Professional Writing

The professional writing major includes strands in technical writing and writing and publishing. It is a good major for students who love to write and who enjoy organizing and presenting information in multiple media. The professional writing major is noted for cultivating expertise in writing for the digital workplace; in teaching and researching multimedia writing, visual rhetoric, usability, and emergent technologies; in print and digital publishing; and for emphasizing collaboration, community service, and open-source development and documentation. Students may focus on writing for the arts or writing for industry, and they must choose a minor that will give them additional expertise.

Points of Pride

  • 96% of professional writing graduates report being employed in careers directly related to their education.

  • An English major (including a professional writer) learns many skills that employers find desirable, which may lead them to jobs in publishing, marketing, management, etc. Skills include the ability to communicate effectively orally and in writing; to edit, revise and design professional documents; to analyze, interpret, and present data; to present information clearly and creatively; and to understand how people use writing to teach, delight, and persuade.

  • Professional writing offers two major scholarships annually to undergraduates, each currently worth $5,000, and focused on Technical Writing and Writing and Publishing.

  • The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) offers a vast library of resources ranging from style guides to instructional material to assist Purdue students. OWL also is an international resource, with a web site that receives nearly 100 million hits a year from more than 125 different countries.

  • All professional writing majors gain valuable experience in internships and other projects that teach writing and collaboration in college and the workplace. Students have opportunities to work with journals and magazines published in the English Department and two scholarly presses.

  • The Purdue Exponent student newspaper provides ample opportunity to hone journalism skills and get published on a regular basis. Professional writing majors often work as interns or in part-time jobs with the newspaper.

  • There are opportunities to write for pleasure or portfolio development as part of student organizations. The Professional Writers Club was founded in the fall of 1999. The club provides students with social, academic, and career opportunities. Meetings have featured guest speakers from local industries and organizations and professional writing graduates who come to share their job hunting and employment experiences. Club members also sponsor events at Purdue, including major conferences like Computers and Writing.


  • Communications Director

  • Grant Writer

  • Editor

  • Technical Writer

  • Technical Author

  • Web Developer

  • Marketing Director

  • Social Media Specialist/Coordinator

  • User Experience Architect

  • Publications Specialist 

  • Business positions in Management and Training

  • Professional and Graduate school, including Law, Business, and Medical schools, as well as Graduate school in English, Rhetoric, and Communication

More professional writing career descriptions can be found here:

The program maintains its own regularly updated website:

The professional writing program also administers advanced general education classes. Information about Business Writing, Technical Writing, and Writing for the Health Professions is available here: 

Plan of Study

A minor outside the English Department is REQUIRED for this major.


ENGL 10600 or 10800
ONE 20000-level literature course from those offered in the core.

For admission to the major: 2.5 GPA in courses in prerequisite and background sections.

A. Background (9)

ENGL 20300 Introduction to Research in Professional Writing
ENGL 20500 Introduction to Creative Writing (Aesthetic Awareness)
ENGL 30600 Introduction to Professional Writing

B. Advanced Writing Courses (21)
(from either Group 1 or Group 2)

Group 1: Writing and Publishing

ENGL 30900 Computer-aided Publishing

One of the following required (courses listed in recommended sequence)

ENGL 48800 Internship in Professional Writing (prerequisite: 3.0 major GPA plus 12 cr. hrs. of writing courses 30000-level or higher; maximum of 6 credits can be applied to major)
ENGL 51500 Advanced Professional Writing (prerequisite: ENGL 30900)


ENGL 40600 Review Writing
ENGL 40700, 40900, 50700, 50800, 50900 (These courses repeatable for credit; observe prerequisites)
ENGL 41900, 42000, 42100, 42201
ENGL 42400 Writing for High Technology Industries
ENGL 47000 Theories of Rhetoric and Composition
ENGL 48800 Internship in Professional Writing (see prereq note above)
ENGL 51500 Advanced Professional Writing (if not taken for requirement above, see prereq note above)
Up to TWO English courses at 30000-level or higher
Up to ONE COM course in Writing or Journalism at 30000-level or above

Group 2: Technical Writing

ENGL 30900 Computer-aided Publishing
ENGL 41900, 42100, 42201, 42400
ENGL 51500 Advanced Professional Writing (see prereq note in group 1 above)


ENGL 42100 Technical Writing
ENGL 47000 Theories of Rhetoric and Composition
ENGL 48800 Internship in Professional Writing (see prereq note in group 1 above)
ENGL 42400 Writing for High Technology Industries
Up to TWO English courses at 30000-level or higher
Up to ONE COM course in Writing or Journalism at 30000-level or above

A minor outside the English Department (15)

Program Course Requirements (57-58 credits): (See PDF for full list here)

ONE of the following:

ENGL 10600 First Year Composition
ENGL 10800 Accelerated First Year Composition

COM 1140 Fundamentals of Speech Communication
Other Language (12) (Proficiency through level IV in one language)
West Heritage
United States Tradition
Other Cultures
Aesthetic Awareness
Racial and Ethnic Diversity
Gender Issues
Social Ethics
Individual and Society
Global Perspective
Natural Sciences
Natural Sciences Lab

Electives (20-21 credits)

University Core Requirements

Courses selected above must meet the following University Core Requirements:

Human Cultures Humanities
Human Cultures Behavioral/Social Science
Information Literacy
Science Selective
Science Selective
Science Technology Society Selective
Written Communication
Oral Communication
Quantitative Reasoning

For more information, visit

Print Plan of Study

Department of English

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907 (765) 494-4600

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