Technical Communication MS

College of Liberal Arts
Graduate degree / Master of Science

About this 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 techcomm@metrostate.edu.

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.

Enrolling in this program

Program eligibility requirements

  • 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).
  • 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: Your most recent score must be at least 80 Internet based (with at least 21 in Writing and 19 in Reading) or at least 550 for the paper-based test or at least 213 for the computer-based test.
    • IELTS: Your most recent score must be at least 6.5.

Application instructions

Deadlines

March 10 - Summer admission deadline

June 1 - Fall admission deadline

October 1 - Spring admission deadline

Application

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 techcomm@metrostate.edu

A complete application packet consists of the following parts, and all materials must be submitted before you can be considered for full admission to the Master of Science in Technical Communication program.

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 graduate.studies@metrostate.edu
  • 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 techcomm@metrostate.edu and include the portfolio link (if online) or attach a pdf. If your portfolio is hardcopy, mail or bring it to:

Master of Science in Technical Communication Program
School of Communication, Writing, and the Arts
1380 Energy Lane, Suite 205
St. Paul, MN 55108

Feel free to contact the MSTC program director at techcomm@metrostate.edu with questions about the portfolio.

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 or IELTS score)
    • Minimum scores: TOEFL 80 IBT, 213 CBT, 550 PBT or IELTS 6.5
      • 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
  • Visit International Student Services graduate admissions for part three details.


Submit materials to the Graduate Studies Office via mail using the mailing address below or by email to graduate.studies@metrostate.edu

Contact Information
Graduate Studies Office
1501 Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55403
graduate.studies@metrostate.edu

Master of Science in Technical Communication Program
School of Communication, Writing, and the Arts
1380 Energy Lane, Suite 205
Saint Paul, MN 55108
techcomm@metrostate.edu 

Program requirements

Academic progress / academic standing

To earn the master’s degree in Technical Communication your local/Metropolitan State University Grade Point Average (GPA) must be at least 3.0. Only courses taken at MSU or courses taken through an approved off-campus program are used in computing your GPA.  Grades below C cannot be used to meet prerequisites or program requirements. At a minimum, course grades must be C (not C-) or higher to meet program requirements. Courses in which a mark of C-, D, F, was earned will not be accepted for credit toward the MSTC degree. 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. Students who receive a grade higher than a C- may not repeat the learning opportunity without the approval of the program director. No course may be taken more than three times.

Dismissal, dismissal appeals, and readmisssion

Students who receive a grade of F in a required course must re-take the course and pass it in order to complete their program and graduate. Students who are dismissed from the program may appeal their dismissal to the 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

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, these 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.

Full course description for Technical Writing

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.

Full course description for Editing

Requirements (32 credits)

Core (20 credits)

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.

Full course description for Technical Communication Capstone

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?

Full course description for Rhetorical Theory

Technology-related

Choose one

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. You may choose one independent study or an internship as an elective. We particularly recommend internships if you have limited professional experience.