Writing and Rhetoric
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Information for Prospective PTW Graduate Certificate Students

Applicants must be currently admitted to graduate study or approved for enrollment through Extended Studies (non-degree). Because only 6 hours of extended studies credits may be applied toward the Certificate, students who initially take courses in the certificate program through Extended Studies should apply for admission to the program before the completion of 6 credits of course work. Other students are also strongly urged to apply no later than the completion of 2 certificate courses. Completion of course work is not in itself a guarantee of admission to the Certificate. Applicants must submit the following documents:

  • a goals statement
  • an analytical writing sample of at least 1,000 words
  • two letters of recommendation
  • a portfolio of their professional writing or editing [optional, but recommended]
  • two official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended
  • any other materials required by Graduate Admissions.

The goals statement should focus on how you see this program fitting into your larger goals and should show that you understand what kinds of outcomes our program supports. If you relate information about your history, it should focus on your recent endeavors as they relate to education or work experience directly related to writing studies. We assume that all of our students are/will be passionate about reading and writing, so statements to that effect need not be explicitly stated.

We find that the most persuasive letters of recommendation come from former professors rather than employers. Academic recommendations are preferred but not required.

Writing samples will be scanned; therefore they need not be elegantly bound or presented. We do recommend, however, that applicants write up a brief introduction to each of the professional samples, outlining its audience and purpose, as well as the particular challenges posed by the writing task.

We do not require GRE scores.

The certificate may be pursued concurrently with any of several degree programs in English and elsewhere in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Part of the work toward the certificate may be applicable to these degrees.

Moving between NonDegree, Certificate, and the MA

If you decide to transfer into the MA program from the certificate program, more than half of your course credits must be earned after admittance to the MA program. Thus, only 12 credits of coursework taken as a certificate student will count toward the MA degree, so it is important to make this decision early. If you have taken courses as a non-degree student, you should know that if you decide to switch from Certificate to the MA, you may lose credit for the courses you have taken (as the total that can be applied to the MA is 12 credits). Similarly, only 6 credits of non-degree coursework will count toward the Certificate (so be sure to apply to the Certificate program before taking that third course).

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