A One-on-one Intro to the NAU Professional Writing Program

naulogoSince I started teaching professional and technical writing at Northern Arizona University in 2009, I’ve gotten used to a lot of questions about the program from working professionals, curious job changers, and relative newbies.  I love to answer questions from colleagues who are exploring options for professional development and looking to invest in professional development that’s more in-depth than going to a conference or watching a webinar at your desk.

Do any of these scenarios fit you? Are you ready to:

  • Take a new direction in your current career?
  • Move up on the salary scale?
  • Grow professionally in the company of other writers even if you are far from other members of your writer-tribe?
  • Get ready to try something new, such as freelancing or teaching technical writing at a community college?
  • Feel more in control of your professional writing skills?

If so, 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.

Oops, gotta go. My phone is ringing.  Maybe it’s YOU!

The typical transcript of a phone conversation:

This is Erika!

Hi, I’m thinking about doing some graduate work in technical and professional writing, and I’ve got some questions. 

Great!  I’m listening, and ready to help you with some great options in the NAU 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 big on 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)

How long will it take me to finish the program?

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

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?

I’m glad you asked!  Instead of writing a thesis, at the end of your MA 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.

One way to go about creating this document is to identify a 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 proposals, white papers, training modules, public-facing documentation, and proposals to solve problems in the workplace.

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.

How much does it cost?

Go to this site to estimate the cost of your program:  http://ec.nau.edu/AffordableTuitionRates.aspx

If you are not an Arizona resident, you can apply for the WWU tuition reduction for out-of-state residents.

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 for 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!

OK! Call me again or email me. Next time let’s talk about the benefits of taking graduate courses in professional and technical writing.  Have a great rest of your day.


928-523-9064 (Arizona time, USA)