writing Intensive courses are designated by the addition of a "Z" to the end of their Course Subject and Catalog number (e.g., "AENG 102Z" or "AARH 475Z").

To view a list of all approved Writing Intensive course, please see the University at Albany General Education Lookup:

How do I find a Writing Intensive Course for the upcoming semester?

To view a list of Writing Intensive Courses offered in a given semester, please see the Schedule fo Classes search page at

Simply select the semester for which you would like to search; you will then be redirected to a search page in which you will have option to search by factors such as department, instructor, and requirement fulfullments (such as Writing Intensive).


* Source:

The Writing Center
University at Albany, SUNY
Humanities Building 140
1400 Washington Ave., Albany, NY




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