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Admission

Mission

Language Requirement

Degree Requirements

Course Offerings


Graduate Programs

[Printable Version]

Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication

Dr. Larry Burton, Director
Dr. Pavel Zemliansky, Graduate Coordinator

     Phone: (540) 568-6004
     Web site: http://www.jmu.edu/wrtc

Professors
M. Hawthorne, A. Philbin

Associate Professors
S. Aley, M. Moghtader, E. Pass, K. Schick, K. Wright, P. Zemliansky,
J. Zimmerman, T. Zimmerman

Assistant Professors
L. Bednar, M. Klein, S. Lunsford

Admission
In addition to satisfying all admission requirements of the JMU graduate school, applicants must submit to the graduate coordinator an application dossier that includes the following documents:

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 the letters of recommendation and writing samples to support an application for financial aid.

Admission may begin the fall semester. To receive full consideration for admission into the programs as well as for financial aid, students should submit their application packages to The Graduate School by May 31 for fall semester.

Students may apply online to The Graduate School Web site and apply for assistantships through JMU Joblink Web site.

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Mission
The School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication seeks to equip students for academic and professional success as communicators in print and electronic media.

Goals
The goals of WRTC are to help students:

The specific goals of the Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees are to help students to: To achieve these goals, the programs combine work in theory, writing, text design, and analysis of communication systems and contexts to help students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to begin careers in writing, rhetoric and technical communication. The programs emphasize scholarly, humanistic and social scientific perspectives on the function and application of writing, rhetoric and technical communication.

Consequently, the programs provide students with not only the knowledge and skills required for careers in industry, business or government but also the research skills and communication theory that will prepare them for doctoral study in communication and rhetoric. The long-range goal of the Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees, then, is to enable program graduates to grow as professionals and, ultimately, to contribute to the developing field of writing, rhetoric and technical communication.

While studies in both programs provide students with a sound foundation in writing, editing and document production, the Master of Arts degree typically attracts students with undergraduate work centered in the humanities. Although these students often supplement their WRTC degree plan with courses in the sciences, they are primarily interested in gaining extensive knowledge and practice in writing and editing skills that are not tied to a single writing, rhetoric and technical communication field but, rather, are applicable to multiple areas.

Conversely, the Master of Science degree plan of study typically proves attractive to students who want to complement their undergraduate degrees in the sciences with advanced training in communication within their fields. Such complementary training in writing, rhetoric and technical communication enables Master of Science graduates not only to perform more effectively as technicians or scientists but also to move laterally into writing, editing or production positions or vertically into management positions.

Degree candidates must successfully complete a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate course work, which includes a minimum of two semesters of course work completed at JMU. Students work with school advisers to design a program that fits their unique educational needs and career aspirations. Depending on their backgrounds and options they might choose to pursue while in the degree program, students may decide to take course work beyond the required 36 hours to obtain additional knowledge or skills in specialized areas. For example, students may choose to take extra course work to enhance their skills in communication technologies or to deepen their academic training in the writing, rhetoric and technical communication content areas in which they intend to work as professional writers or editors.
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Language Requirement
The Master of Arts and Master of Science programs require that the candidate demonstrate graduate-level proficiency in foreign language, statistics or computer programming in one of following ways:

A student should state in his or her plan of study the means by which he or she has already satisfied or plans to satisfy the language requirement. A degree candidate must complete the language requirement before taking the comprehensive exams.

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Degree Requirements
Students in the Master of Arts program must successfully complete three core courses (nine credit hours), a writing, rhetoric and technical communication internship (three credit hours), two courses of thesis or practicum hours (six credit hours), and six courses of WRTC electives (18 credit hours).

Students in the Master of Science program must successfully complete three core courses (nine credit hours), a writing, rhetoric and technical communication internship (three credit hours), two courses of thesis or practicum hours (six credit hours), three courses in an approved technical or scientific cognate discipline (nine credit hours), and three courses of WRTC electives (nine credit hours).

At least half of the student's elective credit hours must come from course work at the 600 level. Up to six of those hours may be WRTC 700, Thesis or WRTC 701, Practicum. Students may take courses at the 700 level to satisfy the remainder of their electives requirement. Students who have obtained substantial work-world experience in designing, writing or producing documentation in writing, rhetoric or technical fields may request credit for and waiver of course work, the internship, or thesis or practicum.

Cognate Disciplines
To be competitive in many of today's writing, rhetoric or technical disciplines, communicators must possess substantial knowledge of the field in which they are working. Through the WRTC Master of Science program, students have the opportunity to gain that background while refining their skills as writing, rhetoric and technical communicators.

Master of Science candidates must successfully complete at least nine credit hours of course work at the graduate level in an approved technical or scientific cognate discipline: biology, chemistry, communication sciences and disorders, computer science, dietetics, geography, geology, health sciences, integrated science and technology, kinesiology, mathematics, medical technology, nursing, physics, or psychology. Master of Arts candidates are also encouraged to gain competence in a technical or scientific area before entering the professions. The advanced proficiency gained by the student in the selected cognate area will complement the student's education in WRTC course work.

For approval to begin study in a chosen cognate discipline, Master of Science students should already possess a Bachelor of Science or comparable work-world experience in the proposed technical or scientific field and seek approval to enroll in cognate course work from the cognate discipline department and the WRTC graduate coordinator. Students who want to take course work in a cognate discipline that does not currently offer graduate studies may do so through independent studies with graduate faculty in the chosen field, distance learning with graduate programs at other accredited colleges or universities or graduate courses available through the College of Integrated Science and Technology. Independent studies with faculty in a cognate discipline department must be approved by the graduate coordinator and by the WRTC graduate coordinator. When transferring credit from other universities or receiving studies through distance learning, students should remember that The Graduate School allows up to nine credit hours of transferred course work from institutions other than JMU to count toward a student's graduate degree at JMU.

Thesis/Practicum
Degree candidates have two options for satisfying the thesis/practicum requirement for the Master of Arts or Master of Science degree:

It is important that the student understand that he/she is solely responsible for the success of the thesis/practicum. The student needs to be in charge of completing all paperwork for the school, The Graduate School, registrar, etc., and for meeting all deadlines to matriculate successfully. The student will need to contact these offices well ahead of the semester in which he/she plans to graduate to ensure that all deadlines can and will be met.

Master of Arts Degree Requirements

Course Requirements
Credit Hours
Core
12
WRTC 510. Seminar in Technical and Scientific Communication
WRTC 530. Research Methods in Technical and Scientific Communication
WRTC 540. Technical and Scientific Editing
WRTC 695. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication
Thesis or Practicum
6
WRTC 700. Thesis Research
WRTC 701. Practicum
Choose at least six of the following:
18
     WRTC 521. Web Design
     WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication
     WRTC 550. Organizational Communication
     WRTC 555. Managerial Communication
     WRTC 560. Scientific Rhetoric
     WRTC 570. Rhetorical Theory: Classical Through Contemporary
     WRTC 581. Hypertext Theory
     WRTC 590. Intercultural Technical and Scientific Communication
     WRTC 610. Publication Management
     WRTC 615. Document Design
     WRTC 620. Science Writing
     WRTC 625. Government Writing
     WRTC 630. Legal Writing
     WRTC 635. Medical Writing
     WRTC 640. Proposal and Grant Writing
     WRTC 645. Documentation of Computer Technologies
     WRTC 650. Electronic and Online Publication
     WRTC 655. Electronic Graphic Design
     WRTC 670. Teaching Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
     WRTC 680. Readings in Technical and Scientific Communication
     WRTC 690. Special Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication

 
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Master of Science Degree Requirements

Course Requirements
Credit Hours
Core
12
WRTC 510. Seminar in Technical and Scientific Communication
WRTC 530. Research Methods in Technical and Scientific Communication
WRTC 540. Technical and Scientific Editing
WRTC 695. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication
Thesis or Practicum
6
WRTC 700. Thesis Research
WRTC 701. Practicum
Cognate discipline courses1
9
Choose at least three of the following:
9
     WRTC 521. Web Design
     WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication
     WRTC 550. Organizational Communication
     WRTC 555. Managerial Communication
     WRTC 560. Scientific Rhetoric
     WRTC 570. Rhetorical Theory: Classical Through Contemporary
     WRTC 581. Hypertext Theory  
     WRTC 590. Intercultural Technical and Scientific Communication
     WRTC 610. Publication Management
     WRTC 615. Document Design
     WRTC 620. Science Writing
     WRTC 625. Government Writing
     WRTC 630. Legal Writing
     WRTC 635. Medical Writing
     WRTC 640. Proposal and Grant Writing
     WRTC 645. Documentation of Computer Technologies
     WRTC 650. Electronic and Online Publication
     WRTC 655. Electronic Graphic Design
     WRTC 670. Teaching Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
     WRTC 680. Readings in Technical and Scientific Communication
     WRTC 690. Special Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication

 
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1 Master of Science candidates must choose a cognate discipline from the following: biology, chemistry, communication sciences and disorders, computer science, dietetics, geography, geology, health sciences, integrated science and technology, kinesiology, mathematics, medical technology, nursing, physics, or psychology.

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Course Offerings
Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
WRTC 510. Seminar in Technical and Scientific Communication. 3 credits.
A foundations course. The study of the theories and history of technical and scientific communication and its major figures and issues. Introduces students to foundational texts in the field.

WRTC 521. Web Design. 3 credits.
Web design study, emphasizing theories of evaluation, developing, revising, and maintaining Web sites; negotiating single-source documentation; and learning the various technological tools communicators use on the job. Students will learn to analyze audiences design needs, establish effective components of a Web site and justify design decision when working with clients. Students will learn to work through a professional and legal project cycle, and create and revise various genres of Web sites.

WRTC 530. Research Methods in Technical and Scientific Communication. 3 credits.
Advanced study of research methodology used in technical and scientific communication, covering techniques for collecting information or data through primary and secondary research. Emphasizes extended bibliographic research through projects that employ conventional bound texts as well as electronic texts, including CD-ROM and the Internet. Prerequisite or corequisite: WRTC 510.

WRTC 540. Technical and Scientific Editing. 3 credits.
Advanced study of and practice in the central editorial duties of managing a document through the editorial process, including establishing the need, purpose and scope of a document; developing levels of edit; copyediting; substantive editing; determining document design; editing graphic aids; collaborating with authors; and proofreading. Prerequisite: WRTC 530 or permission of instructor.

WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication. 3 credits.
Advanced study of the ethical and legal issues confronted by technical communicators in a range of fields. Examines the role of ethics in the field, the nexus of ethics and the law, ethical theories and critical thinking in moral reasoning, falsification of information or data in written or graphic form, ownership of information, confidentiality, copyright and trademark laws, conflicts of interest, and causes of unethical behavior. Prerequisite: WRTC 530 or permission of instructor.

WRTC 550. Organizational Communication. 3 credits.
Advanced study of the structure of communication in organizations by exploring formal and informal communication systems in government, industry and business. Examines the role of communication in the social construction of organizations with hierarchical and nontraditional structures. Prerequisite: WRTC 530 or permission of instructor.

WRTC 555. Managerial Communication. 3 credits.
Advanced study of how managers communicate in organizations by examining the various forms, contexts and functions of managerial written and verbal communication. Emphasizes the role of communication in management and the rhetorical guidelines followed by effective managers to design, write, revise and produce clear, concise and persuasive documents. Prerequisite: WRTC 530 or permission of instructor.

WRTC 560. Scientific Rhetoric. 3 credits.
Study of how writers and editors in technical and scientific communication structure language in communicating scientific knowledge and in presenting and defending a position. Examines theoretical approaches to the uses of language in science and technology within specialized disciplines, industrial organizations, and social and cultural settings as well as critical approaches to the works of figures such as Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, James D. Watson, Francis Crick and Stephen Jay Gould. Prerequisite: WRTC 530 or permission of instructor.

WRTC 570. Rhetorical Theory: Classical Through Contemporary. 3 credits.
Study of the history of rhetoric with an emphasis on the use of language as a means of generating knowledge and of understanding, establishing and maintaining human communities. The course examines the rhetorical theories of major figures from the Classical Period through the present day. Prerequisite: WRTC 530 or permission of instructor.

WRTC 581. Hypertext Theory. 3 credits.
Study of the history of hypertext, its theories and applications. Students will learn the characteristics and the structures of hypertext and navigational approaches to hypertext. The major theorists and designers of hypertext fiction and non-fiction will be explored and discussed. As well as learning about hypertext, students will apply their knowledge to create hypertext. They will also be encouraged to research and explore/create in other online environments (e.g., blogs, wikis, 2nd Life).

WRTC 590. Intercultural Technical and Scientific Communication. 3 credits.
Study of technical and scientific communication in a variety of cultural and international settings and contexts. Emphasizes strategies for understanding and developing analytical skills needed to collaborate with or communicate to people with varied racial, ethnic or cultural backgrounds in both domestic and international settings. Prerequisite: WRTC 530 or permission of instructor.

WRTC 595. Issues in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
3 credits.
Writing and research in a variety of writing, rhetoric and technical communication genres. Examines special and timely issues currently being explored in the field not addressed in sufficient depth in regularly scheduled WRTC courses. May be repeated with different course content and permission of director. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540.

WRTC 610. Publication Management. 3 credits.
Advanced study of the management and editorial policy of academic and professional publications. Examines such managerial and editorial responsibilities as defining editorial policy, choosing a management hierarchy, defining management roles, reviewing and editing submissions for publication, and collaborating with authors. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 615. Document Design. 3 credits.
Advanced study of the document production process, including such design and production processes as creating publication designs, determining publication format and layout for a range of documents (e.g., brochures, newsletters, journals, and books), manipulating text and graphics using desktop publishing software, proofreading galley and page proofs, and submitting final drafts through electronic prepress to printer. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 620. Science Writing. 3 credits.
Advanced writing course that examines the writing, editing and producing of scientific documents including manuals, research reports, conference papers and journal articles. Emphasizes the process of submitting manuscripts for publication to professional and academic science journals, magazines and newspapers and also reviews methods for creating finished, publishable articles about new research, theories, projects, trends and personalities in science and technology. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 625. Government Writing. 3 credits.
Advanced study of writing genres from a variety of fields within government. Examines the purposes, audiences and formats unique to government publications. Directs students in writing original and editing existing government documents. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 630. Legal Writing. 3 credits.
Advanced study of central components of legal writing such as legal analysis, representation of facts and evidence, reasoning, logic, and argumentation. Addresses such key rhetorical elements of legal documents as clarity and conciseness of style, level of diction, jargon, passive voice and errors in person. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 635. Medical Writing. 3 credits.
Advanced study of the theory and practice of writing in medical/health-related fields. Examines the kinds of documentation written about medical practices for nontechnical audiences (patients and their families). Emphasizes communication between medical professionals and patients. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and
WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.


WRTC 640. Proposal and Grant Writing. 3 credits.
Advanced study of the planning and writing of proposals and grants with emphasis on research proposals and grants seeking funding from industry and government. Covers key proposal components including the executive summary, purpose and scope, problem definition, need, methodology, project feasibility, facility requirements, personnel qualifications, cost, and proposal presentation. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 645. Documentation of Computer Technologies. 3 credits.
Advanced study of theory and practice in designing, writing and producing computer documentation for end users. Emphasizes documentation design and production, online documentation, usability testing, and writing of user's guide for computer hardware and software. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 650. Electronic and Online Publication. 3 credits.
Advanced study of electronic and online publications, including World Wide Web pages, electronic newsletters and magazines, and online help. Emphasizes principles in designing, writing and producing publications using such current authoring tools as the hypertext mark-up language, HTML. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 655. Electronic Graphic Design. 3 credits.
Advanced study of the theoretical and practical use of computer graphics as a form of visual communication in scientific or technical documents. Examines topics such as visual perception, design theory, formatted text and graphics, color and design concepts, animation, and video. Emphasizes the development of technical skills in manipulating electronically generated text and graphics. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 670. Teaching Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
3 credits.
Preparation of WRTC teaching assistants in rhetorical theory and teaching methodologies. Emphasizes pedagogical strategies central to teaching effective written and oral communication in the field and provides practice in course development and assessment under the guidance of a faculty mentor in actual course situations. Required of all teaching assistants before their first semester teaching. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor.

WRTC 680. Readings in Technical and Scientific Communication. 3 credits.
Faculty-supervised reading, research and writing on advanced technical and scientific communication projects not covered in regularly scheduled courses. Prerequisites: WRTC 530, WRTC 540, permission of instructor, and completion of 18 or more credit hours in the major. May be repeated with different content and permission of director.

WRTC 690. Special Issues in Technical and Scientific Communication.
3 credits.
Advanced writing and research in a variety of technical communication genres, including government writing, medical writing, legal writing, and proposal and grant writing. Examines special and timely issues currently being explored in technical and scientific communication not addressed in sufficient depth in regularly scheduled WRTC courses. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540. May be repeated with different course content and permission of director.

WRTC 695. Internship in Technical and Scientific Communication. 3 credits.
Work-world experience within business, industry, government or academia in technical and scientific communication. Designed to allow students to incorporate field experience with WRTC course work and to observe communication processes and apply effective written, interpersonal and public communication skills. Prerequisites: WRTC 530, WRTC 540 and permission of internship coordinator. May not be repeated.

WRTC 699. Thesis/Practicum Continuance. 2 credits.
Individual reading, research and writing associated with completion of major's thesis/practicum portfolio. Directed by the chair of the student's thesis/practicum committee and required for graduation. Prerequisites: WRTC 510, WRTC 530, WRTC 540, successful completion of the comprehensive exam, and permission of thesis/practicum committee director. Students who have registered for six hours of thesis/practicum credit but have not finished the thesis/practicum must be enrolled in this course each semester until the thesis/practicum is completed. This course is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (NC) basis.

WRTC 700. Thesis Research. 6 credits.
Individual reading, research and writing associated with completion of major's thesis. Supervised by the director of the student's thesis committee. Student must complete six hours of thesis research to graduate. Prerequisites: WRTC 530, WRTC 540 and permission of thesis committee director. Credit hours may be taken over one or two semesters. This course is graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory/ incomplete (S/U/I) basis.

WRTC 701. Practicum. 6 credits.
Individual reading, research and writing associated with completion of major's practicum. Supervised by the director of the student's practicum committee. Student must complete six hours of practicum research to graduate. Prerequisites: WRTC 530, WRTC 540 and permission of practicum committee director. Credit hours may be taken over one or two semesters.

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