PW Major

Requirements Minimum Units
Scientific or Technical Concentration1 6
Writing & Rhetoric (WR) Concentration 2
Professional Writing (PW) Electives2 1
Major Qualifying Project (MQP) 1 (or 4/3)

1Scientific or technical concentration can double count from a second major.
2Must further depth in communication; can double count from elsewhere except WPI free electives.

Writing & Rhetoric Concentration

PW majors must complete 2 units (6 courses) in WR. Students have a variety of options, and 5 of these courses can double count toward the Humanities and Arts (HUA) requirement.

WR 1010     Elements of Writing (Cat I)
WR 1011     Writing about Science & Technology (Cat I)
WR 1020     Introduction to Rhetoric (Cat I)

WR 2010     Elements of Style (Cat I)
WR 2210     Business Writing and Communication (Cat I)
WR 2310     Visual Rhetoric (Cat I)
WR 232X    Social Media Communication (Cat II)
WR 2400    Writing Characters for IMGD (Cat II)

WR 3011     Teaching Writing (Cat II)
WR 3112     Rhetorical Theory (Cat I) Required for all PW majors and minors
WR 3210     Technical Writing (Cat I)
WR 3214     Writing About Disease & Public Health (Cat I)
WR 3300     Cross-Cultural Communication (Cat II)
WR 3400     Writing Narratives for IMGD (Cat II)

WR 4111     Research Methods in Writing (Cat I)
WR 401X    Topics in Writing and Rhetoric (Cat II)
WR 4210    Medical Writing (Cat II)

HU 3900     Memoir Writing
HU 3900     Loaded Language
HU 3900     Intercultural Communication
HU 3900     Human Factors of Medicine
HU 3900     Robots, AI and Ethics
HU 3900     Writing about Social Media
HU 3900     Hashtag Activism
HU 3900     Rhetoric and Motivation in Exercise Physiology
HU 3900     Universal Language? From the Garden of Eden to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
HU 3910     Writing Software Tutorials
HU 3910     Writing for the Web
HU 3910     Writing for the Software and Electronics Industries

Professional Writing Electives

The 1 unit (3 courses) of electives must be coherently defined and approved by the review committee. Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for a list of courses, and/or discuss course options with the program director. Electives can double count elsewhere unless prohibited by another program.

Major Qualifying Project

For any major at WPI, students are required to complete an MQP. If PW is your only major, then you will need to complete 1 unit of MQP work. If PW is a second major, then you have two options:

  • Two MQPs, one for each major. In this option, you will need to complete 1 unit for your scientific or technical major and 1 unit for your PW major. Remember that 1 unit is the equivalent of 3 courses.
  • A 4/3-unit interdisciplinary MQP that satisfies both majors. In this option, you would have two advisors, one for each major, but you would only work on one MQP project. That project would be spread out over the equivalent of four courses instead of three.
Comparing the Major to the Minor

Some students ask about the difference between the PW major and Writing & Rhetoric minor, so this comparison should help to clarify that. (This expanded side-by-side comparison may also help: PW Minor & Major Overview – August 2021)

Writing & Rhetoric Minor Professional Writing Major
1-2/3 unit (5 courses) in Writing & Rhetoric
Must include:

  • WR 3112 (Rhetorical Theory)

Note: 3 WR courses from the HUA requirement can double count toward this requirement (may include a WR-focused HU3900/10).

2 units (6 courses) in Writing & Rhetoric
Must include:

  • At most 1 1000-level course
  • At least 1 4000-level course
  • WR 3112 (Rhetorical Theory)

Note: 4 WR courses and a WR-focused HU3900/10 (total of 5 courses) from the HUA requirement can double count toward this requirement.

No requirement for electives 1 unit (3 courses) electives (from HUA, IMGD, Management, Foreign Languages, etc. that provides depth in communication)

Note: All 3 of these courses can double count elsewhere (unless prohibited by another program) and can include WR courses not being used to fulfill the 2-unit requirement.

1/3 Unit Capstone Project (WR4111 or ISU linked to a 3000-level or above WR course upon instructor’s permission). 1 unit PW MQP -or- 4/3 unit interdisciplinary MQP

Note: If you do a 4/3 unit interdisciplinary MQP, it’s only an additional 1/3 unit.


  • Total of 6 WR courses (counting the capstone project)
  • Only 3 courses can double count toward the HUA requirement (which may include WR-focused HU3900/10)

  • Total of 6 WR courses, of which 5 can double count toward the HUA requirement (may include WR-focused HU3900/10)
  • 3 electives, all of which can double count elsewhere
  • 1/3 or 3/3 additional units for MQP depending on route chosen
  • 18 scientific or technical courses, all of which can double count from a second major

For more information about Professional Writing as a major, second major, or minor contact:

 Prof. Kevin Lewis