Intensive Writing (IW) courses provide unique opportunities for students to study and practice academic writing. While IW classes may have distinct themes, the main focus of all IW classes is writing itself. These courses aim to build students’ writing skills and confidence in expressing their own voices in argument, analysis, research, and more. In IW classes, students can expect frequent feedback and support from their professors in a small class environment.

Broadly speaking, they will learn about:

  • writing processes, including revision
  • how to write arguments and analysis
  • how to transfer writing skills to other classes
  • drafting clear and organized prose
  • reading strategies
  • how to research and cite sources properly
  • writing to specific audiences
  • the norms of academic genres
  • developing a voice in academic writing

The Difference Between Intensive Writing and Writing Attentive

Amherst College does not have a first-year writing requirement beyond First Year Seminars, which are often tagged as writing attentive. The writing attentive label means that writing is one of the goals of the class. In contrast, writing is the main focus of an Intensive Writing class, and you can expect to spend a great deal of time working on your writing both inside and outside of class.

You will be able to tell the difference between these two types of classes because writing attentive tags are applied to many courses in a range of departments at all levels; there are often more than 100 courses at Amherst each semester that carry this tag. Intensive Writing courses are usually 100-level courses that accommodate 12-15 students and indicate that writing is the main topic of the course in both the title and the course description. There are usually only a few courses at Amherst each semester that carry this designation.


Intensive Writing Courses

Spring 2024

ENGL-120/EDST-120: reading, writing, teaching

This course functions as an introduction to academic writing at Amherst College. As an intensive writing course, the main topic of the course is writing itself. Students will also study what it means to read and write and learn and teach both for ourselves and for others. Monday/Wednesday, 12:30-1:50 pm. Professor Reardon.

ENGL-121/EDST-121: writing the college experience

This course functions as an introduction to academic writing at Amherst College. As an intensive writing course, the main topic of the course is writing itself. Students will also study belonging and community in the college context, with a focus on reading and writing as part of a practice of making meaning of the college experience. Monday/Wednesday, 3-4:20 pm. Professor Reardon.

A map of a section of campus with the main quad in the center

Sites of Writing

Amherst College has a number of places on campus that offer writing support and opportunities—and provide students the opportunity to reflect on their writing goals for college and beyond. Find where the these sites are located on our campus map.

An exterior photo of teh Frost Library

Intensive Writing Events

Alongside The Creative Writing Program, the Writing Center, and The Common, the Intensive Writing Program co-sponsors monthly writing events to support student writers at any stage of the writing process.

Kristina H. Reardon

Kristina H. Reardon

Director of the Intensive Writing Program and Senior Lecturer in English

Johnson Chapel Room 003

Kristina Reardon is a senior lecturer in English and Education Studies and serves as the director of Intensive Writing. Read Kristina’s faculty profile to learn more.