PW Major

Requirements Minimum Units
Scientific or Technical Concentration1 6
Writing and 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
WR 241X     Screenwriting
WR 2450     Narrative Design for Interactive Media and Games (Cat II)
WR 2500     Writing in the Life Sciences (Cat II)
WR 253X     Ethics and Design in Communication

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 3450     Writing Characters for Interactive Media & Games (Cat II)

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

PW inquiry seminars and practicums may also count toward the WR requirement.

Professional Writing Electives

The 1 unit (3 courses) of electives must be coherently defined and approved by the Program Review Committee. Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for a list of courses, and/or discuss course options with your PW advisor. 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 2 advisors, one for each major, but you would only work on one MQP project. That project would be spread out over the equivalent of 4 courses instead of 3 and would include a PW component and a component for your other major.
Comparing the Major to the Minor

Some students ask about the difference between the PW major and Writing and 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 and Rhetoric Minor Professional Writing Major
1-2/3 unit (5 courses) in Writing and Rhetoric
Must include:

  • WR 3112 (Rhetorical Theory)

The remaining courses can, at the approval of the Program Review Committee, include related courses in art history, literature (in English or other languages), and philosophy and religion.

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

2 units (6 courses) in Writing and 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 under special circumstances) 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 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 contact Prof. Kevin Lewis