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

Department of English

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

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