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Academic Programs

The Department of Writing and Rhetoric offers various academic programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in Professional and Digital Writing, a minor in Writing, and graduate study opportunities. Find out what suits your career journey by exploring these options below.

The Department of Writing and Rhetoric offers a B.A. in Professional and Digital Writing (PDW) that provides students with education and experiences in professional writing and digital media composition. An exciting range of courses in the PDW major include Business Writing, Cross-Cultural Rhetorics, Digital StorytellingPodcasting and more!

Program Overview PDW Major Requirements PDW Student and Alumni Spotlight


[During the voice-over, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “Writing and Rhetoric. Do you like: Writing Online? Using Images and Audio to tell stories? Creating New Research for Current Issues. Dream Job: Social Media, Medicine, Law”]

Female Voice-over: Do you like writing online, using images and audio to tell a story, or creating new research for current issues? Do you dream of working in social media, medicine, or law? Then check out the Writing and Rhetoric Department at Oakland University!

[During the voice-over, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “Writing Styles: Blogging, Digital Storytelling, Professional/Career-Based. After Graduation: Volkswagen, William Beaumont, Target, Law Degree, Graduate School”]

Female Voice-over: Here, we study all kinds of writing, like blogging, digital storytelling, and professional and career-based writing. Some of our graduates have gone on to work for companies like Volkswagen, William Beaumont, and the social media department at Target, while others have pursued law degrees and graduate school. Whether you’re in one of our first-year writing courses, upper-level advanced writing courses, or you’re a major or minor in writing and rhetoric, you are part of a cutting-edge, comprehensive writing program designed to prepare you for the types of writing you’ll do at Oakland University as well as after graduation.

[During the voice-over, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “WRT Major, WRT minor, Courses Based On: a. Students’ Needs, b. Latest Research. Study & Practice: a. Writing b. Rhetoric”]

Female Voice-over: WRT is a stand-alone department with its own major and minor. This has allowed the department to design writing courses around the students’ needs and the latest research in writing studies. Not only do our students study and practice writing—they also study and practice rhetoric.

[As Nicole begins speaking, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “But what is Rhetoric?”]

Nicole Lockhart: [Gold banner with white text displays “Nicole Lockhart, WRT Graduate”] So Writing and Rhetoric to me is really about defining yourself and writing who you are into society. It really is one of the most persuasive tools in human culture.

Laurien Atkin: Rhetoric? [Gold banner with white text displays “Laurien Atkin, WRT Graduate”] Technically the definition is the art of persuasion. And what it comes down to is that every single that you do, that you wear, that you say, that everyone else around you is wearing and doing and saying, says something.

RJ Mey: [Gold banner with white text displays “RJ Mey, WRT Major”] To me, rhetoric is the ability to connect with people.

[During the voice-over, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “First-Year Programs: WRT 102: Basic Writing, WRT 104: Supervised Study, WRT 150 Composition I, WRT 160 Composition II. Each serves students w/ specific needs!”]

Female Voice-over: Our first-writing program consists of four separate but connected courses, each designed to serve students with specific needs.

[During the voice-over, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “Writing is critical to: Professional Success, Personal Fulfillment, Community Outreach. Technical Skills: Citation Systems, Audio/Video Editing, Doc/Web Design, Critical Thinking Skills”]

Female Voice-over: Our major and minor are built around the belief that the ability to write and read well is critical to professional success, personal fulfillment, and community outreach. Our program provides students with instruction that will build their technical skills, including knowledge of citation systems, audio and video editing, and document and web design, as well as their critical thinking skills, while offering experiences inside and outside of the classroom that will prepare them for success as professionals and citizens.

Lori Ostergaard: I think our majors are among some of the brightest, most creative, and most talented students on this campus. [Gold banner with white text displays “Lori Ostergaard, Department Chair WRT, Associate Professor WRT”] I’m also really proud of the program that we’ve put together here for our students. We have students who are focused on composing for new media, and we have a number of classes that focus on that. We also have a number of exceptional new media faculty. We have a set of courses for students who are interested in professional writing, for business, industry, and non-profits. And finally, we have courses that are specifically designed for students who are interested in graduate study.

Female Voice-over: Our nationally-recognized faculty research and publish on a wide variety of subjects related to writing and the teaching of writing. Our small class sizes allow faculty and students to work closely and develop relationships that enhance the college experience.

Laurien Atkin: Really, I got to work closely with pretty much all of my professors. Because it’s a smaller department, so they do have a lot of time that they can devote to just you. If you email them, they always respond. They’re always trying to help you. They want you to learn it. They don’t want you to just get a grade, and walk away and then forget about it. If you mess something up, they almost always will let you redo it and work with you. Because they really did want me and everybody to understand the concepts and be able to leave having learned something.

[During the voice-over, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “Careers: Technical Writing, Editing, Public Relations, Social Media Marketing and Development, Website Design. Graduate Degrees: Rhetoric and Composition, Medicine, Law]

Female Voice-over: WRT majors are prepared for careers in technical writing, editing, public relations, social media marketing and development, website design, and any other career that requires critical writing and reading skills. Graduates also pursue graduate degrees in Rhetoric and Composition, medicine, and law.

Laurien Atkin: I felt like I was being challenged. I felt like I was being prepared to go into publishing, which I was. But then I ended up being completely prepared to go in to social media. [White text appears on a gold background, reading “Laurien Atkin, Social Media Customer Care Team Coordinator, Target, Inc.] And I’m really, really happy and loving my job.

RJ Mey: Writing and Rhetoric, it gave me the skills to look at my writing objectively, and to craft my trade [White text appears on a gold background, reading “RJ Mey, Data Analyst for Healthcare Company, Medical School Applicant], so that I was using the right tools for the job each time.

Nicole Lockhart: The biggest thing I learned is how to pinpoint arguments, [White text appears on a gold background, reading “Nicole Lockhart, Law School Student, University of Detroit Mercy] and how to spin them and make them persuasive arguments.

Jessica Tess: Put simply, I think the Writing and Rhetoric major really gave me the tools and the resources to have all the success that I’ve had in my grad program, in my current job, in things that I feel like are coming for me next in the future. I really have everyone, [White text appears on a gold background, reading “Jessica Tess, Communications Specialist, Michigan State University Extension Office, Master of Arts Degree in WRT] all the teachers and all my fellow students, I have all them to thank for where I am right now.

[During the voice-over, white text appears on a gold notebook-paper background, reading “The Department of Writing and Rhetoric, 378 O’Dowd Hall, oakland.edu/wrt. Oakland University, Writing Rhetoric]

Female Voice-over: For more information about the Writing and Rhetoric major and minor or any of our programs, please visit our website or stop by O’Dowd Hall today!

The PDW program has earned a Writing Program Certificate of Excellence from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), the national organization for collegiate writing programs.

Find Work as a Writer, Designer or Editor

Through coursework and internship opportunities, the PDW major prepares students for work in the following areas:

  • technical and professional writing
  • editing
  • writing for social media
  • web design
  • writing consultation and tutoring
  • educators in a variety of public and private settings
  • graduate study in rhetoric and composition or related fields
  • advanced study in graduate school, law school, or medical school

2020 Median Salaries (Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook):

  • Technical Writers: $74,650
  • Editors: $63,400
  • Writers and Authors: $67,120

A Minor in Writing provides students with coursework and experiences composing for professional, digital and academic audiences. Courses in the minor include Digital Identity and Culture, Technical Writing, Writing for Digital Media and more! 

The Writing minor provides students with course work and experiences in composing for professional, digital and academic audiences. Students complete five courses (20 credits), including one core course, one gateway course and three elective courses. Whatever your degree is, the minor in writing will make you a stand-out candidate.

Here are example courses in the minor:
WRT 2070: Introduction to Writing for Digital Media
WRT 2080: Introduction to Professional Writing
WRT 3030: Literacy, Technology, and Civic Engagement
WRT 3071: Podcasting
WRT 3083: Editing

Minor Requirements

For advanced students, learn about opportunities for graduate study, including courses in Digital Publishing, Teaching Writing and Teaching Writing with Digital Media.

WRT 5140 Teaching Writing (4 credits)
Examination of and practice in instructional techniques and research in writing pedagogy, and such related issues as assessment and classroom workshops. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

WRT 5150 Meadow Brook Writing Project (2 to 4 Credits)
A concentrated four-week workshop on topics of interest to writing teachers, including the Invitational Summer Institute. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

WRT 5160: Teaching Writing with New Media (4 credits)
Explores the practices and effects of new media (digital audio, graphics, video, slide shows, wikis, and social networks) within the writing classroom and other literate contexts. Examines both the issues surrounding and the theories that are relevant to teaching writing with new media technologies. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

WRT 5900: Special Topics (4 credits)
Special topics in composition-rhetoric, digital media, and professional writing. Topics include Writing Center Studies, Creative Nonfiction, Teaching Professional Writing, and Rhetoric for Writing Instructors.

The professional and digital writing (PDW) major is designed to address the evolving nature of persuasion and written communication in the 21st century, with an emphasis on pre-professional preparation, digital media technologies and civic engagement.

WRT 4998 is designed as the capstone experience for writing and rhetoric majors. Ideally, students will enroll in the course during their final semester at OU, but exceptions are made based on need and opportunity. Given the diverse nature of the field and the professional opportunities available to WRT graduates, the capstone experience can take many forms, each being tailored to the individual student's needs, interests, etc.

Prerequisites for Capstone

Students must be of junior or senior standing and receive permission of the instructor to enroll in the class. The expectation is that students looking to enroll in the course will have completed at minimum the core requirements and the gateway requirement for their intended track.

Capstone Course Description

Internships provide students with the opportunity to make connections between their academic work and the professional world, while receiving course credit. WRT 4998 is a four-credit course requiring at least 12 weeks and 150 hours of work over the course of a 15 week semester. For most organizations, this is the minimum commitment required of an intern. Some require a longer commitment, especially if it is a paid position. Internships are never retroactively approved, and should be a new experience for the student.

These provide students with the opportunity to expand their academic knowledge of the field and to develop their research capabilities through a guided scholarly/intellectual project. Each project is developed in coordination with a faculty mentor within the department of Writing and Rhetoric. The mentor and the internship coordinator (if they are different faculty members) will work closely with the student on the development and execution of the project.

Contact the Director of PDW

For additional information about our major in professional and digital writing or about the minor in writing, please contact our department's director of the major, Dr. Greg Giberson ([email protected]), 306 O'Dowd Hall, or by phone at (248) 370-3038. If you wish to major in professional and digital writing or minor in writing, contact Dr. Giberson to set up a plan of study.

Department of Writing and Rhetoric

O'Dowd Hall, Room 378
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2746
fax: (248) 370-2748