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Professional Writing

Master of Arts in Professional Writing

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The New England College Master of Arts (MA) in Professional Writing is an online program for aspiring writers and editors. This 36-credit program enhances writing and publication skills, enables students to develop a comprehensive portfolio of work, and prepares students to write in both new and traditional media. Program course-work integrates the theoretical foundations of rhetoric, communication and professional practice with continuous skill development. Each course asks students to apply their knowledge and writing skills to cutting-edge communication challenges. Students also gain an understanding of the various jobs in the field.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of the MA in Professional Writing program will be able to:

  • Assess the theoretical principles that underlie rhetorical choices and decisions made in professional writing;
  • Develop and expand writing skills that are demanded in a variety of professional settings;
  • Build an awareness of audience, markets, and current standards of publishing professionalism;
  • Develop practical strategies for purposeful, effective communications that fit specific circumstances and client needs;
  • Write for publication and distribution in real professional contexts;
  • Work within a community of professional writers in an online format;
  • Produce a capstone project that develops a grasp of research methodology and critical thinking skills essential to the field.

Required Courses for MA in Professional Writing

PW 5000 – Professional Writing and Rhetoric
PW 5010 – Research Methods
PW 5020 – Editing in the Professions
PW 5400 – Writing for the Media and Public Relations
PW 5500 – The New Media
PW 5600 – Business and Technical Communication
PW 5990 – Special Topics in Professional Writing
PW 6010 – Portfolios in Professional Writing
PW 7100 (1-4) – Capstone in Professional Writing

Course Descriptions for MA in Professional Writing

PW 5000 Professional Writing and Rhetoric

This foundational course is designed to introduce students to the MA in Professional Writing program, and specifically to the historical and rhetorical background of professional writing. Students will explore professional writing’s emergence as a distinct field of scholarship that is firmly grounded in a rhetorically-centered approach to understanding communication. Throughout this inquiry students will study the theories, history, and concepts of professional writing in relation to professional writing practices and situations. Students will also start the process of maintaining a working electronic portfolio they will keep throughout the program in preparation for the final portfolio course. 

PW 5010 Research Methods

This course introduces students to the theory, methods and ethics of conducting research in professional writing contexts. Students learn to conduct and evaluate research that may include user-centered design, rhetorical and discourse analysis, historical methods, ethnography, and document and usability testing. The course will conclude with an individual research proposal that includes the creation of professional writing documents for a specific intended audience in preparation for the capstone.

PW 5020 Editing in the Professions

The course is designed to introduce students to the concepts and methods of editing professional-quality documents. Students will be exposed to the writing and editing standards and etiquette found in a variety of disciplines, including editing for business and organizations. Comprehensive editing processes will be developed and students will gain the skills needed to work in copyediting

PW 5400 Writing for the Media and Public Relations

This course focuses on understanding the basic concepts, skills, and practices of writing for the media and public relations. Communication protocols that involve the media and specific writing tasks such as writing for television, print, and radio are covered. Specific writing assignments may include articles, press releases, and scripts, media kits, personality profiles, speeches, and writing for public relation campaigns and media conferences.

PW 5500 The New Media

This course will introduce students to critical concepts and practical skills related to writing for those new media that have developed out of the use of digital computers, such as writing for the internet (online publications, blogs, email, chat, social networks, text messaging, etc.) and computer games. Image manipulation, software developments, desktop publishing tools, and instructional design concepts will also be covered in relation to actual professional writing tasks and opportunities.

PW 5600 Business and Technical Communication

The course is designed to cover the purposes and styles of business and technical writing and to offer students a variety of focused writing exercises structured around scenarios or actual work situations.  Within the course students will learn how to write a wide assortment of business and technical documents ethically such as letters, memorandums, reports, proposals, cover letters, resumes, questionnaires, brochures, technical reports, FAQs, presentations, and/or manuals and technical documents that require technical explanations.

PW 5990 Special Topics in Professional Writing

Topics for this course will vary from term to term. Special topics of particular interest to professional writers will be explored within the context of student generated writing assignments.

PW 6950 Portfolios in Professional Writing

All students maintain a digital Working Portfolio throughout the course of the Professional Writing Program. In this course students will conceptualize, arrange, and realize their Working Portfolio into a final Academic Portfolio, as well as into a quality online Professional (Marketing) Portfolio targeted at a specific employer or professional writing specialty. Student portfolios will include writing from an assortment of genres and should demonstrate versatility as well as depth.

PW 7100 (1-4) Capstone in Professional Writing

The culminating project for the Master of Arts in Professional Writing program will be the completion of a Master’s thesis or Capstone project. This will be an original document that involves research based upon methodologies learned in the Research Methods course and may take a variety of forms such as a major research paper that contributes to the scholarship within the field of Professional Writing, or an experiential writing project on a subject that reflects audience-centered design principles in any relevant form (websites, blogs, trade articles, etc.). Students may focus their Capstone on a specific rhetorical issue related to the discipline of Professional Writing, or the project itself may be reflective of other interests as long as the project demonstrates the student’s ability to carry out independent research, reflect upon that research, and articulate new knowledge through skills learned throughout the Professional Writing program. The process of working on the Capstone is broken into four one-credit sequences. Capstone projects must be approved by the MA in Professional Writing Program Director, must demonstrate excellence in writing, and must display mastery of skills learned throughout the MA in Professional Writing program. This course is taken as a Pass/Fail course.


New England College
School of Graduate and Professional Studies
98 Bridge Street
Henniker, NH 03242