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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
  Oct 20, 2020
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

English Writing - Nonfiction Track, BA

English Writing

The University of Pittsburgh’s Writing Program is the oldest and one of the largest in the United States, offering tracks in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and journalism. There is a wide variety of classes, and the maximum size is 22. The Writing Program has a full-time faculty of widely published writers, several visiting writers each year, and a number of part-time faculty who are senior reporters or editors at Pittsburgh newspapers and magazines. Graduates of the writing program include editors at major daily newspapers and publishing houses and winners of the Pulitzer Prize and other major awards.

For more information on the Department of English and the majors in English literature and in English writing, see

Major Requirements

A minimum of 33 credits is required: 21 credits in English writing courses and 12 in English literature courses.

Majors must choose one of three tracks: fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. In most cases, students will take other writing courses as well. Each track consists of three levels of courses. The introductory courses (0500s) offer a broad introduction to the skills required of writers in a particular area and generally should be taken no later than the first term of the junior year. The intermediate courses (1000s for fiction, 1200s for poetry, 1300s for nonfiction) refine and develop those skills. The senior seminars (1700s) provide a capstone experience for the student writer. Students should check prerequisites carefully before registration.

Nonfiction Track


Elective courses may be taken in another track if the student wishes.

Approved English Literature (ENGLIT) courses

Additional information and requirements

  • A minimum grade of C or better (not C-) is required in a 0500-level writing course to advance to the first 1000-level course in that track. Students who earn less than a C in their first 1000-level course may not advance to other courses in that track. Moreover, students must earn a C or better (not C-) grade in their senior seminar or internship course.
  • Students are encouraged to take additional writing and literature courses beyond the required minimum. Courses in film studies, women’s studies, business, and technical writing are particularly useful for English writing majors.
  • The Writing Program recommends related areas in second languages, literature in translation, or linguistics; a related area in history or political science is appropriate for students concentrating in journalism.
  • Completion of at least one composition course is required for enrollment in a writing program course.
  • ENGWRT 0400 - INTRO TO CREATIVE WRITING  and ENGWRT 0411 - INTRO TO CREATIVE NONFICTION   are optional introductory courses and may be taken during the second year by students who have recently declared a major in writing, are seriously considering writing as a major, or are taking their first 0500-level course. ENGWRT 0400  can only count as an elective towards the Writing degree if taken before ENGWRT 0520  or ENGWRT 0530 . Likewise, ENGWRT 0411  may be taken as an elective before ENGWRT 1330  (Nonfiction I).
  • There is no limit on the number of courses English majors may take on an S/NC basis, either inside or outside the department.
  • English writing majors automatically fulfill Dietrich School requirements for W courses. Students pursuing a second major are required to complete an additional W course for that major.
  • Students who contemplate graduate study in English should remember that many schools do require second language competence, sometimes in more than one language.

The English department confers honors on those graduates who maintain a 3.25 overall GPA with a GPA of 3.50 or better in English department courses. The GPA is based on all English department courses, not just those that fulfill major requirements.

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