Professional Writing

The Graduate Program in Professional Writing at Washington & Jefferson College is a classroom-based course of study that trains individuals as communication specialists and information managers and prepares them for flexible careers in the workplace. Students who complete the certificate or master’s degree will gain skills in writing, editing, research, layout and design, as well as learn how to prepare professional documents and presentations for different audiences and purposes. The program is open to students who possess an undergraduate degree in any field of study.

Graduate Certificate

This graduate certificate program gives students a solid grounding in professional writing, research and editing relevant to any field. Students will take either PRWR 601 Writing and Grammar or PRWR 605 Research Methods, then choose three electives. This certificate would be appropriate for individuals looking to be promoted, change careers or to increase their existing skill set. Students who complete the certificate may then use those courses to complete the master’s degree.

Master’s Degree

This ten-course degree gives students knowledge and experience across several fields in professional writing, as well as in-depth experience researching, editing and designing. Students will take two required courses, PRWR 601 Writing and Grammar and PRWR 605 Research Methods, then choose eight electives from two categories. Students will also be required to complete a practicum or take an additional course. To complete their master's degree, students will submit an electronic portfolio of representative work.

Academic Regulations

Students applying for admission to the Graduate Program in Professional Writing must possess a bachelor’s degree in any field from an accredited institution with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5. Students must earn a minimum grade of “C” in each course applied toward the certificate or master’s degree. With regard to all other academic regulations, the policies of Washington & Jefferson College will be observed.


Student performance will be assessed by exams, presentations and professional documents and projects.

Upon completion of the certificate or master’s degree, students will be able to:

  • Identify target audiences and write to that audience
  • Write in multiple genres (reports, brochures, proposals, oral presentations) and write for multiple platforms (print, web, social media)
  • Manage and use social media in a professional context
  • Conduct research in both print and electronic sources
  • Understand professional ethics and best practices in the field
  • Write grammatically and mechanically correct English
  • Incorporate visual design to deliver a message

In addition, the master’s degree will enable students to:

  • Enhance their rhetorical and technical skills
  • Write in one or more specialized professional writing fields
  • Edit and critique other writers
  • Manage writing projects



Students pursuing either the certificate or the master’s must take the following two courses.

PRWR 601 Writing and Grammar This course helps students perfect their writing and grammar. Students learn to craft prose that is clear, concise, and correct and to apply their knowledge to a variety of professional writing situations.

PRWR 605 Research Methods This course teaches students how to conduct research using both print and electronic sources, as well as how to evaluate and integrate that research effectively into their work.


Students pursuing the certificate must take at least one of the following courses. Students pursuing the master’s must take at least two of the following courses.

PRWR 611 Knowing Your Audience This course teaches students to conduct intensive audience analyses and to craft their work accordingly. Students receive a solid grounding in the theory of audience analysis and practice evaluating and writing to real-world audiences.

PRWR 612 Ethics and Professionalism This course introduces students to the ethical issues related to professional writing, including issues of mass media law. Students also learn the professional expectations required of writing professionals.

PRWR 613 Layout and Design This course teaches students the basics of print and online layout and design. Students gain experience in using software layout and design programs.

PRWR 614 Social Media This course introduces students to the features of various forms of social media. Students learn how to extract news and contact information from these sources, as well as how to create effective content, use management/scheduling tools, develop a consistent voice across various platforms, measure impact and connections through analytics, and avoid controversy.

PRWR 615 Proposal Writing This course introduces students to the theory and practice of writing solicited and unsolicited proposals. Students learn to locate opportunities, conduct appropriate research, organize their documents and format and present their works.

PRWR 616 Collaboration and Writing Project Management This course introduces students to the logistics of writing collaborative documents and managing workflows for projects. Students learn how to work with other writers, maintain version control, and use electronic document and writing project management systems.


Students pursuing the certificate may take up to two of the following courses. Students pursuing the master’s may take up to seven of the following courses.

PRWR 621 Advertising and Marketing This course introduces students to the fields of advertising and marketing. Students learn about advertising and marketing strategy, research, design and implementation, as well as issues such as branding and globalization.

PRWR 622 Visual Communication This course introduces students to the field of visual rhetoric. Students learn to analyze and interpret images, to locate images available for public use, to create their own images, and to successfully integrate images into professional documents.

PRWR 623 Web Design This course teaches students to build and edit websites and widgets using basic web coding. Students also learn to write specifically for online publications, as well as to design for portable devices such as cell phones and to convert a web design for portable devices.

PRWR 624 Writing for the Health Professions This course introduces students to professional writing in the health professions, such as how to communicate clearly in a variety of settings and for multiple audiences, including the public, patients, caregivers, and other healthcare professionals.

PRWR 625 Writing for Small Businesses This course introduces students to writing for small businesses, including creating a business plan, developing a marketing strategy, and writing grant proposals for small businesses.

PRWR 626 Writing for Nonprofits This course introduces students to writing for nonprofit organizations, including locating funding opportunities, developing marketing strategies, and writing funding proposals.

PRWR 627 Writing and the Law This course introduces students to the legal and ethical issues related to professional writing, as well as how to write about the law, public policy, and legal matters.

PRWR 628 STEM Writing This course introduces students to the theoretical and practical aspects of non-academic writing about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including invention, research and citation, audience adaptation, and style.

PRWR 700 Practicum This course is a supervised field experience in professional writing. The experience may take the form of an internship, freelance project, or work-related project.

Program Costs

Each course costs $2,100. For students seeking financial assistance to help pay program costs, please note that the Office of Financial Aid is working closely with the U.S. Department of Education to determine the eligibility of this program for financial aid. It is not clear when this determination will be made. In the meantime, questions can be addressed to our Director of Financial Aid at or Dana Staudt, Loan Coordinator, at​

There are no additional institutional fees for these courses. Parking is free and easily accessible next to the Burnett Center or behind the Technology Center.