Twin Cities campus

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Twin Cities Campus

Technical Communication Postbaccalaureate Certificate

Writing Studies Department
College of Liberal Arts
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Department of Writing Studies, 214 Nolte Center, 315 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455; (612-624-4761; fax: 612-624-3617)
  • Program Type: Post-baccalaureate credit certificate/licensure/endorsement
  • Requirements for this program are current for Fall 2023
  • Length of program in credits: 15
  • This program requires summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Technical Communication Pbacc Cert
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
The Department of Writing Studies trains students to understand how people use written communication (digital, visual, textual) to shape the world around them, with a particular emphasis on communication in scientific and technical areas. The Certificate in Technical Communication focuses on applying basic theory and research-driven approaches to create and adapt content to solve complex problems in technical communication workplaces. Students connect with workplace professionals through client projects, virtual and global teamwork, mentorships, and emerging technologies. These experiences enable students to develop unique strengths in digital, usability, and science/health/medical communication. Certificate courses are taught by graduate faculty who themselves have active research agendas in these areas. Students also have the opportunity to work with the Technical Communication Advisory Board (TCAB), a group of business leaders who provide pathways to experiential learning opportunities including networking, mentoring, and internships. This fully online program equips professionals for transition to the technical communication field and/or serves as the foundation for specialized study at the masterís level that is tailored to career goals. All coursework from the Certificate can be applied to the MS in Scientific and Technical Communication upon admission to the MS and with program approval.
Program Delivery
  • completely online (all program coursework can be completed online)
Prerequisites for Admission
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 79
    • Internet Based - Writing Score: 21
    • Internet Based - Reading Score: 19
    • Paper Based - Total Score: 550
    • Total Score: 6.5
    • Final score: 80
Key to test abbreviations (TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB).
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 GPA of 2.80 is required for students to remain in good standing.
A minimum grade of B- is required for each course applied to the certificate.
Fall Term Courses (6 credits)
Take the following courses:
WRIT 5001 - Foundations and Futures of Technical Communication (3.0 cr)
WRIT 5662 - Writing With Digital Technologies (3.0 cr)
Spring Term Courses (6 credits)
Take the following courses:
WRIT 5112 - Information Design: Theory and Practice (3.0 cr)
WRIT 5501 - Usability and Human Factors in Technical Communication (3.0 cr)
Summer Term Course (3 credits)
Take the following course:
WRIT 5561 - Editing and Style for Technical Communicators (3.0 cr)
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WRIT 5001 - Foundations and Futures of Technical Communication
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course offers an overview of the field of technical communication. Students learn about the history of the field including job titles, industries that hire technical communicators, and trends in the field. Students also learn about research methods (including audience analysis and usability testing); software and apps commonly used in technical communication; social issues in technical communication (including legal, ethical, and organizational); and international issues (including writing for regulated environments such as in the medical device industry). Projects are multi-modal and include written reports; slide presentations with and without voice recordings; visual communication including user documentation and movies. Some projects are done individually but most are done in virtual teams. Weekly discussion forums provide students with opportunities to lead and summarize key themes from each week?s topic. Students in this class participate within a community of technical communication professionals and typically have a background in technical communication, medical/science communication, engineering, software, usability, customer support, writing and communication, marketing, or similar area.
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 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 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.