MA/MS in Technical and Professional Writing: Curriculum

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Core Courses
Technical Writing Electives
Open Electives
Final Portfolio
Thesis Option
Graduation Requirements


Our curriculum builds on the expertise and experience of scholars and professionals to teach students the latest and most relevant tools and methods to be effective as technical communicators. 

The coursework for the MA/MS in Technical and Professional Writing program is categorized into three segments of credits with the aim to balance comprehensiveness and rigor with student choice.  The program culminates with completion of a professional portfolio or research-based thesis.

Core Courses: 16 credits

4 courses form the foundation of the curriculum. These 4 courses reflect the curriculum’s balanced attention to critical academic inquiry and professionalization for work in industry, government or the non-profit sector. 

Core courses do not have to be taken sequentially, although students starting in the fall quarter are advised to enroll in WR 525 their first term.

  • WR 525 Advanced Technical Writing 
  • WR 531 Advanced Topics in Technical Writing Technologies
  • WR 532 Frameworks for Technical Writing 
  • WR 533 Research Methods for Technical Writers 

Technical Writing Electives: 20 credits

Students must take a total of 20 credits of coursework drawn from the following list of courses

  • WR 510 Selected Topics in Writing (may be repeated for credit with different topics). Recent topics include: UX Design and History of Business & Technical Writing    
  • WR 524 Grant Writing for Professional Writers
  • WR 526 Document Design 
  • WR 527 Technical Editing 
  • WR 529 Writing Computer Documentation 
  • WR 531 Advanced Topics in Technical Writing Technologies (students are strongly encouraged to take this course multiple times as topics vary). Topics may include: DITA XML, Translation & Localization Technologies, Content Management, Adobe Creative Suite, Topic-based authoring/Madcap Flare, Web Tools for Content Providers
  • WR 560 Introduction to Book Publishing 
  • WR 572 Copyediting 
  • WR 562 Book Design Software 
  • WR 566 Digital Skills 
  • WR 565 Intellectual Property and Copyright 
  • ENG 513 Teaching and Tutoring Writing 
  • ENG 514 Contemporary Composition Theories 
  • ENG 515 Research Methods in Rhetoric & Composition 
  • ENG 590 Advanced Topics in Rhetoric and Composition Studies (may be repeated for credit with different topics)
  • ENG 516 History of Rhetoric 
  • ENG 525 Practical Grammar 

Open Electives: 12 credits

Students may take any additional 500-level courses with the  WR or ENG prefix.

Students may also use open elective credits to tailor their degree to their interests using the by-arrangement options below:

  • WR 501 Research (1-4 credits)
  • WR 502 Independent Study (1-8 credits)
  • WR 503 Thesis (6-9 credits.)  Thesis credits are for students pursuing the thesis option. A minimum of 6 credits of Thesis is required for thesis option students.
  • WR 504 or WR 511 Internship
  • WR 505 Writing and Conference (1-4 credits)
  • WR 509 Practicum (1-4 credits)

Students are limited to 8 credits combined of WR 501, WR 502 & WR 505 and 8 credits combined of WR 504/WR 511 & 509.

Students with a GTA teaching appointment are required to take the following courses:

  • ENG 518 College Composition Teaching 
  • ENG 519 Advanced College Composition Teaching 
  • WR 509 Teaching Technical Communication 

Students may also do relevant graduate coursework outside of the department for open elective credit with approval from the Director of Technical and Professional Writing. Relevant courses are commonly offered in Communication, Applied Linguistics, Computer Science and the School of Business, although other units may also offer relevant courses.

Note: The MS option does not require students to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English. In cases where a student does opt to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English, the MA in Technical and Professional Writing will be awarded.

Final Portfolio

Students will be required to submit a final project in addition to completing their course work. These projects are typically portfolios that includes examples of their work. Portfolios are projects that will demonstrate a the knowledge and skills they have gained during their tenure with the program. To earn their degree students will show a competent, creative, and innovative level of production in their portfolio projects but, if a portfolio does not appeal to the student with advisor approval, the program may be completed with a single, substantive work.

Thesis Option

The default graduation completion option is the professional portfolio. If you intend to pursue the thesis option in lieu of a portfolio, you must declare your intent no later than by the end of your third quarter of enrollment, if taking courses full-time, or by the end of 24 credits, if taking courses part-time. It is up to students to find a faculty advisor qualified in the area of research to oversee the thesis project. To declare the intent to pursue the thesis option, submit via email to the Program Director and to the Program Coordinator a statement of intent that includes a working title of the thesis project, the name of the faculty advisor who will oversee the project and a timeline for completing the project. The timeline should include the institutional deadlines for thesis completion prescribed by the Graduate School.   

Graduation Requirements

The four required elements of your graduation process are: 

  • Completion of the required 48 credits of coursework.
  • A portfolio demonstrating your best work over time and across genres. The portfolio can be constructed according to your own tastes; consult with your primary program adviser about format, content, and other matters. Specifically, your portfolio should contain a copy of your résumé or C.V. as well as a brief statement of your philosophy as a technical/professional writer. Individual items in the portfolio should be introduced by a brief statement giving the context of the document (e.g., where/when you produced it, your goals for the document, your audience analysis for the document, etc.).
  • A written exam. The topic of the written exam will be based on the contents of the portfolio. Your primary program adviser will write the exam question and deliver it to you after receiving your portfolio.
  • An oral exam. The oral exam will focus on the portfolio and on your response to the written exam. The oral exam requires you to identify two to three faculty members who will serve as your faculty committee. This committee will ask questions and make comments on your portfolio and written exam response (see below).