College Writing Requirement

Welcome to Wake Forest! We are so excited to welcome you to campus and hope you are looking forward to your arrival in Winston-Salem.

What is the Wake Forest University’s College Writing Requirement?

As you probably know, Wake Forest, like most universities, requires that you take a broad variety of classes in your first few years to acclimate yourself to college academics and to explore new disciplines and topics before declaring your major. We also require that students take a writing course during their first few semesters on campus. So, what exactly is the Wake Forest University College Writing Requirement and why do we have it?

While no single class will prepare you for every writing situation you will encounter, the first year writing class at Wake aims to introduce you to college-level academic writing expectations. First year writing here is characterized by small classroom communities and dynamic, theme-based subjects through which you will practice and develop attention, rhetorical awareness, collaboration, revision, and reflection. You will spend a lot of time writing, thinking about your writing, and talking about your writing with your fellow students and with your writing professor.

At Wake Forest, faculty view writing effectively as a fundamental skill that all students should develop. We view writing as a crucial tool for learning, creating, and communicating new knowledge.  We know you each bring considerable language and writing knowledge and experience with you to campus, but because expectations for college level writing are new to you, we do require that all students take writing, regardless of major.

How do I satisfy the College Writing Requirement?

Because the experience with and knowledge about writing varies so widely among students, we offer a couple of different pathways to satisfy the writing requirement:

Pathway 1: Two, two-credit courses — WRI 109 and WRI 110 — taken over two semesters in the first year.

Pathway 2: A single, four-credit course — WRI 111 — taken during one of your first couple of semesters on campus.

All WRI 109, WRI 110, and WRI 111 courses are themed to help root students’ writing practice in a shared context and topical conversation with their classmates. Some of the themes that have been used for WRI 109, WRI 110, and WRI 111s in the past are: Truth and Fiction, Weird Nature, School Cultures / Home Cultures, Rhetoric of Food, Rhetorics of Music, and more! To find out what themes are being offered next semester, take a peek at our course descriptions by following the link below.

Please click here for our course descriptions for next semester.

How do I decide which pathway is right for me?

To help you make this important choice, we’ve created a brief First Year Writing Decision Tool asking you to reflect on your previous experiences with language, reading, and writing. The questions in the decision tool should get you thinking about what and how you’ve been asked to read and write in the past, how comfortable you are with these sorts of tasks, and also about other demands on your time and attention that you expect to encounter this fall. It’s important to note that the tool is reflective only, it has no bearing on your registration and does not “place” you into a class. The decision tool is designed to help you choose the best course based on your experiences with writing and your expectations for your first year at Wake Forest.

Your responses to the decision tool questions will lead you to some profiles of hypothetical students. You probably won’t feel like the profiles you read are a perfect match for your situation, but we hope you will recognize some common categories. For example, you may read a profile wherein the student, like you, expects to take a demanding and time-intensive set of classes and would rather devote less time to a writing course and so opts for the two-semester sequence. Or you may encounter a profile of a student athlete who knows they will be busy while in season this fall and also opts for the two-semester sequence. Or you may read of a student who wrote a lot of different kinds of papers in high school, doesn’t yet have a really busy extracurricular schedule, and would like to fulfill the writing requirement in a single semester, so they opt to take WRI 111. Either choice is a good choice, and either option fulfills the requirement. And again, you will choose which class to take. The decision tool is intended to support your thinking through the choice.

“It’s important to note that the tool is reflective only, it has no bearing on your registration and does not “place” you into a class. The decision tool is designed to help you choose the best course based on your experiences with writing and your expectations for your first year at Wake Forest.”

You can use the information you get from our First Year Writing Decision Tool to make a decision about which course to register for in July. We do not recommend that you take FYS (the first-year seminar) at the same time that you take WRI 111, since it is 4 credits, but it would be fine to take FYS at the same time you take WRI 109 or WRI 110 since they are each just 2 credit hours.

Here is the link to the First Year Writing Decision Tool: It should take you between 5 and 15 minutes and we ask that you plan to complete it in one sitting. We also recommend that you download a PDF of your responses to keep on hand as you make your registration decisions.

Reflections from students who used the First Year Writing Decision Tool last year (AY 2023-2024) to decide which pathway to take coming soon!


If you have any questions about the survey, your course options, or writing in general at Wake Forest, we hope you’ll reach out to us at We look forward to hearing from you!