Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication

Admission Criteria
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 is for 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 March 1.

Students may apply online to The Graduate School and apply for assistantships through https://joblink.jmu.edu/.

Mission
The School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication is a community committed to preparing its students – both writers and technical and scientific communicators – for lives of enlightened, global citizenship.

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 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.

RETURN TO TOP

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 students' elective credit hours must come from course work at the 600 level or above. 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, the thesis or the practicum.

The WRTC graduate program encourages applicants with diverse academic and professional backgrounds, including (but certainly not limited to) biology, business, computer science, education, English, geography, mathematics, philosophy, political science, psychology, rhetoric and composition, or writing.

Concentrations

Technical and Scientific Communication Concentration
The concentration in technical and scientific communication offers instruction in the study of communication in fields traditionally associated with technical or scientific content. The program also provides 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.

Writing and Rhetoric Concentration
The concentration in writing and rhetoric is designed for students who wish to extend, enrich and formalize their education as writers or teachers of writing. Courses offered as part of the concentration cover a range of topics, including literacy studies, rhetorical history and theory, writing pedagogy, and cultural rhetorics.

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 professional, rhetorical, and technical communicators.

All Master of Science candidates must successfully complete at least nine credit hours of course work at the graduate level in an approved cognate discipline, which will be determined in consultation with and approved by their adviser. These cognates can come from a number of graduate programs at James Madison University, including the humanities and the arts.

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 or through distance learning with graduate programs at other accredited colleges or universities. Independent studies with faculty in a cognate discipline program must be approved by the graduate coordinator of the cognate program 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.

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.

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.

RETURN TO TOP

Master of Arts Degree Requirements

Master of Arts Degree Requirements Concentration in Technical and Scientific Communication

Course Requirements Credit Hours
Core 12
WRTC 510. Seminar in Technical and Scientific Communication  
WRTC 530. Research Methods  
WRTC 540. Professional Editing  
WRTC 695. Internship  
Thesis or Practicum 6
WRTC 700. Thesis  
WRTC 701. Practicum  
Choose at least six of the following: 18
WRTC 521. Web Design  
WRTC 535. Genre Theory  
WRTC 542. Tutoring Writing  
WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in WRTC  
WRTC 550. Organizational Communication  
WRTC 555. Managerial Communication  
WRTC 560. Scientific Rhetoric  
WRTC 565. Digital Rhetoric  
WRTC 570. Rhetorical Theory: Classical through Contemporary  
WRTC 581. Hypertext Theory  
WRTC 590. Intercultural Technical Communication  
WRTC 595. Issues in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical 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  
WRTC 680. Readings in WRTC  
WRTC 690. Special Topics in WRTC  

  36

Master of Arts Degree Requirements Concentration in Writing and Rhetoric Studies

Course Requirements Credit Hours
Core 12
WRTC 511. Seminar in Writing and Rhetoric Studies  
WRTC 530. Research Methods  
WRTC 540. Professional Editing  
WRTC 695. Internship  
Thesis or Practicum 6
WRTC 700. Thesis  
WRTC 701. Practicum  
Choose at least six of the following: 18
WRTC 521. Web Design  
WRTC 535. Genre Theory  
WRTC 542. Tutoring Writing  
WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in WRTC  
WRTC 550. Organizational Communication  
WRTC 555. Managerial Communication  
WRTC 560. Scientific Rhetoric  
WRTC 565. Digital Rhetoric  
WRTC 570. Rhetorical Theory: Classical through Contemporary  
WRTC 581. Hypertext Theory  
WRTC 590. Intercultural Technical Communication  
WRTC 595. Issues in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical 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  
WRTC 680. Readings in WRTC  
WRTC 690. Special Topics in WRTC  

  36

RETURN TO TOP

Master of Science Degree Requirements

Master of Science Degree Requirements Concentration in Technical and Scientific Communication

Course Requirements Credit Hours
Core 12
WRTC 510. Seminar in Technical and Scientific Communication  
WRTC 530. Research Methods  
WRTC 540. Professional Editing  
WRTC 695. Internship  
Thesis or Practicum 6
WRTC 700. Thesis  
WRTC 701. Practicum  
Cognate discipline courses 1 9
Choose at least three of the following: 9
WRTC 521. Web Design  
WRTC 535. Genre Theory  
WRTC 542. Tutoring Writing  
WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in WRTC  
WRTC 550. Organizational Communication  
WRTC 555. Managerial Communication  
WRTC 560. Scientific Rhetoric  
WRTC 565. Digital Rhetoric  
WRTC 570. Rhetorical Theory: Classical through Contemporary  
WRTC 581. Hypertext Theory  
WRTC 590. Intercultural Technical Communication  
WRTC 595. Issues in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical 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  
WRTC 680. Readings in WRTC  
WRTC 690. Special Topics in WRTC  

  36

1 Master of Science candidates must choose a cognate discipline in consultation with their graduate adviser.


Master of Science Degree Requirements Concentration in Writing and Rhetoric Studies

Course Requirements Credit Hours
Core 12
WRTC 511. Seminar in Writing and Rhetoric Studies  
WRTC 530. Research Methods  
WRTC 540. Professional Editing  
WRTC 695. Internship  
Thesis or Practicum 6
WRTC 700. Thesis  
WRTC 701. Practicum  
Cognate discipline courses 1 9
Choose at least three of the following: 9
WRTC 521. Web Design  
WRTC 535. Genre Theory  
WRTC 542. Tutoring Writing  
WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in WRTC (modified title)  
WRTC 550. Organizational Communication  
WRTC 555. Managerial Communication  
WRTC 560. Scientific Rhetoric  
WRTC 565. Digital Rhetoric  
WRTC 570. Rhetorical Theory: Classical through Contemporary  
WRTC 581. Hypertext Theory  
WRTC 590. Intercultural Technical Communication  
WRTC 595. Issues in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical 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  
WRTC 680. Readings in WRTC  
WRTC 690. Special Topics in WRTC  

  36

1 Master of Science candidates must choose a cognate discipline in consultation with their graduate adviser.

RETURN TO TOP

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 511. Seminar in Writing and Rhetoric Studies.
3 credits.
A foundations course. The study of the theories and histories of the discipline 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 websites; 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 website 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 websites.

WRTC 530. Research Methods in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical 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 or
WRTC 511.

WRTC 535. Genre Theory.
3 credits.
This course examines the history of genre theory as well as the intersections of genre, critical theory, and social practices. Students will conduct extended analyses of texts within their own academic and professional contexts.

WRTC 540. Professional 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 510 or WRTC 511.

WRTC 542. Tutoring Writing.
3 credits.
This writing-intensive course integrates the theory and practice of tutoring writing in academic settings and is suited for preparing students and teachers who will use writing across the disciplines. The course includes an internship in a campus writing center and provides students opportunities to develop as writers, scholars, and professionals. Students will be eligible for, but not guaranteed, employment in a university writing center.

WRTC 545. Ethical and Legal Issues in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical 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 565. Digital Rhetoric.
3 credits.
This course examines the influence of new media and modern digital technologies on persuasion and communication. Students will critique digital media texts and design their own digital projects.

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, Second 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.
1-3 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.
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 Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
3 credits.
Faculty-supervised reading, research and writing on advanced writing, rhetoric and technical communication projects not covered in regularly scheduled courses. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or 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 Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
3 credits.
Advanced writing and research in a variety of writing, rhetoric and technical communication genres, including government writing, medical writing, legal writing, and proposal and grant writing. Examines special and timely issues currently being explored in WRTC that are not addressed in sufficient depth in regularly scheduled WRTC courses. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540, or permission of instructor. May be repeated with different course content and permission of director.

WRTC 695. Internship in Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication.
3 credits.
Work-world experience within business, industry, government or academia in writing, rhetoric and technical 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. May not be repeated. Prerequisites: WRTC 530 and WRTC 540 and permission of internship coordinator.

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 (S/U) 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.

RETURN TO TOP

 

 

 

Horizontal Rule