English - Professional Writing, Master of Arts

Department of English

College of Arts and Letters

The M.A. in English, with Emphasis in Professional Writing, reflects the expertise of our faculty and the career ambitions of our students, who are either already working in, or desire to work in, professional positions that involve writing and documentation, in business, industry, and government.

The Professional Writing Emphasis focuses on students mastering procedures and techniques to create and publish reader-driven writing typical of the workplace, such as proposals, specifications, procedures, reports, formal correspondence, and white papers. With this degree and the skills acquired in getting it, our graduates are well prepared to succeed in securing high-paying jobs in a variety of corporate and government settings.

  • To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)

    You must additionally complete:

    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
    • All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
    • All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
    Read the full policy.


In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 36
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.
Progression Plan Link View Program of Study

Purpose Statement

This all-online degree is for you if you are looking for a career in writing and editing in:

  • business
  • industry
  • government
In our program, you will develop skills in high demand sorts of writing, such as:
  • grants and proposals
  • reports
  • procedures
  • policy statements
  • other types of workplace writing

Student Learning Outcomes
Students completing the MA in English with emphasis in Professional Writing will have mastered the following bodies of knowledge and related skills.
The rhetorical demands inherent in business, industry, and government settings.

  • Ability to analyze the context of any document and write that document to fit the demands of its specific context
  • Ability to plan a process to develop and complete any document and to carry out that plan, resulting in a successful document in its actual context
Understanding of the writing and editing skills necessary to create and write documents with the characteristics demanded in professional settings: clarity, conciseness, coherence, and correctness.
  • Ability to edit the documents of self and others, to bring those documents to a professional and/or publishable level, in terms of such things as clear sentences; logical and effective organization; powerful supporting graphics; and effective documentation.
  • Ability to analyze problems in a business, industry, or government setting and design and conduct the research necessary to solve that problem and write an appropriate document detailing those results, such as a proposal or a set of procedures.
Detailed understanding of specific types of documents required in business, industry, and government, and the ability to generate those documents, either by one’s self or as a part of a team effort.
  • Ability to write and edit proposals
  • Ability to write and edit environmental documents, such as Environmental Impact Statements
  • Ability to write and edit other professional documents, such as specifications, procedures, laboratory reports, white papers, training manuals, documentation, and to write any of these at a publishable level in the appropriate journals or other publication media.
In addition, each student completes an electronic portfolio of his or her professional work and also completes an application project, which involves finding a specific and actual problem in the working world, doing the research to solve that problem, and presenting those results to the appropriate management supervisors for implementation.  Examples of past projects include development of a training and orientation program for new employees; creation of a new website for a specific clientele; evaluation of a county court’s procedures for filing and accessing court records, which resulted in an entire new system; and many other such practical, on-the-job projects.


Additional Admission Requirements
    • NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
    • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent. 
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts
    • For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
    • International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy 

    Individual program admission requirements include:

    • 2 letters of recommendation
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Personal statement or essay 
    • Writing sample
Master's Requirements
  • Take the following 36 units:

    Select one of the following courses (3 units):

    Technical Editing
    Select one of the following courses (3 units):Workplace Environment
    Select one of the following courses (3 units):Preparation for Capstone Project
  • Capstone Project (3 units)The Capstone Project must be completed under the direction of a member of the Professional Writing faculty. The project is not a faculty-designed course, but a student-designed project in which the student identifies a problem, proposes a course of action to solve that problem, and designs a plan of study to research, develop, and support the solution to the problem. The methods for designing, developing, and writing the capstone project are taught in ENG 526

    Elective Courses (21 units)
    • The remaining 21 units to earn the M.A. are chosen with advisor approval and are based upon the professional goals of the student. A wide range of other ENG courses, as well as courses in Communication, Education, and a host of other disciplines can be used as electives in a coherent program of study, with the advisor's approval.
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.