Career Guide to JMU Majors:
Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication
Technical and Scientific Communication
Writing and Rhetoric
Admission and Progression Standards:
Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.
Description of MajorThe WRTC major is offered through the School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication. Students can pursue this major within either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree program. The major in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication (WRTC) equips you for academic and professional success as a communicator in print and electronic media. It develops you into an accomplished writer and editor, able to evaluate the effectiveness of communication based upon the principles of rhetoric. You will also cultivate proficiencies in critical and analytical thinking as well as in the use and understanding of technology. Ultimately, this major will prepare you for a career as a professional writer and communicator. The Technical and Scientific concentration prepares students to work in a variety of Web-based environments in business, information technology industries and non-profit institutions. The Writing and Rhetoric concentration is designed for students who wish to extend, enrich, and formalize their education as writers in multiple genres and for multiple audiences. The central objectives of the WRTC major are to help students to: (1) develop into accomplished writers and editors, (2) learn how to solve communication problems in their field, (3) enhance their understanding of how and why written communication works, (4) develop criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of communication, (5) practice using communication technologies and rhetorical strategies that enhance their ability to design and produce documents of professional quality both in terms of writing and graphics, (6) improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their organizational communication, (7) develop research skills, and (8) create a focus of study within the field in which they intend to work as a professional writer, editor, and/or technical communicator.
Tell me more about this field of studyWRTC unites three disciplines into a flexible yet historically and theoretically grounded degree program. It will encourage you to think in ways that cross disciplinary lines and to demonstrate accomplishment in multiple genres of writing, rhetoric and technical communication.
There are a number of fields (and potential career paths) represented in this interdisciplinary major. A study of writing, rhetoric and technical communication combines scholarly, humanistic and social scientific perspectives on the function and application of communication technologies, with instruction in areas such as:
- literacy studies
- rhetorical traditions
- writing pedagogy
- Web theory and design
- publications management
- knowledge and information management
- writing for professional communities such as government, medical, scientific and academic
In addition to offering rhetorical tools with which to excel as professional communicators, this field of also prepares graduates for academic studies in writing, rhetoric and technical communication at the master's level as well as for professional programs such as law school.
Tell me more about specialization
The School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication encourages a robust mix of theory and practice. The varied writing, editing, and production professions that comprise the field of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication require that university graduates be well-rounded and intellectually agile - not only accomplished in writing, editing, and communication technologies (such as desktop publishing, online documentation, and electronic publishing on the World Wide Web) but also acquainted with technical and scientific content areas and digital literacies. Students work with their WRTC advisers to design a program that fits their unique educational needs and career aspirations.
Common majors or minors that complement this major
Concentrated course work in another academic area is encouraged. Some minor combinations may include: Anthropology, Art History, Communication Studies, Computer Science, Conflict Analysis and Intervention, Creative Writing, Economics, Environmental Information Systems, Environmental Studies, Film Studies, Geographic Science, Geology, Health Sciences, Historical Archaeology, History, Humanitarian Affairs, Integrated Science and Technology, Justice Studies, Mathematics, Music Industry, Philosophy and Religion, Physics, Political Communication, Political Science, Public Policy and Administration, Sociology, Sport Communication, Statistics, or Telecommunications.
Ability to recognize and to utilize a range of critical thinking, problem-solving, and technological skills is essential. Students who are creative, innovative, and have the ability to synthesize and to communicate information in both written and verbal formats tend to excel.
Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.
Who employs graduates?
Advertising, Biotech, Business & Professional Services Computing, Colleges/Universities, Environmental, Federal, State, & Local Governments, Financial Services, Health Care, Industrial Materials & Components, Information & Communications, Manufacturing, Medicine, Natural Resource & Energy, Non-Profits, Professional Associations, Publishing Industry, and Transportation & Travel.
The WRTC internship is a required professional preparation for B.A. and B.S. students. It expects students to exercise the preparation that they received from their WRTC course work to design, write, edit and produce professional documents for internship providers in academia, business, industry and government. Students have completed internships in publications, production and printing, computer software development, medical writing, legal writing, and government writing. Information about internships may be obtained through the office of the Department of WRTC. Students may also consider joining the Society for Technical Communication, The Society for Professional Journalists or working with our online journal Lexia.
View our list of internship coordinators for each major.
A broad range of resources on career fields, internships, and job search information is also available in the Career & Academic Planning Resource Center.
Make an appointment with a CAP career counselor to learn more about this major and your career options.
A few titles from our Resource Center related to this field include:
© Career & Academic Planning, James Madison University, 2013All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from JMU Career & Academic Planning. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to the Career Guide editor, Nina Stensby-Hurst.