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About the Program

Course Descriptions

Fall Courses

Spring Courses

Summer Courses

Teaching Opportunities

Teaching Staff

Writing Requirement

Writing Center

Contact Information


Patricia Kain

Expository Writing Program
Johns Hopkins University
Gilman Hall 013
3400 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218

Phone 410-516-7545
Fax 410-516-4757

Writing Requirement

To encourage excellence in writing, across disciplines, the university requires all undergraduates to take a number of writing-intensive courses.

The Writing-Intensive Course Policy

The university defines a writing-intensive (W) course as one in which students write at least 20 pages of finished writing over multiple assignments, usually 3 or 4 papers; instructors respond to students’ work in written comments or in conference, or both; and students have at least one opportunity to receive their instructor’s response on a draft and then revise.  In other words, a writing-intensive course does more than assign writing; it guides students’ practice in writing and makes writing an integral part of the course.

Fulfilling the “W” Requirement

Students in Arts and Sciences and candidates for a B.A. degree in Engineering are required to complete 12 credits (four courses) in writing-intensive courses before graduation; students pursuing a B.S. in Biology or Physics must also complete 12 credits in W courses.  Candidates for a B.S. in Engineering are required to complete 6 credits in W courses.  All courses taken in fulfillment of the university writing requirement—Expository Writing Courses and all W courses in the disciplines—must have a grade of C- or higher.

Students who expect to receive writing credit for a course, must make sure the course is designated with a (W) in the course catalog and on the Registrar’s web site.  To find a listing of all W courses each semester, students can go to ISIS and click on "Search for Classes."  Select the "Advanced Search" option and at the bottom of the screen, click on "Search for W Courses Only."  Designate the semester you're interested in, and a list of W courses will appear.  

Transferring Writing Credit

Students who transfer to Johns Hopkins from another college or university, and Hopkins students who study abroad for a semester, may transfer writing credit for a course under these conditions:

     1. The course must meet the university criteria (above) for a writing-intensive course;

Students must take the course during the regular academic year, in either fall or spring semester (there is no transfer credit for summer courses); and

Students must have a grade of B or higher in the course.

If you wish to transfer writing credit and you meet these conditions, then you need to present an official transcript for the course to Academic Advising and present your course materials to Patricia Kain, Director of the Expository Writing Program.  You can email Professor Kain,, to arrange a meeting.  Bring with you a syllabus for the course, a course description from the catalog or official web site, and the papers you wrote for the course.

If you’re planning a semester abroad and expect to take a writing course as part of your studies, you should keep in mind the writing-intensive criteria as you select your courses.

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