May 27, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 
    
Graduate Catalog

Professional and Technical Writing, Technical Writing Concentration, M.A.


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Professional and Technical Writing


The Master of Arts in Professional and Technical Writing (PTW) program provides extensive and intensive study of and practice in writing designed to prepare students for careers in business and government, publishing, and education. It focuses on developing individual abilities and on helping students become articulate, informed scholars and writers able to adapt to a wide range of situations and tasks. The program offers three concentrations: technical writing, nonfiction, and editing and publishing. The technical concentration focuses on writing for industry, science, business, and government. The nonfiction concentration focuses on composition and rhetorical theory, essay and extended nonfiction writing, and a general application of writing skills, including the teaching of writing. The editing and publishing concentration focuses on the processes of editing digital and written text and working with authors to prepare their content for publication.

The Little Rock Writing Project, housed in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing, offers PTW students opportunities to work with teachers and administrators from all grade levels to improve writing education in Arkansas schools. It offers graduate courses, writing and special topics workshops, and other services to teachers and students across the state.

As part of a university community that acknowledges the importance of assessment, we gather assessment data through student portfolios, thesis projects, final projects, exit surveys, employer surveys, doctoral student progress reports, and faculty idea exchanges. We then use these findings to improve our programs. Visit the program’s website for more information.

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the MA program in Professional and Technical Writing must have a baccalaureate degree from an institutionally, regionally, or internationally accredited institution. The program accepts applicants from a wide range of disciplines; a prior degree in writing is not required.

Applicants must submit to the Graduate School all of the application materials described on the Graduate School website, including transcripts from previous institutions.

  • A statement of purpose
  • A current resume
  • 3-4 writing samples
  • A cover piece introducing and providing context for the writing samples

Applicants should also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent directly from their recommenders to the Graduate School.

Prospective students are strongly urged to contact the graduate coordinator before completing the application process.

Regular Admission

Applicants will be considered for regular admissions if they have achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better on a previous baccalaureate or graduate degree, or if they have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or better on their last 60 hours of coursework. The quality of the applicant’s writing- including the statement of purpose, writing samples, and cover piece- is a major factor in the admissions decision, along with the applicant’s references.

Students must have regular admission status in order to be eligible for teaching, research, or administrative assistantship positions.

Conditional Admission

Applicants will be considered for conditional admission if they have achieved a cumulative GPA between 2.7 and 3.0 on a previous baccalaureate or graduate degree, or if they have achieved a GPA between 2.7 and 3.0 on their last 60 hours of coursework. The quality of the applicant’s writing- including the statement of purpose, writing samples, and cover piece- is a major factor in the admissions decision, along with the applicant’s references. Some applicants with GPAs higher than 3.0 may be conditionally admitted based on the admission committee’s evaluation of the writing samples and references.

Conditionally admitted students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 in their first 9 hours of coursework in order to remain in the program. Conditionally admitted students may also be subject to other conditions for enrollment, such as required courses in the first 9 hours of study specified by the admission committee. Conditionally admitted students completing their MA coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or higher after their first 9 credit hours will become regularly admitted students.

Special Conditional Admission

Applicants with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.69 who demonstrate extraordinary potential for achievement may petition the MA admission committee for special consideration.

Applicants must discuss and provide evidence regarding two or more of the following criteria as part of their petition:

  • GPA in previous writing courses
  • Amount of time elapsed since the previous degree (5+ years recommended)
  • Professional experience in writing, teaching, or editing
  • Professional accomplishments that demonstrate the applicant’s abilities with respect to time management or focused intensive study
  • Extraordinary circumstances related to the low overall GPA

Applicants whose petitions are approved by the admission committee will be subject to the same requirements and restrictions as listed above for conditionally admitted students.

Graduate Assistantships

A limited number of graduate assistantships, both teaching and non-teaching, are available each year. Most students who are granted assistantships teach 1-2 sections of a first-year composition or are involved in training tutors and administration in the University Writing Center. Students who wish to apply for teaching assistantships must first complete RHET 7310 Composition Theory . Students who wish to apply for Writing Center assistantships must have served at least one semester as a writing center tutor during their undergraduate degree, or they must first complete at least one semester of RHET 7360 Practicum . The number of non-teaching assistantships varies each year; these positions are highly competitive, and they are awarded in part based on the student’s particular skill set. Contact the program coordinator for more information.

Program Requirements

The PTW MA is a 36-hour program that culminates in a traditional thesis project, a professional portfolio, or a final project (with the permission of the student’s graduate committee). The Master of Arts in Professional and Technical Writing requires 9 hours of core courses, 15 hours of concentration courses, 6 hours in a cognate area, and 6 final project hours. Students are required to meet with the graduate coordinator at least once per semester for advising and review of their progress in the program.

Concentration Courses

Concentration hours allow students to develop a specialization within the program. Students typically choose to complete 15 hours from the technical writing concentration, the nonfiction writing concentration, or the editing and publishing concentration. With permission from the program coordinator, students may mix courses from among the concentrations if the course selection is appropriate to their career goals. No more than three hours total of independent study or internship credit may be counted toward a student’s concentration hours.

Core Courses


Core courses introduce students to important areas of theory necessary to the successful completion of the degree. Students must complete all nine hours of core courses. The required courses include the following:

Cognate Courses (Six hours)


Cognate hours are designed to allow writers to develop areas of additional knowledge and experience that support their PTW concentrations. Students in the technical writing and nonfiction writing concentrations may choose to develop a cognate area outside the Rhetoric and Writing Department if they wish; some popular options include cognate courses in speech communication, linguistics, literature, creative writing, mass communication, management, political science, psychology, computer science, and graphic design. Students in technical writing and nonfiction writing concentrations may also choose cognate courses from other areas of the PTW program, including internship and independent study courses. Cognate hours must be chosen from graduate-level courses. Graduate courses from other institutions are acceptable for transfer as cognate hours; students should inform the graduate coordinator immediately.

Students in the editing and publishing concentration are required to fill their cognate hours with six hours of editing internship credit by taking a combination of RHET 7161  ,RHET 7261 , and/or RHET 7361 . Editing internship hours must be approved in advance by faculty members coordinating the editing and publishing concentration.

Final Project Courses (Six hours)


Students must complete both RHET 7315 : project proposal course and RHET 7316 : Project Hours. These courses allow students to design, propose, and complete projects appropriate to their concentrations and career goals. A PTW project may take form of a traditional academic thesis, an extended, substantial applied project with an accompanying researched analytical essay, or a professional portfolio. Students select an option in consultation with their committee chair and members.

Graduation Requirements


  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a minimum of 36 hours of coursework (as outlined above)
  • Successful completion and defense of final thesis, portfolio, or other project.

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