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English Composition Program

Ohio University has a “tiered” writing requirement for undergraduate students. Students take ENG 1510, Writing & Rhetoric I in the first year.

Undergraduates take a second, advanced composition course at the junior or senior level called a “J” course. Many of these J courses are taught by the English Department, while other departments offer their own courses. Students also may complete two “JE” (Junior Equivalency) courses in lieu of a J course. English “J” courses include ENG 3080J, Writing and Rhetoric II, ENG 3090J, Writing in the Sciences, ENG 3100J, Writing about Environmental Sustainability, and ENG 3030J, Writing, Reading, and Rhetoric in the Professions.

For more information about the composition program, contact Dr. Mara Holt, Director of Composition.

First-Year Composition Requirement

English 1510: Writing and Rhetoric

The First-Year Composition course at Ohio University is ENG 1510, Writing & Rhetoric I. Throughout the semester, students write and revise three to four essays that cover a variety of topics such as communication, gender, race, ethnicity, social issues, and important issues facing professional fields. A few sections of English 1510 meet in computer classrooms each day of class while other sections visit computer labs for assignments on an as needed basis.

Junior Composition Requirement

English 3060J: Women and Writing

English 3060J is a writing course that deals with works about, written, or read by women. Various methods are used to teach this course; past instructors have had their students write memoirs, read and explicate literary texts, critique the portrayal of gender stereotypes in film and popular culture, interrogate sexuality, and discuss feminist theory.

English 3080J: Writing and Rhetoric II

English 3080J is the Junior-level cognate of English 1510. As in First-Year Composition, students work on honing rhetorical reading and writing skills through in-class discussion, peer critique, revision, and extensive informal and formal writing. Topics and required texts for this course vary widely, depending on the instructor and their preferences. This course is recommended for students who are not majoring in technical professions.

English 3090J: Writing in the Sciences

This course provides students in the sciences with an opportunity to practice writing within their majors. It focuses on how to review prior research, how to propose research projects, how to incorporate research results into final reports, and how to write clearly and concisely.

English 3100J: Writing about Environmental Sustainability

Readings, film screenings, discussions (oral and online), along with research and writing are focused on relations between people and the environment, primarily but not exclusively, in our regional environment. Students explore mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, the natural history of the region's forests, industrial food systems and "locavore" (agri)culture. The approach is "ecological" in the sense of attempting to understand our complex interrelationships with the natural and artificial systems we rely on and of which we are a part. The course takes a similar approach to environmental rhetoric and uses rhetorical analysis as the main means of mapping connections among informative, persuasive, and creative discourse on these topics.

English 3030J: Writing, Reading, and Rhetoric in the Professions

This course examines rhetorical theory in professional writing, such as the role of context, audience, and purpose in creating documents, and ethical decision making in professional writing. Students engage in writing and reading critically, writing individually and collaboratively, and writing formally and informally.

Composition Exemption Exams

Ohio University does not currently offer an exemption exam to get out of the First-Year Composition requirement. However, a Junior Composition Exemption Exam is currently offered for Ohio University students from catalog years 2018-19 and earlier. The exam is offered once a year in the fall semester on the Saturday following the first week of classes and takes place 9:45 a.m. to noon.

For the exam students will be asked to write an analytical essay based on a text/texts distributed when the exam begins. This essay is scored on whether it demonstrates exceptional writing and critical thinking and how well it displays the competencies taught in the Junior Composition courses, including an understanding of rhetorical appeals and audience awareness, context, and purpose.

The exam is free, but students will not be permitted to take the exam unless they have already registered. Interested and eligible students should register for the exam in the fall semester during the first week of classes in the English Department Office, Ellis 201, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Students can only take the exam once.

Any additional questions can be addressed to the Composition Exemption Exam Coordinator, Dr. Heather Edwards, at

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