About Marjorie Rush Hovde, Ph.D.: Marjorie Rush Hovde is the Chair of Technology Leadership and Communication Graduate Programs at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. As Chair, she oversees the Masters of Science in Technology program with Concentrations in Technical Communication and Organizational Leadership. In addition, she oversees the graduate Human Resource Development Certificate. As an Associate Professor of Technical Communication, Dr. Hovde teaches courses in technology in popular culture, managing document quality, visual technical communication, research approaches for technical communication, and general technical communication principles and practices.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English Education at Eastern Mennonite College, her Master of Arts in Expository Writing at the University of Iowa, and her PhD in Rhetoric & Composition with a focus on technical communication at Purdue University. She became interested in technical communication many years ago after she taught a technical communication course and found it fascinating and practical. Her current research interests involve observational studies of workplace technical communication, focusing on the abilities and resources that workplace professionals need in order to create effective technical communication.

Interview Questions

[MastersinCommunications.com] Could you please provide an overview of Indiana University – Purdue University – Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) Masters of Science in Technology – Technical Communication program, and how it is structured? What are the key learning outcomes students can expect from this program?

[Dr. Hovde] The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) Masters of Science in Technology with a Technical Communication (TCM) Concentration (33 credit hours total) is designed to prepare students for workplace positions in technical communication and related fields.

Located in the Department of Technology Leadership & Communication within IUPUI’s Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, the degree program offers courses in three categories:

  1. MS in Technology Core courses: Three courses designed to help students master crucial principles of working in industry and technology while developing applied research and project management abilities.
  2. TCM Concentration courses: Three required courses in technical communication blending theory and practice. In these courses, students learn and practice principles of designing visual technical communication, of communicating effectively with a variety of audiences, of managing documentation processes, of using relevant software to create technical communication, of conducting primary and secondary research to learn content and approaches to enable effective technical communication, and of interacting with clients and peers to create authentic, effective technical communication.
  3. Relevant Electives: Five additional electives to allow students to tailor course work to fit their career goals and interests. Students can select courses from within the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology and from other relevant graduate programs such as Informatics, Communication, and Business on the IUPUI campus. Within the TCM program, these electives might include courses such as Effective Workplace Technical Communication, Teaching Technical & Professional Communication, or Preparing for Career Transitions: Creating an ePortfolio. Additionally, because we are located in a department that also offers courses in Organizational Leadership, electives might include courses such as Interpersonal Skills for Leaders or Managerial Training & Development.

Overall learning outcomes include:

  • Applying theories of technical communication to workplace contexts
  • Synthesizing results of published research in order to guide technical communication projects
  • Designing and conducting applied workplace research in order to make data-guided decisions

[MastersinCommunications.com] IUPUI’s Masters of Science in Technology – Technical Communication Concentration is also available fully online. Could you elaborate on the online learning technologies that this program uses, whether classes are mainly asynchronous or synchronous (or a combination of both), and how faculty mentorship operates in the online program?

[Dr. Hovde] Online courses are offered through the Canvas Learning Management System which is known for its user friendliness. Students use Canvas to access assignment information, submit their work, access online readings, participate in online discussion boards, conduct peer reviews of classmates’ work, and check their grades. Most course work is asynchronous with set deadlines for deliverables. Many courses offer live weekly online chat opportunities through an application called Zoom. If a student can’t participate live, recordings of each session are available soon afterward. Many courses include group projects, and Zoom facilitates interactions among group members.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For their final graduation requirement, students of IUPUI’s Masters of Science in Technology – Technical Communication Concentration can choose between completing a directed project or additional coursework. Could you elaborate on both of these options, and what they entail?

[Dr. Hovde] Students in the Technical Communication Concentration can choose between completing a directed project or additional coursework as they finish the degree.

  • Students who elect to complete a Directed Project (3-6 credit hours) work with an advisor to design, conduct, and report on applied workplace research in technical communication. They present the completed report to a committee of faculty members and to relevant workplace professionals. For example, a student may notice an issue with usability of the technical communication in his/her workplace, design a study to assess the level of usability, and write a report recommending ways that the organization could improve the usability of its technical communication products.
  • Students who do not complete a Directed Project will complete relevant electives suitable to their interests and goals. Most of our students elect this courses-only option.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What role does faculty mentorship play in IUPUI’s Masters of Science in Technology – Technical Communication program? Independent of faculty instruction and support, what career development resources and academic services are available to students, and how can they make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems while in the program?

[Dr. Hovde] Faculty members in Technical Communication offer guidance and mentorship to TCM Concentration students throughout their enrollment in the program, based on those faculty members’ extensive experience and networks in technical communication.

The department is able to offer a small number of graduate research assistantships to qualified students. These assistantships include a stipend, tuition remission, and basic health insurance.

The Purdue School of Engineering & Technology’s Student Services Office offers guidance in career development and opportunities. Additionally, the TCM Program and the campus offer multiple academic services in order to help students succeed, including a TCM Writing Center that offers individual tutoring services. The IUPUI campus also offers a range of modern software to students at free or reduced rates, supported by University Information Technology Services, which offers training opportunities and responsive technical support resources.

[MastersinCommunications.com] For students interested in IUPUI’s Masters of Science in Technology – Technical Communication program, what advice do you have for submitting a competitive application?

[Dr. Hovde] To apply, prospective students submit several materials including a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. In reviewing an applicant’s statement of purpose, the graduate admissions committee looks for insight on how the prospective student became interested in technical communication and what goals the person has in pursuing a degree in this field. Recommendation letters from professors and/or workplace supervisors should speak to the candidate’s strengths and potential for future success in this graduate program.

In addition to the statement and the recommendations, applicants submit undergraduate transcripts, an online application, and a supplemental information form. (Test scores are not required for students who earned an undergraduate degree at a regionally accredited institution, but if applicants have taken those tests and wish to submit scores, they may.)

The requirements for international students are slightly more complex, and full details are listed at http://engr.iupui.edu/departments/tlc/grad/admissions.php

We encourage students to apply early, as we practice a “rolling” admissions process. As soon as possible after all admissions materials are received for a given applicant, the graduate admissions committee reviews the materials and makes a decision. We try to notify the applicant within a few weeks after we make the decision.

[MastersinCommunications.com] What makes IUPUI’s Masters of Science in Technology – Technical Communication program unique and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students?

[Dr. Hovde] The TCM Concentration within the Masters of Science in Technology offers several benefits to graduate students:

  • In addition to TCM courses, students take courses in applied workplace research and project management. They may also elect a course in Six-Sigma principles. These courses prepare students for a variety of meaningful workplace roles.
  • Courses blend theory and practice, each area enriching and challenging the other. Theory undergirds practice, and practice helps to build theory. In addition, projects provide portfolio materials for graduates to use to demonstrate their abilities as they make career transitions.
  • Elective courses come from technical communication offerings and/or from other relevant graduate courses available on our diverse campus. This breadth of courses provides students with knowledge and abilities in a range of areas that can undergird technical communication practice.
  • TCM’s presence in a department that offers coursework in Organizational Leadership means that students have many opportunities to prepare for leadership roles within their organizations.
  • Online courses adapt well to the schedules of working professionals. Instructors have extensive experience designing online learning experiences that are accessible yet stimulating. Most students are working professionals who take only one or two courses per term, but it is also possible to take courses full time in order to complete the degree requirements more quickly.

[MastersinCommunications.com] Students of master’s in communication programs often must balance coursework, teaching responsibilities, internships, work (for those not attending full-time), and rigorous research projects. What advice do you have for students in terms of successfully navigating their graduate school experience, and making the most of the opportunities presented to them?

[Dr. Hovde] Our student-centered department seeks to help every student succeed. Our courses are challenging, but we also try to work with students to achieve their academic and professional goals. Because we have a limited number of students, we are able to provide individual support as student select courses consistent with their career goals.

Because many of our students are working professionals, we encourage them to situate their projects and learning within the context of their workplaces. We believe that such integration will enrich learning and professional practice at the same time.

Thank you, Dr. Hovde, for your excellent insight into IUPUI’s Masters of Science in Technology – Technical Communication program!