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Master of Technical Communication Degree Requirements


Students complete 33 credit hours to graduate. 2-3 online classes are offered each fall semester and another 2-3 in the spring semester. Occasionally, classes may be offered in the summer—either online seminars or 3-credit, one week, on-campus workshops.

The curriculum has been designed to allow students to complete all requirements within a three-year period, although students may take longer if they choose. The School of Graduate Studies requires students to complete their degrees in no more than six years. Extensions of this deadline are sometimes allowed, but classes expire after EIGHT years and will no longer count toward the degree.

There are no prerequisite classes, but some students may be advised to take preparatory classes. Classes may be taken in any sequence although students should complete the three core requirements (ENGL 6400, ENGL 6410, and ENGL 6830) at their first opportunity after entering the program. These classes will be offered only once in a two-year cycle.

Students need to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA to remain in good standing. If the GPA falls below a 3.0, the School of Graduate Studies will take action, which could include a letter of warning, probation, or even dismissal from the program. Any grade below a B- will not count toward the degree.

Paperwork Required for Graduation

To complete the degree, you must work with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) in English to complete a number of forms, including the Program of Study (POS) form. The current DGS in English is Dr. Jared Colton, who can be reached at

Division of Classes

Students take all three core requirement classes and 24 additional credits for a total of 33 credit hours. All classes below are offered for 3 credits each, making a total of 11 courses. At minimum, 7 of these 11 courses must be Master of Technical Communication courses. Courses are not repeatable for credit unless otherwise indicated below.

A. Core Requirements (9 credits required)

  • 6400: Advanced Editing
  • 6410: Introduction to Technical Communication
  • 6830: Introduction to Rhetorical Theory (repeatable once for credit, if taught by a different instructor)

B. Issues in Professional Communication (12-24* credits required)

The following courses will be offered regularly:

  • 6440: Cultural Research Methods (repeatable once for credit, if taught by a different instructor)
  • 6460: Studies in Digital Media (repeatable for up to 12 credits)
  • 6480: Studies in Technology and Writing (repeatable once for credit if taught by a different instructor)
  • 6800: Teaching Online
  • 6860: Teaching Technical Writing
  • 7000: Empirical Research Methods

The following courses will be offered occasionally:

  • 6420: Usability Studies & Human Factors in Professional Communication
  • 6430: Publications Management
  • 6450: Reading Theory & Document Design
  • 6470: Studies in Specialized Documents (repeatable for up to 12 credits)
  • 6890: Studies in Writing & Rhetoric (repeatable for up to 6 credits)

* Students may reach the required 33-credit total by taking the 9 required credits from ENGL 6400, 6410, and 6830 and the remaining 24 credits from the courses listed under B above. Alternatively, they may take up to 12 of the 24 credits through online classes outside the department. Students do not need to request approval if they fulfill these 12 credits with Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences (ITLS) courses. For instance, a student with a particular interest in learning communication software skills may reach the 33-credit total by taking ENGL 6400, 6410, and 6830 (9 credits), 4 classes from ITLS (12 credits), and the remaining 12 credits from the list under B above. To fulfill up to 12 remaining credits with courses outside of ITLS or list B above, contact the Director of Graduate Studies to request approval.

To reiterate, any class not listed under A or B or mentioned above (e.g., 4 ITLS courses) will only count towards the student's program of study if it has been approved by the DGS, Dr. Jared Colton and the Master of Technical Communication Faculty.

Additional Requirements

Like all other graduate students at Utah State University, students in this online program must complete their Program of Study Form in accordance with rules and procedures set down by the School of Graduate Studies. For a full explanation of these rules, you may consult the USU University Catalog.

Below are the most important rules and procedures, in Q & A form:

What does the "continuous enrollment" rule mean?

From the date of your matriculation (the start of the term when you were officially accepted and began your studies) until graduation, you must be enrolled in at least 3 credits every semester except summers.

What if I need to take a semester off?

If you need to take a leave of absence from the program, you can satisfy the "continuous enrollment" rule by paying a $100 "Continuous Registration Fee." This requires a memo from Dr. Jared Colton to the School of Graduate Studies testifying that you are not using any university facilities or faculty time during the semester in which you are exercising this option. Contact Dr. Jared Colton at the start of the semester in question.

How long do I have to complete my degree?

You should graduate within six years of matriculation. Extensions of this deadline are sometimes allowed, but courses expire after eight years and will no longer count toward your degree

What GPA do I need to maintain?

You need to maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain a graduate student in good standing. If you fall below a 3.0, the School of Graduate Studies will write you a letter of warning, place you on probation, or even drop you from the program.

Any grade below a B- will not count toward your graduation.

Timeline to Graduation

Go to the degree checklist from the graduate website for Plan C/Professional programs. Consult it frequently, especially as some forms and dates may change mid-semester. You do not need to fill out the thesis proposal defense form, as no thesis is required.

Steps and Required Forms

  1. Register for online classes before the beginning of each semester. We recommend that you take one to three classes a semester, depending on how much time you have to devote to your studies.
  2. Incoming master's students will be assigned a faculty mentor. If you have questions about courses to take, career choices, etc., you can call or email your mentor (as well as the DGS) for advice. Your mentor will be able to address your specific questions about technical writing.
  3. Once you've registered for (or completed) 21-24 credits, the Grad Studies Program Assistant or Director will help you fill out your Program of Study Form (filed under Degree Works in Banner) and submit it to the Graduate Director via email.
    • An up-to-date Program of Study Form must be approved by the Graduate School at least 6 weeks before you graduate. Often it can take some time to gather electronic signatures/iron out the wrinkles, so it's good to fill this out early.
  4. The semester you intend to graduate, notify the Director of Graduate Studies and the Program Assistant of your intention. Please notify by:
    • Fall semester completion: October 15
    • Spring semester completion: February 15
    • Summer semester completion: June 15
  5. By the last day of the semester of completion (and hopefully earlier!), make sure that the Letter of Completion, verifying all coursework and other degree requirements have been completed, is submitted by the department head. Email the DGS and/or program assistant to assist with this.
  6. Make certain the information in Banner is current, graduation surveys completed, and the diploma fee paid.
    • Banner: check permanent address and diploma mailing address (diplomas are mailed 8-10 weeks after the end of the semester)
    • Take the SGS Survey
    • Consult the SGS Graduation Information Checklist
  7. If you would like to participate in Spring commencement, check the deadlines for commencement at the Graduate School.