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Macricostas School of Arts & Sciences

Writing Department

Why Major in Writing?

The undergraduate Professional Writing program gives form to a contradictory fact of life about American writers: They are both specialists and generalists. Professional writers find themselves frequently crossing writing genres even as they are called upon to specialize. Business and technical writers may find they are sometimes asked to do PR; poets might not make a living writing poetry, but they might pair their artmaking with a career in teaching or in other writing fields such as technical writing, marketing, or journalism.

Even if your eventual career isn’t writing per se, expanding your ability to write concisely and fluently provides an invaluable set of skills that can be used to speed you along in virtually any career path: law, teaching, internet and multimedia, nonprofits and government, business, health care, and many others. The ability to write well is increasingly valued, as fewer and fewer college graduates in our visual and Twitter bound culture are trained to write anything of length and complexity.

Some of the skills a writing major acquires include persistence, imagination, resourcefulness, flexibility, confidence, the ability to analyze an issue and make sense of it, the ability to communicate that sense, the ability to explain and argue effectively, the ability to detect flaws in arguments and address them, the ability to know how to accept and mold criticism to make a more effective product, and the ability to be creative.

Courses within the Professional Writing major are mixed and matched so that they both contribute to the specific writing profession the student is aiming toward and demonstrate the interrelation of one type of writing with another. This is particularly important in an era when the boundaries between writing genres are breaking down. To take just one example from journalism, news stories these days are much closer in presentation techniques to creative writing and advertising. It is easy enough to bemoan this fact, but we think it is more important to teach writers how to write creative nonfiction in an ethically and professionally sound way, understanding both the advantages of a creative approach in terms of reader interest, and the dangers of allowing the creative form to falsify and distort the reality they report. Our courses also orient students to the professional side of all writing genres and fields—the business side of literature, the publishing world, the editing process, promotion and marketing.

The Professional Writing faculty (who are themselves professional writers) believe it is our responsibility to train writers to see themselves as professionals and to move into the professional world (or graduate school) with confidence.

Professional Writing Options

Senior Portfolio Requirements

Why Minor in Writing?