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Medical and Healthcare Writing Graduate Certificate (Online)

As the healthcare industry expands in scope and complexity, the demand for skilled medical and healthcare communicators is growing. Specialized writing and communication skills are critical to success in healthcare-related fields. From writing grant proposals to regulatory documents to public health information, medical and healthcare writers are crucial to the organizational success of healthcare organizations across the industry.

Purdue University’s Medical and Healthcare Writing graduate certificate will teach you how to increase your medical and healthcare writing skills. By completing three fully online courses, you will elevate and refine your communication expertise and gain marketable skills while becoming a more effective healthcare writer and communicator.

What Do Medical Writers Do?

Medical Writers communicate the science of medicine and pharmaceuticals to a variety of stakeholders; including foundations, government agencies, the general public and more. Medical writers work with physicians, researchers, marketing teams, healthcare executives, pharmacology staff, and public health workers to produce clear and accessible content. Whether tailoring easy-to-understand general health information or preparing statistical reports for regulators, clear and concise writing is key to success.

Medical writers compile information for a variety of scenarios including:

  • Healthcare grants and research applications
  • Documentation during drug development, evaluation and review
  • Publishing clinical research in journals
  • Creating regulatory documents
  • Reporting clinical trial data and findings
  • Creating educational medical information for patients, families and the general public

Online Medical and Healthcare Writing Courses

Medical and Healthcare Writing (ENG 60311)

Course Description: In this course, you will learn how to write for the healthcare workplace and succeed as a medical writer. The curriculum will help you master various genres, writing styles and rhetorical strategies common in medical and healthcare environments. More specifically, you will learn how to edit documents that are used to communicate within and about the healthcare industry.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the written, spoken and media genres that are common in medical and healthcare industries.
  • Demonstrate how to write process-centered text for healthcare workplaces, specifically protocols and instructions.
  • Develop educational materials for patients that are appropriate for a variety of medical uses.
  • Explain a medical or healthcare issue by producing a feature article for a magazine or journal.

Writing Proposals and Grants (ENG 60411)

Course Description: Within medical and healthcare organizations, proposals and grants are the lifeblood of the workplace. In this course, you will learn to write proposals and grants for both profit and nonprofit organizations. Students will interpret rhetorical situations, anticipate client/funding agency needs, strengthen their ability to clearly describe current situations, set objectives, and develop solutions. By the end of the course, students will analyze real-world proposals that are ready to submit to either a client or a funding source

Learning Outcomes

  • Interpret and analyze a request for proposals (RFP).
  • Identify the “problem” that initiated the RFP, determining its causes and effects.
  • Develop clear objectives, outcomes and deliverables that will make a project attractive to a client.
  • Propose a project plan that meets the client’s needs and expectations.
  • Demonstrate why your company or organization is uniquely qualified to take on the project.
  • Compare the costs and benefits for evaluators, communicating the issues around accepting a project or grant proposal.
  • Present a proposal in-person or via video to decision-makers.

Editing and Publishing (ENG 60511)

Course Description: Master the use of professional editing tools and techniques that are standard in the publishing industry. In this course, you will also learn how to work as a professional editor at four critical levels, including proofreading, copyediting, substantive editing and development editing.

Learning Outcomes

  • Apply editing techniques of proofreading, copyediting, substantive editing and development editing.
  • Demonstrate effective decisions making around the editing needed and expected for a task or a piece of writing.
  • Employ editing and publishing terminology and knowledge of a variety of documents in different situations.
  • Demonstrate the use of proofreading and copyediting marks as used in print-based and electronic documents.
  • Employ strategies for doing substantive editing on larger documents in scientific, technical, medical and healthcare professional settings.

Medical Writing Jobs Outlook

According to an American Medical Writers Association survey salary, the median annual salary of their medical writers was $144,500 (, 2019). Medical writers and editors earn more than other technical writers who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, had a national median annual wage of $78,060 in 2021.  The number of U.S. technical communications jobs is expected to increase by six percent between 2021 and 2031.

The following professionals are ideal candidates for the healthcare writing graduate certificate:

  • Professional writers, editors, designers and publishers employed in the healthcare, technical and scientific workplace
  • Technical writers in pharmaceuticals, public health, government health agencies, research facilities, clinics, hospitals and other healthcare organizations
  • Scientific professionals expanding their careers into medical and healthcare communications
  • Healthcare professionals looking to elevate and refine their professional writing and communication skills
  • Educators and grant writers

Admissions and Costs

                                                                        In-State Out-of-State

Total Cost per Credit Hour                         $520                    $820

Credit Hours Per course                             3                           3

Cost per course                                           $1,560                 $2,460

Total Certificate Cost                                  $4,680                 $7,380

Enroll today and start one of the eight-week courses in August, October, January, or March. Medical and healthcare writing classes may be taken individually and in any order. Currently enrolled Purdue students can register for any of these classes. However, students will need to apply to the graduate program and complete all nine credits to receive the certificate.

To apply, submit a completed application, accompanied by the following items:

  • Professional resume
  • A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Official transcripts from all universities attended, including transfer credits
  • One letter of recommendation
  • A short personal statement
  • An application fee of $60 ($75 for international students)

Apply today at:


Richard Johnson-Sheehan

Professor Johnson-Sheehan is a nationally known expert in scientific, technical, medical and healthcare writing. He has authored several of the major textbooks in the field, including Technical Communication Today 6e, Writing Today 4e, and Argument Today 2e. At Purdue, he is the Director of ICaP, the introductory writing program. He also works with the Purdue Foundry, the start-up incubator. Johnson-Sheehan has been awarded the Jay R. Gould Award for Teaching Excellence in Technical Communication, and he is a Fellow of the Association for Teachers of Technical Writing.    

Frequently Asked Questions

What careers does this certificate prepare me for?

  • Grant Writer
  • Medical and Healthcare Writer
  • Medical and Healthcare Editor
  • Medical Communication Specialists, Managers and Directors
  • Scientific Writer / Editor
  • Technical Writer / Editor
  • Regulatory Writer
  • Healthcare Marketer
  • Healthcare Journalist
  • Technical Copywriter
  • Content Marketing Writer

Companies hiring this skill set include pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology agencies, government health agencies, medical education organizations, healthcare associations, academic institutions, healthcare publishers, trade publications, medical communication companies and more.

What undergraduate degrees should I have?

A variety of undergraduate degrees are appropriate for the medical and healthcare graduate certificate. Common areas of bachelor’s degrees for medical and healthcare writers include communications, journalism, health sciences, pre-med, pharmaceutical studies, biology, chemistry, bioengineering, medical design, English, marketing, and more.

How do online classes work? Do I have to be at my computer at a specific time?

As a Purdue student, you will be taking classes in an online environment. Instructors provide materials, lectures, tests and assignments that can be accessed at any time. Your lectures are not time restricted, meaning you don't need to be logged in to view your course materials at a specific time. However, all of your course activities, assignments and exams must be completed by their respective due dates. You will need to view course lectures regularly to keep current.

How will I be graded?

Students are graded based on their performance in class. The courses we offer online will have various methods for grading depending on the specific requirements for a given class. Students can expect to experience any combination of homework, graded exam, final project, group work or graded reports.​