College of Arts and Letters2017-2018

Department of English

Professional Writing, Graduate Certificate

We have designed this program to provide advanced post-baccalaureate training in the communication skills that are in daily demand among engineers, scientists, finance persons, and other professionals at work in business, industry, and government.


What Can I Do with a Certificate in Professional Writing?

The Professional Writing Certificate program is designed to provide post baccalaureate education in communications skills that are in daily demand among engineers, scientists, finance experts, and other professionals at work in business, industry, and government. All the hours taken to obtain the certificate can also be used to fulfill the requirements for an M.A. in English at NAU, as well as the Professional Writing emphasis in the Master of Administration degree offered by NAU Graduate College. The Professional Writing Certificate is offered completely online.

Note: For this certificate program, students must apply to Graduate admissions for acceptance into NAU prior to registering for courses.

University Requirements

  • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.

    No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 or 4 units) may be used on a certificate program.

    No more than 25% of the units required for the certificate program may be transferred from another university.

    A 400-level course (undergraduate course) completed at another university is not eligible for transfer credit.

    A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved to obtain a graduate certificate. No more than three units of coursework with a grade of "C" may be used in a certificate program.

    A graduate student may pursue a graduate certificate concurrently with a graduate degree. Each graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree.

    Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College.
  • Please be aware that federal financial aid is not available for some certificates, if the certificate is pursued and completed as a stand-alone certificate (i.e., not completed concurrently with a degree program).  See the “Details” tab for additional information.


In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Please note that students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 18
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional

Purpose Statement 

The Professional Writing Certificate program will help you to create excellent workplace documents such as project proposals, grant proposals, reports, and emails.  It will also help you to implement best practices in creating user-facing documents such as product and service descriptions, help files, and instruction manuals.  Your participation in our courses will increase your skills in audience awareness, document design, document project management, and editing. These skills are important for anyone who writes at work and can prepare you for a career or help you to advance in your current career as an administrative professional,  grant proposal writer,  technical writer, technical editor, or any other type of professional writer in many careers such as project management, program management, and non-profit, research, government, and corporate communications. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Certificate in Professional Writing will have mastered the following bodies of knowledge and related skills (specific courses for each outcome shown in parentheses):

Bodies of Knowledge Mastered

  1. The rhetorical demands inherent in business, industry, and government settings. Related skills:
  • Ability to analyze the context of any document and write that document to fit the demands of its specific context  
  1. 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. Related skills:
  • 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; effective documentation; etc. 
  • 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, a set of procedures, etc. 
  1. All of the above is measured and documented in one way (in addition to class performance): each student begins the creation of an electronic portfolio of his or her professional work.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
    • 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:

    • Letter of application
    • Writing sample
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
Certificate Requirements
  • This certificate may be pursued and completed concurrently with a degree program or as a stand-alone certificate.  Under both circumstances, federal financial aid can be used for this certificate.

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

Campus Availability

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