Public & Professional Writing

The Public and Professional Writing major requires 33 credits and the Public and Professional Writing undergraduate certificate requires 18 credits. Students who want to develop their writing ability and who are interested in exploring the ways that writing well can enhance their working lives are invited to join the PPW program.

Below is more about what PPW is and what it might offer you.

Read descriptions of all our courses. >

Visit the Major Requirements page. >

Apply for the certificate and learn what courses are required by visiting the PPW Certificate page. >

For news and updates, visit our Facebook page. >

About the Public and Professional Writing Program

Nationally, in the last decade, students have become more aware of the high cost of a college education, and they are determined to make smart choices about courses of study that will prepare them for their post-college lives and make them competitive on the job market. At the same time, our students are invested in advocacy and understanding the implications of choices we make as individuals and as leaders in business, government, and the nonprofit sector. They are ambitious and eager for experiences that connect them with life outside the classroom, with others and communities. The PPW program fits in this nexus between critical and analytical work, utility, community engagement, and advocacy. Our courses offer real value to students’ education.

The PPW program offers students the emotional, intellectual, and professional support of professors and mentors who have experience in workplace as well as academic realms, and it provides students with opportunities for experiential learning (internships or jobs that allow students to apply what they’re learning the classroom). The program sponsors extracurricular events (poster and digital sessions on internship work, panels of professionals in various arenas of public engagement, workshops on developing portfolios and interviewing) that support students’ engagement with their future and with the broader worlds of work and public life, and that help them prepare over the course of their schooling to enter those broader worlds.

Writing plays a crucial role in the lives of people after they leave college as they work, volunteer, attend professional schools, and advocate for themselves and others. Our courses focus on writing that serves professional goals or the public interest (or both). We invite students from across the University to focus on writing as a way to develop the critical writing, learning, and thinking skills necessary to all sectors of American professional life—private, nonprofit, and government.

Our students are learning how writing functions in the public sphere—how decisions get made, how knowledge is circulated, how policy gets created and communicated. They learn how to consolidate knowledge for policymakers, how to argue for the public interest, how to write ethically in commercial settings as well as in public contexts. Students pursuing a PPW major will have the opportunity to explore how and why writing functions in legal settings, in business, in nonprofits, in advertising and PR, and in the field of composition studies. They will study rhetorical contexts and learn how these contexts have shaped conventions for writing. 

We have the benefit of alumni satisfaction and a good track record for student placement for the past thirteen years. PPW students graduate with compelling portfolios and experiences, and they will get jobs in a range of fields. Our PPW Alumni LinkedIn group has more than 200 members with jobs in private companies, nonprofits, law practices, universities, and public agencies. Students work as lawyers, software designers, marketers, development specialists, teachers, consultants, analysts, managers, and more. Our alumni feel strongly that they were served well by the PPW program; they return to speak with students, they mentor our interns, and they contact us when they are looking to hire. 

We have a successful internship program for PPW students who are in good academic standing. Internships are designed to give students a productive, substantive writing experience where they will learn from and contribute to the sponsoring agency, company, or project. PPW majors are required to complete an internship in their junior or senior year. Internships are optional for PPW certificate students. Please visit our internship page for more information or to browse potential sites. 

The Composition program launched the Public and Professional Writing (PPW) program as a certificate in 2003 and expanded into a major in 2018.

Have questions or need help?

Dana Nowlin-Russell, Director, PPW Program,

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