Professional Writing Major FAQs

General PW Major FAQs

How do I enroll in the PW major? 

  • First, contact the Registrar’s Office to officially declare the major.
  • Academic Advising will assign a PW faculty member to be your PW co-advisor. Reach out to this advisor to continue discussing your goals and courses in the PW program.

Where can I find the PW major’s requirements? 

What is the difference between the terms “WR courses” and “PW electives”?

Professional Writing majors are required to take a certain combination and number of WR courses as part of their core WR coursework requirement. Likewise, Writing & Rhetoric minors are required to take different combination and number of WR courses as part of their WR coursework requirement.

In General: When we refer to “WR courses,” we mean courses located in the Professional Writing program and taught by the core Professional Writing faculty. The Professional Writing program’s courses are listed as “WR” courses in the WPI catalog (e.g., WR1011, WR4111).

For PW majors:

  • When we refer to “core WR coursework,” we mean:
  • When we refer to “PW electives,” we mean courses that substantively further your depth in communication and thus qualify as electives towards your Professional Writing major. In other words, the “PW” in “PW electives” is referring to the “Professional Writing major.” Pre-approved PW electives include:

What is the difference between the terms “PW major” and “WR minor”? 

“PW major” means the “Professional Writing major” that the Professional Writing program offers. We also use this to refer to the students who are majoring in Professional Writing (e.g., “They are a PW major”).

“WR minors” means the “Writing & Rhetoric minor” that the Professional Writing program offers. We also use this to refer to the students who are minoring in Writing & Rhetoric (e.g., “They are a WR minor”).

Admittedly, these terms could create some confusion (“PW major” & “PW electives”; “WR courses” & “WR minors”). If you’re confused about anything, just ask your PW advisor or a PW faculty member.

In general, what should I consider as I plan my PW Major coursework? 

  • Core WR coursework requirements (i.e., courses offered by the Professional Writing program, which are listed as “WR” courses in the WPI catalog)
    • Only 1 1000-level WR course counts toward your core WR coursework. However, any additional 1000-level writing courses can count toward your PW electives.
    • You need to complete at least 1 4000-level WR course. WR 4111 Research Methods in Writing satisfies this requirement. If you complete this course the year before you complete your MQP, it can help prepare you for your MQP.
      • Example: If you plan to complete your MQP in your fourth year, it might be helpful to take WR 4111 in your third year.
  • PW Electives
    • Consult the “PW Electives” section below for a list of pre-approved PW electives. These courses automatically count as PW electives toward the PW major.
    • If you want to confirm that a different course could count as a PW elective, petition for it as soon as possible. This will help you quickly ensure your coursework is on-track. See “PW Electives” section below for instructions.
  • HU3900 and HU3910
    • All WPI students are required to take an inquiry seminar (HU3900) or inquiry practicum (HU3910). If you take an HU 3900 or HU3910 with a PW faculty member, it also counts toward the PW Major.
  •  MQPs
    • Do you want to complete a 3/3-unit PW-only MQP or a 4/3-unit interdisciplinary MQP?
    • When will you complete your MQP? Over how many terms?
    • WR 4111 Research Methods in Writing is designed to complement your MQP (either to prepare for it or to support it while its underway).
    • For more MQP guidance, consult the “MQP Resources and FAQs” page.

Transfer Credit

Will my AP/IB transfer credit count towards the PW major? If so, how? 

AP/IB credit can count towards the PW Major. For example, if you received that credit as “WR 1000,” you have the following options: 

  • WR 1000 could count as a PW elective (3 needed) OR as your 1000-level WR course. 
  • Why? You can only count 1 1000-level WR course towards the core WR requirements. Any additional 1000-level electives would count towards your PW electives.  
  • Example: You take WR 1011 Writing about Science & Technology, and you have WR 1000 transfer credit.
    1. WR 1011 would count as your 1000-level WR course.
    2. Because only 1 1000-level WR course can count toward the PW major, any additional 1000-level writing course credit (i.e., EN or WR) could count as one of your PW electives. 

WR Core Courses

Which courses count towards the WR core coursework requirement for the PW major?

WR core courses are:

PW Electives

Which courses count towards the PW electives requirement for the PW major? 

Pre-approved PW electives include:

If you think another course could count as a PW elective, you can petition for that. Generally speaking, the 1 unit (3 courses) of PW 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 the program director. Electives can double-count elsewhere unless prohibited by another program.

How do I petition for a course to count as a PW elective?  

  1. In the “PW Major Checklist” document, write a brief rationale (i.e., 3-5 sentences) for why a particular course “furthers your depth in communication.” Consulting that course’s syllabus and materials may help as you write the rationale.  
  2. Submit the rationale to your PW advisor, who will then submit it to the PW Program Review Committee. The PW Program Review Committee will promptly review and respond to the petition.

HU3900 and HU3910: Inquiry Seminars and Inquiry Practicums

Which inquiry seminars and inquiry practicums count toward the PW major?

If your HU3900 and HU3910 is offered by a PW faculty member, it counts toward the PW major.

Here is a complete list of inquiry seminars and practicums offered by PW faculty.

How do HU3900 and HU3910 inquiry seminar/practicum count towards the PW major?

If you take HU3900 or HU3910 with a PW faculty member, it double-counts as a core WR writing course and a PW elective.

If your HU3900 or HU3910 is not offered by a PW faculty member, it could still count as a PW elective if you can demonstrate that it furthers your depth in communication (see “PW Electives” section above). However, it would not count as one of your core WR writing courses.

Other Questions

I have read through the PW website, and I still have an advising question about my PW coursework. 

Contact your PW Advisor. Be prepared to submit your current, complete, and correct:

See “General Advising FAQs” for more information about filling out these documents.