BS in Technical Writing & Communication
Technical writing and communication involves communicating complex information to specific audiences with clarity and accuracy. Technical communicators write, organize, edit, and design information for a variety of workplace settings in business, health, technology, science, environment, and law. Turn your love of writing into a professional career with a technical writing & communication major.
As a technical writing student, you will study theories of rhetoric and communication and apply principles of audience analysis, digital writing, editing, information design, and usability. In our courses, you will engage in writing as a process and examine writing within diverse cultures and communities. You will also develop real-world, marketable skills in our competency areas.
- Be that unique person who understands technical or scientific information and can clearly explain it!
- Join a career area predicted to grow by 15% over the next decade—technical communication.
- Practice using the latest digital writing technologies; plus free access to Lynda.com.
- Network with alumni about real-world writing and new job opportunities.
- Impress your friends and colleagues with knowledge about Aristotle and ancient rhetoric.
Technical communication is a broad, interdisciplinary field. As a technical writing & communication major, you will choose one of the following four sub-plans. This sub-plan allows you to focus on an area of interest by taking courses from outside the department to fulfill your degree requirements.
Information Technology and Design
This sub-plan offers courses in web design, media production, information technology, visual rhetoric, and message design. If you have a background or interest in computer science, engineering, design, visual communication, or technology, you may find this a useful emphasis area.
Biological and Health Sciences
This sub-plan offers courses in medical writing or communication related to public health, pharmacy, or biomedical technology. If you have a background or interest in biology, chemistry, anatomy, public health, nursing, or medicine, you may find this a useful emphasis area.
Legal Discourse and Public Policy
This sub-plan offers courses in government, politics, law, and public policy. If you have a background or interest in political science, economics, sociology, law, or philosophy, you may find this a useful emphasis area.
This sub-plan offers courses in natural resources, sustainability, land conservation, and environmental issues. If you have a background or interest in environmental studies, geography, ecology, applied economics, forestry and natural resources, urban studies, or earth sciences, you may find this a useful emphasis area.
Recommendations from the Department of Writing Studies
To explore your interest and prepare for the Technical Writing and Communication (TWC) major, the department recommends students take a few 1xxx-2xxx level courses that offer a foundation for writing and communication, such as English composition and public speaking. These courses serve as essential preparation, although they do not count towards specific major requirements. Strong writing skills and an interest in writing and communication are very important for the TWC major.
Effective fall 2020, WRIT 1001 - Introduction to Technical Writing and Communication is a required course in the major. This course is specific to the major and typically taken after transferring to CLA. It cannot be a transfer course.
Within the Technical Writing and Communication major, students must complete both Core and elective WRIT courses, which are all at the 3xxx-4xxx level except for WRIT 1001.
In addition to WRIT courses, the major requires students to choose a specific sub-plan. Consider taking a course that transfers as an equivalent in the course options for the sub-plan that interests you:
- Information Technology and Design sub-plan: computer science, media production, and design courses.
- Biological and Health Sciences sub-plan: health science, biology, chemistry, and public health.
- Legal Discourse and Public Discourse sub-plan: political science, law, sociology, and philosophy.
- Environmental Science sub-plan: earth sciences, natural resources, and geology.
Approved 1xxx-2xxx level transfer courses can apply towards a sub-plan. A course must be reviewed by the departmental advisor for final approval in the TWC major.
A grade of C- or better is required in all courses approved to satisfy major requirements.
See the catalog for all courses in the major.
Remember, when using Transferology to plan courses for the major, look for courses that transfer as direct equivalents to UMTC major courses. In Transferology, a direct equivalent shows as the UMTC course number. For example, COMM 1101 is a direct equivalent, while COMM 1T*** is not.
In CLA, each department has a process to declare the major. This is a necessary step for the major to be added to the student record. New transfer students do not declare their majors until after they attend orientation.
To declare the Technical Writing and Communication major, students meet with the departmental advisor during a scheduled appointment. Students are asked to complete a declaration form to indicate their previous writing courses, the sub-plan they intend to add, and to write a few paragraphs on their intention for the TWC major. Meeting with the departmental advisor allows students to learn about opportunities within the major and department, as well as plan coursework effectively and efficiently.
Before declaring the TWC major, we recommend that students successfully complete three courses such as English composition, communication, or courses that focus on writing skills. Only an English composition course which fulfills the degree requirement for First-Year Writing is actually required before declaring the major. Note that WRIT 1001 is not a prerequiste to declaring, but it is a requirement for the major.
Students do not have to be declared in the Technical Writing and Communication major before registering for many WRIT courses, although there are some exceptions. In the Core Courses requirement area of the TWC major, some WRIT courses require students to be declared before registering. With some Core and elective courses, we reserve seats for declared students, but also have seats for undeclared students. Seat reservations occur for WRIT 1001 and WRIT 3562W. Also, WRIT 3562W requires sophomore status. Some 4xxx-level WRIT courses require junior status.
Lower division coursework – We have one lower division course, WRIT 1001 - Introduction to Technical Writing and Communication. This course is specific to the major and taken after transferring to CLA. It cannot be a transfer course.
All other WRIT courses in the Technical Writing and Communication major are at the upper division (3xxx-5xxx level). Transfer courses taken at the 1xxx-level cannot count as 3xxx-level WRIT courses. There are some lower division (1xxx-2xxx level) course options within the sub-plans.
Major residency requirement – At least 22 upper division credits in the major must be taken at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Courses that transfer as equivalent to WRIT courses at UMTC may be accepted in the Technical Writing and Communication major except for in the Core Courses requirement area. The Core Courses include WRIT 1001 and WRIT upper division courses.
Other transfer courses may be allowed towards the sub-plan requirements. A transfer course must be reviewed by the departmental advisor for final approval in the TWC major.
Transfer courses are evaluated by the department for use towards the major. Check Transferology to see if an evaluation already exists for the courses you would like to use toward the major. If you find a course that has not been evaluated you can submit the course for review. A copy of the course syllabus is required.
The Technical Writing and Communication major is a part of a BS degree, so it does not include the CLA Second Language requirement.
The need for technical writers and communicators is found in many work settings, including business, health, technology, science, environment, and law. The technical communication career field is expected to grow by 8% in the next decade. A few possible job titles are content developer, information architect, social media manager, technical writer, and medical writer.
The Technical Writing and Communication major allows students who love writing to specialize in a chosen career field. Students learn to make sense of technical or scientific information and then organize and articulate it well.
- Students with an interest in computer science and media production may enjoy the TWC major with the Information Technology and Design sub-plan.
- Students with an interest in biology, health sciences, and the medical field may enjoy the TWC major with the Biological and Health Sciences sub-plan.
- Students interested in political science, economics, sociology, law, or philosophy may enjoy the TWC major with the Legal Discourse and Public Policy sub-plan.
- Students interested in natural resources, sustainability, land conservation, and environmental issues may enjoy TWC major with the Environmental Science sub-plan.
The skills gained through the Technical Writing and Communication major are practical and relevant, including: written communication; digital literacy; rhetorical and writing theory; technology, culture and society; and information management.
For additional questions about the TWC major as you explore and consider transferring, you are encouraged to reach out to the departmental advisor. Transfer students are welcome!
All liberal arts degrees help CLA students develop their Core Career Competencies, and technical writing and communication majors develop specific skills that are applicable to lots of different careers. These skills include strong written communication skills, digital literacy, and analytical & critical thinking.
Students who take the SuperStrong Interest Inventory receive a three-letter interest code, which identifies their top three areas of interest, work activities, potential skills, and personal values. The interest code "EIA" is often associated with this major, however, the SuperStrong assessment can help you understand how your interests connect to a variety of majors and career options. You can learn more about common employer types and occupations associated with this major. You can also see CLA specific examples of alumni careers below.
Internship & Job Search Websites
- Authorlink: Information Services for Writers,
Editors, Literary Agents and Publishers
- Talent Zoo
- Media Week
- Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network
- The Write Jobs
- Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
- Idealist (Nonprofit positions in the US and internationally)
- Society for Technical Communication
- American Copy Editors Society
- American Society of Journalists & Authors
- Association of Directory of Publishers
- Association of American Publishers
- Magazine Publishers of America
Alumni Career Examples
Below is a small sampling of what alumni with this major have pursued, organized by the most common career fields they go into (although keep in mind that there are alumni in all eight of the career fields). You can also utilize the LinkedIn's Alumni Tool and the Maroon and Gold Network to further explore alumni career pathways and connect directly with professionals.
Note: *Asterisks denote that further education and/or training is often required
- Technical Writing Intern, The Toro Company
- Science Communications Internship, Biotechnology Institute, Univ. of Minnesota
- Technical Writing Intern, Graco
- Digital Health Intern, Boston Scientific
- Academic Intern, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
- Information Technology Intern, Boston Scientific
- Technical Documentation Intern, Unisys
- Technical Writing Intern, Boston Scientific
- Technical Writing Intern, Graco
- Web Content Writer/Editor, University of Minnesota
- Communication Specialist, C.H. Robinson
- Online Communications & Design Specialist, Self Esteem Brands
- Technical Writer, Thomson Reuters
- Account Executive, Houck Advertising
- Technical Writer, Preco
- Writer, Amcom Software
- Technical Writer, Optum Health
- Associate Technical Writer, Graco
- Online Communication & Design Specialist, Self Esteem Brands
- Technical Writer, Christian Reformed World Relief
- Designer, Periscope
- Technical Writer, Medtronic
- Editor, National Renewable Energy Lab
- President, Riverview Writing
- Technical Writer, Eco Water Systems Inc.
- Lead Technical Writer, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Note: *Asterisks denote that further education and/or training is often required
- Planning Analyst, Target
- Marketing Manager, Degrees of Entertainment
- Business Development Representative, Epicor Software
- Marketing & Sales Intern, Matterport
- Recruiting Intern, Simpatico Staffing Co.
- Manager, Mayo Clinic*
- Marketing Director, Brookfield
- Operations Director, GovDelivery
- Project Manager, IBM
- Project Manager, Resource Data Inc.
- Marketing Manager, Filament Marketing
- Training and Development Specialist, J&B Group
- Administrator, Delta Airlines*
- Marketing Director, Health Partners Inc.
- Consultant, Boston Scientific*
- Account Executive, Exponent
- Training and Development Associate, Target Stores