Texas Tech University (TTU) offers an online Master of Arts in Technical Communication (MATC) through its Department of English. The program is offered entirely online and uses the same curriculum as the campus-based program. However, the majority of students who pursue the degree online are professionals who continue working while earning their degree. The MATC program has three start dates during the academic year, and uses a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction, with students attending a live online class discussion once a week. Texas Tech uses the learning management system Blackboard as their online education platform. Students access all of their course materials, attend discussion sessions, and communicate with instructors and peers through the platform.
The Master of Arts in Technical Communication requires 36 credits to complete and usually takes between two to three years for students to finish their degree requirements. The curriculum emphasizes professional development for individuals in the technical communication field, and also serves as a stepping stone to further graduate study at the doctorate level and/or positions in technical communication pedagogy. The degree program examines the history and theory of technical communication, while also providing an in-depth review of contemporary practices, strategies and principles.
The program has three areas of emphasis:
- Technical Communication and User-Centered Design: The theories, history, and best practices for technical and workplace communication across organizational, local, and global contexts, including communication about design processes, user experience research, and instructional communication.
- Rhetorical Theory and Practice: Rhetorical principles and practices and how they have evolved from ancient Greco-Roman traditions and theories to modern digital media best practices; the rhetoric of science, medicine, and technology; environmental and interpersonal rhetoric; and mediums and methods of persuasion.
- Composition, Writing, and Literacy Studies: The principles of effective composition, literacy and rhetorical studies for educators, and effective writing for literary, online/digital, and organizational audiences; methods for teaching writing across different media.
The 12-class curriculum is divided into four categories: Required (3 credit hours), Application (12 credit hours), Theory and Research (9 credit hours), and Electives (12 credit hours). The required course, Foundations of Technical Communication, introduces students to the core principles, concepts and theories of the field and prepares students for graduate-level work in the program.
Application coursework includes a selection of four classes that allow students to hone their practical skills in a variety of technical communication areas. Students may choose their four classes from a list of pre-set options, as well as take any “applied theory” class from the English department. Sample subjects include Technical Reports, Technical Editing, Online Publishing, Publications Management, Discourse and Technology, Writing for Publications, Grants and Proposals for Nonprofits, and Teaching Technical and Professional Communication.
Theory and Research coursework explores core rhetorical theory and concepts behind technical communication and modern research methodologies. This three-class series hones the student’s conceptual knowledge of the technical communication field. Sample courses include Ethics in Technical Communication, Field Methods of Research, Intro to Rhetorical Theory, Studies in Written Argumentation, History of Rhetoric, Rhetorical Analysis of Text, Global Technical Communication, Theory and Research in the Written Discourses of Health and Medicine, Discourse and Technology, and Written Discourse and Social Issues. Similar to Application courses, students may also choose to take any class categorized as “theory and/or methods” from the English department.
For their electives, students can choose from classes either within the Department of English or outside of it, with their academic advisor’s approval. Students are also allowed to apply 6 to 9 credit hours towards a Minor in a field other than technical communication. For their culminating experience, students must complete a Capstone Course that guides them through the production of a digital portfolio. The portfolio must demonstrate what the student has learned during the program, as well as their understanding of their professional identity through a reflective essay in which the student analyzes his or her development and growth in the program. Students also have the option of completing a thesis as part of their final graduation requirement.
Online Master of Arts in Technical Communication
Department: Department of English
Specializations/Concentrations: Areas of Emphasis in Composition, Writing, and Literacy Studies; Rhetorical Theory and Practice; and Technical Communication and User-Centered Design
Websites: Department and Program
Structure: Online program with no required campus visits
Instruction Methods: Program uses synchronous instruction with classes meeting once a week for live lectures and discussions
Campus Visits Required: No
Program Length: Most students complete the program in 2 to 3 years - students have up to 6 years to finish the program
Curriculum and Graduation Requirements
Thesis Required: No
Capstone Options: Capstone course and portfolio or thesis
Credits Required: 36 credits (10 or 12 courses)
Example Courses: Foundations of Technical Communication; Technical Editing; Document Design; Online Publishing; Instructional Design for Technical Communicators; Theoretical Approaches to Technical Communication; User-Centered Design; Publications Management; Rhetoric of Scientific Literature; Grants and Proposals
Degree Required: Bachelor's degree; resume or CV; written statement of interest; three letters of reference; writing sample
GPA Requirements: No minimum GPA required
Testing Requirements: GRE not required
Work Experience: At least two years of experience in professional communication preferred, but not required
Start Dates: Fall, Spring and Summer admission
Estimated Tuition*: ~$12,024 + fees (in-state); ~$26,712 + fees (out-of-state)
Cost per Credit Hour: $334 per credit hour (in-state); $742 per credit hour (out-of-state) (tuition equals College of Arts and Science Designated Tuition plus Board Authorized and State Tuition)
State Authorizations: Program accepts students from all 50 states