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Graduate Certificate Program in Professional and Technical Communication


The Graduate Certificate in Professional and Technical Communication combines workplace writing theory and practice with an emphasis on contemporary multi-media communication technologies. The certificate program helps working professionals to strengthen their workplace writing skills, gain experience working with communication technologies, and prepare for careers or advancement as professional writers or professionals who write. It also provides the opportunity for students from all graduate programs to broaden their research and teaching agendas as they prepare for a competitive job market in English Studies.
While we encourage applications, space in the program is limited. Applications will be reviewed by the Certificate Coordinator.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for this certificate should have earned a B.A. in English or a related discipline with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. Applicants should submit a two- to three-page personal statement clearly explaining their interest in and experience with new media technologies along with the reasons why they wish to pursue the certificate. They should also submit a graduate certificate department approval form that can be downloaded online from the Graduate Certificates admissions page.

Application Procedure

Applicants should send an official copy of their undergraduate or graduate transcripts, their personal statement, and their graduate certificate departmental approval form to:
Graduate Director, Department of English, CPR-107, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620-5550

Program Description and Courses

The program requires 15 hours of coursework for certification, distributed as follows:

  • Two required courses:
    • ENC 6421 Rhetoric and Technology
    • ENC 6266 Professional and Technical Communication
  • Three elective courses chosen from the following:
    • ENC 6422 New Media Production
    • ENC 6261 Advanced Technical Writing
    • ENC 6336 Historical of Rhetoric
    • ENC 6730 Contemporary Rhetorics (pending course approval)
    • LIT 6934: Special Topics course in Rhetoric and Composition (requires Certificate Coordinator approval)
    • Students may petition the Certificate Coordinator for the relevancy of a course that does not appear on this list.


  • When is the admission deadline?
    • The certificate programs have rolling admission, meaning that applications can be submitted at any time. If an applicant is accepted, enrollment will be for the upcoming term closest to when the application is accepted. Applications will not be accepted for a term that is already in progress.
  • How easy is it to enroll in courses?
    • Once an applicant is accepted, she or he must submit the necessary medical history forms to the university’s Student Health Services office (if not already on record). The student will then be eligible to register when non-degree seeking registration begins for the given term. Registration dates are posted on the Registrar’s Event Calendar, which is accessible at (click on the link once on this page).
  • If I am a degree-seeking graduate assistant, does the tuition payment cover these courses?
    • The assistantship covers graduate-level courses that also apply to the degree for the duration that funding is available. Courses taken in excess of degree requirements, but that also count toward the certificate, may be covered by the college tuition payment, but only if the courses are taken within the timeframe given for funding (two years for MAs; three years for MFAs; four years for PhDs). Courses taken beyond the funding limit must be paid for out of pocket.
  • Who can help me decide which courses to register for?
    • In order to work out a plan for completing the certificate, you should contact Prof. Meredith Johnson, the director of the certificate program in professional and technical writing. You should note that graduate courses are generally offered on a regular rotation; courses you will need are not offered every semester.
  • Will this certificate help me get into a degree program?
    • Certificates are not intended to be ways to enter degree programs. They are opportunities for professional and intellectual development. If you want to enter a degree program, you should apply to that program directly.
  • How long does it take to complete?
    • The time it takes to complete a certificate depends on how many courses you are able to take at one time, and the schedule on which the courses are offered in the regular course rotation. Unfortunately, because we cannot offer many graduate courses in the summer, you cannot count on doing coursework in the summers.
  • How easy is it to get into the certificate program? Will I automatically be accepted?
    • Certificate students are accepted based on the strength of their qualifications, like all students accepted into USF’s academic programs.
  • I teach/work during the day. Can I take only evening courses?
    • While many of our graduate courses are offered in the evenings, not all courses are scheduled after 6:00pm. You will probably have to take some of the courses in the certificate program at the 3:05- 5:50 time slot. The schedule of classes is published at registration time each semester in the Course Bulletin available on the department website.
  • Will this certificate improve my employment prospects?
    • Before you commit yourself to a graduate certificate, you should talk with the director of the certificate about your plans, goals and expectations. Typically, the certificate will enhance a student’s position in the job they already hold. For example, a certificate in professional and technical writing may contribute to a promotion in a professional position the student/working professional already holds. It may also provide graduate students already pursuing a degree in Rhetoric of Composition with an avenue to demonstrate their specialization in Professional Writing when they are on the job market.
  • Am I eligible for financial aid while pursuing this graduate certificate?
  • When can I begin taking classes toward the certificate?
    • After you are accepted to the certificate program, you may sign up for courses during the next semester post-acceptance. We cannot, however, guarantee that any courses will be offered any particular semester.
  • Will I be able to teach composition at the college level with this certificate?
    • The certificate by itself will probably not qualify you to teach composition at the college level. If you have a graduate degree in an associated field, e.g. Education or literature, the certificate would probably qualify you to teach composition at the college level. Note, however, that there are very different requirements between community colleges, liberal arts colleges and research universities. Further, there are different expectations for tenure track and non-tenure track positions at most colleges and universities. If you have a specific position or type of position in mind, you might want to ask potential employers about what they require and whether the certificate would satisfy their requirements.
  • What if I don't have a rhet/comp background? Should I apply for this certificate?
    • Your application materials will be evaluated to help determine your preparation for course work. Keep in mind that there are not many undergraduate programs in the country with a concentration in the field of rhetoric and professional writing. Therefore, MA-level graduate students in rhetoric and professional writing sometimes have little background when they begin their degree-seeking course work. We do consider professional experience in the field as useful preparation for the certificate.
  • What prior knowledge of rhet/comp do I need?
    • You should have a strong background in English. Some background in such fields as education, philosophy, communication, or linguistics would also be helpful.
    • Certificate students, as well as beginning MA students, are in classes with advanced masters and doctoral students in rhetoric and composition who have extensive backgrounds in the discipline. Initially, you will likely feel at somewhat of a disadvantage and will probably have to work extra hard.
    • Your application materials will be evaluated to help determine your preparation for course work. Be assured that if you have been accepted, your materials suggest that you have the background you need.
  • What is the work load for rhet/comp graduate courses?
    • The work load for graduate course varies with the course and the instructor. Typically, however, graduate courses require anywhere from 100 to 300 pages of reading a week and substantial written work.
  • How do I request permission to take a class?
    • Email Marisa Iglesias ( with your name, University ID, certificate program, and desired courses with their corresponding course reference numbers.
  • Who is Marisa Iglesias, and when / why should I contact her?
    • Marisa Iglesias is the Graduate Program Specialist for the Department of English. She assists current and prospective students in English degree and certificate programs as well as non-degree students seeking to take English graduate courses. You may contact her with any questions not addressed by these FAQs and to request course permits.
  • Whom should I contact if I am interested in the certificate and have more questions?
    • If you have questions that are not covered in this document or if these answers are not adequate, you should contact Prof. Meredith Johnson (, the director of the certificate in professional and technical writing.

Department Contact

To learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Professional and Technical Communication, contact:

Dr. Meredith Johnson
Program Coordinator, Graduate Certificate in Professional and Technical Communication
Phone: (813) 974-2421