Graduate Studies in Professional Writing at Purdue University

Professional Writing at Purdue is known nationally for its innovative and productive faculty, the doctoral research of its graduate students, and its creative and cutting-edge approach to writing and publishing in the digital age. Our Professional Writing classes help graduate students cultivate expertise in writing for the digital workplace, use visual rhetoric effectively, produce work suitable for both digital and print publishing, and learn project management skills by working with undergraduates on collaboration and community service.

Professional Writing is an area of study for Rhetoric and Composition graduate students at Purdue. For information on applying to the Rhetoric and Composition graduate program please see the program’s website at:

Teaching Opportunities in Technical and Professional Writing

Graduate students specializing in technical and professional writing typically teach English 420 (Business Writing) and/or English 421 (Technical Writing). But they also may teach courses in the professional writing undergraduate major, including English 203 (Introduction to Research for Professional Writers), 309 (Computer-Aided Publishing), 420E (Business Writing for Entrepreneurs), 419 (Multimedia Writing), and English 424 (Writing for the Computer Industry). All professional writing undergraduate courses are taught in networked Mac and PC labs. Current graduate students interested in teaching in professional writing may apply for a position. See the requirements and download an application form: here.

For more information about applying to teach in PW, contact:
Director of Professional Writing, Dr. Jennifer Bay, at

Internship Opportunities

Internship opportunities are available to graduate students on the editorial board of Peitho Journal. Graduate students in PW regularly work in Purdue’s famous Writing Lab and on the OWL. These professional development opportunities are excellent ways to network with professionals in the field while learning valuable skills in print and electronic publishing.

PhD Secondary Areas in Professional Writing

If you have questions about the PhD secondary areas, contact Patricia Sullivan director of the graduate program in rhetoric and composition. Dr. Sullivan’s office is in Heavilon Hall 401.

Rhetoric, Technology, and Digital Writing
This area of specialization in the major explores issues of technology and writing. Three other courses are required: at least one must be technology intensive and at least one must stress issues that connect theory and pedagogy with technology and communication.

Why a PhD secondary area focused on rhetoric and technology? First, our graduate students wanted a more coherent and intensive construction on the issues embedded in technology and writing. Second, technology pedagogy, particularly in distance education, can evoke a “how-to” response. But we think the cultures of technology deserve more careful scrutiny. We are crafting a blend of technology intensive coursework with cultural theory, teaching, writing, and administration. We intend to participate in a critical construction of emerging technology issues.

Technical and Professional Writing
This PhD secondary area allows students to focus on studies of writing in the (digital) workplace. Advance coursework includes Professional Writing Theory, Visual Rhetoric, Empirical Research, Qualitative Research, and Critical Qualitative Methodology.
Purdue’s PhD second field in technical and professional writing is noted for its expertise in teaching and researching computer-based writing, for its emphasis on collaboration, for its critical approach to the design of instructional technologies, and for its innovative faculty and doctoral research, particularly focusing on intersections between rhetoric theory and professional writing.

Graduate students in English desiring formal credentials in technical and professional writing may choose it as a secondary PhD area. This secondary area in technical and professional writing is geared primarily to preparing doctoral students for university-level teaching and research positions–but several program alumni have found their credentials valuable in securing employment in the computer industry.
Students must complete three recommended graduate courses (English 680T, English 605, English 680Q) and a fourth graduate course from a list of options. Students wishing to substitute a course not appearing on the list of approved options can petition the professional writing area committee to seek approval for the substitution.