May 28, 2018  
2009-2010 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog 
2009-2010 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Professional Writing MA

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The degree is earned after 33 credits. Among them, you are required to take three core courses, four additional 600-level courses, one internship, and two additional Professional Writing courses of your choice for a total of 30 course credits. In addition, a three-credit thesis or project is required. You must write a thesis proposal which includes a discussion of the theoretical underpinning of your proposed project.

You have six years to complete the program. In special circumstances, you may appeal to the graduate committee for a deadline extension.

Guidelines and Requirements

Assignment of Advisors

Once you have been accepted into the program and have declared your area of interest, the English Department’s Director of Graduate Study will assign you an advisor. You are responsible for scheduling conferences with your advisor and for fulfilling program requirements.

Credit Requirements for Full-Time Status

Full-time degree candidates are required to take 9 credits (three courses) a semester. If you want to take more than 9 credits in a semester, first get approval from your advisor. You may take fewer than 9 credits; however, you will be listed as a part-time student. Teaching assistantships are limited to full-time students. To maintain full-time status, teaching assistants are required to take 6 credits (two courses) each semester. TAs must receive the Assistant Director’s approval to take more than 6 credits a semester.

Grade Requirements

During work on your thesis or project, you will be given a grade of IP (in progress). Once your committee has approved your thesis or project, your graduate advisor will submit a grade and your thesis title for inclusion on your transcript. Distinguished work will be so noted on the transcript.

You will be dismissed if

  • your grade point average falls below a B (GPA 3.00) after 15 or more semester hours (5 classes) or 50 percent of your course work has been completed;
  • you receive 3 grades of C or below in graduate courses; or
  • if your thesis or project receives a final grade of F.

Guidelines for Internships

An internship gives you the opportunity to apply classroom work, gain experience, and earn credits while working in a professional setting. Before applying for the internship, select a field site and negotiate entry by talking with the appropriate decision maker. Once the organization has agreed to sponsor you, discuss your projected responsibilities with your assigned on-site supervisor and your internship advisor. If both approve, write the internship proposal. The internship contract and the proposal guidelines are available on the program’s website. You may take a maximum of two internships.

You cannot register for the internship until your proposal has been approved and your contract signed by your internship supervisor, faculty advisor, and the Director of Graduate Study. So begin the internship process early.

To ensure that sponsors get qualified interns, your internship advisor or the Director will not approve your internship request if you have yet to demonstrate the requisite skills. To that end, no one will be granted an internship during his or her first semester of graduate study.

In addition to being evaluated for work produced during the internship, you will be evaluated on the final report you write describing your experience.

Graduate Thesis or Project Requirements

You will be required to write a thesis or do a master’s project.

Before beginning the thesis or project, submit a detailed proposal to your thesis committee. (Detailed guidelines are available at the program’s website.)

The committee, made up of your thesis supervisor (a faculty member who agrees to chair your committee) and two other graduate faculty who also have agreed to supervise your project, will evaluate your proposal. After they approve the proposal, you are responsible for meeting regularly with them to ensure your work remains focused. Note: Your committee chair should have significant expertise in the area you plan to pursue.

Once you have completed your thesis or project, submit a copy to each member of your committee. Your submission should be a polished document—that is, it must be fully edited and refined. If revisions are needed, the  committee chair will meet with you to discuss the required changes.

If you plan to graduate in June, you must submit your work by April 1 to give your committee time to respond—and, if necessary, to give you time to revise.


You are required to take three core 500-level courses, one from Group A, one from Group B, and ENL 510.

ENL 510 Principles of Investigation, Field Research, and Validation. This course must be taken at this campus in the final year of the student’s program.

Graduate Thesis or Project

You are required to complete a thesis or project, registering for the following:

Course Selections: Program Models

Although you may concentrate in one area (technical and business writing, journalism, teaching writing, or creative writing), our program is designed for generalists who want to master a range of professional writing skills, not for someone wanting to focus exclusively on a narrow area of writing. For instance, knowing that writing teachers are well-served by the core courses and that they should take a range of writing courses to improve their writing skills, we offer only two courses on teaching writing.

Given the generalist orientation of our program, the following lists offer possible course selections and sequences for candidates in various concentrations.


Regardless of concentration, you must take three core courses, selected from those listed under “Core Requirements.”

Elective Courses in Creative Writing

We offer only one creative writing workshop each semester, and so the program is impractical for anyone desiring to take only creative writing courses. Representative graduates have taken two or three creative writing courses, done an internship in creative writing, and written a creative thesis. But they also have taken courses in technical writing, teaching, and/or journalism.

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