University of Houston-Downtown

The professional writing major requires a minimum of 120 hours. For degree completion, at least 25 percent of the semester credit hours must be earned through instruction offered by UH-Downtown. The last 30 of the total hours and 18 of the upper-level hours toward the degree must be successfully completed in residence at UH-Downtown. An overall minimum grade point average of 2.0 at UH-Downtown is required for graduation, and a minimum average of 2.0 must be maintained in the upper-level hours in the major.

All current PW students should register for a PW listserv to receive updates and announcements. Email the degree coordinator for the directions on how to register for the listserv.

Major in Professional Writing (120 Hours Minimum)

Common core requirements (42 hours)

See listing under General Education Requirements in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. COMM 3306 is recommended in fulfillment of the speech communication component.

Preparatory Requirements (9 hours)

Philosophy (3 hours Ethics) Upper Level elective (3 hours) Lower-level electives (3 hours)

Upper-Level Requirements (45 hours)

ENG 3302 Business and Technical Report Writing

ENG 3316 (History and Rhetoric) or ENG 3317 (Studies in the Theory of Rhetoric)
ENG 3330 Desktop Publishing
ENG 3331 Advanced Desktop Publishing or ENG 3335 Publishing for the Web
ENG 4099 Professional Writing Portfolio. Required in semester of graduation (0 hours)
ENG 4322 Editing, Rewriting and Copyreading (prerequisite ENG 3318) (3 hours)
ENG 4380 Field Experience

Other Requirements (27 hours)

Select 7-9 writing or publishing courses (21-27 hours) from:
ENG 3304 Advanced Business and Technical Report Writing
ENG 3308 Legal Writing
ENG 3325 Medical Writing
ENG 3326 Proposal Writing
ENG 3328 Documentation and Manuals
ENG 3329 Environmental Writing
ENG 3331 Advanced Desktop Publishing or ENG 3335 Web Publishing
ENG 3333 Writing for the Media (or COMM 3311)
ENG 3334 Writing for Presentation (or COMM 3312)
ENG 3336 Writing for the Web
ENG 3342 Organizational Publications
ENG 3371 Public Relations (or COMM 3301)
ENG 3373 Introduction to Advertising (or COMM 3303)
ENG 4306 Science Writing
ENG 4323 Feature Writing for Business and Industry
ENG 4360 Publications Workshop

Select 0 - 2 language and writing courses (0-6 hours) from:
ENG 3305 Essay Writing
ENG 3309 Creative Writing
ENG 3316 History of Rhetoric or 3317 Studies in the Theory of Rhetoric
ENG 3318 Studies in English Grammar (prerequisite for ENG 4322 Editing, Rewriting and Copyreading).
ENG 3319 Introduction to the Study of Language
ENG 3320 History of the English Language
ENG 4309 Advanced Creative Writing
ENG 4318 Advanced Studies in English Grammar and Style
ENG 4680 Extended Field Experience (4680 covers core requirement for 4380 Field Experience. May not take 4380 and 4680).

Electives (24 hours)

Lower- or upper-level electives. Electives are an important part of the degree program and should be selected in consultation with an academic advisor. A 24-hour block of electives may allow you to obtain a minor outside of Professional Writing.

Minor in Professional Writing (18 hours minimum)

Required Courses (9 hours)

ENG 3302 Business and Technical Report Writing
ENG 3330 Desktop Publishing
ENG 4322 Editing, Rewriting and Copyreading

Upper-Level Electives (9 Hours)


In consultation with an advisor, courses selected from Professional Writing Core or "Other Requirements" in Professional Writing.

The Masters of Science in Professional Writing and Technical Communication

The Master of Science (MS) in Professional Writing and Technical Communication is established on the firm foundation of our well-established undergraduate program in Professional Writing.

This MS program provides graduates with communication, design, and management skills based on the principles of rhetoric. Students gain publication and production skills, attain project management expertise, acquire an understanding of the ethical and global implications of professional communication, participate in research, conduct audience analyses and usability tests, and create websites and online help documents which address readers' needs. This MS program can be individually tailored via the selection of electives so that it is valuable for a range of candidates:

  • Professional writers seeking promotions to managerial positions or those interested in teaching technical writing in high schools or community colleges
  • Medical professionals seeking skills relevant to writing, editing, and delivering publishable research manuscripts, public health educational materials, ethical standards declarations, manuals, procedures, policies, and professional correspondence
  • Professionals in engineering, science, and technology who need to master the skills of managing multiple projects and writing results-oriented documents such as proposals, technical manuals, customer information materials, public relations announcements, corporate policies, procedures, training materials, and business-to-business communications
  • Public relations and corporate training professionals with the goal of expanding their employment options
  • Undergraduates interested in an applied master's level degree, either to increase their employability or to pursue a doctoral degree in technical communication

Program Objectives

Students graduating with an MS in Professional Writing and Technical Communication will demonstrate professional-level skills and comprehensive knowledge in the following areas:

  • Document production and project management: writing, editing, and delivering documents in the various print and electronic genres of professional communication, including the coordination of efforts and resources with Web developers, graphic artists, and print shops as well as collaborations with subject matter experts. Students will demonstrate the skills of needs analysis, project design, and production of professionally polished, targeted, and useful documents.
  • Rhetorical analysis:identifying, assessing, and articulating the theoretical principles that underlie rhetorical choices in professional writing. Students will be able to understand the needs of target audiences and achieve their communication goals.
  • Ethical and global awareness:analyzing the ethical and global implications of professional communication and the responsibilities and potential liabilities of writers of publicly available documents. Students will be prepared to effectively engage in local and global communication efforts while maintaining the highest levels of credibility for themselves and their employers.
  • Research methodologies:conducting research in technical and professional communication, including audience analysis and usability testing. Students will attain expertise with data collection, interpretation, and presentation so that they can viably contribute to the body of knowledge within their chosen fields.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Professional Writing and Technical Communication requires a minimum of thirty-six semester hours that include a choice of thesis or capstone project. All students must successfully complete a graduation portfolio and an oral defense of the portfolio.

  • ENG 5304: Proseminar in Professional & Technical Communication
  • ENG 5317: Rhetorical Theory & Criticism
  • ENG 5330: Visual Design Theory
  • ENG 5340: Project Management

Elective Courses: 18 Hours

Recommended for Careers in Marketing, Public Relations, Law, and Business:

  • ENG 6303: Public Relations & Media Management
  • ENG 6310: Intercultural & World Communication
  • ENG 6312: Ethical and Legal Dimensions of Communication
  • ENG 6322: Instructional Design
  • ENG 6324: Writing in the Professions
  • ENG 6328: Hypermedia Theory & Design
  • ENG 6330: Usability Research

Recommended for Careers in Medical, Scientific, Engineering, and Computer Fields:

  • ENG 6324: Writing in the Professions
  • ENG 6318: Stylistics & Editing
  • ENG 6322: Instructional Design
  • ENG 6323: Communications and Technology
  • ENG 6328: Hypermedia Theory & Design
  • ENG 6330: Usability Research
  • ENG 6360: Special Topics in Technical and Professional Communication (e.g., Medical Writing, Proposal Writing)

Additional Discretionary Electives from outside of the program may be accepted as counting towards the degree at the discretion of the Graduate Coordinator
Possible options include:

  • ENG 6301: Composition Pedagogy
  • ENG 6319: Language Development and Variation: Implications for Educators
  • CJ 6320: Research Design and Methods
  • CJ 6321: Quantitative Analysis in Criminal Justice
  • Math 5305: Advanced Business Statistics

Thesis or Capstone Project: 6 Hours
Students choose either a Thesis or Capstone Project option based on their personal and professional goals.

Writing a thesis enables a student to refine research and writing skills while exploring a topic of individual interest. It also results in the production of a document which can support an application to a Ph.D. program and may have the potential for publication.

A capstone project enables a student to improve targeted employment-oriented skills. It may also result in the production of a document which can provide a significant contribution to an employment portfolio or a document which can support an application to a Ph.D. program.

Thesis option: Candidates opting to write a thesis must complete 3 hours of a directed research practicum and 3 hours of thesis credit as well as oral defenses of the thesis and of a graduation portfolio. This option allows a student to delve into a research project of his/her choosing so as to provide realistic experience with academic investigations. A thesis typically introduces the purpose, scope, and significance of a chosen topic; it situates the topic within the context of the available literature in the field; it explains the research method employed and the rationale for the research; it examines the results of the research; and it summarizes the importance of the project.

Capstone project option: Candidates opting for the capstone project must complete 3 hours of a directed research practicum or an internship and 3 hours of capstone project credit as well as oral defenses of the capstone project and of a graduation portfolio. This option allows a student to gain practical experience with the design, management, and completion of a professional writing project such as the production of a useful manual, public relations materials, a website, a usability assessment, or other document for a workplace. A rationale report must accompany the document; this report explains how the document applies and reflects the scholarly principles which underlie or support the production of the deliverable for the workplace.



  • One Main St.
  • S1045B
  • Houston
  • TX
  • USA
  • 77002-1001


  • President: : Dr. Mike Duncan
  • Telephone: (713) 221x5576