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Professional Writing and Editing

The Department of English offers a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Professional Writing and Editing.

Students who pursue a BA in Professional Writing and Editing (PWE) do more than simply translate complex, technical information into easy-to-read prose: they assess the information needs of audiences from different languages and cultural backgrounds, and analyze how written texts circulate through the organizations in which they work. Professional writers and editors possess the critical, rhetorical and technical knowledge necessary to produce successful and effective communications. Students who double major in PWE and another discipline are doubly-prepared to succeed given their writing skills and subject matter expertise!

The MA in Professional Writing and Editing is a 30-hour degree that combines theories of writing with practice in real-world writing situations. Students study professional writing theory, the history of rhetoric, editing, rhetorical analysis, new modes of digital composition and writing ethics.  

Students learn to:
  • Recognize and evaluate ethical, social legal, and political values intertwined in the production and consumption of technical communications.
  • Analyze the uses and applications of new communication technologies.
  • Acquire historical and critical understanding of rhetorical theories and practices.
  • Master research and analytical methods, those related to oral, written, and visual communication.
  • Acquire a practical and theoretical understanding of workplace dynamics, including client relations and project management skills.
This degree prepares students for a variety of career options, including technical writing and editing, project management, writing consulting, writing instruction and advanced graduate study in rhetoric and composition. The degree is designed for both newly-graduated undergraduates and working adults who want more training in writing and editing.

How will I focus my studies?

Students complete professional writing electives in related subjects to narrow their focus. Elective areas include development and circulation of texts, humanities computing, communication theory, design and production of texts, language theory and online text production 

Shana Burleson

Internship: Fitness Information Technology

During Shana’s time as an intern with FiT Publishing, an international publisher in the sport sciences that operates under WVU’s College of Physical Activities and Sport Sciences, she grew in many ways as a professional writer and editor. She completed numerous projects at FiT, such as editing textbooks, press releases, and presentations; writing promotional materials; organizing internal files; and searching for photos to use in books. She cites the valuable skills learned on the job as collaboration/teamwork, written communication, time/project management, initiative, and critical thinking.

While most of her projects at FiT Publishing were focused on some form of editing, Shana was assigned several writing projects as well. In these projects, Shana learned more than how to identify comma errors, check references, and insert formatting into documents—she also learned the important skill of critical thinking. Some of the most important skills Shana developed during her internship came from working for a highly collaborative organization. She observed and followed both official and unofficial protocol to determine the balance between being a team player and taking initiative. She also learned to write in a style other than her own, which she found excellent practice for any writing or editing positions she might hold in the future.

Learn more at the Professional Writing and Editing site