About Writing Across the Curriculum at West Chester University

There are many models for writing across the curriculum at institutions all around the globe. West Chester University's cross-disciplinary Writing Emphasis program was begun in 1978 as a pilot project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Pennsylvania State College Educational Trust Fund. It now serves all of the University's nearly 14,000 undergraduate students. The WCU Writing Emphasis program is based on the assumption that writing is a matter of advanced thinking and is integral to academic learning in both liberal arts and professional studies.

The curriculum structure for writing-emphasis at West Chester University consists of the requirement that graduating seniors will have taken three writing-emphasis courses prior to graduation. These three writing-emphasis courses are required in addition to the two introductory writing courses students take in the first-year writing program (WRT120: Effective Writing; WRT200: Critical Research Writing). Unlike these first-year writing program courses, writing-emphasis courses are taught by faculty “across the curriculum” as opposed to only by writing specialists, historically located in the English Department. As of 2017, there are currently 197 approved writing-emphasis courses for students to choose from in the University catalog.

The University Writing Center, located in Francis Harvey Green library, supports students at all levels of the curriculum in their development of effective writing practices.

Why is a writing across the curriculum program important?

One important reason the top universities all around the globe utilize writing across the curriculum programs is because writing is a complex skill that requires regular practice. Universities want their graduates to be effective communicators and critical thinkers as evidenced by their agility as writers, but these skills cannot be achieved in the course of a single semester; rather, they must be practiced regularly. West Chester University’s writing-emphasis program embeds writing into students’ regular progress toward their degree, ideally offering students a writing-focused course once per academic year until graduation.

A second important reason for writing across the curriculum is less obvious but imperative to understand: writing is not a general, but a specific, skill. West Chester University’s curriculum recognizes that what it means for students to be effective writers in one academic discipline is not the same as what it means for students to be effective writers in another academic discipline. Each academic discipline and profession has unique writing challenges for students to learn; therefore, students must have moments in their academic career where they learn what is valued about writing in their academic discipline or desired profession.

West Chester students learn to ask: what unique moves do writers make in my desired field or profession? Though students may take writing emphasis courses outside of their major program, it is expected that students at West Chester University will enroll in at least one writing-emphasis course within their major-program prior to graduation so they may learn the skills inherent to communicating effectively and thinking critically within their future field.

Writing Program Assessment

The University Writing Council engages in ongoing efforts to assess student and faculty satisfaction with the writing curriculum at WCU with advisement from the Provost's Office and University Writing Council Advisory Board. We believe that highly effective writing programs like WCU's writing curriculum should be regularly informed (and where applicable, improved) by qualitative and quantitative assessments of student and faculty experiences.

Contact for Additional Information



  • For questions about the First Year Writing Program:
  • Dr. Ashley Patriarca
  • First-Year Writing Director
  • Contact Prof. Patriarca
  • For questions about writing and the academic development program:
  • Prof. K. Jamie Woodlief
  • Writing-Coordinator, ADP
  • Contact Prof. Woodlief
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