professional writing and technical communication
program guidelines and course descriptions

To be admitted into any of the five courses in the Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC) Program, students must have junior or senior status and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better at preregistration for the semester in which they seek to enroll. Students intending to complete the program should note that 379 and 380 (offered only in fall semester) are prerequisites for 381, 382 and 391C (offered only in spring semester), and plan accordingly. Although the entire program may be completed during a single academic year, students are encouraged to spread the work over their junior and senior years.

Two of the program's courses may count as electives toward the English major; three count as general graduation credits. Students completing each of the five courses with a grade of 'B' or better are awarded the program certificate.


In the past, completion of the PWTC specialization satisfied (and thus waived) the Junior Year Writing (JYW) requirement. Beginning in AY 2014-2015, PWTC students who complete the specialization will receive credit for the I.E. (which Engl 382 satisfies), but will need to take a *separate* Junior Year Writing course in order to fulfill that requirement.

Although the program is housed within the English Department, its courses are open to students pursuing other majors. Students undertaking advanced degrees may enroll only by special arrangement with the instructors. Although persons not enrolled in a UMass-Amherst degree program cannot receive the program certificate, they may enroll in the program's courses through UMass-Amherst Continuing and Professional Education. All students enrolled in the program are encouraged to consider enhancing their background with courses in the Information Technology Program.

English 379: Introduction to Professional Writing
Offered fall semester.
This course offers an overview of commonly encountered professional genres such as memos, reports, job materials, and grant proposals. Students gain practice writing in these genres, with an emphasis on clarity and concision. They develop more sophisticated research skills and gain experience in communicating specialized information to non-specialist readers. Finally, they are exposed to the range of professional writing careers as they explore writing on both theoretical and practical planes through consideration of audience, as well as wider professional, social, and cultural contexts. Prereq.: ENGLWP 112 or equivalent; junior or senior status with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. (3 credits). Toomey, Ouellette.

An online version of this course will be offered in spring term 2015 through the Springfield Initiative.

Another online version of this course will be offered during summer term 2015 through UMass-Amherst Continuing and Professional Education.

English 380: Intermediate Technical Writing
Offered fall semester

Introduces principles of software technical writing and documentation. This course simulates the writing and editing processes used in the computer industry; students write a 30-35 page manual documenting a software product, usually Microsoft Word. Prereq.: ENGL 379 (which may be taken concurrently) or permission of the instructor; junior or senior status with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. (3 credits). Solberg.
English 381: Advanced Technical Writing I
Offered spring semester

Continues and extends the work of ENGL 380. Students will learn and apply principles of software documentation, information design, typography, and page design. The objectives of this course are to increase students' writing, organizational, and graphical sophistication and to enable them to produce portfolio-quality documentation that introduces an audience to industry-standard software (typically, Adobe RoboHelp and Adobe FrameMaker). Prereq.: junior or senior status with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better and ENGL 380. (3 credits). Solberg.
English 382: Advanced Technical Writing II
Offered spring semester

ENGL 382 serves as the capstone course for the Professional Writing and Technical Communication Certificate. As such, the course has two aims: professionalization and specialization. Students will participate in mock interviews, workshop their professional portfolios, and learn about careers in technical writing and information technology from working professionals. The course will also provide students with directed opportunities to explore the theory and practice of particular kinds of writing and technology (e.g., report writing, grant proposals, speechwriting, voiceovers, integration with video and film, web site development). Each student will present a significant report on a topic related to technology, communication, and culture. Prereq.: ENGL 381 (which may be taken concurrently), junior or senior status and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. (3 credits). Toomey.
English 391c: Advanced Software for Professional Writers
Offered spring semester
Upon successful completion of this course you will be proficient in the intermediate and advanced use of HTML, Adobe Dreamweaver CS3, Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Flash CS3 and Microsoft PowerPoint. The major and ongoing project for the course will be an online portfolio that demonstrates your skills as a web designer and professional writer. The portfolio will be built with the software cited above. Most class time will be given to laboratory work on some part of the portfolio, and most class sessions will involve an in-class assignment. Prereq.: junior or senior staus and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better. (3 credits). Ouellette.