On this page, we will gradually add questions and answers based on student inquiries about the course. If you’d like to get something added to this page, please use this form and we’ll add your question and our answer to this page.  


  1. How do I know if this course is right for me?
    This course is designed to be right for the widest variety possible of graduate students who would like to improve their writing and communication skills, ranging from basic skills to more advanced skills in graduate school. The first module is recommended especially for international graduate students who wish to learn more about US graduate education, focusing on various aspects involving written communication, in the United States. Other modules are designed with all graduate students in mind. 
  2. Where should I start?
    Start by exploring this website, and perhaps reading some of the blog entries. If you are an SBU student, mark your calendar to register for the course during registration time and take it for credit; you can take 2, 4, or 6 modules for 1, 2, or 3 credits respectively. If you’re not a Stony Brook University student, you can complete the tasks in Module 1 (public access): Exploring the university, understanding graduate school. This module is free and available to all. The final module is also free. Both modules involve a bit more work when SBU students take them for credit. 
  3. What materials do I need for MASLOW?
    You need stable internet access, preferably broadband, a working computer, and a web browser, preferably Chrome, Firefox, or Safari in an up-t0-date version. Students taking it for credit will need access to Google Drive/Google Documents and Google Meet. Google is the email provider for Stony Brook University students and Google Apps for Education are provided to you with your email address and NET ID. For live online meetings with your professor, a webcam is useful but not necessary. No books are required to be purchased for this course.
  4. What should I do if I am not a Stony Brook student but would like to get credit for the course?
    We do not currently offer for-credit modules for students outside of Stony Brook University. That is something we will be considering to do in the future. In the meantime, we have resources for you to explore on this site. We would appreciate if you could share any feedback with the survey (Module 8) from the bottom of the home page. You can print a certificate of completion when you complete the survey.  
  5. What skills or prerequisites are recommended to do well in this course?
    To complete the public modules, no formal prerequisites are required, but knowledge of how to read and write in English beyond a basic level is certainly needed to understand what to do. A good test of this ability is your ability to understand the writing on this website. Practicing to write can improve your language, but this course will not teach you English. To succeed in the for-credit course, you need a college-level proficiency in writing in English. Pick modules to fit your level as well as need.
  6. What types of writing and how much will be required?
    The amount of writing you will do varies by module. The tasks described in the third column are required and they must be done satisfactorily to pass the modules. In addition, you can also complete more tasks by “going beyond” the required tasks for completing the course.
  7. What are modules?
    Modules are the building blocks of this experimental online course, MASLOW. They are focused around specific skills or sets of skills such as writing the literature review and annotated bibliography or pieces of writing such as those for the job market (for academic job search, you may need a resume, a cover letter, a teaching philosophy statement, and a research statement). Expect to spend about 12 hours work per module, estimating from the same amount of time in and outside class for half a credit in onsite courses. And plan to complete a module in two weeks or less.  
  8. What resources are available to students who take the course for credit?
    Students who take MASLOW for credit have available to them all the resources and privileges of any Stony Brook University student, including the Stony Brook University Library (both the physical facilities and collections and the Library website, including all digital collections and databases), and the Program in Writing and Rhetoric’s affiliate Writing Center (both the physical tutoring facility and online tutoring services). In addition, counseling (CAPS) and Career Services are available on campus and through the Stony Brook University website. The Office of Disability Services (DSS) is available to any student who needs assistance. Also available are all the online public resources that are available through the MASLOW website. Many other services are available to students (see the Stony Brook University website for details).
  9. What resources are available to people who are not taking the course for credit?
    If you are not enrolled in a Stony Brook University course for credit, the MASLOW website and all its linked public resources, including videos and blog posts, are created with your needs in mind.
  10. What is the best method to contact a professor in this course?
    For students taking the course for credit, email is the most quick and efficient way to contact the course professors. We will also respond to non Stony Brook students’ emails when time permits. For SBU students, office hours and appointments will be available through Blackboard; look for the link to make appointments.
  11. How is MASLOW different than other graduate courses in writing for graduate students (ie, WRT 621)?
    WRT 621 is a regular-semester 3 credit-hour course in the Program and Writing in Rhetoric that shares key characteristics with MASLOW, and is in fact the foundation behind MASLOW in many ways. However, MASLOW differs in its overlapping public interface that allows non-credit students to participate in some features. Modularized and online version(-M) of WRT 621 allows students to choose the areas of study that they prefer or need. It also has a flexible credit structure for those who take it for credit, allowing students to choose 1, 2, or 3 credit hours. This allows students to focus on what they want and to choose how much time they will commit to the course. And, of course, WRT 621-M is online and largely/completely asynchronous, as different instructors may require different amounts of live and onsite engagements, such as through physical/virtual meetings, attending events, participating in webinars, etc.
  12. Who can use the Stony Brook University Writing Center? How do I make an appointment?
    The Stony Brook University Writing Center has its own website. Any enrolled student may use the Writing Center. Appointments may be made online or by phone, or on a walk-in basis for student on campus. The physical facility is in the Humanities Building, Room 2007. Fully online tutoring is also available. 


  1. How can I decide what modules I need?
    If you haven’t taken at least one undergraduate-level writing course, which required full-length college essays (longer than 500-750 words) and involved feedback from an instructor, you should start with the basic/early modules. If you either believe you are meeting your writing needs in your department quite well or if you need to focus on more advanced modules, then you should make more functional choices. Note that once you indicate in the course planner survey what modules you’re going to take, you must stick to those choices (or discuss any change with the instructor).
  2. What research facilities and resources are needed to do the research required for MASLOW? How can I access these?
    You will need internet access, of course, and access to a public library or related web databases. If you take the course for credit, you will have these including full access to the Stony Brook Library and its databases. If you do not, you will find Google Scholar very useful, and all students are recommended to make use of the Purdue Online Writing Lab (commonly known as the Purdue OWL) website for information about academic citation and writing tips.  
  3. How much fluency in English and/or level of mastery of English is required to be successful in MASLOW?
    There is no language requirement to take this course. Most students who have met the university’s admission requirement in GRE and TOEFL/IELTS don’t struggle on with their language. Any lingering language issues gradually decrease while the students develop new knowledge and skills for graduate-level writing. But if your language proficiency is significantly low and you are worried you cannot follow the instruction due to it, then you should adopt strategies or take a course to improve your English.   
  4. How much of my work in MASLOW will be shared with other students in the class? Who will see my writing?
    Most of the writing that you do for this course is shared among the full class. We will get your permission to share your writing beyond the course platforms.
  5. What formats are recommended or required for the writing I will submit in MASLOW?
    When posting your writing on the discussion forum (on Blackboard), you don’t need to worry about format and grammar or mechanical issues. When submitting your writing on Google Docs (add your file inside the folder provided), also linked from Blackboard, follow the APA or MLA format consistently.



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