If you have a passion for the written word and are interested in pursuing writing as a career, then you might consider earning a professional writing degree.
Earning a bachelors in professional writing may allow you to write within a variety of different industries, depending on the type of writing you desire to pursue.
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Whether you prefer more technical and academic writing or more journalistic and editorial styles, this degree path can help you develop your skills and expertise.
Online Bachelors in Professional Writing Degrees
Professional writing majors focus on developing writing expertise for a range of audiences, media, and purposes.
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Students may encounter a diverse range of writing topics in this degree program, from theoretical, historical, and foundational knowledge of writing to modern digital writing methods.
You may take courses on:
- Strategic communication
- Media law and ethics
- Digital writing
- Editorial and persuasive writing
- Writing concepts and processes
- Writing genres
- Research methods
Students may also take courses that deal with various writing industries, such as:
- Technical writing
- Science writing
- Government and legal writing
- Content editing
You might also study historical works—such as Pulitzer Prize-winning editorials—to analyze structure and rhetorical strategies.
Students can also take courses on the stylistic components of technical and health or science writing, where they can learn the best practices for articulating advanced, highly technical information.
Some professional writing programs also cover how to write for nonprofit and community stakeholders. You could learn the best strategies for producing issue-driven texts and documents. The skills gained in this degree program can help prepare graduates to write across a variety of sectors.
Graduates may choose to become technical writers, where they craft instruction manuals and other technical documents for their organization. Others become copywriters, social media managers, grant writers, and more.
Professional Writing Careers and Salaries
A professional writing degree may provide graduates with the opportunity to write for a wide range of audiences, depending on the industry they are interested in. For example, grant writers can write or put the finishing touches on grant proposals that help organizations secure crucial funds.
Pharmaceutical or science writers may edit clinical trial documents, helping to make them more readable in order to move them through the review process smoothly. As a copy writer, you may help improve brand sales or services by improving a business or organization’s website, social media, or email copy.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries for career paths related to writing and the communications field.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Public Relations Managers||$129,430|
|Advertising and Promotions Managers||$127,830|
|Writers and Authors||$73,150|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||$68,230|
|Public Relations Specialists||$67,440|
|Media and Communication Workers, All Other||$65,000|
|News Analysts, Reporters, and Journalists||$55,960|
|Interpreters and Translators||$53,640|
Keep in mind that salaries can vary for writers depending on their industry, position, experience, and location. Professional writing majors may also go on to work in public relations and marketing, where they help develop messages and documents for public consumption.
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Some graduates assist in content development and management for all types of organizations, while others may even become journalists or magazine columnists. An English online degree in writing can be a solid foundation for a range of communications careers.
Professional Writing Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
While professional writing classes can differ depending on your school’s curriculum, here are some examples of courses you may come across:
- Digital Writing: This course provides an introduction to digital writing platforms, such as web pages, blogs, social media, wikis, and more. It also covers hypertext authoring.
- Advanced Composition: This course overviews the analytical and stylistic components of effective and professional prose.
- Technical Writing: This course focuses on types of technical communication, including developing reports and proposals.
- Introduction to Strategic Communication: This course focuses on strategic communication skills between workplaces, businesses, and the public, with special attention on media and community relations.
- Editing and Document Design: This course helps you develop the technical skills required in journalism and provides hands-on experience with copy editing, page layout, and design.
- English Linguistics: This course overviews topics in English linguistics, such as word structure, language variation, sound systems, and conversational structure.
- Writing in the Disciplines: This course focuses on the creation of texts for varying audiences across professions and academic disciplines.
- Management Writing: This course overviews writing within management positions, such as for organizational presentations.
- Editorial and Persuasive Writing: This course studies the function and practice of writing editorials, newspaper columns, and online media, and it features analysis of Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial works.
- Media Law and Ethics: This course introduces students to components of communication law, such as freedom of information, privacy, copyright, and more.
You may also take other pro writing courses as well as advanced English and consumer behavior courses.
Some schools can differ in their admission requirements, but many requirements are similar for undergraduate admissions. To apply, your school may request the following:
- Minimum GPA (if applicable)
- Completed admissions application
- SAT or ACT scores (if required)
- High school or GED transcripts
Many schools no longer require submission of SAT or ACT scores for undergraduate admissions. You can check with your schools to determine if you need them. In addition, some schools require the submission of an admissions essay.
Accreditation is a type of quality assurance that a school meets certain professional and educational standards. Your school’s accreditation status could affect your marketability in the workforce as well as your eligibility for financial aid. This is why determining a prospective school’s accreditation status is a strategic first step to take before applying.
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Only a few organizations can provide regional accreditation to schools, which is considered the most widely recognized accreditation. You can verify a school’s accreditation status at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
Many students require financial assistance to complete a BA in Professional Writing degree program. Luckily, there are many types of aid available to students who qualify. Common forms of aid include federal aid, state aid, scholarships, grants, and employer benefits.
Many types of scholarships and grants exist for individuals across the country depending on their need, location, and type of studies. If you also need the help of student loans, both federal and state loans may be available.
To determine your eligibility for need-based aid, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Also, some employers offer financial aid programs to help their workers further their education.
What Can I Do with a Professional Writing Degree?
A professional writing degree may provide graduates with a number of career options in various sectors. Some graduates choose to pursue technical writing, where they focus on writing manuals, how-to guides, and manuscripts for all kinds of workplaces.
Others go on to become grant writers, copywriters who write copy for brands, social media managers, or even content strategists for brands and organizations. You might also consider a role in editing, where you could clarify and refine other writers’ works. These types of positions could include proofreaders, copy editors, and content editors for magazines, news sites, publishers, or organizations.
Some graduates may decide to pursue a masters in creative writing online or on campus. As you gain experience, you can also work your way toward management positions.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Professional Writing Degree?
The time it takes to earn a BA in Professional Writing can vary depending on your personal schedule and your school. Generally, if you follow a traditional, 16 week semester and attend full-time, it can take 4 years to earn a bachelor’s degree.
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Yet, if you follow an 8 week semester and stay continuously enrolled year-round, which includes summer enrollment, you may be able to complete your degree in less time. Of course, if you attend part-time any time during your studies, this may increase the amount of time it takes to finish.
What’s the Difference Between Creative Writing vs. Professional Writing Degrees?
While it may be easy to assume that a creative writing degree and professional writing degree are the same, they are quite different.
- Creative Writing Degree: A creative writing degree focuses on narrative and prose writing, which falls outside of journalistic, academic, and technical writing.
- Professional Writing Degree: A professional writing degree focuses on writing within stylistic bounds for a variety of professional environments and workplaces.
In other words, creative writing focuses more on storytelling and creativity with prose, while professional writing focuses more on style-bound writing for various professions.
Is a Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Writing Worth It?
Yes, a bachelor’s degree in professional writing is worth it for many students. Most industries use some type of writing, whether it’s on their website, social media channels, newsletters, or even instruction manuals.
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Communication is one of the most important aspects of society, businesses, education, and more. As such, there will always be a need for professionals who can craft the written word and tailor a message for a specific audience or purpose. Overall employment of writers and authors is forecast to grow 4% over the next ten years (Bureau of Labor Statistics). This steady growth is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Universities Offering Online Bachelors in Professional Writing Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Central Washington offers a BA in English Professional and Creative Writing. The program is entirely online. Applicants must meet general education requirements. The program requires 74 credits within the major and offers electives to customize the degree to suit specific goals. Courses follow a regular semester schedule with 3 start dates.
CWU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Grand Canyon University offers the opportunity to earn a BA in Professional Writing for New Media. The program is available online and on campus. Up to 90 of the required 120 credits may be transferred into the program. Courses are 7 weeks long. GCU offers convenient weekly start dates.
GCU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
U.S. News & World Report named Indiana University one of the best schools in the country for online bachelor’s degrees. The school offers a BA in English with an emphasis in Technical and Professional Writing. The program is fully online. Up to 90 of the required 120 credits may be transferred. Many courses are asynchronous.
Indiana University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Missouri State University offers a BA or BS in Professional Writing. The program is available online and requires 120 credits including 36 in major coursework. Courses are in an asynchronous learning format and follow a semester schedule. There are start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
Missouri State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
A BS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Professional Writing can be earned through Old Dominion University. The program is offered online or on campus. Many courses feature live online lectures and are offered in the evenings and weekends. Courses follow a regular semester schedule with start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Regent University offers the opportunity to earn a BA in Communication Studies with a concentration in Professional and Technical Writing. The program is offered online and on campus. Up to 90 of the required 120 credits may be transferred. Courses are 8 weeks long with various start dates throughout the year.
Regent University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Saint Leo University offers a BA in English with a concentration in Professional Writing. The program is offered online, on campus, and at learning centers. The required 120 credits can typically be completed in 4 years. Courses are in an accelerated format, and many are asynchronous.
Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Arkansas – Little Rock offers a BA in Professional and Technical Writing. The school offers concentrations in Nonfiction and Technical Writing. The program is fully online and requires 120 credits including 36 in the major and foreign language courses. Many courses are available in accelerated half-terms.
UA Little Rock is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
A BA in English with a concentration in Professional Writing is offered through the University of Memphis. The program is available entirely online and requires 12 credits within the concentration. Courses follow a semester schedule. The University of Memphis typically offers credit for prior learning. Most courses are in an asynchronous format.
The University of Memphis is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
U.S. News & World Report named Washington State University among the best schools in the country for online bachelor’s degrees. The school offers a BA in English with the option to add a certificate in Professional Writing or Professional Science and Technology Writing. The program is fully online. Courses follow a regular semester schedule.
WSU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Getting Your Professional Writing Degree Online
Getting your bachelor’s degree in professional writing online could be a convenient, flexible way to earn your degree, especially if you’re juggling other life responsibilities.
The written word is still a critical part of communication for all types of sectors in our society, so you can develop skills that will remain valuable well into the future. You may also have a variety of career opportunities, as writing is used in so many industries.
If you’re passionate about writing and want to advance your skills, then you could start exploring online professional writing degree options from accredited schools today.