The Graduate-Level Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

About the Graduate GWAR

The Graduate GWAR is a CSU wide requirement that should be completed by graduate students before advancing to candidacy.

The purpose of the GWAR is for students to demonstrate their proficiency at writing in an academic setting at a graduate-level. The GWAR requires a two-step process:

Step 1: Receive a GWAR Placement

Step 2: Complete the culminating experience for the graduate program


The Graduate GWAR Placements

The GWAR Placement (Step 1) determines whether students will need additional writing instruction or assistance before completing their culminating experience. The placements (90/80/40) are described below:

 90   Step 1 of graduate-level GWAR met through Option A equivalency standards.

 80   Step 1 of graduate-level GWAR met through Option C WPG test placement.

 40   Step 1 of graduate-level GWAR not met through WPG; students must do one of the following:

  • Alternative 1: Retake the GRE/GMAT exam and obtain a score of 4.5 or better on the analytical writing section. Then file a waiver form with the Office of Graduate Studies (see Option A below).
  • Alternative 2: Earn a grade of 'B' or higher in a GWI course in their graduate program which meets the GWI guidelines (see Option B below).
  • Alternative 3: Earn a grade of 'B' or higher in ENGL 220W, a graduate writing seminar which meets the GWI guidelines. For more information about ENGL 220W, click here.

Step 1: Receive a Graduate GWAR Placement 


All graduate students must complete the first step of the GWAR process before they may advance to candidacy. Graduate students must choose one of the three options below to complete the Graduate Level GWAR.


Option A: Meet Equivalency Standard

If students meet one of the equivalency standards listed below, they must complete the waiver form (available here), attach the appropriate accompanying materials, and submit everything according to the instructions on the form upon entry to the university.

Equivalency Standards

  • Have an M.A./M.S., Ph.D., or J.D. from a US-accredited university or equivalent degree with coursework in the English language as evaluated by the Office of the Graduate Dean (attach copy of school transcript with degree noted).

  • Published a refereed first-or single-authored academic journal article in the English language (attach a copy of the journal/publication cover and first page of the article with your name).

  • Graduated with a baccalaureate degree or equivalent from a US-accredited university with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 or above (attach copy of school transcript).

  • Received 4.5 or higher on the analytical writing portion of the GRE/GMAT (attach verification).

  • Have been Instructor of record of a college-level writing course taught in the English language at a US-accredited university approved by the Office of the Graduate Dean.

Option B: Successfully Pass a GWI in Graduate Program

Students must earn a grade of B or higher in a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in the student’s graduate program.

The GWI course immerses graduate students in the discourse of their academic or professional discipline and prepares them to participate effectively in that discourse. The general learning goals of the GWI courses are:

  1. Understand the major research and/or professional conventions, practices, and methods of inquiry of the discipline

  2. Understand the major formats, genres, and styles of writing used in the discipline

  3. Practice reading and writing within the discipline

  4. Practice reading and writing as a learning process that involves peer and instructor feedback, revision, critical reflection, and self-editing

Not all graduate programs have a GWI course available for their students. Students should check with their graduate advisor to see if a GWI course may soon be available in their program at this time. 

For program-specific GWI courses, students must be accepted into that graduate program (e.g. to enroll in BIO 220, students must be accepted into the Biology graduate program) to enroll. The department may also set additional prerequisites that students will need to fulfill before they enroll in the GWI class. All students should check with their program advisors. Please note: A grade of B or better must be earned in the GWI course to satisfy the Graduate level GWAR. 

The following courses have been approved as GWI courses:

  • ART 206- *Fall 2011
  • BIO 220
  • COMS 213- *Fall 2013
  • CRJ 200
  • CHDV 242- *Spring 2012 **retro Fall 2011 (EDGR 260  *Spring  2013)
  • CHEM 200-  **retro Spring 2014
  • EDGR 260- BMED, CHDV, MA-School Psychology, SPED *Spring 2013
  • EDLP 250- *Fall 2011   **retro Fall 2010
  • ENGL 200A- Literature, Creative Writing, +Composition (Fall 10-  Spring 12)
  • ENGL 220A- Composition *Spring 2013 **retro Fall 2012
  • ENGL 200D- TESOL
  • GEOL 200- *Spring 2011 **retro Fall 2010
  • HIST 200 - History
  • HIST 203 - Public History
  • LIBA 200C- *Fall 2012 **retro Spring 2012
  • MBA 202 - Business Administration
  • ME 209
  • MUSC 201- *Fall 2012
  • NURS 209
  • PPA 200- PPA *Spring 2011 **retro Fall 2010
  • PPA 220A- MS-ULD *Spring 2011
  • PT 208-MPT
  • PT 608- DPT *Fall 2012
  • PSYC 200- PSYC *Fall 2017 **retro FAll 2016
  • SOC 214- *Fall 2013
  • SPHP 242A- *Fall 2015
  • SWRK 250- MSW

*Effective dates (all other courses effective Fall 2010)

** Retroactive for students enrolled in GWI course for term.

Option C: Take the Writing Placement for Graduates (WPG) Exam

The WPG will ask writers to read a selection of texts that will represent a variety of genres typical in scholarly and professional writing, such as graphs, charts, tables, bulleted lists, and scholarly prose and then compose two essays based on the ideas in these texts. 

For more information about the WPG, please see The Writing Placement for Graduates Exam page here.

Step 2: Complete the Graduate Program Culminating Experience

Once students receive a GWAR Placement, meet any requirements indicated by that placement, and complete their graduate program culminating experience, they have satisfied the Graduate-Level GWAR.

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