Home

General Information
Academic Programs

General Education

Interdisciplinary Programs

Academic Units

Colleges
Course Descriptions

 

Order your copy of the Undergraduate Catalog from the JMU Bookstore.

Publisher: JMU Academic Affairs
MSC 8002, Harrisonburg, VA 22807

For more information, contact:
JMU Catalog Office, ug-catalog@jmu.edu

Copyright © 2007 James Madison University. All rights reserved.
Privacy Statement.

This site is best viewed in
Internet Explorer 6.0 or above at
1024 x 768 pixels.

Institute of Technical and Scientific Communication

Dr. Alice I. Philbin, Director
Phone: (540) 568-8018
E-mail: tsc-program@jmu.edu
Web site: http://www.jmu.edu/tsc/

Professors
M. Hawthorne, A. Philbin

Associate Professor
E. Pass

Assistant Professor
L. Bednar

Instructor
C. Allen

 

Mission Statement
Career Opportunities
Professional Activities and Organizations
Admission Requirements
Major and Degree Requirements
Concentrations
Minor Requirements

 

Mission Statement

The B.A. and B.S. degree programs in technical and scientific communication offer students instruction in the study of communication in fields traditionally associated with technical or scientific content, such as biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, nursing and physics. The degree programs also provide instruction in components of professional communication that are applicable to technical and scientific communication, such as document design and production, Web design, publications management, knowledge management, organizational and managerial communication, instructional design and training, rhetoric, and communication studies.

The range of courses in technical and scientific communication provides B.A. and B.S. students with advanced communication skills and training that enable them to build productive careers in business, industry, government or academia. The undergraduate programs also introduce students to current communication technologies such as desktop publishing and Web page construction that not only enable them to produce documents of professional quality during their studies but also train them in the technological tools that they will use throughout their careers. In addition, students learn the kinds of research, analytical and reasoning skills that will allow them to become leaders in technical and scientific communication. Finally, courses in international technical communication, including linguistic theory and application in technical and scientific communication, technical translation, international publication management and document internationalization, prepare TSC majors for the global market within the field.

The B.A. and B.S. programs emphasize scholarly, humanistic and social scientific perspectives on the function and application of technical and scientific communication. The central mission of both the B.A. and B.S. degrees, then, is to enable program graduates to grow as professionals and, ultimately, to contribute to the developing field of technical and scientific communication.

Finally, in addition to offering students the rhetorical tools with which to excel in the professions as technical communicators, the B.A. and B.S. programs also prepare graduates for academic studies at the master’s level.

 

Goals

The central objectives of the programs are to help students:

  • develop into accomplished writers and editors in the field.
  • learn how to solve communication problems, whether in written or graphic form.
  • enhance their understanding of how and why
    communication works.
  • develop criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of technical and scientific communication.
  • apply communication technologies that enhance their ability to design and produce print and online documents of professional quality both in terms of writing and graphics.
  • improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communication management.
  • develop advanced research and analytical skills.
  • create for themselves a concentration or cognate area of study within the technical or scientific field in which they intend to work as professional technical communicators.

 

Career Opportunities

The TSC B.A. and B.S. degrees are designed primarily for students seeking specialized education in technical communication theory and its application in work-world contexts. They combine work in theory, writing, text design and analysis of communication systems and contexts to help students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to begin careers in technical or scientific communication.

The TSC programs are designed to prepare students for a range of communication careers in the field – primarily those focusing on technology and science. According to state and federal labor statistics, technical communicators can expect to enjoy one of the fastest expanding career markets. TSC graduates obtain writing, editing or production positions with a variety of business and industry employers, most notably the computer hardware and software industry, law firms, health care providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, engineering companies, publishing houses, environmental concerns, political organizations, and technical translation groups of multinational corporations.

 

Professional Activities and Organizations

TSC Internship

The technical or scientific communication internship serves as an essential professional experience for B.A. and B.S. students. It requires students to call upon the preparation that they received from their TSC course work to design, write, edit and produce professional documents for internship providers in academia, business, industry and government.

The B.A. and B.S. programs require a 15 week (or 150 hour) internship. Many internships are taken with local and regional providers affiliated with the TSC program in such fields as telecommunications, writing and editing for publications, graphic design, production and printing, computer software documentation, medical writing, legal writing, and government writing. Internships are offered on a competitive basis. To apply for an internship, students must:

  • make an appointment with the internship director.
  • submit a TSC internship application.
  • have completed 12 hours of course work: the three core courses in TSC (TSC 210, Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication or TSC 220, Technical and Scientific Communication for Nonnative Speakers of English; TSC 230, Research in Technical and Scientific Communication; and TSC 240, Technical and Scientific Editing), plus one TSC elective (must be a TSC course).

Applicants should submit a completed dossier of the TSC internship application, writing samples and transcript to the TSC director the semester before which they hope to take the internship.

 

STC Student Chapter

The Society for Technical Communication offers a unique opportunity for members to seek recognition for their work and obtain professional contacts. STC is comprised of over 23,000 individual members throughout the world, making it the largest organization of its kind.

The JMU STC Student Chapter was established in the fall of 1999 to foster professional development between the undergraduate and graduate students in TSC. The JMU STC Student Chapter allows each of its members the opportunity to:

  • network and make connections that could lead to a career.
  • learn technical communication skills and techniques from experts in the field.
  • get involved at JMU and become a student leader.
  • access STC’s salary survey and jobs database.
  • have an edge when applying for a job or internship by having STC on his or her resume.

The JMU STC Student Chapter provides significant resources to its members through several media:

  • STC Annual Conference. This conference is the largest gathering of technical communicators. It can provide members with various networking and employment opportunities.
  • Publications. In addition to the quarterly journal, Technical Communication, and the student chapter’s newsletter, Bytes & Pieces, members have the opportunity to receive information on a wide variety of subjects.
  • Competitions, Scholarships and Grants. Members have the opportunity to become recognized and win awards through the many competitions the Society organizes.

 

Admission Requirements

Any student coming into JMU as a first year student without previous college experience may declare TSC as a major. However, any student who has completed one semester at JMU or another university must apply to TSC. To be admitted into the TSC B.A. or B.S. program, students must first satisfy all university general admission requirements. In addition, applicants to the program must submit to the director of the TSC institute an application dossier that contains the following material:

  • A completed TSC application form
  • A copy of the student’s Degree Progress Report
  • A background and goals statement of no more than 500 words that explains how the B.A. or B.S. program would prepare the student for his or her anticipated career

A student’s SAT verbal, quantitative and analytical scores are considered in the admission process. Nonnative speakers of English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language and receive a score of at least 550. Applicants may use letters of recommendation and writing samples to support an application for financial aid.

 

Major and Degree Requirements

Course requirements differ between the B.A. and B.S. programs. Students in either program must successfully complete a minimum of 39 credit hours of undergraduate course work, which includes four core courses (12 credit hours) in TSC, nine credit hours of course work in a cognate area and 18 hours of TSC electives, of which 15 must be at the 300/400 level. In core courses (TSC 210 [TSC 220], TSC 230 and TSC 240), the student must make a “C” or better. If the student does not, he or she may not register for future TSC courses until a grade of “C” or better is earned in the core course(s). Of the TSC electives taken, only two courses may be outside TSC; the remaining must be TSC courses. B.A. and B.S. majors are required to complete a TSC internship.

The B.A. and B.S. programs in TSC are highly interdisciplinary and encourage students to take courses in a variety of fields. Many program electives are offered in academic units outside the institute, such as communication studies, computer information systems, computer science, integrated science and technology, and media arts and design. Students should check prerequisites for upper-level electives offered in other academic units. Students should also work with department advisers to design a program that fits their unique educational needs and career aspirations. Requirements of the TSC degree might mean that some students will take courses beyond the 120 hour university requirement for B.A. and B.S. degrees.

 

Bachelor of Arts in Technical and Scientific Communication

Degree Requirements

Required Courses
Credit Hours
General Education courses1
41
Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required)2
0-14
Philosophy course (in addition to General Education courses)
3
University electives
23-37
Major requirements (listed below)
39

 
120
1The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
2The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level (typically 232) of the student’s chosen language or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Language’s placement test.

 

Major Requirements
Core Requirements
Credit Hours
Choose TSC 210 or TSC 220:
3

TSC 210. Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication
TSC 220. Technical and Scientific Communication for Nonnative Speakers of English

TSC 230. Research in Technical and Scientific Communication1

3
TSC 240. Technical and Scientific Editing
3
TSC 495. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication
3
Electives
18
TSC Genres
TSC 350. Science and Technology in Literature
TSC 410. Government Writing
TSC 420. Legal Writing
TSC 430. Medical Writing
TSC 440. Proposal Writing
TSC 450. User Documentation

Rhetorical Theory
ENG 420. English Grammar
PHIL 250. Introduction to Symbolic Logic
PHIL 310. Symbolic Logic
SCOM 341. Persuasion
SCOM 342. Argument and Advocacy
TSC 310. Rhetorical Analysis
TSC 481. Beginning Web Theory and Design
TSC 482. Advanced Web Theory and Design

Organizational Context

Oral Communication

SCOM 358. Business and Professional Communication Studies
TSC 360. Instructional Design and Training

Communication Within Organizations

TSC 330. Intercultural Technical and Scientific Communication
TSC 455. Managerial and Entrepreneurial Communication
SCOM 248. Intercultural Communication
SCOM 270. Introduction to Health Communication
SCOM 350. Organizational Communication
SCOM 353. American Political Culture and Communication
SCOM 431. Legal Communication

Mediation and Negotiation

MGT 481. Negotiation Behavior
SCOM 331. Communication and Conflict
SCOM 332. Mediation

Communication Ethics and Law

SMAD 330. Multimedia Law
SMAD 370. Mass Communication Law
SMAD 471. Media Ethics
TSC 250. Ethical and Legal Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication

Communication Technologies

TSC 460. Beginning Topics in Online Publication
TSC 461. Intermediate Topics in Online Publication
TSC 462. Advanced Topics in Online Publication
CIS 301. Information Technology Tools and Methods
CIS 304. Information Technology
SCOM 361. Public Relations II: Visual Research Methods

Research Methods

COB 291. Introduction to Management Science
G ISAT 141. Analytical Methods I
ISAT 142. Analytical Methods II
MATH 325. Survey Sampling Methods
SCOM 280. Introduction to Communication Research
SCOM 383. Communication Research Methodologies
SCOM 386. Communication Survey Research

Special Topics in TSC

TSC 480. Special Topics in Technical and Scientific Professional Communication
TSC 490. Advanced Independent Study in Technical and Scientific Communication

Cognate Course Work
Courses chosen from a cognate area

9

 
39

1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.

 

B.A. Cognate

All B.A. majors must complete nine hours of lower-level course work in one or more scientific and/or technical programs. These nine credits may not be double counted toward either the General Education requirements or the TSC major requirements. Six of these nine hours must be at the 300/400 level. The programs include: anthropology, industrial design (art), biology, chemistry, communication sciences and disorders, communication studies, computer science, economics, geographic sciences, geology, health sciences, human resources development, integrated science and technology, kinesiology, mathematics, media arts and design, military science, music industry, physics, psychology, public policy and administration, sociology, and statistics. COB 204 and computer information systems are also recognized as cognate course areas.

The cognate provides students with an understanding of fundamental terminology, theory and processes of a chosen technical or scientific discipline. While these students might not intend to work in professions that are highly technical or scientific, the working knowledge of a chosen cognate area allows them to converse at an introductory level in a technical or scientific discipline and enables them to build on this foundation should they later wish to seek mastery of a technical or scientific field.

 

Recommended Schedule for B.A. Majors

Students are encouraged to begin their TSC course work as soon as possible in their degree plans. The following sample program of study illustrates how a TSC major might earn a B.A. degree.

First Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
Foreign Language course1
3-4
General Education Cluster One
9
General Education Cluster Three
3

 
15-16

Second Semester
Credit Hours
Foreign Language course
3-4
TSC 210. Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication
3
General Education Cluster Three
3
General Education courses
6

 
15-16

 

Second Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
Foreign Language course
0-3
TSC 230. Research in Technical and Scientific Communication
3
TSC 240. Technical and Scientific Editing
3
General Education Cluster Three
4
B.A. Degree Philosophy course
3
General Education courses
0-3

 
16

Second Semester
Credit Hours
Foreign Language course
0-3
TSC elective course
3
General Education courses
3
University elective courses
9

 
15-18

Third Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective course
3
B.A. cognate elective course
3
General Education courses
6
University elective course
3

 
15

Second Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective course
3
B.A. cognate elective course
3
General Education courses
3-6
University elective course
6

 
15-18

Fourth Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective courses
6
B.A. cognate elective course
3
University elective course
6-9

 
15-18

Second Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective course
3
TSC 495. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication
3
University elective course
9

 
15

1Completion of an intermediate level foreign language is required for the B.A. degree (usually six hours if begun at the intermediate level) unless the language requirement is satisfied by an exemption test. In that case, university electives may be substituted for additional hours indicated as foreign language courses.

 

Bachelor of Science in Technical and Scientific Communication

Degree Requirements

Required Courses
Credit Hours
General Education courses1
41
Quantitative requirement2
3
Scientific Literacy requirement2
3-4
University electives
33-34
Major requirements (listed below)
39

 
120

1The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
2In addition to course work taken to fulfill General Education requirement.

 

Major Requirements
Core Requirements
Credit Hours
Choose TSC 210 or TSC 220:
3

TSC 210. Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication
TSC 220. Technical and Scientific Communication for Nonnative Speakers of English

TSC 230. Research in Technical and Scientific Communication1

3
TSC 240. Technical and Scientific Editing
3
TSC 495. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication
3
Electives
18
TSC Genres
TSC 350. Science and Technology in Literature
TSC 410. Government Writing
TSC 420. Legal Writing
TSC 430. Medical Writing
TSC 440. Proposal Writing
TSC 450. User Documentation

Organizational Context

Oral Communication

SCOM 358. Business and Professional Communication Studies
TSC 360. Instructional Design and Training

Communication Within Organizations

TSC 330. Intercultural Technical and Scientific Communication
TSC 455. Managerial and Entrepreneurial Communication
SCOM 248. Intercultural Communication
SCOM 270. Introduction to Health Communication
SCOM 350. Organizational Communication
SCOM 353. American Political Culture and Communication
SCOM 431. Legal Communication

Mediation and Negotiation

MGT 481. Negotiation Behavior
SCOM 331. Communication and Conflict
SCOM 332. Mediation

Communication Ethics and Law

SMAD 330. Multimedia Law
SMAD 370. Mass Communication Law
SMAD 471. Media Ethics
TSC 250. Ethical and Legal Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication

Communication Technologies

TSC 460. Beginning Topics in Online Publication
TSC 461. Intermediate Topics in Online Publication
TSC 462. Advanced Topics in Online Publication
TSC 481. Beginning Web Theory and Design
TSC 482. Advanced Web Theory and Design
CIS 301. Information Technology Tools and Methods
CIS 304. Information Technology
SCOM 361. Public Relations II: Visual Research Methods

Special Topics in TSC

TSC 480. Special Topics in Technical and Scientific Professional Communication
TSC 490. Advanced Independent Study in Technical and Scientific Communication

Cognate Course Work
Courses chosen from a cognate area

9

 
39

1This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.

 

B.S. Cognate

The cognate provides B.S. students with a deeper understanding of the terminology, theory and processes of a chosen technical or scientific discipline than does the B.A. concentration area. B.S. students normally expect to work in professions that are highly technical or scientific and in which an advanced understanding of the discipline is essential.

B.S. students must complete at least nine hours of course work from one or more scientific and/or technical programs available at JMU. Six of these nine hours must be at the 300/400 level. These nine credits may not be double counted toward General Education requirements. The programs students may choose from include anthropology, industrial design (art), biology, chemistry, communication sciences and disorders, communication studies, computer science, economics, geographic sciences, geology, health sciences, human resources development, integrated science and technology, kinesiology, mathematics, media arts and design, military science, music industry, physics, psychology, public policy and administration, sociology, and statistics. COB 204 and computer information systems are also recognized as cognate course areas.

Students who double-major in TSC and a major that can serve as a cognate automatically satisfy the TSC cognate requirement.

Students are encouraged to begin their TSC course work as soon as possible in their degree plans. The following sample program of study illustrates how a TSC major might earn a B.S. degree.

 

Recommended Schedule for B.S. Majors

First Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
General Education Cluster One
9
General Education Cluster Three
3-6
General Education courses
3

 
15-18

Second Semester
Credit Hours
TSC 210. Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication
3
General Education Cluster Three
3-4
General Education courses
9

 
15-16

Second Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
TSC 230. Research in Technical and Scientific Communication
3
TSC 240. Technical and Scientific Editing
3
General Education Cluster Three
0-4
General Education courses
6-9

 
15-16

Second Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective course
3
B.S. Quantitative requirement course
3
University elective courses
9

 
15

Third Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective courses
6
B.S. cognate elective course
3
B.S. Scientific Literacy course1
3
University elective course
3

 
15

Second Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective course
3
B.S. cognate elective course
3
University elective courses
9

 
15-18

Fourth Year

First Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective course
3
B.S. cognate elective course
3
University elective courses
9

 
15

Second Semester
Credit Hours
TSC elective course
3
B.S. cognate elective
0-3
University elective courses
7-9

 
13-15
1Completion of the B.S. degree requires a student to complete either a natural science or a social science course in addition to those required for the General Education program. A student may double-count this course as one of the courses needed for the cognate with approval by the TSC director.

 

Concentrations

Online Publications Concentration

The online publication concentration prepares students to work in a variety of Web-based environments in business, information technology industries and nonprofit institutions. Employers of TSC graduates tend to expect them to develop the same information for both print and online sources. This concentration prepares students for employers with this expectation.

Students learn theories of Web design and navigation as they apply the theories to technical communication in an online environment. They also learn single-sourcing techniques. Graduates will be able to evaluate, revise, negotiate, manage, sustain and reorganize large Web sites. They learn the differences in design and layout principles between print and online documents. They develop competence in designing, writing, coding and producing online Web documents. They also compare industry-standard authoring tools and programs, and learn to write and edit authoring programs and online databases. In sum, students learn the importance of the integration of all elements of an effective online technical communication document.

A student may only pursue a maximum of two concentrations. If pursuing two concentrations, the student may only double-count one course.

 

Description of Curriculum

The concentration requires a minimum of 15 hours of course work beyond the core requirements, counting toward the major but not toward a cognate. The following is a description of the curriculum:

The following are the core requirements:

TSC 210. Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 230. Research in Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 240. Technical and Scientific Editing

TSC 495. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication

Online Publication electives (choose five from the following):

TSC 450. User Documentation

TSC 460. Beginning Topics in Online Publication

TSC 461. Intermediate Topics in Online Publication

TSC 462. Advanced Topics in Online Publication

TSC 481. Beginning Web Theory and Design

TSC 482. Advanced Web Theory and Design

 

Publications Management Concentration

The publication management concentration prepares students to manage a variety of publications for an organization. The specialized nature of our degree moves our students into managerial positions quickly, and this concentration prepares them with training in management of publications for the business and government fields. Also, many of our graduates are hired to start up companies, and they are expected to work as independent worker-managers. This concentration keeps students competitive in the industry and, once hired, prepares them to be promoted quickly.

Some of the activities publications managers perform are the following: prepare and manage editorial policy of professional publications; plan and manage the life-cycle of publications, including managing and working within project teams; create document publication schedules; review and edit submissions for print and electronic publications; and collaborate with authors.

A student may only pursue a maximum of two concentrations. If pursuing two concentrations, the student may only double-count one course.

 

Description of Curriculum

The concentration requires a minimum of 15 hours of course work beyond the core requirements, counting toward the major but not toward a cognate. The following is a description of the curriculum:

The following are the core requirements:

TSC 210. Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 230. Research in Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 240. Technical and Scientific Editing

TSC 495. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication

Publications Management electives (choose five from the following):

TSC 250. Ethical and Legal Issues in Technical and Scientific

Communication

TSC 330. Intercultural Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 410. Government Writing

TSC 440. Proposal Writing

TSC 450. User Documentation

TSC 455. Managerial and Entrepreneurial Communication

TSC 480. Special Topics: Student Publications

TSC 480. Special Topics: Project Management

A TSC electronic-intensive course (choose from 460, 481, 482)

 

Technical and Scientific Communication in the Public Sector Concentration

The technical and scientific communication in the public sector concentration prepares students to work in government, government-related and nonprofit organizations. TSC graduates working in these organizations manage teams and work with clients and prepare a range of technical and scientific print and online documents. The skills and knowledge emphasized in this concentration make our graduates attractive to employers in metropolitan areas nationwide.

JMU is located between Washington, D.C., and Richmond, and this location makes working in the public sector a wise and beneficial choice.

A student may only pursue a maximum of two concentrations. If pursuing two concentrations, the student may only double-count one course.

 

Description of Curriculum

The concentration requires a minimum of 15 hours of course work beyond the core requirements, counting toward the major but not toward a cognate. The following is a description of the curriculum:

The following are the core requirements:

TSC 210. Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 230. Research in Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 240. Technical and Scientific Editing

TSC 495. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC in the Public Sector electives (choose five from the following):

TSC 250. Ethical and Legal Issues in Technical and Scientific

Communication

TSC 310. Rhetorical Analysis

TSC 330. Intercultural Technical and Scientific Communication

TSC 410. Government Writing

TSC 420. Legal Writing

TSC 440. Proposal Writing

A TSC electronic-intensive course (choose from 460, 481, 482)

 

Minor Requirements

Technical and Scientific Communication Minor

The minimum requirement for a TSC minor is 18 credit hours. Nine of the 18 hours must be TSC core courses (TSC 210, Introduction to Technical and Scientific Communication or TSC 220, Technical and Scientific Communication for Nonnative Speakers of English, TSC 230, Research in Technical and Scientific Communication, and TSC 240, Technical and Scientific Editing). The remaining nine hours may be from any upper-level TSC elective. In core courses (TSC 210 (TSC 220), TSC 230 and TSC 240) the student must make a “C” or better. If the student does not, he or she may not register for future TSC courses until a grade of “C” or better is earned in the core course(s). Students majoring in disciplines within the School of Media Arts and Design or the School of Communication Studies can count no more than three hours of SMAD or SCOM course work toward the TSC minor.