Online master's degree programs in technical writing are available through graduate schools at four-year colleges and universities, and they may be offered fully online or in hybrid formats. They usually take one to three years to finish, depending on a student's enrollment status and the program requirements.
These programs provide writers with advanced knowledge and practical application in rhetorical theory, editing, documentation and design. In addition to coursework, some programs may also require on-site internships.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, and they must submit writing samples. Some schools also require a resume and evidence of professional experience.
Master's Degree in Technical Writing
Students interested in pursuing a master's degree must have a bachelor's degree prior to admission. Most schools expect applicants to submit writing samples as part of their application materials. Some programs are designed for individuals who want to enter the technical writing occupation, but others are more focused on advancing the skills of those who already work as writers. In these cases, schools may require submission of resumes or other documents that emphasize professional experience in communications.
Program Information and Requirements
Distance learners use a variety of online tools in a virtual classroom setting to complete coursework. These include lecture notes or videos, assignments, discussion boards and chat rooms. Some schools may use video or audio conferencing software for real time communication between students and instructors.
Technical writing master's degree programs usually do not have on-campus requirements, but some offer the option to complete an on-site internship for those students who wish to gain real-world experience. Other schools may allow students to complete some course seminars on campus if desired.
Students are required to complete core classes that include theory and research in professional communication, editing and visual design. Other course topics include publications management, studies in digital media, specialized documents, proposal writing and document design. There may be additional elective courses in the following areas:
- Creative writing
- Content management
- Health communications
- Technical publications
- Corporate communications
- Web design
- Technological change
Completion of the program may be dependent on a final project, portfolio or written exam.
Online master's degree-holders in technical writing are qualified for mid-level positions in a variety of fields; however, technical writing positions are typically concentrated in the following areas:
- Software design
- Technical communication
- Human resources
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for technical writers were expected to grow faster than average, at a rate of 10% between 2014 and 2024. Most of the expected growth in technical writing comes from the increased need for technical writers in the rapidly growing high-tech and electronics industries. The BLS reported that these professionals earned an average wage of $73,350 annually as of May 2015.
To summarize, online master's degree programs in technical writing are highly interdisciplinary, combining studies in written and visual communication, technology, and industry-specific applications of the field. Prospective students looking for scheduling flexibility may benefit from programs offered in fully online formats.