Program Overview

The Master of Science in Technical Communication is an innovative 32-credit program that provides advanced training in the professional practice and theory of technical communication. The program has been designed to:

  • help you succeed in this rapidly-evolving profession, within a global marketplace;
  • prepare you for upper-level positions in technical communication as managers, supervisors or consultants; and
  • enable you to solve complex communication problems for a variety of audiences, in a variety of media.

In addition to being useful to technical communication professionals, this program may also help people in a variety of fields, including education, graphic design, training, marketing, multimedia development, science and engineering. You learn how to use your knowledge in practical, on-the-job situations; and all of the professors combine academic excellence with their own real-world experience.

In keeping with Metropolitan State's commitment to working adults, the master's program in technical communication offers flexible scheduling with evening and weekend classes, and program flexibility to suit individual professional goals.

About Technical Communication

We are surrounded by technological change in our schools, in the workplace and in our homes. To many people, just trying to keep up with the pace of change is a major challenge. But with change comes opportunity. Technical communicators understand that opportunity. They fill the gap between people and technology, between specialized information and those who want to use it. It's a growing field that helps people cope with technology and technical information in a variety of settings.

In many ways, technical communication is a skill set that allows individuals to fill many roles within organizations.

Areas of expertise for technical communicators include:

  • document design
  • content development and design for digital media
  • writing and editing
  • project management
  • usability and usability testing
  • information management and
  • cross-cultural communication

The demand for technical communication skills and expertise has grown consistently, in all segments of industry, government and nonprofit organizations. There is also a growing need for professionals within the field to take leadership roles as managers, supervisors and consultants.

Advising

Academic advisors for this program are resident faculty who teach in the technical communication program. As a newly-admitted student, you confer with your advisor to lay out a course of study that includes:

  • prerequisite course work, if any;
  • a curricular plan: the recommended sequence of courses, based on your circumstances and the university's course scheduling; and
  • electives and focus area: special interests within the field of technical communication, if any, that you can address through course work and recommended electives.

Graduate Student Worker

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available for students in the master's program. Students with assistantships help faculty with teaching, special projects, and program administration.

Electives

To individualize the master's program, you select up to three 4-credit electives. These electives must be 500G- or 600-level courses and must be approved by your advisor. You can select electives from fields such as writing, media studies, communication, business/management, computer science, natural sciences, and ethics. There are also opportunities to earn a certificate in the Design of User Experience or in Project Management. You may choose an independent study or an internship as an elective. We particularly recommend internships if you have limited professional experience.

More information about this program

Admission Criteria

Admission to the program is based on the following criteria:

  • BA/BS from an accredited institution with course work relevant to technical communication. In some cases, professional experience may take the place of relevant undergraduate course work. (Students lacking both relevant undergraduate course work and professional experience may be asked to complete a recommended course of study as a prerequisite to graduate work.)
  • Cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale).

Application Requirements

  • Graduate Application
  • Non-refundable application fee (waived for graduates of Metropolitan State University)
  • Official transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Current resume
  • Letter of application
  • Portfolio

See Applying to the Program for application packets and details on the requirements and deadlines.

Transfer Credits

With your advisor's permission, you may apply to your degree as many as two courses (no more than eight graduate credits) from other accredited graduate programs.

Additional Information

Accreditation

Metropolitan State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Higher Learning Commission
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60602-2504
312-263-0456

Faculty

Anne Aronson, Helen Correll, Craig Hansen, (Technical Communication Program Director), Maythee Kantar, Kathryn Kelly, Ed Lee, Alison McGhee, Brian Nerney, Becky Omdahl, Erica Rasmussen, Victoria Sadler, Shannon Skarphol Kaml, Gail Smogard, Suzanne Walfoort, and Kathy Wellington.

Contact Information

Communication, Writing and the Arts
Metropolitan State University
Energy Park Place, Suite 205
1380 Energy Lane
Saint Paul, MN 55108
651-999-5940

Additional Program Information 


How Admissions Works

We are looking forward to you joining us. Take the first step by filling out this application.
Course List

Prerequisites

It is important that students in the program begin with a common set of skills and theoretical background. This can be achieved to a large degree through professional technical communication experience. If you lack this experience and have not completed a directly relevant course of study in your undergraduate degree program, you will need, at a minimum, the following prerequisite courses:

In addition, the technical communication program director may recommend that you complete one or more additional courses before beginning the master's program.

  • WRIT 271 Technical Writing
    3 credits

    In this course, students create a variety of documents, including technical memos, manuals, proposals and reports. Emphasis is placed on document design, effective organization and readability. This course especially benefits managers or technical employees who need to communicate technical information to business or general audiences.

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  • WRIT 371 Editing
    4 credits

    This course covers editing principles and techniques. Topics include how readers use and comprehend texts, the editor's role in the publication process, the writer/editor relationship, and editing for organization, format, style, grammar, punctuation, usage, consistency and accuracy. Students edit a variety of texts, including technical documents and newsletter articles in print and online.

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Requirements ( 32 total credits)

Course work for the Master of Science in Technical Communication falls into two categories: core courses and electives.

  • Please verify that your Course List is separated by ',' (comma) or 'OR'

Core Courses (20 credits)

Course work for the Master of Science in Technical Communication falls into two categories:

  • WRIT 685 Rhetorical Theory
    4 credits

    Rhetorical theory can be loosely defined as the theory of effective communication. This course begins with a review of key figures and texts in the history of Western rhetoric, while also introducing some non-Western rhetorical traditions. It then turns to more contemporary issues, including the rhetoric of visual messages and electronic media, feminist rhetoric, and the politics of technical rhetoric. Questions addressed include: What is the relationship of rhetoric to morality? What are the social and political constraints on any rhetorical act?

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  • WRIT 671 Technical Communication Theory and Research Seminar
    4 credits

    This course surveys scholarship in the field of technical communication. Research examined includes theoretical works, scholarship drawn from the empirical study of particular sites, and practically-oriented publications (designed to address issues of relevance for practicing professionals). Prerequisite: enrollment in a graduate program.

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  • WRIT 673 Technical Communication in International Contexts
    4 credits

    This course is designed to explore how technical communication functions in international contexts. The course explores the following areas of study and praxis: cultural theory, acculturation, organizational culture, international rhetorical theories, translation, kinesics, and international design and usability.

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  • WRIT 683 Technical Communication Capstone
    4 credits

    This course is designed to enable graduate students in technical communication to effectively review, synthesize and demonstrate the skills and theories they have learned during their master's coursework. It is also designed to be a "culminating experience in which students are expected to integrate special studies with the major, and extend, critique, and apply knowledge gained in their major" (Wagenaar, 1993). Students should have completed all of their coursework before embarking on this course.

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Technology-related Class

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • WRIT 676 Advanced Writing and Designing for the Web
      4 credits

      This class focuses on effective communication through websites. Topics covered include writing for the web, website design and production, usability and usability testing. Students use professional software tools. Some previous experience in developing websites is helpful.

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    • MDST 583G Online Education and Training
      4 credits

      This course is designed to provide information and experience integrating media into training and education with an emphasis on instructional design, online communities, and online collaboration. Students learn concepts and techniques to enable them to analyze various online learners and learning situations and to choose appropriate approaches.

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Electives

To individualize the master's program, you select up to three 4-credit electives. These electives must be 500G-, 600-, or 800-level courses and must be approved by your advisor. You can select electives from fields such as writing, media studies, communication, business/management, computer science, natural sciences and ethics. Popular electives include WRIT 599G Topics in Technical Communication, WRIT 572G Document Design, MGMT 620 Organizational Behavior, DSCI 620 Project Management, MDST 580G Issues in Communication Technology, and WRIT 575G Environmental Communication. You may choose one independent study or an internship as an elective. We particularly recommend internships if you have limited professional experience.

  • Please verify that your Course List is separated by ',' (comma) or 'OR'