Jun 12, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication, M.S.

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Effective August 2017, Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication, M.S. is suspending admissions, which means that this program of study is not currently accepting new applicants.

Admission Criteria

Admission decisions will be based on the following:

  • Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended.
  • Three letters of recommendation from people who are qualified based on direct experience with the student to comment on the applicant’s academic preparation and professional experience
  • A research statement that explains how the graduate program relates to the applicant’s prior experience, how specific faculty research agendas speak to the applicant’s own interests and how the program fits into his or her long-term professional or academic goals
  • 20-30 pages (or the equivalent) of academic and/or professional work samples (essays, reports, proposals, websites, visual campaigns, etc.) comprised of one or more documents.

Applications for admission will be reviewed beginning on February 1. However, we will continue to consider applications for fall admission on a rolling basis until April 1 or until all available seats in the program are filled.

There are many areas on campus that offer assistantships, including WRTC. Graduate students interested in assistantships should go to JMU JobLink https://www.jmu.edu/humanresources/recruitment/joblink.shtml to search for available positions.

All applicants to the WRTC program will be considered for available funding from WRTC. Admission to the program does not guarantee funding through WRTC.


The School of Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication is a community committed to preparing its students – both writers and technical and scientific communicators – for lives of enlightened, global citizenship.

The specific goals of the master’s degree are to help students:

  • Define what effective communication means in writing, rhetoric and technical communication environments.
  • Enhance their understanding of how and why communication works.
  • Learn how to identify and eliminate barriers to effective communication.
  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communication management.
  • Develop research skills.

To achieve these goals, the program combines work in theory, writing, text design, and analysis of communication systems and contexts to help students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to begin careers in writing, rhetoric and technical communication. The program emphasizes scholarly, humanistic and social scientific perspectives on the function and application of writing, rhetoric and technical communication.

Consequently, the program provides students with not only the knowledge and skills required for careers in industry, business or government but also the research skills and communication theory that will prepare them for doctoral study in communication and rhetoric. The long-range goal of the degree, then, is to enable program graduates to grow as professionals and, ultimately, to contribute to the developing field of writing, rhetoric and technical communication.

Degree candidates must successfully complete a minimum of 33 credit hours of graduate course work, which includes a minimum of two semesters of course work completed at JMU. Students work with school advisers to design a program that fits their unique educational needs and career aspirations. Depending on their backgrounds and options they might choose to pursue while in the degree program, students may decide to take course work beyond the required 33 hours to obtain additional knowledge or skills in specialized areas. For example, students may choose to take extra course work to enhance their skills in communication technologies or to deepen their academic training in the writing, rhetoric and technical communication content areas in which they intend to work as professional writers or editors.

Degree Requirements

Students in the program must successfully complete three required courses (nine credit hours), two courses of thesis or internship hours (six credit hours), and six courses of WRTC electives (18 credit hours). Students wanting to focus their studies on emerging educational technologies, the school offers an M.S. degree. Students complete the degree by taking a nine credit-hour cognate in educational technology in place of nine credit hours of WRTC electives.

At least 18 of the students’ credit hours must come from course work at the 600 level or above. Up to six of those hours may be WRTC 700. Thesis  or WRTC 701. Internship .

The WRTC graduate program encourages applicants with diverse academic and professional backgrounds, including (but certainly not limited to) biology, business, computer science, education, English, geography, mathematics, philosophy, political science, psychology, rhetoric and composition, or writing.


Degree candidates have two options for satisfying the capstone requirement for the master’s degree:

  • Complete a research-based master’s thesis on a relevant topic.
  • Complete a 300-hour internship with an external client on a relevant topic.

It is important that the student understand that he/she is solely responsible for the success of the thesis/internship. The student needs to be in charge of completing all paperwork for the school, The Graduate School, registrar, etc., and for meeting all deadlines to matriculate successfully. The student will need to contact these offices well ahead of the semester in which he/she plans to graduate to ensure that all deadlines can and will be met.

Comprehensive Exam

All students must pass a comprehensive exam in the form of a defense of their capstone project.

Course Requirements

Thesis or Internship: 6 Credit Hours

Total: 33 Credit Hours

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