May 30, 2024  
2019-2020 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Department of English & Communication

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges, Departments, and Programs

The Professional Writing Program

The professional writing program is tailored for people planning careers in technical and business communication, journalism, creative writing, publishing, or teaching writing at the high-school or college level. Students receive a solid theoretical background and extensive writing and editing experience.

Our program serves a variety of interests and career goals. Among typical candidates are:

  • aspiring freelance or salaried writers
  • aspiring editors
  • educators who want to become writing specialists
  • people who want to combine degrees in science or technology with careers in communications (e.g., engineering, medical, environmental, scientific or computer writing)
  • working professionals who want to improve their communication skills
  • aspiring journalists
  • future staff researchers (for corporations, publications, government agencies, museums, etc.)
  • novelists, playwrights, and poets who seek related employment while establishing their reputations
  • aspiring publications managers

Graduates have the knowledge and skills to qualify for an array of professional positions in the writing marketplace.

All graduate courses meet once a week. They are scheduled Monday through Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some core courses are offered yearly; other courses are offered approximately once every two years.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must submit the required materials to the Graduate Office. In addition, they must submit results of the Miller Analogy Test or from the GRE (within five years of having taken the examination) and a portfolio. Further information is given below.

We seek candidates who demonstrate strong potential for a successful career in professional writing. If you wish to become a candidate and believe you have the skill and talent to grow and adapt rapidly in a highly competitive profession, we encourage you to apply. You must have in hand (or be about to obtain) a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.

The admissions committee will assess your credentials in the following areas:

  • Grades on an official undergraduate transcript
  • Results of the Miller Analogy Test or GRE
  • Recommendations from at least three people familiar with your written work or potential as a writer
  • Your personal statement explaining your goals and background as writer, student, or employee
  • A portfolio of your writing or evidence of a distinguished record in a technical field. Submit a 10 to 30 page portfolio; it can include excerpts from academic papers, reports, significant letters, policy documents, articles, creative works.

Transferring Credits from Another Institution

You may request to transfer up to six credits from another program if the credits meet these criteria:

  • The courses are at the graduate level
  • They resemble courses in our professional writing program
  • They were taken within three years of your request
  • The course grades are A or B
  • The courses were not used toward any degree.

Registering as a Non-Degree Student

When space permits, individuals may enroll in graduate courses as non-degree special students without applying for admission to the graduate program. If you would like to register for a course as a special student, first get an approval form signed by the English & Communication Department’s Director of Graduate Study or the Chairperson.

If you later apply and are accepted into the program, up to four courses you have taken as a non-degree student will be credited toward your degree.

Financial Assistance

The English & Communication Department offers teaching assistantships each year to superior applicants. If you’d like to compete for an assistantship, check the applicable box on the admission form, and, as part of your portfolio, include a statement explaining why you want to become a teaching assistant.

Candidates awarded teaching assistantships are required to take ENL 630, Teaching Writing: Theory and Practice, and ENL 631, Teaching Technical and Business Writing.

Teaching assistantships may be renewed with the approval of the Graduate Committee. Assistants should submit their renewal requests to the Director by November 10 for the spring semester, and March 15 for the following fall.

Professional Writing graduate students have also been placed in graduate assistantships in various campus areas, such as News and Publications, the Library, the Writing/Reading Center, and Internet Development.

Other assistance, such as loans or work study, may be available to you. Refer to the chapter on “Expenses and Financial Assistance.”

Faculty and Fields of Interest

Anupama Arora post-colonial theory and literature, especially from Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia and its diaspora; women’s studies; Asian American literature; colonial literature; literary criticism and theory

Anthony Arrigo visual rhetoric, technology and culture, multimodal literacy, technical communication, cultural studies

Jerry Blitefield rhetoric and composition, rhetorical theory and criticism, history of rhetoric, creative nonfiction, fiction

James Bobrick modern poetry, Renaissance literature, children’s literature, fantasy

Chris Eisenhart (director of graduate programs) rhetorical criticism and theory, professional and political communication, discourse studies

Shari Evans (student advisement) multicultural literature and African-American literature, contemporary women writers, feminist and critical race theory

Karen Gulbrandsen technical communication, technology transfer, rhetoric of science and technology

Stanley Harrison rhetoric, professional writing, advanced computer applications

Joan Kellerman poetry, comedy, American satire, Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac, literature and psychology

James E. Marlow 19th-century British literature, theory of fiction, semiotics, creative writing (fiction and drama)

William Nelles (director of the MAT program in English) narrative theory, medieval literature

Caitlin O’Neil composition, rhetoric, journalism, popular culture, fiction

Morgan Peters drama, creative writing, filmmaking, oral traditions

Jeannette E. Riley contemporary women’s literature, literary theory with an emphasis on feminist theory, post-1945 American literature, feminist pedagogy, teaching with technology

Lulu C.H. Sun rhetoric and composition, English education, English romantic literature

Judy Schaaf medieval and Renaissance studies, 19th century American literature, travel and nature writing

Robert P. Waxler romanticism, Jewish studies, professional writing, communication theory

Charles W. White III American literature, film

Current faculty projects, including research and recent/working publications, are posted on the department’s facutly website at


Chris Eisenhart
Graduate Program Director, Professional Writing
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-2300
508 910-6468

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges, Departments, and Programs