What is UWL’s Professional & Technical Writing Minor?


Picture Credit: UW-La Crosse Professional & Technical Writing Facebook Page

Julia Balli, General Assignment Reporter

The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse established the Professional Writing Minor as a minor in the English department in 2010. The minor, now known as the Professional & Technical Writing Minor (PTW), has been gaining more attention amongst students lately. Although, while the minor has begun to gain popularity, there are many students who unaware that this minor exists. 

“In the [PTW] Minor and Certificate, students hone skills in effective and ethical written communication for professional and technical contexts. Such as communicating an organization’s goals and objectives to a range of stakeholders, explaining technical and specialized topics, designing and delivering information in a way that meets the needs of specific users and organizations, and using a range of technologies to complete written communication projects,” according to the UWL website. 

Professional & Technical Writing is not just beneficial for English majors at UWL. “Students in the minor have had majors from departments such as Communication Studies, Recreation Management, Biology, Marketing, Computer Science, Finance, Psychology, Art, as well as students in pre-professional tracks such as Pre-Physical Therapy. Most careers require some kind of writing skill, even if the job isn’t writing-focused, and this minor helps students cross-train for a variety of careers,” said UWL English professor Dr. Lindsay Steiner.  

Not only does the PTW minor or certificate help students develop their English and writing skills, but it can also be helpful for students’ future careers and make them more marketable whether it be in science, business, or writing professions. 

“College students aiming for technical employment concentrate on the specific topics that they think will lead to a job, rather than developing good grammar and punctuation, the ability to organize writing projects, and the ability to communicate effectively in writing. Good writing has to some degree, been devalued in importance,” according to infotech.com 

“At its most basic level, the PTW minor is meant to foster skills that can help people solve problems—in workplaces or among broader communities—with writing. Any student who minors in PTW will graduate having put those problem-solving skills into practice through in-class client service projects and a semester-long internship capstone course. They’ll leave with a comprehensive portfolio of written work that they can show off to potential employers,” said UWL English professor, Dr. Chris McCracken, So, the minor is beneficial for landing a job. But, just as importantly, the skills we teach can also help students make their work-lives more efficient, engaging, and rewarding.”  

Recently some changes have been made to the PTW minor to cater more towards UWL students. “We recently changed the credit load from 21 to 18. We made this change to encourage more students from the sciences and other credit-heavy major programs to declare a PTW minor,” said McCracken. The 12-credit PTW Certificate was also added in the Fall of 2018 for students who may not be able to commit to the PTW minor. 

“However, the pragmatic, ‘problem-solving’ definitions can be very limiting, and may give a sense that this is an ‘acultural’ and ‘apolitical’ field. PTW plays an important role in organizational operations and individual decision making, and impacts people in very real ways,” said Steiner. 

To learn more about this minor, visit UWL’s webpage about it here