Professional Writing

Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacies Minor (25 credits)

Introduction to the Study of Professional Writing, Rhetoric, and Literacies Minor (PWLR)?

The PWLR minor is a 25 credit minor that includes courses that focus on deepening and extending your thinking and rhetorical flexibility. That is, these courses are designed to help students to develop the capacity to anticipate and appropriately respond to the particular needs of readers, and to build and examine texts, both print and digital, for widely differing contexts.

Why Consider a PWLR Minor?

Writing, in all its diverse forms, is the backbone of a university education and is also critical for most professions. Good written communication includes the ability to think deeply, reflectively, and rhetorically and develops a capacity to both foster and adapt to change. The versatility and flexibility that the PWLR minor offers will benefit your work in college and beyond because writing (or composing) effectively in different environments matters regardless of the life you’re chasing after. Simply put, good writing, in whatever form it takes, can make lots happen—for you and for others.

Sample Careers

While some careers are focused specifically on writing expertise (professional writing, technical writing, grant writing, literary writing, feature writing, reviewing, publishing, copy-editing, etc.), employers in almost every profession desire people with rhetorical awareness and a range of writing proficiencies. For example, a PWLR minor will benefit project managers, user experience experts, game designers, medical professionals, even engineers. The passions that you take up will almost surely involve writing.


The PWLR minor is comprised of differing classes that emphasize professional & technical writing, literacy studies, and rhetoric. The minor is built on the belief that writing, designing, and analyzing effectively and efficiently will benefit you regardless of the life you’re chasing after. Simply put, good writing, in whatever form it takes, can make lots happen.

  • Two of the following: 301 (repeatable once with different topic), 302, 371
  • Two or more of the following: 401, 402, 442, 461, 462 (repeatable once)

Under academic advisement with the PWLR advisor: one 300/400 level course may be selected in visual and/or appropriate writing courses, including offerings in other departments.

PWLR Courses in The English Department

(Please pay attention to prerequisites)

  • 301 Writing and the Public (offered every quarter + summer)
    Focuses on the composition, delivery, and public circulation of written texts in the era of digital communication technologies and practices in the personal, public, and/or academic spheres. Topics vary.  Repeatable with different topics & instructors up to 10 credits, including original course.
  • 302 Technical Writing (offered every quarter + summer)
    Students engage with the rhetorical and technical practices for creating artifacts that help people do things with technology, such as usability testing, screencasting, web authoring, document design, and information architecture. The course covers a variety of technical genres and focuses on the ethical and social implications of a technical writer's choices.
  • 371 Rhetorical Practices (generally offered in fall and winter quarters)
    Opens up the field of rhetoric through a sustained engagement with its contemporary practices and theories. Work in the course examines various relationships among language, culture, and communication, often helping students articulate their work in the humanities to outside audiences.
  • 401 Sr. Seminar in Writing Studies & Rhetoric (generally offered in winter and spring quarters)
    Prereq: One course from English 301, 302, 371 or Sr. status)
    Senior writing seminar on the theories and practices of rhetorical genres. Repeatable with different topics& instructors up to 10 credits, including original course.
  • 402 Professional Writing and Community Engagement (offered in winter quarter)
    Prereq: English 302
    In this community-based, field-work course, students gain real-world professional writing experience by working intensively with a local non-profit. Working in teams, students invent, design, build, and implement documentation for their team’s specific community partner.
  • 442 Studies in Literacy (offered in fall quarter)
    Prereq: One course from English 301, 302,or 371
    Examines shifting definitions of literacy and literacy practices from social, cultural, historical, and technological perspectives.
  • 461 Internship in English – Professional Identity (offered every other spring quarter)
    Prereq: Senior status or Instruction permission
    Students will intern in a local organization and participate in weekly seminar meetings designed to contribute to their internship experience and their own professional identities.
  • 462 Topics in Professional and Technical Writing (generally offered in fall and spring quarters)
    Prereq: One course from English 301, 302, or 371
    A rhetorical examination of various specific topics confronting technical and professional writers in a rapidly changing technological world. Topics change annually. Repeatable once.


Interested in declaring an English major or minor?

Please see the Remote Advising section's page for more information.

Courses taken for credit in minor programs may not be counted toward English majors.