Utah State University’s Master of Technical Communication is designed to appeal to a broad range of students:

  • Working professional writers and communicators. The program aims to help practicing professional and technical writers—people who do communication-intensive work in a variety of organizations, both for-profit and non-profit. Students advance their careers by learning practical skills and the theories that can support or challenge workplace practices.
  • Students considering an academic career. The program introduces students to technical communication and rhetoric as an academic field, and graduates may go on to complete PhDs in the field or teach at two-year colleges.
  • Secondary education teachers. High school English teachers who complete the degree will be able to add technical writing and communication classes to their teaching repertoire, incorporate principles of technical writing and communication into their existing classes, or make the switch to teaching at two-year colleges.

Key Readings in the Field of Technical and Professional Communication

Applicants should have at least some familiarity with the technical communication field. As a starting place, we point applicants to the following four touchstone articles:

  • A humanistic rationale for technical writing: Positioning technical writing as humanistic and rhetorical, this 1979 article is one of the most influential and heavily cited articles in the field.
  • Relocating the value of work: This 1996 article argues for technical writers to convey more clearly the value of our expertise, rejecting classification as low-skill support workers and instead embracing and articulating our role as critical information brokers.
  • Has technical communication arrived as a profession: Exploring the role of technology in the professional identity of the field, this 2005 article acknowledges the centrality of ever-changing technologies to our work but concludes that "people [...] are the ultimate end, not the technology" (p. 369).
  • Disrupting the past to disrupt the future: Winner of the 2017 Nell Ann Pickett award and the 2018 CCCCs Best Article in Philosophy or Theory, this article calls the field of technical and professional communication to embrace social justice and inclusivity as part of its core narrative. Co-authored by Dr. Rebecca Walton, this article reflects our program's explicit commitment to social justice broadly defined.

The English Department also offers a PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric (TCR), and online classes are designed to serve not only the populations listed above but also our doctoral students, who register for online classes together with master’s students. The PhD program has a mission to explore the ways in which TCR can be used to promote social justice, and students in the online master's program will notice this theme in many of their classes.

We offer two online classes for master's students each fall and spring semester. With permission from the Director of Graduate Studies and when appropriate classes are available, master's students make take some of their classes outside the English department. Each semester, our Master of Technical Communication faculty mentors help students identify relevant classes outside English that will count towards the master's degree. For instance, students who want to learn software skills may take some online classes through USU’s Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences department. Such classes include digital video capture and production, instructional graphic production, and interactive multimedia production. On the other hand, students with a particular interest in pedagogy may take some online classes through USU’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership (TEAL).