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Information on Graduate Degree Programs in Technical Writing

Majors Overview July 4, 2015

This article talks about different graduate degree programs in technical writing and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and job and wage outlook.

Information on Technical Writing Programs

Students enrolled in degree programs in technical writing, also called technical communications, may obtain a Ph.D., graduate certificate or master’s degree. They gain an in-depth training – classroom and practical – in rhetorical structure, theory, editing, and style.

Graduate Certificate Programs in Technical Writing

Coursework in a graduate certificate program in technical writing is devised to teach students the basics of technical writing, including editing, information design, production, and software. Their editorial responsibilities are developed including technique, grammar, and style. Certificate students are given classroom instruction in software usage and writing concepts.

The complexities and demands of oral and written communication in a professional setting are also discussion topics. Apart from writing, the dynamics of design, rhetoric, media and speech are explored by students.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, in addition to prior technical communication knowledge. The TOEFL must be taken by international applicants to prove competency in English.


Coursework covers the practical and technical applications of writing, in addition to a technical writer’s roles and responsibilities. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Rhetorical theory
•Document design
•Visual communication and graphic design
•Scientific communication
•Editing techniques

Job and Wage Outlook

Technical writers can seek employment in numerous industries including science, computer and electronics systems, and publishing. Employing wireless Internet technology and laptop computers, technical writers can work from any location. Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, a job growth of 15% has been predicted for technical writers in all fields (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, salaried technical writers brought in an average annual wage of $65,500 (BLS).

Master’s Programs in Technical Writing

Students enrolled in master’s degree programs in technical writing become adept at producing documents through the use of current international and national technical communication techniques and practices. Communication and rhetorical theories are learned by students. Students receive a comprehensive hands-on experience with technical editing and writing. They gain experience in traditional and digital media, in addition to style and visual design.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Incoming students are required to submit writing samples, in addition to TOEFL, GMAT, and GRE test scores.


Coursework covers editing, communication theory, publications and communication issues. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Specialized documents
•Proposal writing
•Digital media
•Reading theory
•Rhetorical theory

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek various career options including:

•Proposal Writer
•Technical Writer

Ph.D. Programs in Technical Communications

Those seeking senior professional positions such as researcher or professor would benefit from enrolling in Ph.D. programs in Technical Communications. A dissertation, seminars, and independent training are completed by graduates in order to examine the complex issues in communication and rhetoric. Students explore approaches to writing; these include social and cultural perspectives. Students are challenged to analyze the changing roles of representation and communication in a digital society.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a master’s in technical communications or related major. Applicants for admission to the program are also required to submit a writing sample to demonstrate writing techniques and competence, in addition to providing letters of recommendation.


Coursework in a technical communications degree program covers core coursework in literacy studies, technical communication and rhetoric, and technical editing. Core coursework may also cover topic areas such as:

•Writing nonfiction
•Pedagogy techniques
•Publication writing
•Document design
•History of Rhetoric

Career Choices

Ph.D. holders gain the knowledge and professional expertise necessary for assuming senior positions in technical communications such as:

•Documentation specialist
•Tenured professor of technical communication

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