Upper-Level Writing Requirement

LSA and a few other colleges require students to complete the Upper-Level Writing Requirement (ULWR) with an approved ULWR course which must be taken at the UM-Ann Arbor campus. The goal of the Upper-Level Writing Requirement (ULWR) is to teach students to recognize and practice the range of writing activities and forms typical of academic and professional contexts.

Before enrolling in an Upper-Level Writing Requirement course, students must first complete the First-Year Writing Requirement with a C- or better. A C- or better is also necessary in a designated ULWR course to fulfill the requirement.


Transfer credit is not accepted, as the ULWR course must be taken at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. The Sweetland Center for Writing offers a range of courses that support transfer student writing, and are designed to be taken at the same time as a ULWR course; they do not themselves fulfill the Upper Level Writing Requirement. These include Writing 350 and two courses specifically for multilingual and international students, Writing 240 and Writing 340.

ULWR Course Goals

In ULWR courses, students learn to:

  • build on skills and strategies developed in first-year writing courses;
  • produce complex, analytical evidence-based arguments that address specific audiences;
  • refine their ability to write effectively both within and beyond specific disciplines;
  • use feedback to improve their writing through revision;
  • demonstrate familiarity with the genres and conventions characteristic of effective writing.

Writing assignments in ULWR courses:

  • require a substantial amount of polished writing, usually between 25 and 40 pages (7500-12,000 words) over the course of the semester (or the equivalent in digital media projects), though this may vary among disciplines;
  • take a variety of forms typical of academic and professional writing in particular fields, including projects that incorporate collaboration, digital media, or other relevant genres;
  • integrate writing with course content;
  • are sequenced throughout the semester to facilitate the development of ideas and concepts;
  • provide clear and explicit guidelines to help prepare students for challenging rhetorical tasks;
  • include a clear indication of when and how writing-related instruction will take place during lecture and/or discussion;
  • provide at least three structured opportunities for students to receive feedback on their writing-in-progress, and requiring substantial revision of at least 50% of their writing.

ULWR Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take my First-Year Writing Requirement (FYWR) and the Upper-Level Writing Requirement (ULWR) at the same time?
No. You can only complete the ULWR after you have successfully completed the FYWR with a C- or better.

What grade do I need to fulfill the Upper-Level Writing Requirement?
A course grade of C- or better is required to fulfill the ULWR.

Can I take my Upper-Level Writing Requirement as pass/fail?
Yes, your grade can appear on your transcript as pass/fail. However, you must still receive a final course grade of C- or better to fulfill the ULWR.

Does English 225 count for my Upper-Level Writing Requirement?
No. English 225 does not fulfill the ULWR for LSA students. However, it does fulfill the ULWR for School of Music, Theater, and Dance students.

Can transfer credit fulfill the Upper-Level Writing Requirement?
No. Only designated courses taken through U-M-Ann Arbor are acceptable.

I took a course to fulfill the Upper-Level Writing Requirement but it isn’t showing up on my record. How can I correct this?
Verify that the course was an approved ULWR course during the term you selected it. Go to the LSA Courseguide, choose the correct term and “Upper Level Writing” from the Skills/Req drop-down menu. If the course does not appear on this list, it was not an approved ULWR course and you will need to complete a course that is approved to fulfill the ULWR.

If the course was approved to fulfill the ULWR, email sweetlandulwr@umich.edu your name, UMID number, course and section number, and the term you completed the course in the email. A Sweetland staff member will investigate the situation and let you know the status.

I’m a graduating senior and I’m unable to fit an approved Upper-Level Writing Requirement class in my schedule this semester. What can I do?
If you have at least 100 credits toward graduation, you may request the Sweetland Center for Writing’s approval to use an unapproved U-M course to fulfill your Upper-Level Writing Requirement. To do this, please submit an Individual Arrangement Petition before the third week of classes.

Can I use my honors thesis to fulfill the ULWR?
Students completing an honors thesis can opt to count it toward their ULWR by filling out an Honors Thesis Intent Form and submitting it to the Honors Office, 1330 Mason Hall.

Can any other special arrangements be made to fulfill the ULWR?
Students with a minimum of 100 completed credits who want to take a non-approved course to fulfill their ULWR can fill out an Individual Arrangement Petition, and submit it to Sweetland in 1310 North Quad. Petitions are due one week before the drop/add deadline of the semester in which the student wishes to elect the course and must be approved by Sweetland Administrators.

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