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MSTC Course Descriptions

Master of Science in Technical Communication Course Descriptions

Select a course number/title below to see the full course description.

Orients students to faculty research and the issues, goals, and methodologies of professional and technical communication. The course examines: definitions and histories of the field; relevant theories, practices, and genres; data gathering and research; technology-related issues; ethical and intercultural implications; and professionalization.

Introduces major rhetorical theories, practice, and criticism. The course provides practice in applying critical theory to contemporary texts.

Theory and practice of documenting and reporting both narrative findings and statistical results for medicine and life sciences in a variety of formats including proposals, publishable articles, and patient information materials. Graduate students will present a seminar with an accompanying literature review and complete individual and group projects.

Provides a practicum in the application of theory to original designs and to the analysis and revision of existing designs. Examines the theory and practices appropriate to print and electronic medias.

Introduces the techniques for systematic planning and supervision of complex writing projects and the production of print and electronic documentation. Students will become proficient in three major areas: collaborating with Subject Matter Experts to develop and clarify content; coordinating writing and production elements for publication; and expert testing for usability.

Explores the trends and issues affecting corporations, crisis management, public affairs, communication, consumer affairs, employee relations, environmental problems, and issues of multinationals. The course may include the analysis of various examples of publicity materials (news conferences, feature placements, special events, and media tours), case studies as well as readings on the history and theories of public relations and propaganda.

Examines issues surrounding communication for/with multiple audiences with diverse linguistic and cultural patterns. The class will also consider implications of controlled language systems.

Examines the intersections of technical and professional communication (TPC) and social justice issues (e.g. race, disability, sexual orientation, etc.) by exploring (i) the role TPC plays in legitimizing and sustaining injustice and (ii) how TPC can redress injustice and enact social justice. The course will introduce students to social justice topics, theories, and methodologies as well as provide a space for engaging in analysis, critique, and positive action.

Helps students identify and address the ethical challenges that occur in private, social, and professional contexts. The course will focus on real-world ethical dilemmas with diverse approaches to decision-making using ethical reasoning and applied ethics. Legal considerations will include first amendment issues such as freedom of speech and press, copyright, libel, privacy, access, administrative law of advertising and broadcasting, and other legal problems in professional writing situations.

Trains students in the examination and assessment of the rhetorical effects of style and editing choices and in the application of appropriate choices to a variety of documents, audiences, and settings. Covers information-processing theory and practice, with students being responsible for articulating clearly and concisely the reasons for their style and editing choices (including graphics) by the end of this course.

Surveys and applies the theory, research, creation, development, and delivery of courses in corporate and academic environments. Students will design and present curriculum for business, industry, or classroom use.

Acquaints students with various computer software programs and their applications to specific disciplines such as criminal justice, medical and science writing, and technical communication. Projects include print documents or slide presentations incorporating analyzed research data. Students will expand their knowledge of rhetorical principles and of techniques for reporting statistical analysis and conveying them to specific audiences.

Examines the implications of plain language in government, medical, business, and technical publications. Students will conduct readability research, write, and edit documents in one or several technical fields or disciplines including science, medicine, pharmaceutical, engineering, environmental science, and/or law.

Reviews print-based methods of content organization and reader orientation. These traditional methods are contrasted with typical solutions in online and multimedia communications to the problems of content navigation, readability, and usability. Includes study of navigation maps or graphs, information architecture, traditional and hyperlinked indices, tables of contents and online content lists, and the use of document description or meta-information to facilitate effective information retrieval.

Examines the principles and methods of applied research in professional writing and technical communication. Provides practice in planning and conducting user evaluations, interpreting data and reporting results, and managing the participant process, with attention to human subject research policy and protection. Course projects will evaluate users’ experience with print and /or electronic materials such as software documentation, training materials, brochures, or web pages. Topics may focus on usability, accessibility, or qualitative evaluation. When course content varies, the course may be repeated with permission of the department.

Prerequisite: Graduate standing or departmental approval. Practice in writing grant proposals of varying scope, complexity and type primarily for non-profit contexts. The course will cover identifying funding sources; evaluating grant proposals; writing need statements, letters of intent, outlines, goals, and objectives; and creating and justifying a budget.

Study and practice in conducting qualitative and quantitative research in professional writing and technical communication. Students will work with primary and secondary sources, fill out human subject forms, and analyze and synthesize research data.

Selected topics in writing for industry, linguistics, pedagogy, and rhetorical or discourse theory. When course content varies, the course may be repeated by permission of department.

Earn industry experience and graduate credits through an internship. Students are responsible for finding or proposing their own internships. Please discuss this option with the program director before completing the TCOM 6380 Field Experience form (pdf) and enrolling in the course.

Supports and guides student research for thesis or capstone project. Students enroll in this course during the semester they intend to research, develop, and propose a thesis or capstone project.

Provides direction and support for students during the semester in which they intend to complete their thesis and graduate. No credit is awarded until the thesis is approved by the thesis committee and the student has passed an oral exam on the thesis and graduation portfolio.

After gaining approval from the Graduate Advisory Committee in TCOM 6380 or TCOM 6390, students undertake a large project or several smaller projects for a real-world audience. Credit is awarded after the project(s) is complete and the student has submitted a report and passed an oral defense of the project.

As one of the Final Experience Options for the MSTC degree, students may choose to take a comprehensive exam. In the preparation for the exam, students will read and annotate a list of sources for the comprehensive examination. TCOM 6094 is evaluated on the pass/fail basis. Students who fail the exam the first time will receive an Incomplete and will have an opportunity to retake the exam one more time.

Students may fulfill the final experience by registering for TCOM 6095 and taking two additional elective courses.

Professional Writing Graduate Portfolio Prerequisite: Filing for graduation with MSTC. For the student nearing completion of the MS in Professional Writing and Technical Communication, this non-credit course certifies that the degree requirement of submission of a portfolio of samples of the student’s writing has been fulfilled. Should be taken in the semester of anticipated graduation.

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