Through a blend of course offerings and internship programs, the Master of Arts and Master of Science programs in Technical and Scientific Communication and Writing and Rhetoric seek to provide students with communication skills and training that will enable them to build productive careers in industry or academia. They also introduce students to the most current communication technologies used to produce documents of professional quality not only during their studies at James Madison University but also throughout their careers. Finally, students learn the kinds of communication, analytical and reasoning skills that will allow them to become leaders in their fields.
The specific goals of the Master of Arts and Master of Science degrees are to help students to
- Define what effective communication means in writing, rhetoric and technical communication environments
- Enhance their understanding of how and why communication works
- Learn how to identify and eliminate barriers to effective communication
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communication management.
- Develop research skills
- Create for themselves a cognate area of study within the scientific or technical field in which they intend to work as professional technical communicators
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.
Students pursuing graduate degrees in WRTC learn the kinds of research, analytical and reasoning skills that will allow them to become successful professionals in a wide range of fields. WRTC graduates can expect career opportunities in writing, editing or production positions with a variety of business, educational or industry employers, including the computer hardware and software industry, law firms, journalism, health care providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, education, engineering companies, publishing houses, environmental concerns, not-for-profit or political organizations, and technical translation groups of multinational corporations.
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 technical or scientific field but, rather, are applicable to multiple technical or scientific 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 technical and scientific 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.
Course descriptions come from the current JMU graduate catalog.
A schedule of current course offerings is available by logging into My Madison.
The WRTC internship is a required professional preparation for M.A. and M.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. Information about internships may be obtained through the office of the department of WRTC.
Graduate and Teaching Assistantships
There are many areas on campus that offer assistantships, including WRTC. Graduate students interested in assistantships should go to JMU JobLink to search for available positions.
In addition, students applying for WRTC assistantships should fill out a WRTC Assistantship Application and submit it directly to WRTC.
Applicants desiring an assistantship should submit their applications no later than February 1.
In addition to satisfying all admission requirements of the JMU graduate school, applicants must submit to the director of graduate studies an application dossier that includes the following documents
- A background and goals statement that explains how the Master of Arts or Master of Science program relates to the applicant's prior experience and how it fits into his or her long-range professional goals
- Three letters of recommendation from people who can comment on the applicant's academic preparation and professional experience
- 20-30 pages of writing samples from academia or the professions
Nonnative speakers of English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language and receive a score of at least 550.
To receive full consideration for admission into the program, students should submit their application packages to The Graduate School by March 1 (February 1 if they are applying for an assistantship). Applicants may use the letters of recommendation and writing samples to support an application for financial aid.
Apply online to The Graduate School at https://www.applyweb.com/apply/jmug/index.html.
Information about Financial Aid is available at http://www.jmu.edu/finaid/prospect.shtml.
For more information, contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Michael J. Klein (firstname.lastname@example.org).