An Introduction to the NAU Professional Writing Program

At some point in your career, you’re going to feel the need to explore options for the next stage in your journey. And usually, professional development through continuing education plays a role in that journey. We’ve found that many professionals look into a professional writing program for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They want to take their career in a new direction.
  • They’ve topped the salary scale in their current role or organization.
  • They want to grow professionally in the company of other writers.
  • They want to try something new, such as freelancing or teaching at a community college.
  • They want to feel more in control of their professional writing skills.

If any of these statements fit your current mindset, it’s time for us to chat. Call me or email me.

1-928-523-9064 (Arizona time, USA)

We can even schedule an UberConference, FaceTime, or Skype session.  Just email me to set it up.

As the area coordinator for the online Professional and Technical Writing Program at Northern Arizona University, I am happy to answer your questions and help you to figure out if our program might be helpful to you. Here are some common questions about our program.


I live pretty far away. Do I have to come to the NAU campus for any reason?

Not ever. We have had students join us from all over the world without setting foot on the NAU campus.

I’m not a big fan of tests. Do I have to take the GRE to get into the program?


What’s the difference between the certificate program and the master’s degree?

  • The certificate:                18 credit hours of coursework (6 courses)
  • The master’s degree:     36 credit hours of coursework (12 courses)

All certificate courses will count toward your master’s degree if you decide to pursue the master’s.

Many people take the certificate program if they

  • already have a master’s degree
  • aren’t sure whether our master’s degree is the right fit for them
  • need credit hours in a hurry
  • don’t want to complete a capstone project

How long will it take me to finish the program?

You can finish the certificate in a year if you take two courses per semester: Summer, Fall, and Spring. Students in the MA program have up to six years to complete it, but they can petition for an extension of that time if circumstances warrant it.

Almost all of our classes are eight-weeks long, except for some shorter summer classes and our full-semester capstone course.

What if I just want to try a class or two?

No problem! You can take several courses as a “non-degree” student, and then apply those courses toward your certificate or master’s degree if you decide to continue.

Do I have to write a thesis or take a comprehensive exam for the MA?

Instead of writing a thesis, at the end of your MA Professional Writing program you will create a workplace document that demonstrates your professional and technical writing knowledge and skills. You can even work on a document that you are creating in your current workplace, which provides the ultimate in practical application.

One way to go about creating this document is to identify a workplace problem, propose a course of action to solve that problem, and design a plan to research, develop, and support the solution to the problem. Then write this up.

In the past, our students have created complete websites, grant and project proposals, white papers, training modules, and public-facing documentation to solve problems in the workplace or for their own freelance writing businesses.

What can the instructors help me learn?

michael collinsDr. Michael Collins
Managerial communication, environmental writing, hospitality writing, proposal writing, research writing.




 damian koshnickDr. Damian Koshnick

Usability testing, document design, teaching professional writing, research writing.




Erika Konrad smallDr. Erika Konrad 

Professional editing, technical writing style, writing for digital audiences, content strategy, research writing, and she can  help you work on language issues if English is not your first language.



john rothforkDr. John Rothfork

Ethics of professional writing, rhetoric & writing in professional communities, research writing, document project management, technical writing issues.



When can I start?

You can start any semester, including the summer. During fall and spring semesters, you can start either in the first or second 8-week session.

How much does it cost?

Go to this site to estimate the cost of your program:

What about financial aid or scholarships?

NAU has two sites that help you with options for paying for tuition:

I work full time. Do I have to be online at specific times for chat sessions or anything like that?

There are no scheduled times when you have to be online. Course material is asynchronous, which means you can do coursework any time during the week or so allotted for each unit of study.

Nevertheless, you are not out there on your own. One of the hallmarks of our program is that you will interact with the instructor and fellow classmates during each learning module.

How do I apply?

To apply, visit these program pages in the NAU online catalog:

 I have to get back to work, but I still have more questions!

928-523-9064 (Arizona time, USA)

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