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The Writing Requirement

A student taking notes in class

Each first-year student is required, during her first or second semester at Smith, to complete with a grade of C- or higher at least one writing-intensive course. Based on their level of proficiency, students will be directed toward appropriate intensive writing courses. Ada Comstock Scholars and transfer students are also required to complete at least one writing-intensive course, with a grade of C- or higher, during their first two semesters at Smith. The writing requirement can be satisfied before matriculation based on transcript review by the registrar, in conjunction with the writing committee.

Writing Requirements

Writing intensive courses will devote a significant amount of class time to teaching students to write with precision, clarity, economy and some degree of elegance. That is to say,

  • to articulate a thesis or central argument, or to create a description or report, with an orderly sequence of ideas, apt transitions, and a purpose clear to the intended audience;
  • to support an argument and to enrich an explanation with evidence;
  • when appropriate, to identify and to evaluate suitable primary and secondary sources for scholarly work, demonstrating awareness of library catalogues and databases and of the values and limitations of Internet resources;
  • to incorporate the work of others (by quotation, summary or paraphrase) concisely, effectively and with attention to the models of citation of the various disciplines and with respect for academic integrity;
  • to compose paragraphs that are unified and coherent;
  • to edit work until it is orderly, clear and free of violations of the conventions of standard written English (grammar, usage, punctuation, diction, syntax).

For the bachelor of arts degree, there are no further required courses outside the student’s field of concentration. The college does, however, make two demands of the student: that she complete a major and that she take at least 64 credits outside the department or program of her major. Furthermore, students who wish to become eligible for Latin Honors at graduation or who wish to have Liberal Arts Commendation indicated on their transcripts must elect at least one course (normally four credits) in each of the seven major fields of knowledge:

  • Literature
  • Historical studies
  • Social science
  • Natural science
  • Mathematics and analytic philosophy
  • The arts
  • A foreign language

Each student has the freedom and responsibility to choose, with the help of her academic advisers, a course of studies to fit her individual needs and interests. The curricular expectations and requirements for the degree therefore allow great flexibility in the design of a course of study leading to the degree.