Special Emphasis

The Special Emphasis in Professional and Technical Writing will benefit graduate students who are concentrating their studies in other areas but also wish to develop sufficient foundational knowledge about professional writing to compete favorably for positions in academia or the workplace that require some knowledge and background in professional writing.

If you are heading for an academic career, the “Special Emphasis” can position you well to compete for jobs requiring the ability to teach some professional writing along with your own specialty. If you are heading for a workplace career, the “Special Emphasis” can help you demonstrate that you have the advanced credentials needed to compete favorably for positions that involve professional and technical communication.


Three professional writing courses (9 credits) in the following categories:

  • 3 Credit Core Course: English 712, Professional Writing Theory or English 706: Professional Writing Theory and Pedagogy.
  • 3 Credit Elective in Theory: Any professional writing course at the 700- or 800-level that covers a considerable amount of theory. If students choose English 712 in the first category of requirements, they can choose to take English 706 in this category, and vice versa. Other recommended courses in this category are English 855, Critical Rhetoric in Professional Writing; English 855, Rhetoric of Technology and Management; and English 855, Writing and the Environment.
  • 3 Credit Elective in Practice: Any professional writing 400-level U/G course or 700-level course that focuses mostly on practice (examples are Document Design; Information Architecture; Grant Writing; Editing and Publishing; and a wide variety of other courses).
  • Professional Writing Portfolio. Typically, the portfolio will include samples that demonstrate proficiency in “Special Emphasis” course assignments. You must include revised materials from coursework taken in this Special Emphasis. It is recommended but optional for you to include other professional writing or teaching samples.


  • No previous professional writing experience is expected or required.
  • Students can apply for the Special Emphasis in Professional Writing at any stage of their career at UWM. It is recommended that they apply before their final full year of coursework.
  • Each student who wishes to work toward a Special Emphasis in Professional Writing needs to submit to the Plan G Coordinator a statement of intent (indicating their reasons for adding a Special Emphasis to their graduate program) and a preliminary proposal for desired coursework.
  • The Plan G Coordinator will assign a faculty advisor to the student after approving that student’s application.
  • Each student will plan coursework and a portfolio in close consultation with a Plan G faculty advisor. The student will meet with the faculty advisor at least twice: as soon as possible after the Plan G Coordinator’s approval (to finalize the selection of courses) and as soon as possible following completion of coursework (to plan a final portfolio).
  • Each final portfolio must be approved by the Graduate Professional Writing Advisory Committee by the beginning of the semester in which the student plans to graduate.

For more information on Special Emphasis in PTW, contact Scott Graham.