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Technical Communication MS

About The Program

The Master of Science in Technical Communication is an innovative 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.

Learn more about the Technical Communication MS at our Zoom information session.

To individualize the master's program, you select three 4-credit electives. 

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.

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 content.
  • 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 structured writing and 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

  • Bachelor's degree 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 specified courses, either prior to being admitted for graduate work or prior 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
    • 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.
    • Duolingo English: Minimum overall exam score 105. Official score report comes into the Metropolitan State University dashboard from Duolingo.

Note: Overseas students may complete the degree online without traveling to the United States. In such cases, overseas students must meet the admission requirements and present evidence of language proficiency. 

Application instructions

Questions?

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

Deadlines

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.

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.

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 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:

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 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, 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

SKIP TO COURSE 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-, D, F, or NC was earned will not be accepted to meet prerequisites or 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. 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.

Requirements (32 credits)

+ Prerequisites

Technical Communication is a multidisciplinary field, and 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. Below are two courses most often suggested as prerequisites. If you think you might need to take one or both of these, please contact the program director at techcomm@metrostate.edu before registering. (This is especially important if you are using financial aid.)

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

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

+ Core (20 credits)

NOTE: Students admitted for Fall 2021 and later are required to take our course in Structured Authoring, which will be added to the catalog in Fall 2022 and will replace TCID 599G in the list of required courses.

Technical Communication focuses on creating and reshaping content to make it usable and accessible to the people who need this content to achieve their goals. The course combines a survey of scholarship in the field of technical communication with practice in creating various types of goal-oriented, often task-based, content. Students learn how to use research tools to gather information on technical topics and from subject matter experts.

Full course description for Technical Communication Practice and Applied Theory

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

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) along with the master’s degree. 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.

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

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

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

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