Twin Cities campus
 
Twin Cities Campus

Scientific and Technical Communication Minor

Writing Studies Department
College of Liberal Arts
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Department of Writing Studies, 215 Nolte Center, 315 Pillsbury Dr SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455; (612-624-3445; fax: 612-624-3617)
Email: WRIT@umn.edu
  • Program Type: Graduate minor related to major
  • Requirements for this program are current for Fall 2021
  • Length of program in credits (master's): 6
  • This program does not require summer semesters for timely completion.
The Scientific and Technical Communication minor is available for masterís-level students enrolled in other University graduate programs. Courses train students to apply basic theory and research-driven approaches to create and adapt content to solve complex problems in technical and scientific communication. The minor offers online courses in areas such as editing and style, writing with digital technologies, information design, and international professional communication. Coursework emphasizes collaboration with workplace professionals through client projects, virtual and global teamwork, mentorships, and emerging technologies and enables students to develop unique strengths in digital, usability, and/or science/health/medical communication.
Program Delivery
  • completely online (all program coursework can be completed online)
Prerequisites for Admission
Special Application Requirements:
Students interested in the minor are strongly encouraged to confer with their major field advisor and director of graduate studies, and the Scientific and Technical Communication director of graduate studies, regarding feasibility and requirements. Research master's and PhD students interested in rhetorical theory and history, technical communication, technology and culture, digital and new media studies, and writing pedagogy are encouraged to pursue the Rhetoric, Technical and Scientific Communication minor.
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
Use of 4xxx courses toward program requirements is permitted under certain conditions with adviser approval.
A minimum grade of B- is required for all courses applied to the minor, unless the course is only offered S/N. The overall minimum GPA is 2.80.
Coursework (6 credits)
Core Course (3 credits)
Take 3 credits of the following:
WRIT 5112 - Information Design: Theory and Practice (3.0 cr)
Electives (3 credits)
Take 3 credits of electives. Courses can be from the following list or others with approval of the director of graduate studies. Note 4000-level courses are only acceptable if there is not a 5000-level option.
WRIT 4562 - International Professional Communication (3.0 cr)
WRIT 4573W - Writing Proposals and Grant Management [WI] (3.0 cr)
WRIT 5501 - Usability and Human Factors in Technical Communication (3.0 cr)
WRIT 5561 - Editing and Style for Technical Communicators (3.0 cr)
WRIT 5662 - Writing With Digital Technologies (3.0 cr)
WRIT 5664 - Science, Medical, and Health Writing (3.0 cr)
WRIT 8505 - Professional Practice (3.0 cr)
Program Sub-plans
Students are required to complete one of the following sub-plans.
Students may not complete the program with more than one sub-plan.
Masters
 
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WRIT 5112 - Information Design: Theory and Practice
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
This course examines how verbal, visual, and multimedia content can be designed and combined to create meaning, improve comprehension, and make information more usable. Emphasis is placed on the rhetorical roles of visual elements in print and digital communications, and how technical communicators can use visual means to reach audiences, convey information, and achieve rhetorical goals. Students read and discuss theory, practice information design skills, and apply both to real communications projects suitable for inclusion in a professional portfolio. Projects focus on print and web content design and development; the information design process (plan, design, develop, layout, testing); project planning toward deliverables (web sites, signage, wayfinding); and universal design (color, symbols, etc.)
WRIT 4562 - International Professional Communication
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Periodic Spring
This course prepares students to navigate the increasingly global nature of communication and the challenges and opportunities it presents. Students learn how to develop content for and work with clients and colleagues from other cultures, communicate with multicultural audiences, and collaborate in virtual global teams using multiple synchronous and asynchronous technologies. The course includes work with peers and international scholars from various parts of the world. Projects include a metaphorical comparative analysis of cultures; management (global virtual team work) of a translation project with students from another country; interviews with managers/employees in multinational corporations; and curation work with an international archive on emerging technologies.
WRIT 4573W - Writing Proposals and Grant Management (WI)
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
Research funding sources. Interpreting RFP or program announcement. Letters of intent. Grant preparation, following guidelines of RFP or program announcement. Proposals for nonprofits or research/business.
WRIT 5501 - Usability and Human Factors in Technical Communication
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 4501/Writ 5501
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Spring
Usability is concerned with how people interact with design and technology; usability is commonly known as the "ease of use" of products and technologies by a range of users. This course emphasizes usability and user research and will explore the intersection of usability and technical communication. We will investigate definitions of usability and user-centered design principles, and we will explore a variety of usability research methods including heuristic evaluation, personas, and usability testing. The course will focus heavily on usability testing of web sites, a common technical communication task that involves observation and interviews of human participants interacting with a web site.
WRIT 5561 - Editing and Style for Technical Communicators
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Summer
In this course, students learn strategies for editing and revising writing for technical and non-technical audiences. Students practice three levels of editing skills: proofreading, copyediting, and comprehensive editing. Strategies include advanced grammar and style, editing tools, quantitative data, global documents, and various style guides. Students also examine an editor?s role with authors, in organizations, in global contexts, and in ethical situations. Editing projects focus on the three levels of editing, using proficient methods, collaborating between authors and editors, identifying audience and contexts, editing documents according to style guides, and using rhetorical principles to analyze and edit final documents.
WRIT 5662 - Writing With Digital Technologies
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Writ 4662W/Writ 5662
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course explores current and emerging digital writing technologies and teaches students to assess writing situations and make appropriate decisions about digital form, production, and scholarship. Students learn the basic building blocks of writing in Internet environments (text, sound, images, video, interactivity); the vocabularies, functionalities, and organizing structures of Web 2.0 environments and how each impacts understanding and use of information; and how to produce Web 2.0 environments (i.e., multimedia internet documents) that facilitate interactivity and use. This course includes design projects and practice with apps, markup language (html and xml), and content management systems.
WRIT 5664 - Science, Medical, and Health Writing
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course explores the theories and practices of writing about science, medicine, and health (SMH). Students learn about genres of SMH communication including regulatory documents from the FDA, podcasts created by scientists for the public, patient blogs, and published research articles. The course also engages topics including accessibility, writing in regulated environments, writing for complex audiences, and engaging biomedical and scientific research in writing. Students are challenged to consider how language, science, biomedicine, and health intersect and how different stakeholders such as patients, healthcare providers, scientists, government officials, and insurance companies engage in SMH communication.
WRIT 8505 - Professional Practice
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: S-N only
Typically offered: Every Spring
This course is designed to provide a class structure to assist graduate students in completing writing requirements and oral presentations associated with professional projects -- research, scientific writing, and associated reports -- as part of their graduate programs. Learning outcomes include the following: to foster advanced skills in writing and editing scientific and/or technical documents for various audiences; to design and develop research reports and related documents for graduate programs in scientific and technical communication and other technical disciplines; to understand and apply theoretical and research perspectives in scientific and technical communication to professional practice projects; to expand use of online tools for project development and management and data analysis; to enhance skills in oral presentation of scientific and/or technical research information; and to identify and reflect on the culture and value of professional practice from a disciplinary perspective.