Future technical writers can find training options at the undergraduate and graduate levels, along with some distance learning options. Educational programs can be found at public and private 4-year universities around the country.
10 Schools with Technical Writing Programs
These ten schools offer some form of technical writing education to students:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Programs Offered||In-state Tuition (2015-2016)*|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando, FL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$6,368 (undergraduate), $8,872 (graduate)|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing, MI||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$13,560 (undergraduate), $16,122 (graduate)|
|Pennsylvania State University||Abington, PA||4-year, Public||Undergraduate Certificate||$13,954|
|University of Washington - Seattle Campus||Seattle, WA||4-year, Public||Undergraduate Certificate||$11,839|
|University of North Texas||Denton, TX||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Graduate Certificate, Master's||$9,730 (undergraduate), $7,165 (graduate)|
|North Carolina State University at Raleigh||Raleigh, NC||4-year, Public||Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's||$8,581 (undergraduate), $10,224 (graduate)|
|George Mason University||Fairfax, VA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Graduate Certificate, Master's, Doctorate||$10,952 (undergraduate), $13,304 (graduate)|
|San Francisco State University||San Francisco, CA||4-year, Public||Undergraduate Certificate, Bachelor's||$6,476|
|Texas State University - San Marcos||San Marcos, TX||4-year, Public||Master's||$7,786|
|West Virginia University||Morgantown, WV||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||$7,632 (undergraduate), $8,568 (graduate)|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics
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School Selection Criteria
Consider the following when looking for technical writing schools:
- Prospective students may want to find out what the pass rates are for graduates on voluntary certification exams, such as the one offered by the Society for Technical Communication.
- Because writing students usually take supplementary electives in a technical field of interest, such as science or engineering, it can be helpful to find out about the school's reputation in that area.
- When considering programs that include internships, prospective students should make sure that options are available in the industry where they plan to work in the future.
- Working professionals who want to go back to school to study technical writing may wish to look for certificate programs that are available online or in part-time formats.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum education for a technical writer is usually a bachelor's degree. To prepare, many students choose a major in English, communications or journalism. There are also a few schools that offer specific majors in technical and professional writing, which introduce students to the basics of writing for industry. However, some jobs also require expertise in a technical field like engineering, information technology, science or medicine, so undergraduates may choose a double major, minor or certificate in their specialization area of interest.
Master's Degree Programs
At the master's degree level, it is possible to major in technical/professional writing, or to pursue the subject as a concentration within a broader English program. In these programs, students are required to fulfill extensive reading and writing requirements. They also take elective courses in their technical field of interest, and they may complete an internship or practicum prior to graduation. In total, these programs typically take two to three years to complete.
Doctoral Degree Programs
Although doctoral programs in professional writing are rare, there are a few schools that offer relevant PhD programs. In addition to the writing courses and technical electives included in master's degree programs, students also conduct research in a writing-related topic. For instance, they may study more productive approaches to writing for industry, or study how new technologies can be discussed in a more accessible way. Teaching requirements may also be included in the program, helping to prepare graduates for jobs as professors in academic institutions.
Undergraduate and graduate certificate programs are available for individuals who want to redirect their careers toward technical writing without committing to a full degree program. These programs cover the fundamentals of the field, and they are often available online or in part-time formats in order to meet the needs of working professionals. In graduate certificate programs, students are usually expected to have some level of previous writing experience.
Many schools offer technical writer education programs at the certificate, bachelor's, master's, and even doctoral levels. Students can consider their career goals when choosing between programs, as well as scheduling options and internship opportunities the school offers.