The Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication major is a department within the College of Arts & Letters.

Advising Tracks

Professional Writing and Publishing
Science and Health Writing
Writing for Law and Society
Inclusive Design
Design Your Career

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

The School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication (WRTC) is a community of exceptional faculty, dedicated staff, talented students and energetic alumni in one of the only stand-alone schools dedicated to the art and science of communication across a variety of modes and genres.

The WRTC major is offered through the School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication. Students can pursue this major within either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree program. The major in WRTC will equip you for academic and professional success as a communicator in print and digital media. It develops you into an accomplished writer and editor, able to evaluate the effectiveness of communication based upon the principles of rhetoric. You will also cultivate proficiencies in critical and analytical thinking as well as in the use and understanding of digital tools and communication technologies. Ultimately, this major will prepare you for a range of careers as a professional writer and communicator. The central objectives of the WRTC major are to help students to: (1) develop into accomplished writers and editors, (2) learn how to solve communication problems in the workplace, (3) enhance their understanding of how and why written communication works, (4) develop criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of communication, (5) practice using communication technologies and rhetorical strategies to design and produce professional quality deliverables, (6) develop research and project management skills, and (7) prepare students to contribute to the workplace and/or the field as a professional writer, editor and/or technical communicator.

More About the Field

WRTC unites three disciplines into a flexible yet historically and theoretically grounded degree program. It will encourage you to think in ways that cross disciplinary lines and to demonstrate accomplishment in multiple genres of writing, rhetoric and technical communication. It will also prepare you to address the challenges of the constantly evolving, 21st century workplace.

There are a number of fields (and potential career paths) represented in this interdisciplinary major. A study of writing, rhetoric and technical communication combines scholarly, humanistic and social scientific perspectives on the function and application of communication technologies, with instruction in areas such as:

  • digital storytelling
  • web theory and design
  • content strategy
  • rhetorical theory
  • professional editing
  • publications management
  • writing for professional communities (nonprofits, environment/science, health/medicine, business, industry, law and government)

In addition to offering the rhetorical tools with which to excel as professional communicators, this field also prepares students for Master's level study in a variety of fields (public policy, public health, digital rhetoric, writing studies) as well as for professional programs such as law school.


The School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication encourages a robust mix of theory and practice. Our students have many opportunities to get hands-on experience and build their professional portfolios. The varied writing, editing and production professions that comprise the field of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication require that our graduates be well-rounded and intellectually agile - not only accomplished in writing, editing, and communication technologies but also acquainted with technical and scientific content areas and digital platforms. Because of the flexible design of our curriculum, our students are able to work with their WRTC advisers to tailor the program to fit their unique educational needs and career aspirations.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Concentrated course work in another academic area is encouraged. Some minor combinations may include: Anthropology, Art History, British Communication and Media, Communication Studies, Computer Science, Conflict Analysis and Intervention, Creative Writing, Disability Studies, Economics, Environmental Information Systems, Environmental Studies, Film Studies, Geographic Science, Geology, Health Sciences, Historical Archaeology, History, Humanitarian Affairs, Integrated Science and Technology, Justice Studies, Mathematics, Medical Humanities, Music Industry, Philosophy and Religion, , Political Communication, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy and Administration, Sociology, Sport Communication, or Statistics.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Our most successful students are design thinkers: collaborative, intellectually curious and creative. They want to leave JMU feeling ready to contribute to the world around them, and to do so ethically, substantially and well. They are able to recognize and to utilize a range of critical thinking, problem-solving, and technological skills. Students who are innovative and motivated and who have the ability to synthesize and to communicate information in both written and verbal formats tend to excel.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Advertising Copywriter
  • Advertising Executive
  • Archivist
  • Blogger
  • Communication Consultant
  • Content Strategist
  • Copywriter
  • Digital Media Specialist
  • Document Designer
  • Documentation Specialist
  • Editor
  • E-Marketing Specialist
  • Freelance Writer
  • Grants / Contracts Specialist
  • Graphic Designer
  • Journalist
  • Legal Writer
  • Literary Agent
  • Magazine Publisher
  • Multi-Media Specialist
  • Paralegal
  • Proposal Writer
  • Public Affairs Officer
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Publications Editor
  • Publications Manager
  • Researcher
  • Scientific Editor
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Speech Writer
  • Teacher / Professor
  • Technical Writer
  • Technology Consultant
  • UX Designer/Strategist
  • Web Designer / Web Editor

Who Employs Graduates?

Advertising, Biotech, Business & Professional Services, Communications, Computing, Consulting, Engineering, Environmental, Federal, State, & Local Governments, Financial Services, Health Care, Industrial Materials & Components, Information & Communications,  Law Firms, Manufacturing, Media and Entertainment, Medicine, Natural Resource & Energy, Non-Profits, Professional Associations, Publishing Industry, and Security, Technology, Transportation & Travel.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

The WRTC internship is a required professional preparation for BA and BS students. It expects students to exercise the preparation that they received from their WRTC course work to design, write, edit and produce professional documents for internship providers in academia, business, industry and government. Students have completed internships in publications, production and printing, computer software development, medical writing, nonprofit writing and writing for business and industry. Information about internships may be obtained through the Department of WRTC. Students may also consider joining the Society for Technical Communication, The Society for Professional Journalists or working with one of our online journals JMURJ or RhetTech.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Authors and Writers
Advertising and Marketing Managers 
Technical Writers
Training and Development Managers
Web Developers

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to career@jmu.edu

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