Writing and Learning Initiatives

Optimizing academic support and achievement

GWR FAQs

When am I eligible to meet the GWR?
Undergraduate students can satisfy the GWR after completing ninety units of coursework, usually when students reach their junior year. Graduate and post-baccalaureate students who do not meet criteria for a GWR substitution should meet the GWR during the first quarter in residence.  Those students eligible to fulfill the requirement receive an email explaining how to satisfy the GWR either by coursework or by submitting a GWR Portfolio (*note: the portfolio has replaced the Writing Proficiency Exam).
When is the best time to meet the GWR?
Students should attempt to satisfy the requirement immediately after completing ninety units of coursework. If reading and writing skills need development, students then have time to grow as writers before their second attempt to meet the requirement prior to graduation. Graduate and post-baccalaureate students who do not meet criteria for a GWR substitution should meet the GWR during the first quarter of residence; graduate students may not be advanced to candidacy without completion of the GWR.
What do I have to do to be GWR-certified in a course?
GWR-approved courses are offered every quarter. Upon enrollment in a GWR-designated course, you must inform your instructor of your wish to fulfill the GWR through the class. Students must earn a C or better on the GWR-specified major writing assignment and earn a final course grade of C or better with at least 35% of the final grade based on the cumulative grade of all writing projects.
May I take a GWR course Credit/No Credit?
Yes, GWR-approved courses may be taken credit/no credit, but the earned, or input, grade must be a C or better and students must be certified writing proficient by the instructor. Note: Graduate students must earn the equivalent of a B- to earn credit for the course; they are therefore expected to earn the equivalent of a B- should they elect to enroll in the course as CR/NC and intend to fulfill the GWR in the course. 
How will I know if I've fulfilled the requirement once I take a course or Submit A Portfolio?
You may verify GWR completion on your PolyProfile page the Friday after grades are due. Your GWR status appears in the Career Program Plans section under Milestones Completed.
What if I don’t fulfill the GWR before graduation?
The GWR is a degree requirement and your diploma will be withheld until you have fulfilled the GWR. You can participate in graduation ceremonies, but you won’t receive your diploma.
What if I am a returning student after some years out of school and I satisfied the requirement many years ago?
Your fulfillment of the GWR remains valid.

Related Content

Fall Quarter Updates


Academic Support 

September 20 - December 08

*Tutoring is available both in person and virtually; study sessions and supplemental workshops are virtual for fall quarter. For more information, click here.

Graduation Writing Requirement

*A GWR Portfolio has replaced the WPE; for more information, click here

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