Professional Writing Certificate

In addition to our online MA in English with an emphasis in professional writing, we also offer an 18-hour Certificate in Professional Writing. This certificate is designed to provide post-baccalaureate education in communications skills that are in daily demand among engineers, scientists, finance experts, and other professionals.

For this graduate certificate, you must complete 6 of the following courses:

  • ENG 502: Advanced Technical Writing
  • ENG 517: Professional Editing
  • ENG 522: Rhetoric and Writing in Professional Communities
  • ENG 526: Advanced Professional Writing
  • ENG 549: Information Design and Usability Testing
  • ENG 554: Professional Writing for Digital Audiences
  • ENG 569: Project Management and Document Development
  • ENG 599: Contemporary Developments (taught by prof. writing faculty)
  • ENG 605: Proposal Writing
  • ENG 606: Issues in Technical and Professional Writing
  • ENG 608: Fieldwork Experience (directed by prof. writing faculty)

Please see the academic catalog for the most recent information regarding courses and academic plans. 

Course descriptions

All courses are three credit hours. Courses are offered online, unless noted.

See descriptions

Eng 502: Advanced Technical Writing. Analysis and practice of skills used by professional technical writers: audience analysis, rhetorical strategy, document navigation and usability; treats both print and online documents.

Eng 503: Written Communication in Organizations. The influence of written communication on professionals in both government and the private sector; strategies for increasing the effectiveness of writing within an organizational context (not online).

Eng 517: Professional Editing. Editing both online and print documents. Topics include: comprehensive editing, Website navigation, visual design, copymarking, copyediting, electronic editing, grammar and punctuation.

Eng 522: Rhetoric and Writing in Professional Communities. Intensive study of written discourse typical of professional communities in education, business, industry, and government.

Eng 526: Advanced Professional Writing. This course studies the research and writing processes in both academic and professional settings. Topics include establishing a valid and useful problem for study; effective research design and method; data analysis; and effective writing of clear, concise, and publishable reports or manuscripts.

Eng 549: Information Design and Usability Testing. Document and Website design, layout, and navigation, and systematic processes for testing and evaluating these, especially Websites and online hypertext documents.

Eng 569: Project Management and Document Development. Study of and practice with the complex business and publishing processes through which both print documents and Websites are produced, both by individuals and by teams.

Eng 599: Contemporary Developments. Various topics. Recently the topic was academic entrepreneurship.

Eng 605: Proposal Writing. This course develops proposal strategy and writing processes through proposal design, development, revision, editing, and review processes, as practiced in the working worlds of business, industry, government, and education.

Eng 606: Issues in Technical and Professional Writing. Intensive analysis of a single topic in professional communications. Topics vary, such as ethics, gender, producing documents for non-native English speakers, writing for specific industries (computer, aerospace, environment).

Eng 608: Fieldwork Experience. Professional work focusing on writing, editing, or design for either print or Web format.

See Professor Rothfork's homepage for syllabi of most of these courses. 

How to apply

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To apply for the Certificate in Professional Writing complete the online Graduate School application.  Select “Search by Program” and select “Professional Writing Certificate” to navigate to the correct application page.  You can upload all materials directly on this online site.

Materials you will need to upload include are your:

  • letter of application in which you explain your interest in earning the Certificate
  • a current resume
  • a writing sample of 4-6 pages (this can be a work-related document or an academic paper)

Apply for entry into the Certificate program before you complete nine graduate hours of course work.

Articulation with MA programs
  • If you later decide to pursue an MA, you must apply for admission to the MA program. Even though the courses you take for the certificate program will count towards an MA in English or the Master of Administration, the Professional Writing Certificate program is a discrete program. You must make a separate application for each degree or certificate you hope to earn.
  • When the above materials are received, your file will be reviewed by the faculty. If admitted to the program, you will be notified in writing.
  • You must be admitted to the certificate program before registering for the last 9 hours of the certificate.

Your adviser will review your Program of Studies with you. Any changes in your program should be approved in advance by your adviser, who must also approve any Petition for Transfer of Credit.

Admission to the Professional Writing Certificate Program

Because students come to graduate programs with different academic and professional experiences, three different avenues for admission are considered.

  • You must have an undergraduate degree with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. If you have done graduate work, it must average 3.0 or higher. Conditional admission will be considered for applicants with GPAs of 2.5 or higher;


  • You must have an undergraduate degree with the last 60 semester hours graded 3.0 or higher. If you have done graduate work, it must average 3.0 or higher;


  • As a non-degree student, you must complete 9 approved graduate hours from Northern Arizona University with a 3.3 or higher grade point average. Contact the English Department when you have completed 9 hours of approved coursework. Alternatively, you may send a letter to the English Department requesting a change of status from provisional to regular status.

The admission committee will use these criteria, along with a review of your letter, resume, and writing sample to determine admission.

Certificate Policies

  • You must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0. No more than three hours of coursework with a grade of C may be used to satisfy the requirements of the Certificate program. The Graduate College will note the successful completion of the Certificate program on your transcript.
  • Admission to the Certificate program does not guarantee admission to an MA program. If you wish to apply for admission to an MA program, you must make a separate application for the master’s program.
  • With the consent of the program coordinator and upon admission to an MA program in English, you may apply the six courses (18 hours) you took to complete the Certificate to help fulfill the requirements for the MA in English.
  • If you are currently enrolled in a graduate program of study leading to a degree and also wish to pursue a graduate Certificate, you must inform the Certificate program coordinator and the Graduate College of your intent to seek the graduate Certificate.
  • No more than one NAU 400-level course (3 credits or 4 credits) may be used to satisfy the requirements for the Certificate.
  • Three hours of appropriate coursework may be transferred from another university with consent of program coordinator.
  • There is no residency requirement for the Professional Writing Certificate.

For further information, contact Dr.Erika Konrad.