Texas Tech University

Teaching Technical Communication

About the Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Teaching Technical Communication helps students seeking to build their credentials as teachers of technical communication. In particular, it is designed to serve students wishing to retool their English degrees to develop teaching expertise in technical communication and to support international institutions needing to provide faculty and students with instruction in how to teach technical communication.

Strengths of Our Program

Texas Tech's Technical Communication and Rhetoric program offers

  • A well-established degree program and faculty in technical communication
  • A classification as the representative M.A. program nationwide in Education in Scientific and Technical Communication: Academic Programs That Work, ed. Michael L. Keene (Society for Technical Communication, 1997). Chapter 3.
  • National leadership in computers and writing pedagogy
  • A record of student achievement and job placement
  • A program "culture" that emphasizes personal attention
  • An award-winning chapter of the Society for Technical Communication


The certificate requires a minimum of 15 hours of either online or onsite courses, including two courses in the theoretical foundations of technical communication and rhetoric and a third course on teaching technical and professional communication. Students choose two elective courses in the Technical Communication and Rhetoric program to complete the certificate—one from the advanced theory courses and the other from advanced practice courses.

Below is a list of required and elective courses the program offers:

Courses and Titles Frequency of Course Offering

5371. Foundations of Technical Communication: Theory and practice of technical communication.


5366. Teaching Technical and Professional Writing: The theory and teaching of technical and professional writing with special attention to developing course objectives, syllabi, and teaching techniques.


Choose one from rhetoric courses:

  • 5361. Introduction to Rhetorical Theory Classical and modern theories of rhetoric and rhetorical activity.
  • 5364. History of Rhetoric Survey of history and theories of rhetoric with an emphasis on applications to written communication.

Choose one from advanced theory courses:

  • 5365. Studies in Composition Studies in Composition Consideration of classical and modern theories and research in written composition.
  • 5368. Studies in Written Argumentation History and theories of written argumentation
  • 5369. Discourse and Technology. Study of the effects of computer networks and digitally mediated knowledge management on theoretical, practical, and pedagogical notions of discourse and discourse communities.
  • 5377. Theoretical Approaches to Technical Communication Intensive analysis and application of one or more theories of technical communication.
  • 5382. Theory and Research in the Written Discourses of Health and Medicine. Current theory and research in the written discourses of health and medicine, focusing on the roles of technical and professional communicators.
  • 5384. Rhetoric of Scientific Literature. Study of the role of rhetoric in the texts of scientific inquiry
  • 5385. Ethics in Technical Communication Definitions, philosophies, and applicability of ethics to technical communication problems and solutions.
  • 5386. Written Discourse and Social Issues Study of uses of written discourse in problem solving on social issues involving science or technology.
  • 5381. Global Technical Communication. Introduction to theories and practices in global technical communication.

At least one course every semester

Choose one from advanced practice courses:

  • 5372. Technical Reports Theory and practice of reports and proposals.
  • 5373. Technical Manuals Theory and practice of manual development and design
  • 5374. Technical Editing Substantive editing and design of technical documents.
  • 5375. Document Design Theory and practice of creating comprehensible, usable, and persuasive texts
  • 5376. Online Publishing Design and testing of online documents to support instruction and information retrieval
  • 5378. Graduate Internship in Technical Communication Substantial writing and editing experience combined with research.
  • 5383. Grants and Proposals. Theoretical issues and practical experience dealing with the genre and process of writing grants and proposals.
  • 5387. Publications Management Strategies of managing processes and knowledge that support publication.
  • 5388. Usability Testing Methods of planning, conducting, and analyzing usability tests.

At least one course every semester

Definition of Distance Learning and Program Goals

In distance learning graduate courses, students "meet" synchronously and asynchronously online, rather than in classrooms at the university. Graduate distance learning courses are taught as organized courses on the semester schedule. Students are expected to meet course deadlines assigned by the instructor and to participate in synchronous class discussions on one designated weekday during the semester. A graduate level course requires a commitment of approximately ten hours per week for participating in group online activities, for reading, and for working on course projects.

Building from the Certificate to the MA or PhD in Technical Communication

All of the courses in the certificate also apply to the MA in Technical Communication or the PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric, so students wishing to develop their credentials even further can apply to continue their studies. Texas Tech is proud to offer its MA and PhD programs both onsite and online. The degrees are identical across all modalities.

For more information about the certificate in teaching technical communication, you may contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Beau Pihlaja.

How to Apply

Applying for the Certificate in Teaching Technical Communication has several steps:

  • Complete the Texas Tech graduate school application process 
  • A nonrefundable $65 application fee is required.
  • Completed Graduate Application for Admission form
  • Current resume/vitae
  • Three letters of reference
  • Distance Learning Agreement (if you're applying to an online program)
  • A 500-700 word essay indicating the following:
    • Your interest in teaching technical communication
    • Any previous experience teaching technical writing
    • How the certificate fits in with your career goals and objectives, specifically how it will advance your career
    • If applicable -- if you are currently enrolled in a graduate degree program, how completing the course in the graduate certificate complements your degree plan

Deadlines for Application

CTTC applications are reviewed twice a year.

  • Submit all materials by October 15 to begin your program in spring semester of the next year.
  • Submit all materials by March 15 to begin your program in either the summer or fall of that year. 

Distance Learning Agreement (all online applicants)

All online program applicants need to sign and return our Distance Learning Agreement, which indicates that you understand our requirements for technology, time, and honor.

General Note About Application Review

All applicant packages are evaluated holistically, which is to say that every piece of the application package contributes to the applicant's overall desirability. Specifically, we are looking for no specific test scores, GPAs, or resume experiences, but are instead looking for applications that contain synergistic arguments for the applicant's good fit with the program and its objectives.

Financial Aid

Students in certificate programs are not directly eligible for financial aid, and typically students who are not taking at least two courses per semester are not eligible for aid. However, part-time students in the CG&P program may be eligible for scholarship funding through the Helen Devitt Jones Foundation.

Contact the TTU Graduate School for further information about financial assistance opportunities.