The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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About

Writing At UMass

The UMass Amherst Writing Program pursues excellence in writing education. Our award-winning program teaches student writers to find agency, take risks, grapple with complicated ideas, and discover new ones. Our courses empower students to practice writing in a variety of media and contexts; examine the intersections of writing, language, and power; and learn the rhetorical flexibility needed for their academic, professional, and personal lives. Since 1982, we have been an independent academic unit serving the entire campus community and remain a key part of undergraduate general education here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

We carry out this mission by

The University of Massachusetts Amherst requires two writing courses of all undergraduates: College Writing, which is an introductory course to general academic writing, and Junior Year Writing, which is an advanced course in the student’s major, focused on the writing of that field and taught by faculty in that discipline.

First Year Writing

Writing, Identity, and Power (ENGLWRIT 111) 

Writing, Power, and Identity is an intensive reading and writing course designed for students who need additional preparation before taking College Writing.

College Writing (ENGLWRIT 112)

All undergraduates must complete or exempt from College Writing, a rhetorically oriented, process-based expository writing course, as part of their bachelor’s degree program.

College Writing Teaching Resources 

College Writing Instructor Handbook


Junior Year Writing

Junior Year Writing is an advanced, discipline-specific writing course for all undergraduates. Students study the writing particular to their areas of study in classes such as “Writing in Chemistry” or “Sport Management Communication,” gaining fluency in the writing they will use in further study and in the workplace.

Students must complete College Writing before they can register for a Junior Year Writing course.


Our Commitment to Equity and Inclusion in Writing 

The Writing Program upholds UMass Amherst’s commitment to “policies that promote inclusiveness, social justice, and respect” and supports UMass Amherst’s responsibility “to provide access and opportunities for all people, while demonstrating our commitment to inclusion of historically underrepresented groups.” Together with our wider campus community, we believe that diversity of all kinds “is integral to academic excellence and that our students, faculty, and staff should reflect the diverse world in which we live.” Our program thus commits to fostering classrooms where writers feel respected, challenged, and able to give voice to the ways that writing can matter in the world. The Writing Program upholds this responsibility by
 

  • Valuing and intentionally sustaining the linguistically and culturally diverse writing of our students and colleagues;
  • Teaching small classes that offer teacher and peer engagements that cultivate intellectual discovery through writing;
  • Actively engaging the ways that language, identity, privilege, and power intersect in our curriculum, writing pedagogy, and teacher training;
  • Enacting anti-racist approaches to assignment design, teacher feedback, and program placement; and
  • Using equity and inclusivity to guide program hiring, teaching assignments, and service opportunities.

As a program, we believe that writing is a vital tool for examining, navigating, and challenging the power structures that shape our experiences, inside the classroom and beyond.