Frequently Asked Questions

The Writing Seminars

Which courses and credits fulfill the writing requirement?

Only Writing Seminars offered by the Princeton Writing Program fulfill the writing requirement. Neither creative writing courses, Freshman Seminars, nor other courses, taken at Princeton or elsewhere, fulfill the requirement. Likewise, AP credit or other test credits may not be counted toward fulfillment of the writing requirement. No one is exempted from this requirement, because all writers, no matter how prepared or gifted, can benefit from additional practice and intensive feedback.

Do Writing Seminars fulfill distribution requirements?

The Writing Seminar is one of the 31 courses AB students must complete to graduate, and one of the 36 courses BSE students must complete to graduate. The Writing Seminar fulfills the writing requirement, one of Princeton's general education requirements, but not distribution requirements. This is because Writing Seminars use the topic of the course as a vehicle for students to practice writing skills, not as the primary object of study. To keep the focus on writing, reading is limited in Writing Seminars and no attempt is made at comprehensive coverage of a subject area.

How many courses should students enroll in besides the Writing Seminar?

Students assigned to a Fall Writing Seminar should enroll in three other courses. AB students assigned to a Spring Writing Seminar are encouraged to take the Writing Seminar alongside three other courses, while BSE students take it alongside four. When planning their program of study, students should keep in mind that the Writing Seminar is a very challenging course.

Can the Writing Seminar be taken Pass/D/Fail?

All Writing Seminars must be taken for a letter grade. To receive credit for the course and thereby fulfill the writing requirement, students must both complete all of the assigned essays in a timely fashion and earn a passing grade in the course.

Is there is an add/drop period for Writing Seminars?

Under ordinary circumstances, students may not drop the Writing Seminar at any time during the term. Students who believe that their circumstances are unusual enough that an exception to this policy should be made should speak with their residential college Dean or Director of Studies, as well as the Director of the Writing Program.

Can students take a Freshman Seminar in the same term in which they take a Writing Seminar?

Yes, absolutely. Although both Writing Seminars and Freshman Seminars are small and topic-based, and allow for personal interaction with the professor, Writing Seminars focus on the skills necessary for critical reading and writing, whereas Freshman Seminars focus on covering a subject area. As long as students' schedules permit, they should feel free to take a Freshman Seminar in the same term in which they're enrolled in a Writing Seminar.

What happens if students miss a class?

Because Writing Seminar instruction proceeds by sequential writing activities, consistent attendance is essential. Students who incur more than four absences in their Writing Seminar may not complete the course. 

The Writing Seminar Enrollment Process

Will enrolling first increase my chances of getting one of my top choices?

No, the enrollment process is not first come, first served. Your chances of getting one of your top choices are the same, no matter when you submit your choices during the enrollment period.

What if I need to change my enrollment preferences after I’ve submitted them?

You may change your enrollment preferences any time during the enrollment period by visiting the Writing Program website, clicking on “Enroll in a Writing Seminar,” and entering your revised preferences. The new set will overwrite the old.

No revised preference lists will be accepted once enrollment has closed. If you wish to switch seminars after you receive your assignment, you may submit an online request during the Seminar Change period.

Whom do I call if I have trouble enrolling in a Writing Seminar?

Feel free to contact the Princeton Writing Program at (609) 258-2702 or writing@princeton.edu.

I want to make sure I'm not randomly assigned to a Writing Seminar. What do I do?

Submit your choices online during the enrollment period, and choose at least a few seminars that meet at 8:30am and 7:30pm.

What happens if I forget to enroll in a Writing Seminar during the enrollment period?

You will be assigned to a Writing Seminar with open spaces, regardless of topic. But to help you remember, the Princeton Writing Program will send you reminder emails.

May I shop Writing Seminars?

No. Once you've been assigned to a Writing Seminar, the enrollment process is over. You will, however, have the chance to request a seminar change before classes begin (see the Fall or Spring enrollment schedules).

May I switch from one Writing Seminar to another? If so, how do I do it?

You may request a change from one seminar to another before classes begin by filling out an online request form (see Seminar Assignment Changes), but space is limited and not every request can be accommodated.