Professional Writing, B.A.

Undergraduate Degree
Undergraduate Degrees
Professional Writing, B.A.
The Professional Writing, B.A. degree program has an online option. Learn more about Online Learning at Marshall University.

The ability to write clearly, carefully and effectively is an invaluable skill that contributes to success in any profession throughout life.

Since Fall 2019, Marshall University in Huntington, WV, has offered students a unique opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Professional Writing. In this major, students develop communication and information management strategies to write well in many contemporary professional fields including technical and scientific communication, business communication, editing and publishing, journalism and public relations, as well as emerging digital communication fields.

MU students who pursue a bachelor’s in Professional Writing degree will deepen their understanding of writing styles, rhetorical situations, compositional processes, research and media. A degree in Professional Writing enables students to develop professional portfolios by creating and working with a wide range of documents such as proposals, business plans and reports, while also learning to compose and communicate for digital environments.

Why Study Professional Writing at Marshall?

The B.A. in Professional Writing degree program at Marshall University prepares students for a variety of writing careers using various media and digital tools. Working professional writers require a range of writing skills that cross all fields and disciplines. They must write with clarity, purpose and a solid understanding of their audience. This takes training, and it’s the goal of the Department of English at Marshall University to prepare students to meet every writing challenge with skill and confidence.

In the Professional Writing major, students learn that professional writers can specialize in technology, science, healthcare, journalism, fundraising, grant writing, copywriting and many other areas to build a career portfolio.

Convenient and Affordable

The Professional Writing bachelor’s degree program is available in-person on Marshall’s Huntington campus or can be completed 100% online. Both formats offer a quality education.

Students who opt for online learning are able to work on the Professional Writing degree anytime, anywhere. Marshall’s online students benefit from a special distance tuition rate that is less than regular tuition costs, and out-of-state online students pay the same special in-state rate as West Virginia students. In addition, fully distance education students do not pay fees for on-campus services.

Special Learning Location

Marshall students have unique opportunities through the Professional Writing program to learn the writing, research and rhetorical skills necessary to contribute to positive change at our University and in the surrounding area of West Virginia.

Professional Writing students can intern with a small, independent local company called Mountain State Press, which promotes writing in Appalachia, with an emphasis on West Virginia works. Interns gain valuable real-world skills and an up-close view of how to run a successful nonprofit organization.
The Huntington area, as well as the state of West Virginia, are in the midst of major revitalization, driven by the success of the city’s and the University’s grant writers. Professional Writing students can intern with many of the governmental and nonprofit organizations that are at the center of this growth.
Advanced Professional Writing students have opportunities to represent the English Department as well as Marshall University by serving as social media ambassadors and thus developing an impressive professional portfolio in new and growing communication channels.

Career Outlook for Professional Writing Majors

Students graduating with a BA in Professional Writing are prepared to succeed in any field where excellent communication and collaboration skills are needed and valued.

Professional Writing skills are necessary in career fields across the spectrum. Here’s a sampling of the critical role that writing plays in supporting major sectors in our economy:

Business: Writing pitches, memos, reports, letters, memos, social media content, resumes, proposals and plans
The arts: Writing grant proposals, magazine articles, artist statements, blog and other online posts, professional website content and resumes
Engineering: Writing memos, project updates, reports and proposals
Health sciences: Writing patient referrals, grant proposals, promotional materials and web content
The sciences: Writing lab reports, memos, articles, social media and other web content, proposals, plans, and more

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in media and communication occupations is projected to grow 4 percent through 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations, and will result in about 46,200 new jobs. Demand for media and communication occupations is expected to arise from the need to create, edit, translate and disseminate information through a variety of different platforms.

Writing Jobs

Professional Writing majors develop a solid foundation to go on to careers in business, law and numerous other occupations where strong skills in writing and effective communication are critical to job success.

A major in Professional Writing can prepare you for a career in teaching, sales, human relations, customer service, social services, management, public relations, advertising, media, fundraising, law, politics, consulting and publishing. Here’s a closer look at two key professional pathways focused on writing: technical writer and public relations specialist.

Technical Writers

The employment of technical writers is projected to grow 7 percent through 2029, faster than the average for all occupations, the BLS reports.

Technical writers will be in demand, given the continuing expansion of scientific and technical products and growth in Web-based product support. Growth and change in the high-technology and electronics industries will increase the need for professionals who can write instruction manuals and communicate information clearly to users.

Employment of those skilled in writing and communication will continue to grow rapidly in professional, scientific and technical services firms.

Public Relations Specialist

Marshall graduates in Professional Writing will be prepared to enter the field of public relations, which is a vital function throughout businesses, government, education and nearly every area of the U.S. economy. The BLS says that employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 7 percent through 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.

Public relations is critical for organizations to maintain and enhance their reputation and visibility. Public relations specialists respond to news developments by composing and writing press releases and other online content to maintain and enhance their organization’s reputation.

The expansion of social media also is an important channel for public relations specialists to appeal to consumers and the general public in new ways. Public relations specialists also are important to help their employers and clients understand how to effectively use social media and take advantage of newly emerging platforms.

Writing Salaries

The median annual wage for media and communication occupations was $61,310 in May 2020, which was higher than $41,950, the median annual wage for all occupations, as reported by the BLS. The median (or midpoint) annual wage for public relations specialists was $62,810 in May 2020. Within the salary range for public relations specialists, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,350, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $118,210 The median (or midpoint) annual wage for technical writers was $74,650 in May 2020. Within the salary range for technical writers, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,510, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $119,040.

Opportunities for Professional Writing Majors

Hands-on Resources

The Marshall University Writing Center — where students can work with specially-trained writing tutors -is a tremendous resource for Professional Writing majors to sharpen their writing skills. Advanced Professional Writing students also can apply to tutor at the Writing Center, gaining valuable professional experience.

Research Opportunities

Students in Professional Writing work on a variety of research projects both independently and in collaboration with Professional Writing and English Department faculty.

These projects often involve real world situations, with students either exploring and writing about relevant, contemporary concerns in the field, or partnering with organizations, businesses or community members. These projects give students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience that will prepare them for active careers while learning from experienced Marshall faculty and other experts in the field.

Internships

Professional Writing majors at Marshall have access to many internship opportunities. In recent years, interns have worked with several local businesses and organizations to use and develop their skills in research and writing for an array of audiences and in a variety of forms. Here are a few examples of where Professional Writing majors completed their internships:

Huntington Museum of Art
Branches Domestic Violence Shelter
Developmental Therapy Center
Robert C Byrd Institute
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Huntington Steel
Cabell County Public Library

Student interns at Mountain State Press, a West-Virginia based publishing company, perform such tasks as writing for social media and the website, assessing manuscripts for possible publication, assisting with the editorial and marketing processes, and interacting directly with authors.

Related Programs
Not sure if the Professional Writing, B.A. undergraduate degree program is right for you? Check out these other undergraduate programs, and talk about your options with an admissions counselor or your academic advisor.
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Of Undergraduate Students Received
Some Form of Financial Aid
$94M
In Total Financial Aid Awarded
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$17.5M+
Awarded in Federal Grants
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In Institutional Scholarships and Grants Awarded

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Plan of Study Grid
First Year
First SemesterCredit Hours
ENG 101 Bison image  Cap graduation image Beginning Composition 3
FYS 100 First Yr Sem Critical Thinking 3
Core II Social Science 3
COLA Social Science 3
CMM 103 Bison image  Cap graduation image Fund Speech-Communication 3
UNI 100 Freshman First Class 1
 Credit Hours16
Second Semester
Core II Humanities (ENG 200 recommended) 3
ENG 201 Bison image  Cap graduation image Advanced Composition 3
Core I Critical Thinking 3
MTH 121 Bison image  Cap graduation image Concepts and Applications (CT) 3
Core II Fine Arts 3
 Credit Hours15
Second Year
First Semester
ENG 350 Cap graduation image Intro to Textual Analysis 3
Core II Physical and Natural Science 4
Foreign Language 101 3
ENG 314 Intro to Professional Writing 3
Multicultural or International 3
 Credit Hours16
Second Semester
ENG Professionalization Course 1 3
COLA Social Science 3
COLA International 3
Foreign Language 102 3
Free Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Third Year
First Semester
ENG Specialist Course 1 3
ENG Professionalization Course 2 3
ENG Elective 3
Foreign Language 203 3
Free Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Second Semester
ENG Specialist Course 2 3
ENG 439 Professional Writing Theory 3
COLA Physical or Natural Science 4
COLA Social Science 3
Foreign Language 204 3
 Credit Hours16
Fourth Year
First Semester
ENG Elective 3
COLA Multicultural 3
ENG 490 Internship 3
COLA Humanities 3
Free Elective 3
 Credit Hours15
Second Semester
ENG 499 Bison image Senior Capstone 3
ENG Elective 3
Free Elective 3
Free Elective 3
 Credit Hours12
 Total Credit Hours120
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