The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

Professional Writing and Technical Communication

What is PWTC?

The Professional Writing and Technical Communication (PWTC) Certificate prepares students for careers in technical and professional writing, digital communication, and user experience (UX).

PWTC students gain project-based experience in editing, grant writing, software documentation, report writing, and web design. The program enjoys a well-established network of more than 300 graduates and high job placement rate. Students can expect to gain:

  • practice in professional writing and editing
  • career preparation built into every course
  • hands-on training in a range of industry-standard software (e.g., Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, MadCap Flare)
  • an introduction to information design, usability, and user experience (UX)
  • the opportunity to create a professional portfolio 

Since 1990, the PWTC program has enjoyed an impressive record of job placement, with graduates embarking on careers in user experience (UX), information architecture, content strategy, publishing, and technical writing. Some are employed by nonprofits and government agencies, others by firms involved with healthcare, software development and information technology.

Firms currently employing PWTC graduates include: Alcatel-Lucentathenahealth, BoseEze Software Group, FacebookHewlett-PackardIBM Lotus SoftwareMotorolaOracleQuintiles Outcome, and RSA Security.

Required courses

  • English 379: Introduction to Professional Writing (fall only)
  • English 380: Professional Writing and Technical Communication I (fall only)
  • English 381: Professional Writing and Technical Communication II (spring only)
  • English 382: Professional Writing and Technical Communication III (spring only)
  • English 391C: Introduction to Web Design (aka "Advanced Software") (spring only)

English 379 and 380 may be taken concurrently (space permitting) with permission of instructor. English 391c may be taken before 379. English 382 fulfills the I.E. requirement for English majors who are not also pursuing the IT minor.

Recommended for PWTC students

  • The UMass interdisciplinary IT Minor*
  • English 391D: Writing and Emerging Technologies

*Note that students who complete the IT Minor can only "double dip" a total of 2 courses across all credentials (majors, minors, certificates), including PWTC. It is strongly recommended that you meet with an IT Minor advisor and let them know that you plan to complete the PWTC certificate. 

Who can enroll? How can I learn more?

The PWTC certificate is open to students from all majors. To enroll in PWTC courses, you must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and at least junior standing. Learn more by visiting the Professional Writing and Technical Communication website.

PWTC certificate program is co-directed by David Toomey ( and Janine Solberg (