The Write Thing

Oregon Tech to Introduce a Professional Writing Degree

Brette Bliss

Staff Writer

The Oregon Tech Communication Department will offer a new Professional Writing (PW) degree starting during the 2017-2018 academic year.

The PW degree is in the final stages of approval and will be offered ahead of schedule starting next Fall or Winter. This program will incorporate professional, technical, business, and scientific writing. PW is not a creative writing degree, instead, the focus is for students to be able to use written and visual skills in any professional setting.

The curriculum aims to provide skills in editing, document design and testing, presentation design, graphics and website development.

Students with a PW degree can find careers in higher education, public relations, authoring, publication editing, communication strategy, social media management and advertising, working in technology, user research and testing, game writing and design, web development and working within organizations.

“There is both the low-tech professional writer who does a lot of content work, and the high-tech professional writer who may be tinkering with the guts of a website or designing apps,” according to Dr. Franny Howes, assistant professor in the communication department.

“A professional writing degree makes you very valuable to an organization that needs somebody to direct and manage the writing of a lot of other people,” said Howes. Planning, structuring, and management are also jobs someone with PW degree could do within an organization.

Potential emphasis options are: scientific and technical, digital media, and writing in organizations.

Some proposed professional writing courses are social media, writing for the health professions, structured authoring, and web-authoring.

This degree is part of the communication department and will allow students to develop communication skills. Professional writing programs at other institutions are generally in the English department with focuses in literature, fiction, and poetry.

In Oregon, four schools offer degrees in professional writing. Oregon Tech is the only one to offer a bachelor’s degree that isn’t online. Portland State offers a graduate program, and Western Governors University and the University of Phoenix only offer the degree online.

Staff who proposed this degree and its respective courses are: Linda Young, Kari Lundgren, Franny Howes, Veronica Koehn, Matt Schnackenberg, and two new hires.

Courses will be taught by existing faculty members in the communication department, including the two new faculty members.

Fields that PW majors might enter are growing, some faster than average. According to the Professional Writing and Rhetoric Proposal, areas specific to content creation are “expected to see a 15 percent job growth over the next 8 years,” and careers “linked to computers, healthcare, engineering, or science,” will see 29 percent growth over the same time period.


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