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Technical Communication MS

About The Program

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;
  • 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.

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.

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.

We encourage those considering the Technical Communication program to arrange an informational interview with the program director before submitting an application. Please contact the MS in Technical Communication program director at

Student outcomes

  • Apply rhetorical theory and professional ethics to the analysis and creation of visual and written products.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the complexities of communicating information across cultural boundaries.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the research and theory behind technical communication principles.
  • Demonstrate use and understanding of digital technologies at a level appropriate for student’s needs and goals.
  • Analyze multiple dimensions of a communications challenge and offer alternative solutions.

How to enroll

Program eligibility requirements

  • BA/BS from an accredited institution with course work relevant to technical communication, writing, and interaction design.
    • 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 or to completing the MSTC degree. 
  • Cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale).
  • International applicants in the U.S. or abroad, on any type of visa, are required to provide proof of English proficiency (official TOEFL or IELTS score)
    • TOEFL:  Minimum 80 Internet based (21 in Writing and 19 in Reading), 550 for the paper-based test, or 213 for the computer-based test.
    • IELTS: Minimum 6.5.

Application instructions


For questions about applying to Technical Communication MS program, email (preferred) or call 651-793-1302.


We process applications on a rolling basis. Incomplete applications will roll forward to the next semester for a total of three semesters, after which you must re-apply if your file is still incomplete.


The application process is online, and we encourage those considering the Technical Communication program to arrange an informational interview with the program director before submitting an application. Please contact the MS in Technical Communication program director at

Overseas students may complete the degree online without traveling to the United States. In such cases, overseas students must meet the admission criteria and present evidence of language proficiency, as noted above for international students.

A complete application packet consists of the following parts, and all materials must be submitted and fees paid before you can be considered for full admission.

Part One - Provide to Graduate Studies Office

  • Complete the Online Graduate Application – You will use your Minnesota State StarID to complete the application. If you don't have a Minnesota State StarID you will create one at the beginning of the application.
    • If you do not have or choose not to provide your Social Security number (SSN) please follow the No SSN instructions to activate your StarID.
    • If you encounter difficulty with the online application please email
  • Non-refundable application fee
    • Current fee of $20 is waived for graduates of Metropolitan State.
  • Official transcripts indicating award of a BA or BS degree from an accredited institution, with at least a 2.75 GPA, with coursework relevant to technical communication. In some cases, relevant professional experience may take the place of relevant undergraduate coursework. Students lacking both relevant undergraduate course work and professional experience may be asked to complete a recommended course of study and reapply for admission at a later date.
  • Recommendation letters
    • Through the online admission process, submit two letters of recommendation from former or current employers or teachers. Please do not submit letters from family members.
  • Current resume or curriculum vitae
    • The admissions committee will assess relevant professional experience in addition to appropriate academic preparation.
  • Letter of application explaining your interest in the field of technical communication and the Metropolitan State program.

Part Two - Provide to MSTC Program

If you have questions about the portfolio, feel free to call the MSTC program at 651-999-5941 (Lisa McMahon) or 651-999-5817 (Tori Sadler).   

Submit your portfolio directly to the MSTC program. If your portfolio is digital, send an email to and include the portfolio link (if online) or attach a pdf. If your portfolio is hardcopy, mail or bring it to:

Metropolitan State University
700 East Seventh Street
College of Liberal Arts, Dept of TCID
St. John's Hall, Room 200
Attn: Master of Science in Technical Communication Program
Saint Paul, MN 55106

Feel free to contact the MSTC program director at with questions about the portfolio.


The portfolio consists of representative samples/excerpts of writing and design work, including papers, reports, brochures, manuals, multimedia, Web pages, and so on, created as part of professional employment or academic study. The portfolio should be no longer than 25 pages total with individual pieces no longer than 3-4 pages. (Please submit excerpts of long documents.)

Part Three - International Students Only

In addition to parts one and two, international applicants in the U.S. or abroad, on any type of visa, are required to provide this information for admission to the university.

  • Proof of English proficiency (official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo score)
    • Minimum scores: TOEFL 80 IBT, 213 CBT, 550 PBT, IELTS 6.5, or Duolingo 105-110
    • IBT=internet based; CBT=computer based; PBT=paper based
  • Financial statement (F1 visa only)
  • Immunization records
  • Copies of passport, visa, I-94, and international home address and phone numbers

Courses and Requirements


Academic progress / academic standing

To earn the master’s degree in Technical Communication, your local/Metropolitan State University (MSU) Grade Point Average (GPA) must be at least 3.0. Only courses taken at MSU or courses taken through an MSTC advisor-approved off-campus program are used in computing your GPA. Courses in which a grade of C, C-, D, F, or NC was earned will not be accepted to meet prerequisites or for credit toward the MSTC degree. (The program director may make an exception for an F that results from an Incomplete reverting to an F.) If a learning opportunity is repeated, both the grade and R (Repeat) are recorded on the transcript. If a learning opportunity is repeated once, only the higher grade is used in computing the GPA. If a learning opportunity is repeated more than once, the GPA includes all attempts except the first one. No course may be taken more than three times, including the original attempt.

Dismissal, dismissal appeals, and readmisssion

Students who are dismissed from the program may appeal their dismissal to the MSTC program director within 30 days of the date of the letter notifying them of the decision to dismiss them from the program. Appeals received after 30 days will not be considered. The appeal must be made in writing and provide specific grounds for the appeal. The program director has 30 days to respond in writing to the appeal. Students who have been dismissed from the program may apply for readmission no sooner than one calendar year after the last semester of study. To reapply, they have to complete the same process that was required for their initial admission and they must meet all the requirements of the program at the time of readmission. Readmission decisions are made by the MSTC program review committee and are not automatic.

Course requirements


Technical Communication is a multidisciplinary field, and we recognize that students will have various academic and professional backgrounds. In light of that, it's important for students in the program to begin with a common set of skills and theoretical background. This can be achieved to a large degree through experience and/or academic work in technical communication and writing, but if you lack this background you may need, at a minimum, prerequisite courses. In addition, the technical communication program director may recommend or require that you complete one or more additional courses as part of your admission to the MSTC program. Please contact the program director at if you think you might need prerequisite courses.

TCID 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.

Full course description for Technical Writing

TCID 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.

Full course description for Editing

Requirements (32 credits)

Core (20 credits)

NOTE: Students admitted for Fall 2021 and later are required to take our course in Structured Writing. In Spring 2022, Writ 599G Advanced Topics (4 credits) will have a topic of Structured Writing and will meet the Structured Writing requirement. In subsequent years, there will be a specific course (currently under development) for Structured Writing, and that course will replace 599G as the Structured Writing requirement. Students admitted prior to Fall 2021 may take Stuctured Writing in place of the previous requirement to take a "Technology-Related" course.

TCID 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.

Full course description for Technical Communication Capstone

TCID 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?

Full course description for Rhetorical Theory

Electives (12 credits)

To individualize the master's program, you select courses that will provide a minimum of 12 credits (often, this will be three 4-credit courses). Electives must be 500G- or 600-level courses and must be approved by your MSTC advisor. You have the option of choosing electives that will lead to your earning a graduate certificate (e.g., Design of User Experience/DuEx, Learner Experience Design/LXD, Project Management/PM, and others) which is in addition to the master’s degree. You can read about DuEX here and read about PM here The LXD program page is under development. Also, you may choose an independent study or an internship as an elective. Please ask your MSTC advisor about options for elective credit. Below are some popular electives to give you an idea of what is available.

TCID 531G 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.

Full course description for Advanced Writing

TCID 564G Foundations of Learner Experience Design

4 credits

This course is designed to provide an introduction to Learner Experience Design, which brings together principles of design and learning to create effective interactive training and learning experiences. The course draws on fields such as instructional design, user experience design (UXD), and learning and development. Students learn concepts and techniques to prepare them to analyze learners and learning situations and to choose appropriate strategies in order to create interactive, engaging, and effective learning experiences

Full course description for Foundations of Learner Experience Design

TCID 574G 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.

Full course description for Usability and User Experience

TCID 575G Environmental Communication

4 credits

This course focuses on environmental communication which encompasses a multidisciplinary viewpoint. The course helps students understand how environmental issues and conflicts develop, the values underlying the perspectives on these issues, how these values are presented, and the scientific and technical information involved in understanding environmental communication.

Full course description for Environmental Communication

TCID 677 User Research

4 credits

This course introduces students to designing, conducting, communicating, and evaluating user research. Students learn to form and investigate a research question, examine existing literature, use a wide array of methods, conduct effective user research, make design recommendations, and communicate research findings.

Full course description for User Research

DSCI 620 Project Management

4 credits

This course provides a systematic and comprehensive overview of project leadership and management. Topics covered include all aspects of project management from project initiation issues, RFP formulation, proposal decisions, preparation, and evaluation, project planning and implementation to organization, risk assessment, negotiation, and conflict resolution. Also included are project planning techniques such as PERT, CPM, Earned Value Analysis, and project monitoring and simulation using Microsoft Project software.

Full course description for Project Management