Program Overview

The major in Technical Communication and Professional Writing provides students with a foundation in the writing, editing, research, and digital communication skills that are essential for writing professionals in industry, government, non-profit, and freelance careers. Faculty who teach in the program combine academic and workplace experience, educating students in both ideas and implementation, principles and practice.

In addition to completing a core curriculum, students select a track in either Technical Communication or Professional Writing to complete the major.

Technical Communication Track: Technical communication is a growing field that has become an increasingly important mediator between technologies and the people who use them. Students completing this track take classes in technical writing, advanced Web writing and design, the use of instructional media, and trends in communication technology. The Technical Communication track prepares students for careers in growing areas such as web content development and design, online education and training, technical editing, technical marketing communications, and product documentation.

Professional Writing Track: The Professional Writing track prepares students to become creative, versatile, and digitally savvy communicators who understand how to write and edit in both print and electronic environments. Students in this track take classes in writing for publication, as well as writing for social media and multimedia. They also choose from a rich array of electives, including courses in grant writing, freelance writing, book publishing, public relations writing, and screenwriting. The Professional Writing track prepares students for careers in such fields as nonfiction writing and editing, grant writing, writing for marketing or public relations, employee communications, web content development, and print and electronic publishing.

More information about this program

Declare Your Program

To be eligible for acceptance to the Technical Communication and Professional Writing major, students must submit a College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Program Declaration Form. Consult with an advisor before enrolling in courses toward the major.

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Requirements

Courses required for your specific program are listed in the right column on this page. They include prerequisite, foundation, core, and elective courses. Contact SCWA Advising at 651-999-5965 with questions about this major.

How Admissions Works

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

Prerequisites

Technical Communication Core Curriculum - Prerequisites (4 credits)

  • WRIT 301 Professional and Technical Writing Careers
    2 credits

    Students learn about the skill set required to succeed professionally and how they might acquire these skills through coursework. They also learn about career opportunities for professional writers and technical communicators through presentations by guest speakers and readings. Students also begin to develop an online portfolio.

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  • WRIT 280 Digital Tools for Writing and Communication
    2 credits

    This class begins with students self-assessing their digital skills in several areas, including design for print and digital documents; web tools; visual tools; and project management tools. Students work with the instructor to create a learning contract with the goal of acquiring tools in a certain number of these areas. In order to acquire knowledge of these tools, students complete online tutorials. Only offered S/N.

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Requirements ( 120 total credits)

Technical Communication Core Curriculum Required Courses (23-24 credits)

  • INFS 315 Searching for Information
    4 credits

    A student completing this course understands the process of finding, synthesizing, evaluating, and documenting sufficient and reliable information appropriate to a variety of purposes including upper division coursework, senior capstone papers or professional writing, and communication tasks. Students also explore a number of the contemporary issues surrounding information in society, have opportunities to use and/or visit primary resource collections and learn a variety of research techniques. Specific sections of the course will structure assignments around a course theme identified in the class schedule. Prior themes have included Civil Rights, Holocaust and Genocide, Crime and Punishment, Food, Immigration, and Health Care. Both themed and non-themed sections are offered every semester as are online and in-class sections.

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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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  • WRIT 372 Document and Information Design I
    4 credits

    Methods and techniques of document and information design, including principles of graphic design, audience analysis, portfolio development, and use of professional software tools.

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  • WRIT 373 Writing and Designing for the Web I
    4 credits

    This course introduces students to the principles, processes, and techniques of front-end Web development. Students gain solid knowledge and practical skills in HTML, CSS, website genres, design patterns, Web writing, and usability. Students will analyze and build websites. Students must already possess basic satisfactory digital literacy, such as managing files and folders, and adding and removing programs.

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  • WRIT 350I Writing Individual Internship
    0 credits

    Students obtain internships in selected areas of study to gain deeper understand of knowledge, skills and the context of a given field. Faculty members serve as evaluators and liaisons between the internship sites and the university, providing information to students and potential supervisors and supervising the learning experience. Internships normally earn between one and four credits, require 40 work hours per credit, and may be served through a standard hours/work schedule or with flexible work hours.

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  • WRIT 461 Writing and Technical Communication Capstone
    4 credits

    This class provides a bridge between academic study and professional careers in writing or technical communication. Students assess and reflect on their academic study; research and write a non-fiction essay, produce a capstone project, and complete a writer's portfolio. Projects may focus on a wide range of topics, including writing-related careers.

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Technical Communication Track Requirements (15 credits)

  • 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 573 Writing and Designing for the Web II
    4 credits

    This course builds on knowledge and skills learned in WRIT 373 (e.g., HTML, CSS, web writing) and expands training of technical skills and Web development strategy. Advanced topics include content strategy, responsive design for mobile interfaces, information architecture, user experience, and extensive training of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and jQuery. Elements of Web strategy and collaborative work are also covered. Students use professional software tools. Students must possess intermediate or advanced digital skills.

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  • WRIT 574 Usability and User Experience
    4 credits

    This course focuses on usability and user experience for technical and information products. Students learn concepts, principles, processes, and methods of usability and user experience. Students work in teams and conduct a usability study systematically to improve an information product. Topics also include usability in business and organizational settings, usability workflow and governance. Students will also interact with user experience professionals.

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  • MDST 580 Issues in Communication Technology
    4 credits

    This course is concerned with the impact communication technologies have had and continue to have on human societies. The course begins with a brief examination of two technologies that have had a profound impact on how people think about communication. It looks at the background and impact of current technologies. And it also looks at new and emerging technologies - such as hypermedia, neural nets, virtual reality - speculating about how these technologies will change people in the near future and later in the twenty-first century.

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  • MDST 583 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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Technical Communication Track Electives (4 credits)

  • WRIT 377 Writing Proposals and Grants
    4 credits

    This course offers a rhetorically-based, process-oriented approach to strategic, effective writing of proposals and grants for individuals and organizations. The course is designed primarily for writers, artists and technical communicators who expect to find themselves, as freelancers or as employees, seeking funding for a variety of programs and projects in academic, nonprofit or corporate situations. This course provides a systematic process for analyzing audiences, writing needs statements and finding sponsors all within an electronic context.

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  • MDST 485 Communicating with New Media
    4 credits

    This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to effectively promote and advocate for events, organizations, or issues using a variety of social media and multi-media. Students will combine online writing (or blogging) with other forms of social networking and media (wikis, YouTube, Facebook, and/or Twitter) to build a comprehensive online initiative promoting a timely and relevant issue or event either of their choosing or provided by the instructor. Students will increase their knowledge of online rhetoric, audience research, planning for media events, script or treatment writing, and evaluation of communication programs.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • MDST 580 Issues in Communication Technology
    4 credits

    This course is concerned with the impact communication technologies have had and continue to have on human societies. The course begins with a brief examination of two technologies that have had a profound impact on how people think about communication. It looks at the background and impact of current technologies. And it also looks at new and emerging technologies - such as hypermedia, neural nets, virtual reality - speculating about how these technologies will change people in the near future and later in the twenty-first century.

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  • WRIT 531 Advanced Writing
    4 credits

    This course focuses on the theory and practice of writing across genres. The course examines what genre is and why its an important concept for those who seek flexibility and versatility as writers. Students create a complex project of some length that incorporates a variety of genres to communicate a message. In addition, the course focuses on prose style, including practice in imitation, use of rhetorical devices, sentence and paragraph variety, and many other topics. Additional assignments include a multimedia project.

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  • WRIT 571 Advanced Editing
    4 credits

    In this course, students hone and refine editing skills on a variety of levels. Topics include electronic editing, using electronic resources, dynamics of the editor-writer relationship, editing information graphics, advanced copyediting and developmental editing. Class exercises cover grammar, punctuation, and usage issues. Each student works with a writer to edit and develop an original text.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • WRIT 574 Usability and User Experience
    4 credits

    This course focuses on usability and user experience for technical and information products. Students learn concepts, principles, processes, and methods of usability and user experience. Students work in teams and conduct a usability study systematically to improve an information product. Topics also include usability in business and organizational settings, usability workflow and governance. Students will also interact with user experience professionals.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • Please verify that your Course List is separated by ',' (comma) or 'OR'
  • WRIT 599 Advanced Topics
    0 credits

    This course presents topics of interest to students in the undergraduate and graduate Technical Communication and Professional Writing programs. Topics vary with each offering of this course. Check the class schedule for details about topics and course prerequisites. This course may be taken any number of times for credit as long as the topic is different.

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Professional Writing Track Requirements (8 credits)

  • One of the following classes is required:
    • WRIT 341 Writing the News in a Digital World
      4 credits

      In this course, students analyze principles and methods of news gathering and reporting for web, broadcast and print news media. They then prepare a weekly schedule of reporting assignments, similar to those that might be completed by a newsroom intern. Students also complete several major assignments employing various news writing styles for digital, broadcast and print media.

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    • WRIT 342 Writing for Online and Print Magazines
      4 credits

      This course covers the critical skills needed to write articles for magazines, whether print or online. In addition, students learn by analyzing a variety of magazines. Topics include brainstorming and proposing story ideas, targeting writing to a specific audience, gathering research, sharpening skills for story organization, and writing for a variety of online environments.

      Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • MDST 485 Communicating with New Media
    4 credits

    This course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to effectively promote and advocate for events, organizations, or issues using a variety of social media and multi-media. Students will combine online writing (or blogging) with other forms of social networking and media (wikis, YouTube, Facebook, and/or Twitter) to build a comprehensive online initiative promoting a timely and relevant issue or event either of their choosing or provided by the instructor. Students will increase their knowledge of online rhetoric, audience research, planning for media events, script or treatment writing, and evaluation of communication programs.

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Professional Writing Track Electives (12 credits)

One class from the following:

  • WRIT 341 Writing the News in a Digital World
    4 credits

    In this course, students analyze principles and methods of news gathering and reporting for web, broadcast and print news media. They then prepare a weekly schedule of reporting assignments, similar to those that might be completed by a newsroom intern. Students also complete several major assignments employing various news writing styles for digital, broadcast and print media.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • WRIT 342 Writing for Online and Print Magazines
    4 credits

    This course covers the critical skills needed to write articles for magazines, whether print or online. In addition, students learn by analyzing a variety of magazines. Topics include brainstorming and proposing story ideas, targeting writing to a specific audience, gathering research, sharpening skills for story organization, and writing for a variety of online environments.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • WRIT 377 Writing Proposals and Grants
    4 credits

    This course offers a rhetorically-based, process-oriented approach to strategic, effective writing of proposals and grants for individuals and organizations. The course is designed primarily for writers, artists and technical communicators who expect to find themselves, as freelancers or as employees, seeking funding for a variety of programs and projects in academic, nonprofit or corporate situations. This course provides a systematic process for analyzing audiences, writing needs statements and finding sponsors all within an electronic context.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • WRIT 531 Advanced Writing
    4 credits

    This course focuses on the theory and practice of writing across genres. The course examines what genre is and why its an important concept for those who seek flexibility and versatility as writers. Students create a complex project of some length that incorporates a variety of genres to communicate a message. In addition, the course focuses on prose style, including practice in imitation, use of rhetorical devices, sentence and paragraph variety, and many other topics. Additional assignments include a multimedia project.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • WRIT 532 Writing about Place
    4 credits

    This course explores questions such as, How does place shape a writer's voice? How do writers see nature in urban environments? Students use memory, imagination, research, experience and analysis to write about places important to them. Students work toward achieving advanced skills in creative nonfiction, an individual written voice, and a thoughtful approach to place and environment. Prerequisites: a 300-level Writing course or instructor's consent.

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  • Please verify that your Course List is separated by ',' (comma) or 'OR'
  • WRIT 571 Advanced Editing
    4 credits

    In this course, students hone and refine editing skills on a variety of levels. Topics include electronic editing, using electronic resources, dynamics of the editor-writer relationship, editing information graphics, advanced copyediting and developmental editing. Class exercises cover grammar, punctuation, and usage issues. Each student works with a writer to edit and develop an original text.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • Please verify that your Course List is separated by ',' (comma) or 'OR'
  • WRIT 583 Writing Major Projects
    4 credits

    This independent study examines the principles and techniques of writing substantial professional or creative projects such as longer business documents, articles, grant applications, proposals, and works of fiction or creative non-fiction. Through consultations with the instructor, students determine their specific organizational or stylistic problems. Evaluation is based on written projects. Students should have in mind a writing project of either one long piece or several short ones on related topics. Course may be repeated for credit.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • WRIT 599 Advanced Topics
    0 credits

    This course presents topics of interest to students in the undergraduate and graduate Technical Communication and Professional Writing programs. Topics vary with each offering of this course. Check the class schedule for details about topics and course prerequisites. This course may be taken any number of times for credit as long as the topic is different.

    Course Outline Class Schedule <<<<<<< HEAD ======= >>>>>>> 35179410ff55d83bece68cc1d84aadaa0fa744b8
  • INFS 338 The Craft and Commerce of Book Publishing
    4 credits

    This course considers books, like universities and libraries, part of "the knowledge industry," and emphasizes the gatekeepers who decide matters of a book's authorship, publishing, and readership. By tracking the evolution of the book pre-Gutenberg to the current e-book environment, we will explore the evolving publishing industry in society. In our exploration of the field of publishing, we will combine readings and discussion with field experiences. You will have the opportunity to meet with and ask questions of guest speakers who work in various aspects of the publishing industry.

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  • COMM 380 Public Relations Writing
    4 credits

    This class provides practical experiences in public relations writing. Focusing on written communications in major Public Relation genres. This class will incorporate a workshop approach, with emphasis on weekly assignments that are critiqued and discussed as a class. We will focus on producing clear, concise writing that is accurate, organized and targeted to specific audiences.

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  • MKTG 348 Advertising Copywriting, Design and Production
    4 credits

    In advertising and marketing today copywriting is more important than ever. Effective copy needs to cut through the clutter, whether it's used for ads, social media, web sites, email blasts, video scripts, direct mail or brochures. The focus of this course is learning how to write compelling copy, incorporating positioning, creative briefs, research, features and benefits, creation of an advertising premise and copy organization. Writers are often expected to do it all, so the course also covers design basics and production terminology and practices.

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