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The Writing Major 

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  • content & requirements
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Description of the Writing Major

The Writing and Rhetoric Major focuses on different genres and practices of writing as enacted in specific historical and cultural contexts. Students write in a wide range of genres: advanced argument, research writing, digital writing, civic writing, professional writing, technical writing, creative nonfiction, and the public essay. In the process of exploring and practicing these genres, students study and analyze the interaction of diverse rhetorical traditions and writing technologies and assess how these factors shape the nature, scope, and impact of writing in a variety of contexts. The major also asks students to examine writing and rhetoric as embedded in culture, and looks at writing identities, their emergences in cultures and subgroups, and the relations among writing, rhetoric, identity, literacy, and power.

Graduates of the Writing and Rhetoric Major will be well equipped for public and private sector careers that require knowledge of advanced communication strategies and writing skills. The major is open to any SU student, and may be especially useful to students pursuing careers in teaching, the law, business, public advocacy, and editing and publishing.





Program Content And Requirements (revised 2013)

[If you declared prior to Fall 2013, click here.]

Students electing a Writing major will be required to complete the Arts and Sciences Liberal Arts Core, completing a minimum of 120 credits toward degree.

Students will take a total of 30 credits for the major distributed as follows:

  • Students will take four (4) common courses: WRT 255, WRT 302, WRT 307, WRT 413.
  • Three (3) courses will be required in the category of Genres and Practices.
  • Three (3) courses will be required in the category of Writing Histories and Theories.
  • At most, two (2) courses from the approved list can be taken outside of the Writing Program.

Course Categories

Required Courses

WRT 255 Advanced Argumentative Writing

WRT 302 Digital Writing

WRT 307 Professional Writing

WRT 413 Rhetoric and Ethics

(12 credits)

Genres and Practices Category (students select 3)

(9 credits)

WRT 301 Civic Writing

WRT 303 Research Writing

WRT 308 Style

WRT 331 Peer Writing Consultant Practicum

WRT 340 Advanced Editing Studio

WRT 401/402 Advanced Workshop in Technical Communication (2/1 credits)

WRT 417 Technical Documentation & Usability

WRT 419 Advanced Technical Writing Workshop

WRT 422 Studies in Creative Nonfiction

WRT 427 Emerging Technologies in Professional & Technical Writing

WRT 470 Internship in Writing (community or business-based internships)

Writing Histories and Theories Category (students select 3)

(9 credits)

WRT 423 African American Rhetoric

WRT 424 Studies in Writing, Rhetoric, and Identity (repeatable)

WRT 426 Studies in Writing, Rhetoric, and Information Technology (repeatable)

WRT 428 Studies in Composition, Rhetoric, and Literacy (repeatable)

WRT 436 Feminist Rhetoric(s) (crosslisted with: CRS 436, WGS 436)

WRT 437 Rhetoric and Information Design

WRT 440 Studies in the Politics of Language and Writing

WRT 447 Professional & Technical Writing in Global Contexts


Approved Courses Outside the Major (students may select no more than 2)

CRS 336: Communication and Organizational Diversity (Histories & Theories)

CRS 338: Communication in Organizations (Histories & Theories)

CRS 355: Political Communication (Histories & Theories)

CRS/WGS 414: Communication and Gender (Histories & Theories)

CRS 455: Rhetorical Criticism (Histories & Theories)

CRS 483: Rhetoric of Film (Histories & Theories)

ETS 325: History and Theories of English (Histories & Theories)

ETS 401 Advanced Writing Workshop: Poetry (Genres & Practices)

ETS 403 Advanced Writing Workshop: Fiction (Genres & Practices)

ETS 420: Cultural Production and Reception (Histories & Theories)

ETS 440: Theorizing History and Culture (Histories & Theories)

NEW 205 News Writing* (Genres & Practices)

PRL 214 Writing for News and Public Relations in a Digital Age* (Genres & Practices)

*available only to student enrolled in Newhouse programs.

The Electronic Portfolio

All Writing Majors are encouraged to produce and maintain an electronic writing portfolio. This portfolio allows students in the Writing Major to archive and demonstrate their expertise within and across multiple genres and rhetorical contexts. Electronic writing portfolios serve as a record of each student's development and growth as a writer over his or her course of study and should not be limited to a specific number of writing products. The student, in consultation with his or her advisor and informal faculty mentors, is ultimately responsible for deciding what will be included in the electronic portfolio and how that portfolio will be shaped for specific purposes:  professional, academic, public, and creative or a combination of two or more.  Students may want to create portfolio “chapters” or segments, which encompass different genres, purposes, and audiences. 


[If you declared prior to Fall 2013, click here.]

Frequently Asked Questions


What can I do after college with a Writing major?


Graduates of the Writing major are well equipped for public and private sector careers that require knowledge of advanced communication strategies and writing skills, as well as graduate studies in a variety of disciplines. There is a great need for good writers in every field, and our graduates go on to pursue careers in a range of settings, including but not limited to teaching, the law, business, government, non-profit organizations, and editing and publishing. Our alumni news stories reflect the wide range of careers our graduates are pursuing.


I’m interested in learning more about the Writing major. Is there someone I can talk to?


Yes. You can find more information about the major and minor at http://wrt.syr.edu/major/. Please contact Martha Lovein the Writing Program office (443-1047; mklove@syr.edu) if you would like to arrange an appointment to visit with someone in person about the opportunities available to you through advanced study in our program.


What are the requirements for the Writing minor?


The Writing minor consists of eighteen (18) hours of upper-division writing courses, made up of WRT 255 Advanced Argumentative Writing and any five courses at the 300 or 400 level. If you’re interested in declaring a Writing minor, contact Martha Love at mklove@syr.edu.


Do I need to be a Writing major or minor to take Writing courses in the major?


Yes. Preference is given to majors and minors with the exception of WRT 307 Professional Writing. If space remains after majors and minors have registered, courses are opened to non-major juniors and seniors. However, this typically happens the week before classes begin.


Can I take classes outside the Writing major and still have them count toward the major requirements?


Yes, you can select up to two classes from the list at http://wrt.syr.edu/major/ and have them count them toward the major. Contact Martha Love at mklove@syr.edu.


Can I be a dual major in Writing and Rhetoric and some other major?


Yes. Many of our current majors are dual majors. If you are a dual major, you need to be proactive about the declaration process since you will need to meet with both home colleges/departments. The major you declared first is considered your primary major, and that is the college/department that will lift your advising hold.


How am I assigned an advisor for the Writing Major?


After you have declared, the Writing Program will assign you a faculty member as your primary advisor.


How do I register for an internship?


All internships must be planned in advance, one semester prior to the semester in which they will occur. Students interested in an internship during the academic year should go to http://wrt.syr.edu/internships/ and familiarize themselves with the available choices and then discuss their preferences with their faculty advisor during registration. The next step is to contact Assistant Director, Faith Plvan, (fsplvan@syr.edu) to set up an interview. If the student is accepted for the internship she will work with the faculty site sponsor to discuss expectations and prepare the WRT 470 independent study form that will be submitted to registration. Each internship is equivalent to 135 hours and must be taken for 3 credits and for a letter grade.


I’m interesting in securing an internship that’s not listed on the Writing Program website.


Can you do that? It’s possible. If you are interested in an independent internship, you need to contact Faith Plvan (fsplvan@syr.edu) with a description and contact information for the internship. If the internship is approved, you will work with Faith Plvan to contact a Writing Program full-time faculty member who will be your site advisor. This should be a full-time faculty member who knows your work well.

Although independent internships during the academic year can usually be accommodated, independent internships during the summer are more challenging because full-time faculty sponsors are less available. In addition, the Writing Program does not maintain summer internships so you will need to purse the internship on your own. If you are interested in a summer internship, contact Faith Plvan as soon as possible.


Are there any special events scheduled for Writing majors?


The Writing Program sponsors annual events, such as the Intertext publication party and career panel, as well as readings and symposia. We also have a Facebook group (Syracuse University Writing Majors).

Writing majors are automatically added to our listerv so they can receive the Writing Program’s weekly newsletter, as well as invitations to the events we plan for majors each semester.


How can I meet other Writing majors?


One of the best ways to meet other Writing majors is to attend our events which are publicized on the Majors listserv and on our Facebook page. Once you have declared, you are also welcome to use the Major lounge in 024 HBC. This comfortable, secure space with lounge furniture, a microwave, and computers can be a gathering spot and a workspace for Majors.


Last modified: March 11, 2015

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