Writing Requirements

The Core Curriculum requires students to take two writing-intensive courses at Notre Dame. Although these requirements have numbers, they are not sequential and can be taken in either order. Half of the first-year students will take a University Seminar during the first semester while the other half will take a Writing and Rhetoric course (or elective if they have AP or IB credit for Writing and Rhetoric). In the second semester, students who took a University Seminar first semester will take Writing and Rhetoric (or elective if they have credit for Writing and Rhetoric) and vice-versa.


Writing 1: University Seminar

All students satisfy the Writing 1 requirement by taking a University Seminar (USEM) during their first year. The USEM can be taken in either the first or second semester. USEMs are offered in numerous disciplines and can be double-counted for one of the following Ways of Knowing required by the Core Curriculum:

  • Art

  • Literature

  • History

  • Social Science

  • Philosophy

  • Quantitative Reasoning

  • Theology

Descriptions of the USEMs being offered in the upcoming semester can be found here. Students should select USEMs that interest them. All USEMs can double-count for another Core requirement. It is not more efficient to take a Philosophy or Theology USEM than a USEM in any other discipline.

Writing 2: Writing and Rhetoric or Writing-Intensive Course

Students satisfy the Writing 2 requirement by taking Writing and Rhetoric (WR) during their first-year. Students with AP or IB credit for WR can either waive their credit and take WR or take a writing-intensive course in a discipline. This writing-intensive course is usually taken after the first year and, in some cases, can double-count with another Core requirement or a college or major requirement.

A score of 4 or 5 on the AP English Language and Composition exam or a score of 6 on the IB English Higher Level exam earns credit for WR. Notre Dame does not grant credit for the AP English Literature exam.

There are three types of Writing and Rhetoric courses. Students can choose to take whichever type interests them most. Please note that enrollment in WR 13200 is very limited.

  • Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13100): These sections are designed to help students learn how to identify an issue amid conflicting points of view and craft an argument based on various sources of information. They stress the identification and analysis of potential counter-arguments and aim to develop skills for writing a research proposal, for conducting original research, and for using print and electronic resources from the library.

  • Community Based Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13200): These sections teach students the same skills as WR 13100 and also place them in learning situations in the wider community in cooperation with the Center for Social Concerns.

  • Multimedia Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13300): These sections teach students the same skills as WR 13100 and also teach them how to make the most of a wide array of technological resources that address the challenges of composing in the 21st century.

  • Advanced Writing and Rhetoric (WR 13400): These sections are designed to help students continue refining the interpretive, analytical, and composing skills developed through 1) attendance in WR 13100 or 2) a qualifying AP or IB score consistent with university policies.