The Writing Across the Curriculum Program (WAC) collaborates with MIT faculty and departments to teach written, oral, and visual communication to over 4000 students a year in more than 100 communication-intensive subjects.
The WAC program is devoted to teaching students how to analyze and produce effective communication. Communicating effectively as a professional–to colleagues, managers, potential funders, and the public–requires conceptual knowledge about how to explain complex and specialized information and how to persuade an audience in many different fields, social contexts, and media. In addition to technical knowledge, MIT graduates need to know how to analyze audiences and attend to differences in discourse conventions, how to analyze and produce specialized genres and forms of argumentation, and how to compose, evaluate, and integrate oral, written, visual, and digital modes of communication. The Writing Across the Curriculum Program researches these concepts and professional practices, develops new pedagogy, and assesses how students learn, apply, and transfer this knowledge.
MIT’s Communication Requirement provides the backbone for this learning process, by requiring each student to take two subjects designated as communication-intensive in SHASS (CI-Hs), and two more in their major (CI-Ms). Students can also choose or be required to take CI-H subjects that focus specifically on rhetoric, writing, and communication as the core content (CI-HWs).
To assess the writing abilities of incoming students and ensure students’ communication instruction begins at an appropriate level, the WAC program develops and administers the Freshman Essay Exam and the Graduate Writing Exam, through an online system we created with a grant from Microsoft.
Read more about the history of WAC at MIT, and about our program philosophy.
Instructors: Please visit our Teaching Writing and Communication site for more information on collaborating with WAC lecturers, developing a Communication-Intensive subject, and integrating communications instruction into your classes. Our Research section offers an overview of central theories and empirical studies in Writing and Communication Studies, as well as an introduction to WAC’s ongoing research projects.