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Graduate Certificate in Plain Language


The Graduate Certificate in Plain Language is the first and only program of its kind in an institution of higher education in the nation and was developed in response to the Plain Writing Act of 2010 and the Executive Order 13263 in 2011 which mandated clear communication in plain writing from all federal government agencies.​ Plain language is a set of guidelines used to simplify and clarify communications addressed to the general public. The guidelines include the use of simpler vocabulary, shorter sentences, lists, active voice, and shorter paragraphs, to name a few.  Although developed in response to the mandate for federal government agencies, plain language is an approach that is effectively used in many other areas, fields, and sectors besides federal government including:​​

  • State and local government offices, in addition to federal government
  • ​Medical and health communication
  • Web design and web writing
  • Public relations and marketing
  • Nonprofits
  • ​ Business communication
  • Science and engineering
  • Law

​This 9-hour graduate certificate can be completed fully online and is designed to enhance students’ writing, design, and organization skills which can increase employability and/or help students reach new heights in their careers. Any professional working for an organization that distributes information​ to the general public can benefit from developing and implementing skills in using plain language.​​

​Curriculum and Requirements

The Graduate Certificate in Plain Language consists of 3 courses (9 semester credit hours) which are outlined below.​

Required Courses 

TCOM 5304 - Foundations of Professional & Technical Communication (3 credit hours)
TCOM 6324 - Writing in the Professions Using Plain Language (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses Options (choose 1):​

TCOM 5325 - Advanced Medical Writing
TCOM 5330 - Visual Design Theory
TCOM 5340 - Project Management
TCOM 6303 - Public Relations & Media
TCOM 6310 - Intercultural & World Communication
TCOM 6318 - Stylistics & Editing
TCOM 6322 - Instructional Design
TCOM 6328 - Hypermedia Theory & Design
TCOM 6330 -  Usability Research
TCOM 6331  - Grant Writing for Nonprofit Management

Please visit the UHD Catalog for more detailed information on degree requirements, course offerings, and course descriptions.​

How to Apply​​

​Applicants must hold a BA, BS, or an equivalent degree from an accredited college or university in the US or overseas and complete and submit all of the following items in order to be considered for admission. Resumes and personal statements can be uploaded through the myUHD portal, emailed to​

Office of Admissions – Graduate Admissions
University of Houston-Downtown
One Main Street, Suite GSB 308
Houston, Texas 77002-1001​

  • Submit an application through the ​Apply Texas Application
  • Pay the $35 application fee
  • Request/submit to the email or mailing address above official​ transcripts from the institution where applicant received a bachelor's degree as well as any graduate schools attended (Community college coursework will not be considered in the admission process and need not be submitted)​
  • Provide a professional / personal resume detailing your work experience and education 
  • Provide a personal statement of approximately 300 words

Last updated 4/7/2022 2:51 AM