Program Values and Benefits

Our degree programs  offer courses, research opportunities, mentorship, and other resources that help students acquire the skills, knowledge, and networks they need to succeed as writers in any workplace.

Transferable Research Skills

Situated within a designated Carnegie Tier One (Highest Research Activity) institution, our program prioritizes research experience at all degree levels. Therefore, all of our degree programs emphasize a research component, with the understanding that writing research enhances skills and competencies that are necessary for workplace writing. That is, we understand that many workplace writers are tasked to lead writing projects, and all workplace writers are expected to know how to collect, analyze, and synthesize information.

Our program helps students at varying degree levels learn how to identify research problems, articulate research goals, use different methods to collect data, analyze information to extract useful findings, and of course, communicate these findings in a meaningful way. At the graduate level, students become certified in ethical human subjects research; write project plans, research protocols, and research proposals; conduct interviews, observations, or focus groups; and conduct rhetorical analyses of a wide variety of texts, including images, videos, and computer code. The potential sites of research are extremely varied, ranging from health and medical contexts to video games. The variety of research methods and research topics available to students enables a research experience that applies directly to one’s immediate or larger career goals.

For examples of research projects available to our students, see the Master’s Thesis and Masters Projects summaries.

Access to Thought Leaders

Our program faculty are respected experts in different but complementary areas of writing and rhetoric. All of our faculty are engaged in ongoing research projects, publish in the top peer-reviewed journals of our field, and receive various honors and awards for their work, including honors awarded by professional and academic associations and research grant funding awards. Meanwhile, our faculty are also dedicated mentors, helping students navigate professional and academic situations that enable successful research endeavors, presentation and publication opportunities, and placement in writing careers and graduate programs.

For more information about faculty achievements and experience, see the Core Faculty and Affiliated Faculty summaries. For information about recent student and faculty achievements, see our News Items.

Access to a Networked Community

Our program’s networking potential begins with a strong peer-to-peer community. Students are encouraged to collaborate on many course assignments, and our three levels of degree programs—undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral—enable multiple opportunities for peer mentoring. Students of all degree levels benefit from the diverse academic and professional backgrounds represented in each classroom.

For additional peer and mentorship opportunities, all of our students are encouraged to join the GMU student chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to professional and technical communication. As GMU STC members, students increase their opportunities to collaborate with other students and professionals, both on GMU campus and within the larger STC community. In particular, GMU STC officers have ample opportunity to develop and enhance different skillsets relevant to careers in the field, including developing and publishing web content, managing social media accounts, organizing events around professional writing topics, and giving talks and conducting workshops for other GMU students. GMU STC also collaborates and interfaces with the local professional chapter, STC Washington, DC – Baltimore (WDCB), and the national STC corporate office, located less than five miles from the Fairfax campus. Visit http://www.stc-gmu.org/ for more information about GMU STC events and opportunities.

Our students also receive access to our local community of professional writers and employers through course activities. For example, faculty invite local professionals to give guest lectures, participate as clients for course deliverables, or conduct mock interviews. We also coordinate with this local professional network to place students in internships for course credit.

If you are a professional writer interested in collaborating with our program—as a guest speaker, client, mentor, or employer—please contact Dr. Heidi Lawrence at hlawren2@gmu.edu to discuss opportunities for collaboration and join our growing network.