West Virginia University

The MA in Professional Writing & Editing

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 will study professional writing theory, the history of rhetoric, editing, rhetorical analysis, new modes of digital composition, and writing ethics.

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.

MA in PWE Program Goals

The program is designed to enable students to achieve the following goals:
  • Recognize and evaluate a variety of 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 a variety of research and analytical methods, especially as these apply to the study and practical application of oral, written, and visual communication in professional contexts.
  • Acquire a practical and theoretical understanding of workplace dynamics including client relations and project management skills.

What does the MA in Professional Writing and Editing require?

The degree requires 30 hours of coursework in the following distributions:

1. Required Classes (9 hours) The following classes are specifically required and offered regularly: * English 601: Introduction to Composition Studies * English 602: Theory and Practice of Editing * English 605: Professional Writing Theory and Research

2. Professional Writing Electives (6 hours) Students will individualize their master’s program by choosing two 600-level courses from an approved list of courses in related fields. Courses will fulfill the Professional Writing Electives if they focus on any of the following topics: * Development and circulation of texts * Humanities computing * Communication * Design and production of texts * Language theory * Online text production

3. General Distribution (9-12 hours) Students must complete 9-12 hours of general English studies. Courses will include literature, writing, and/or linguistics courses offered by the Department of English and chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser. These credits, with the 3-6 hours in the Practical Application section, must add up to 15 hours.

Students may not use the same course to fulfill the General Distribution and Professional Writing Electives requirements. General distribution hours may often include requirements dictated by graduate teaching status, prior coursework, and departmental guidelines.

4. Practical Application (3-6 hours) Students must either participate in an internship or write an MA thesis.

Internships (3 hours) Students who choose the internship option will be placed in a local program or organization for 8-10 hours a week for 12-15 weeks. Students will engage in a variety of supervised writing tasks, including research, editing, proofreading, project management, and content development. At the end of the internship period, students will submit a portfolio to the Professional Writing Coordinator that documents and reflects on their internship experience.

MA in PWE Thesis (3-6 hours) The MA thesis is a work of scholarship in the form of an extended research paper (usually 50-75 pages) on a topic in the field. The thesis is directed by a regular member of the graduate faculty and two additional committee members. Students must satisfactorily defend their completed projects before their committees and anyone else who wishes to attend.


  • PO Box 6201
  • Morgantown
  • WV
  • USA
  • 26506


  • President: : Amanda Riley
  • Telephone: 304-293-2947