Writing and Learning

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Graduation Writing Requirement

The Graduation Writing Requirement (GWR) is a CSU-mandated program that requires students to achieve and demonstrate a level of writing proficiency expected of college graduates.  All Cal Poly students who are seeking a degree, including those seeking master’s degrees and teaching credentials, must fulfill the GWR before a diploma can be awarded. 

  • Undergraduate students with 90 or more completed units should attempt to fulfill the GWR before their senior year.
  • Graduate and postbaccalaureate students should attempt to fulfill the requirement during their first quarter of residency in order to be advanced to candidacy.

How to Confirm You Are Eligible to Fulfill the GWR:

Because the GWR is an upper-division requirement, students cannot fulfill the GWR until after they have completed 90 units and have junior standing. Before pursuing GWR completion through either a GWR-designed course or the UNIV 401 GWR Portfolio, students should check their Degree Progress Report (DPR) or Poly Profile to confirm they are eligible to do so.

If a student is not yet eligible to fulfill the requirement:

  • In the DPR, the "Grad Writ Req" section will includ a "GWR REQ Message" that states that the student is not yet eligible to meet the GWR as they have not yet completed 90 quarter units.
  • In the Poly Profile, the Milestones box under the "Career Programs Plan" section will list "Ineligible/Required" to indicate a student has not yet completed 90 quarter units and is therefore not yet eligible to fulfill the GWR. 

Once a student has completed 90 quarter units and has reached junior standing, the "Grad Writ Req" section of the DPR will show a message about GWR eligible courses, and the Poly Profile Milestones box will chance to "Eligible/Required."

What Options Are Available For Fulfilling the GWR:

  1. Earn a C or better in a GWR-certified upper-division course, with a C or better on the major GWR writing assignment and at least 35% of the final grade based on the cumulative grade of all writing projects; OR,
  2. Earn credit for UNIV 401: GWR Portfolio, a 0-unit course that carries a $35 fee. The GWR Portfolio consists of three required documents: one writing reflection of 500 or more words and two independently completed writing artifacts of 750 or more words with an earned grade of C or better from any Cal Poly credit-bearing upper-division (300-, 400-, or 500-level) course. UNIV 401 is offered all four quarters.

Visit the GWR-certified Courses or GWR Portfolio webpages for more information, or contact the Office of Writing and Learning Initiatives, for more information.

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Academic Preparation and Placement

Cal Poly adheres to the CSU's placement practice, which evaluates multiple measures of pre-college academic performance to determine placement in first-year English and math courses. Cal Poly also offers summer support courses in compliance with the CSU's Early Start Program to help incoming first-year students prepare for a successful college experience. More information is available on the Academic Preparation and Placement webpage

Academic Support

The Writing and Learning Initiatives Office offers a comprehensive menu of academic resources designed to ensure optimal educational opportunities for diverse student populations: peer consultants offer free tutoring in any course or subject, peer-led supplemental workshops and study sessions provide support for STEM-specific courses, and the online Study Strategies Library offers a collection of resources to help you achieve your learning goals. More information is available on the Academic Support Programs webpage

Graduation Writing Requirement

All degree-seeking Cal Poly students, including a Master's degree or teaching credential, must fulfill the GWR. Undergraduate students must complete 90 units before they can attempt to fulfill the requirement and should do so before the senior year. The two pathways to GWR completion are 1) in an approved upper-division course and 2) via the GWR Portfolio. More information is available on the GWR webpage