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Online Certificate Programs in Teaching Writing

Mar 19, 2020

Certificate programs in teaching writing are typically at the graduate level and build upon an existing bachelor's degree (or higher). Explore program and course information with this article.

What Does a Teaching Writing Certificate Entail?

A graduate certificate in the teaching of writing should not be confused with a graduate certificate in writing. The latter hones one's personal and professional writing skills, while the former not only helps the writer to write better, but also supports the writer's desire to learn to better teach writing skills to others. Teaching writing certificates employ the same graduate-level coursework that you would encounter on the pathway to earning a master's degree. A graduate certificate in teaching writing differs from a graduate degree in that the cost and time requirements for a certificate are less than that of a master's degree, and the academic focus is more centralized to a specific topic.

This graduate-level certificate is suitable for working professionals in K-12 public and private school sectors, as well as for those desiring to teach writing at the post-secondary level. When looking at specific school programs, you should note the target teaching audience. Some programs are designed specifically for teaching certain grade levels: e.g., junior high and high school, but not elementary school.

Earning Your Certificate in Teaching Writing

With the exceptions of summer intensives and residency options, you can complete your graduate certificate in teaching writing (also referred to as a graduate certificate in composition studies) completely online. Pursuing the online learning option still provides graduate-level coursework, feedback, and collaborative writing and curriculum assignments.

Teaching Writing Certificate Program Admission and Completion Requirements

Because certificates in teaching writing are generally offered through a college or university graduate school, you should expect to meet your school of choice's graduate admission requirements. Aside from a bachelor's degree and official transcripts, there may be minimum GPA requirements. You will likely need to provide a CV (curriculum vitae), application essay, letters of recommendation, and one or more writing samples. Previous teaching experience at any level may be necessary.

Typically, these programs require about 20 credits of coursework before completion. This means that you can earn your certificate in 12 months or less, though programs often give more than a year for completion to allow for self-pacing. Successful completion of the program may stipulate a minimum grade requirement of a B or higher in all applicable coursework. Since you will already be completing graduate-level coursework, should you decide to pursue a master's degree in a related field, you may be able to transfer some of the credits that you earn to the master's.

Common Courses

Teaching Writing and Composition

This is often a core course in the pursuit of the teaching writing certificate. Not only does this coursework explore the theories that influence the pedagogy of teaching writing, it will likely also include instruction in classroom organization, teaching styles, creating and evaluating assignments, and grammar studies.

Literacy Studies

This coursework has a tendency to be research, theory, and analytically focused as it takes an in-depth look at scholarly works on literary literacy. Students may be encouraged to conduct their own research while taking a critical look at literacy issues within communities and at the individual level.

Linguistics and Multicultural Writing

Offered together or as separate courses, these subjects delve into the cultural, political, historical, and institutional influences on what is considered ''correct'' English language usage or acceptable dialect and whether or not students, as writers, have a right to use familial English in composition studies and application without censor.

Other course options may include:

  • Rhetoric and composition
  • Theories in teaching and writing
  • Teaching college writing
  • Research in composition or teaching practices
  • Creative nonfiction writing

Graduate Certificate in Teaching Writing Program Outcomes

Whether you are teaching already or aspire to teach in some capacity in the future, there are many benefits to completing a teaching writing certificate program. Commonly, teaching writing programs adhere to the National Writing Project's core belief that teachers of writing must themselves write. Thus, several of the courses taken during a program will typically involve the creation of and/or expansion upon your own works. This process of creating, revising, receiving and giving feedback are experiential learning tools that can be useful as you instruct others, while also providing the opportunity for you to create or add to your own writing portfolio.

By learning alongside an online cohort of teachers and writers of varying disciplines, professional and creative levels, you will have the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences that, along with scholastic application, will aid you in determining best practices in teaching and writing to a range of ages and academic levels. Although this graduate certificate does not confer a license to teach in any given state, it can be used by those who have a teaching degree to acquire a specialization in teaching writing, or can be earned in conjunction with a teaching degree, sometimes with transferable credits, for a teaching writing focus. Additionally, the graduate certificate in teaching writing can serve as professional merit for positions that do not require licensure (e.g., some private schools, colleges, or writing series that are open to the general public).

Teaching writing online programs provide pedagogical theory and instruction, personal and professional writing development, and similar peer-to-peer interactions that campus-based programs offer, but with the flexibility to learn off-campus at your own pace. They do not result in a teaching license, but can be used by current and aspiring teachers to achieve specialization in helping others become quality writers.

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