Answer: Yes, there are currently 15 online master’s in technical communication programs in the United States.
Technical communication is defined as instructional and informational content about technical or specialized topics, such as scientific research and research proposals, medical concepts and instructions, and the operation of complex equipment or software. Online master’s in technical communication programs, sometimes referred to as online technical and professional communication programs, prepare students to engage in a wide variety of technical content writing and editing. Students of these programs learn how to create technical documentation and instructions, explain scientific and technological concepts in accessible prose, and craft effective professional communications for different organizational settings. They also take classes that explore the role of rhetoric in the workplace and in science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM).
Graduates of online master’s in technical communication programs can assume roles in scientific research, software and other technical documentation, instructional writing, medical writing, healthcare marketing and public relations, and employee training. In these roles, they document the structure and developments of technical products, help employees and consumers learn how to navigate new technical systems, educate the public about scientific issues and advancements, help researchers apply for funding and translate their findings into articles for publication, and assist companies in the STEM fields to explain and market their products or services to customers.
Examples of Online Master’s in Technical Communication Programs
Currently, there are 15 online master’s in technical communication programs in the United States. Below are brief descriptions of some of these online programs:
- Arizona State University’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts offers an Online Master of Science in Technical Communication that prepares students for careers in grant writing, information development, web design, and user experience through classes in applied rhetoric and technical communication, research in technical communication, visual communication, data visualization, web authoring, social media, technical editing, grant and proposal writing, content management, technical and scientific reports, and information in the digital age.
- Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies offers an Online Master of Science in Technical Communication with concentrations in Computer Industry Writing, Social Media and Online Communities, and Usability/User Experience. This program has required courses in technical and professional writing, technical content editing, information architecture, usability, writing for the computer industry, structured documentation, technical publications management, digital communication technologies, interactive marketing, usability testing, and web design.
- Minnesota State University, Mankato’s English Department has an Online Master of Arts in Technical Communication that includes courses in technical publication editing, research and theory for technical writers, online and technical documentation, document design, visual technical communication, proposals, user experience, and project management in technical communication. Students are also required to complete an internship in a relevant technical communication setting.
- Drexel University’s Department of Communication offers an Online Master of Science in Communication with a concentration in Technical Communication that includes core classes in research and critical reading in communication, theories of persuasive communication, creating and managing communication professional identities, technical writing, document design and assessment, digital publishing, editing for technical, science, and health publications, and the ethics of technical, science, and health communication.
- Texas Tech University’s Department of English offers an Online Master of Arts in Technical Communication with areas of emphasis in Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology; Technical Communication; Rhetorics of Science and Healthcare; Technology, Culture, and Rhetoric; and Visual Rhetoric, New Media, and User-Centered Design. Students take classes that focus on the history, purpose, and impact of technical and scientific rhetoric. Courses cover concepts in scientific and technical communication, written discourse and social issues, global technical communication, the history of rhetoric, technical reporting and editing, online publishing, document design, grants and proposals, and publications management.
Online master’s in technical communication programs often employ a combination of asynchronous and synchronous course elements to give students the benefit of flexible course scheduling along with opportunities to interact with classmates and faculty. These programs are just as intensive as their campus counterparts, in terms of course content and the effort necessary to complete graduation requirements.
In addition to classes, most online master’s in technical communication programs require students to complete a master’s thesis or capstone project that either examines a research question in technical communication, or involves developing a solution to technical or scientific communication issue or challenge. Some of programs may also require students to take a comprehensive exam or complete an internship.
Example Curriculum and Courses in Online Master’s in Technical Communication Programs
Below is a sample curriculum for an online master’s in technical communication program. Programs vary in the titling, content, and sequencing of their classes, and therefore the curriculum provided below should only serve as an example.
|Curriculum Component||Course Titles and Graduation Requirement Descriptions|
(Potential Capstone Options)
For a comprehensive list of campus-based, online, and hybrid master’s in technical communication programs, as well as details on the curriculum structure of and courses in these programs, please refer to our Master’s in Technical Communication Programs page.
Note: MastersinCommunications.com classifies programs based on their curriculum, including core and elective courses. For the purposes of our directories, we classify a master’s in technical communication program as one that has a clear specialization in technical communication, and/or which offers at least three to four courses that are relevant to the field of technical communication. Such courses may cover the principles of technical writing and editing, writing for medical or scientific publications, grant and proposal writing, technical documentation, document publication management, information architecture, professional writing practices, instructional writing, and the rhetoric of technical communication. Finally, in order to be classified as an online program, a program must deliver most or all of their course content online, require a maximum of two visits to campus per year, and allow students to complete the majority of their graduation requirements remotely.
Online Master's in Technical Communication Degree Programs
Arizona State University(Arizona)
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis(Indiana)
Minnesota State University, Mankato(Minnesota)
Missouri University of Science and Technology(Missouri)
New Jersey Institute of Technology(New Jersey)
- Online Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication with a Concentration in Usability/User Experience (Technical Communication)
- Online Master of Science in Technical Communication with Concentrations in Computer Industry Writing, Social Media and Online Communities Concentration, and Usability/User Experience
Texas State University(Texas)
Texas Tech University(Texas)
- Online Master of Arts in Technical Communication with Areas of Emphasis in Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology; Technical Communication; Rhetorics of Science and Healthcare; Technology, Culture, and Rhetoric; and Visual Rhetoric, New Media, and User-Centered Design Interview with Craig Baehr, Ph.D. - Texas Tech University
University of Central Florida(Florida)
University of Minnesota Twin Cities(Minnesota)
University of Wisconsin-Stout(Wisconsin)
Utah State University(Utah)