Understanding the Writing and Rhetoric Requirements

The Stanford Writing and Rhetoric Requirement includes courses at three levels. It is designed to provide a coordinated approach that’s responsive to how students mature as writers, researchers and presenters during their undergraduate years.

At each level, students are given opportunities to develop greater sophistication in conducting inquiry and producing scholarly work in progressively more specific disciplinary contexts.

First-level course (WR 1).

Most students fulfill the WR 1 requirement by taking PWR 1, a first-year, four-unit course centered on analysis and research-based arguments. Other ways to fulfill the WR 1 requirement include the following:

  • ITALIC, SLE. Those students enrolled in an Integrated Learning Environment (Immersion in the Arts:  Living in Culture or Structured Liberal Education) use their associated writing instruction to fulfill their WR 1  requirement.
  • Education as Self-Fashioning (ESF), which fulfills both the Thinking Matters and WR 1 requirements.
  • Transfer Credit:  all transfer credit must be approved by the Registrar’s External Credit Evaluation office.

For specifics on PWR 1 courses, visit the PWR 1 page.

Second-level course (WR 2).

Students fulfill this requirement by taking a course focused on writing, research and oral presentation before the end of their sophomore year.

  • PWR 2. Most students complete this requirement by taking PWR 2 through the Program in Writing and Rhetoric.
  • DWR 2. Some students fulfill this second-level requirement by enrolling in a course certified as meeting the WR 2 requirement by the Writing and Rhetoric Governance Board.
  • SLE. Those students enrolled in the Structured Liberal Education Program use their writing instruction associated with SLE to fulfill both their WR 1 and WR 2 requirements.
  • Transfer credit:  transfer credit must be approved by the Registrar’s External Credit Evaluation office before it can count toward this requirement.

For specifics on PWR 2 and DWR 2 courses, visit the PWR 2 page.

Third-level course (WIM)

The third-level requirement asks students to complete a Writing in the Major course, taught within each major. Students generally take this course after completing the first two levels of the Writing and Rhetoric Requirement.

For specifics on WIM courses visit the Writing in the Major  page.

For More Information

For more information about the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and the Writing and Rhetoric Requirement, refer to Principles and Goals of the Writing Requirement (PDF). This document provides a historical overview of the requirement and a detailed explanation of the PWR 1, PWR 2 and WIM courses.