Professional and Technical Writing Major
In our program, students learn to write for a variety of work situations. To do so, you will learn to think strategically about the complex relationships between writing, rhetorics, technology, and culture through a humanistic perspective. Graduates are prepared to create user guides, online documentation, website content, scientific reports, content strategies, and other professional documents.
STUDY ABROAD PROGRAMS
FACULTY TO STUDENT RATIO
ENGLISH COURSES OFFERED
Total Credit Hours: 120
Professional and Technical Writing Courses (18 Hours)
English Core Requirements (21 hours)
General Education (45 hours)
Electives (36 hours)
What You'll Study
The major includes 120 credit hours for a bachelor of arts degree, including Virginia Tech's Pathways. Our students learn to understand their writing work as symbolic action—as intellectual work that empowers them with the potential to participate in significant social change. Students research user experience and practice writing for many audiences. They learn to write according to the established principles of technical communication and in ways that are refreshing, attention-grabbing, and thought-provoking.
Some of our course offerings include:
- Document Design
- Technical Editing and Style
- Creating User Documentation
- Intercultural Issues in Professional Writing
- Developing Online Content
- Science Writing
- Grant Writing
What is a Professional and Technical Writing Degree?
The major is a great fit for creative and imaginative students who are fascinated by the kinds of writing that take place in professional and public situations. For our students, user manuals, university mailers, and social media posts are ripe with meaning and possibilities. They understand the rules and boundaries of writing within professional settings, but also how to break those rules in ways that are refreshing, attention-grabbing, and thought-provoking. Students seek to understand how public audiences read a wide variety of texts. The program teaches them to translate complex information into plain language so that it is accessible to a public audience.
Why Study Professional and Technical Writing Here?
Our students are excited by challenging questions that come with writing in the 21st century:
- How do we use writing as a tool for social action?
- How do emerging technologies change how we write and how users engage with texts?
- What is the role of writers in shaping a humanistic approach to technology design?
This program prepares students to write while being focused on target audiences in a thoughtful and professional approach. You will explore the complex relationships between writing, rhetorics, technology, and culture through a humanistic lens. Our graduates go on to create user guides, online documentation, website content, scientific reports, content strategies, and other professional documents.
Beyond the Classroom
- Undergraduate Research and Independent Study
- Study Abroad
- Student Organizations
- Student Advisory Council
Talk to a professor about designing your own research project to take a deeper look at a topic of your interest. You'll work closely with a faculty advisor to plan a course of action and discuss your findings. You can also participate in a collaborative project where you help a faculty member with their research.
Engage in your profession by writing, researching, editing, and making connections with employers across the country. Apply the knowledge and skills you learn in the classroom to the workplace. Internships earn academic credit and provide valuable professional experience.
We host a faculty-led trip to London, an exchange program with Loughborough University, and a Wintermester Experience that visits different locations each year. These experiences enrich your understanding of the history and culture with the English language and its literature.
You will join an active and welcoming community. Our student organizations include the English Club, Linguistics Club, Creative Writing Club, and Sigma Tau Delta. We hold an annual literary festival, Glossolalia, that features original works including readings and performances by students and visiting writers.
Become a member of the PTW Student Advisory Council, a small group of PTW majors or minors who work with faculty as they provide feedback on curriculum, policy, and other aspects of the program from a student perspective.
To learn more about the PTW Student Advisory Council, contact program director Jennifer Sano-Francini.
What Our Students Are Saying
Careers and Further Study
Where do Professional and Technical Writing majors go?
Our graduates go on to many different careers: technical writers, technical editors, content strategists, copywriters, user experience researchers, usability specialists, experience architects, social media coordinators, medical writers, or digital publishers. Some of our graduates pursue advanced degrees in English, rhetoric and writing, law, or education.
All organizations need writers. Our growing science and technology industries means that professional and technical writers will continue to be in demand for decades to come. They will play a key role in shaping how the public understands professional and technical information.