Mason's Writing Curriculum

The core writing curriculum at Mason offers students a unique opportunity to develop writing competencies across their educational experience that prepares them to participate in academic, professional, and civic communities. It does so in part by providing students with a “vertical” writing curriculum: a carefully sequenced series of courses designed to facilitate the long-term growth of writers as they develop expertise in the production and circulation of knowledge across a range of contexts and audiences. This curriculum grows out of research demonstrating that people continue to develop as writers throughout their lives and, therefore, that writing instruction should be continuous throughout students’ education.

Infographic showing Mason Core Written Communication and Literature requirements.

At Mason, our vertical writing curriculum is realized through specially designated Composition and Writing-intensive (WI) courses that seek to integrate rhetorical and field-specific knowledge and skills.

  • In First-Year Composition (English 100/101/121-122), students learn to see writing as a social, rhetorical act and are taught to effectively analyze and respond to a variety of writing situations in academic and non-academic contexts through analyzing, researching, and producing texts of varying genres that engage a range of audiences. 
  • Advanced Composition (English 302) builds on student learning in ENGH 100/101/121-22 through advanced rhetorical analysis, research, and writing oriented toward investigating, engaging with, and responding to meaningful disciplinary questions in a variety of academic and non-academic contexts.
  • Writing-intensive courses, which are situated in the majors, more fully integrate rhetorical and field-specific knowledges as students engage the specific writing, critical thinking, and problem-solving methods across a range of academic, professional, and civic contexts in their chosen fields.

There are several ways to waive the required composition courses. Students may apply for a waiver for ENGH 101 through a three-hour proficiency examination offered at various times throughout the semester. Students with appropriate AP or IB scores, or equivalent transfer credits, may also be eligible for a waiver for ENGH 101. Students can apply for a waiver for ENGH 302 by presenting a portfolio of their academic writing through a specific procedure. See Waivers tab for more information.