Distinction in Writing

The Distinction in Writing program encourages Writing majors to explore opportunities in addition to the regular curriculum. While the major prepares you with the fundamentals a you will need to succeed, we recognize that the most successful students pursue a wide variety of experiences and accomplishments. Often these out of class activities enrich our lives, shape us, help us to be the active, creative, humane people we aspire to be. The Distinction in Writing program recognizes those students who pursue and achieve excellence beyond the classroom.

This program may best be understood as an extended series of independent studies. The guidelines for how you must complete the program are specific, but a variety of activities and avenues are possible to complete the program. Many suggested activities in one component might fulfill the requirements for another component. So, while the framework is firm, the specifics are quite flexible.


Any Writing major is eligible to participate in the program. There is no official “enrollment” required, but you must express the intent to pursue the program by submitting a form to a departmental advisor. Ideally, you will begin planning for this program in concert with your advisor in the sophomore year, and you should be able to complete all components in two years. Participation becomes officially recognized only upon completion, which is signaled by your submission of a final portfolio to the advisor. At that time, your GPA must be at least 3.0 in the Writing major.

Student's Responsibilities

This program is based entirely on the initiative of the student. Participation is encouraged, but not required. Therefore, it is your responsibility to seek and complete appropriate activities, retain any required documentation, and keep in regular contact with your advisor. We provide the framework, but you enact the program.

Role of the Advisor

When you express interest in the Distinction in Writing program, your advisor should encourage you by providing guidance towards activities might best suit that your writing skills, interests, and experience. You and your advisor should be comfortable enough with each other to discuss frankly the your strengths and weaknesses in a constructive working relationship. The advisor should act as a mentor, first to help understand your vision, and then to help guide you toward the realization of that vision.

Important Submission Deadlines

Your Distinction in Writing portfolio must be submitted to your advisor no later than the following dates:

  • Fall Graduation: November 1
  • Spring Graduation: March 15

Because your advisor is likely to have feedback for revision, you should get a solid draft to her well before those deadlines.


Choose four of five program components to complete. In addition, you must also complete a final portfolio.

Each component allows you to apply your writing skills and talents to a specific and significant project. In order to receive credit for a component within the program, you must finish either one (1) Level A activity or two (2) Level B activities.

The activities listed under each component below are offered as suggestions. You and your advisor should not limit yourselves to the listings alone, but instead should use the activities as a guide toward tailoring the program and the specific activities to suit your writing skills and experience Many of the activities within the components will likely have a certain degree of overlap with one or more of the other components. You will work with your advisor to ensure you complete the program with a broad range of activities represented.

Time Commitment

The total time commitment should be roughly equivalent to two additional courses.

Typically, Level A activities require a semester-long commitment while Level B activities require a brief but still substantial commitment. Two Level B activities should be roughly “equal” to one Level A activity when considering time and the eventual product. The final designation is the responsibility of the advisor.


Those students who complete the program and meet all requirements will be honored at graduation with a notation in the program as well as a departmental Honor Cord. In order to be recognized at graduation, the program must be complete by the time your graduation audit is requested. Additionally, the Writing department will sponsor a luncheon honoring those students and their families, and the students’ names will be added to a plaque in the Writing department.

Portfolio Contents

Because the Distinction in Writing program is flexible, allowing students to participate in events and experiences that reflect their unique interests and talents, there is no standardized "look" or table of contents for the portfolio. It is up to students, in consultation with their advisors, to provide evidence of completion of the program by assembling a portfolio that includes a résumé, narrative, and artifacts following these general guidelines:


  • The portfolio must include a résumé that highlights a student's engagements with the various parts of the program.
  • The résumé might make mention of internships, volunteer commitments, descriptions of major projects, honors/awards, publications or presentations, or other Distinction in Writing related work.


  • The portfolio must include a brief (no more than two single-spaced pages) reflection that introduces the artifacts included in the portfolio and describes the student's engagement with the program.
  • The audience for this reflective narrative is the Writing Department generally--faculty and students who are interested in learning more about participants engagement with the program. 
  • The narrative should make clear which four program components the student completed.


  • The portfolio must include a selection of between four and eight artifacts that were generated during the student's engagement with the four chosen components of the program.
  • The artifacts chosen may include publications, internship projects, or journals or brief reflections about Distinction in Writing activities. 
  • At least one artifact from each completed component of the program must be included in the portfolio. 

Submission Guidelines

  • The student is responsible to compile and keep track of the documents in the portfolio.
  • The portfolio is due to the student's advisor on the date of the portfolio deadline.
  • The portfolio will be read by the advisor to verify the student's successful completion of the Distinction in Writing Program. The portfolio will also be reviewed by a second faculty reader in the Department of Writing. 
  • The completion form must be signed by the advisor, a second faculty reader, and the student and be included in the portfolio. 
  • Upon the student's graduation, the Department of Writing will retain the portfolio for assessment and archival purposes. Thus, students participating in the program are responsible for keeping copies or extra original of all artifacts submitted in the portfolio. 

Page last modified November 20, 2017