Writing is a versatile skill that can be used to communicate across many disciplines. If you have a passion to write and use those talents as you earn a college degree, a program that features writing instruction may be the right path for you. In this article, we list popular writing degree programs and explain the writing techniques taught in each curriculum.
What can a degree in writing teach you?
Writing is a process that prepares you for nearly any career. Writing majors can find work in any number of industries from business to the arts. A writing degree shows future employers you have both critical thinking and communication skills valuable throughout the workplace.
A writing degree will teach you?
- Effective communication: With a writing degree, you'll learn to communicate effectively for different purposes and audiences using the written word.
- Understanding of language: The creative use of language and the ability to critique any piece of writing are part of coursework in all disciplines of writing. You'll look deeply at how narratives are constructed in multiple forms of composition.
- Different genres: While pursuing your degree, you'll learn concepts for writing in different genres like children's fiction, stage drama, and memoir. You'll also have the chance to experiment by writing pieces using these ideas.
- How to work with other writers: Though the act of composing is often solitary work, the writing process is much more collaborative. By working with other writers in critique groups, you'll strengthen your writing skills.
- New techniques and ideas: Throughout your courses, you'll be exposed to different types of writing techniques to broaden your writing knowledge and experience. You'll learn how to develop your writing talents to see which specialization best suits your style.
- Research skills: In a writing program, you'll develop research skills valuable for scholarly and journalistic composition. Writers learn to read and understand texts quickly while evaluating their content.
22 degrees in writing
A degree focused on writing will allow you to take courses that match your interests and talents. Here are the most common degree programs with explanations of how writing is used in each:
1. English: A degree in English includes courses in writing and literature. Writers pursuing this degree focus on both analyzing and interpreting the written word. English degrees often feature a wider course of study offering specialized programs in writing. English degrees also require writers to study language and how it forms the basis of any writing discipline.
2. Writing: A general writing degree consists of courses in composition, fiction, non-fiction, professional and other forms of structured writing. Writers who pursue this degree should be ready to learn a wide variety of writing styles and techniques across multiple disciplines from media content to creative writing.
3. Creative writing: Pursuing a degree in creative writing is a direct path for writers to practice their craft. Courses in this program focus on creating work in different genres and disciplines. Students take classes in poetry, scriptwriting, fiction writing, and creative nonfiction. A creative writing degree also focuses heavily on literature as students learn to analyze a text from a writer's point of view.
4. Technical writing: Technical writing involves creating training manuals, scientific instructions, and highly specialized content for different industries. This degree uses skilled writing techniques to make information accessible to professionals in technical disciplines like engineering and medicine. Technical writing courses give writers the tools to create complex materials in easy to understand language for a specific audience.
5. Composition: This major focuses on scholarly and professional writing with an emphasis on theory. Writers in this field often pursue a master's degree in the subject. Skills gained from composition coursework include literary analysis, editing, and research methods.
6. Professional writing: Another writing degree with a broad scope of courses, a professional writing degree allows writers to focus their skills on more formal techniques. Courses in this program may feature aspects of technical writing, media and digital content, non-fiction, and general composition with an emphasis on creating content for a professional audience.
7. Journalism: A degree in journalism uses writing for news reporting, research, and other wide applications for journalistic content. Journalism courses give writers experience in choosing and researching topics for publication through digital or print platforms. Students who select this degree may also be able to specialize in fields within journalism such as sports or magazine journalism.
8. Education: Teaching is a way for writers to pass on their skills while still using their craft. A degree in education allows writers to focus their skills in the context of preparing others to learn and write effectively too. English instructors teach young writers to craft essays, stories, poems, and other forms of written expression. Educational coursework includes analyzing forms of instruction and writing lessons based on these practices.
9. Editing: An editing degree focuses on the evaluative side of writing. Learning to edit combines writing with analytical skills. Editors need experience in writing to understand how to improve a text. Coursework includes creative writing as well as language foundations. Editors also focus on shaping a story to help clarify a writer's vision. They give input and use their background in storytelling to better shape the writing of others.
10. Liberal arts: A liberal arts degree provides a wide array of coursework for writers interested in social sciences, the arts, and communication. Liberal arts degrees include courses like English and history, which involve writing both creatively and in structured reports. Writers may also take classes in psychology and sociology, using writing to describe the human experience.
11. Linguistics: Linguistics focuses on the origins of writing and language. In this degree, writers study deeply into a language to construct an understanding of how written and spoken communication has impacted cultures and texts throughout history. Writers use both critical thinking and writing skills to explain and manipulate the written word.
12. Theater: Writing is inherently part of the creative expression of the stage. A theater degree allows writers to both create and critique theater arts with their words. Writing is a large part of the curriculum as all theater uses scripts to direct artistic expression. From specific courses in scriptwriting to theatrical criticism, the theater is a major where writers can pursue their creative talents both on and off the stage.
13. Rhetoric: Writers interesting in using their skills to influence public policy should consider a degree in rhetorical studies. This degree focuses on analyzing the written word to detect narrative, illuminating the purpose behind a text, and discovering how it can be used to influence an audience. Rhetoric also emphasizes public speaking by evaluating the intent of a speaker's words. Writers in these courses both create and study rhetorical texts.
14. Communications: A degree in communications includes a broad writing curriculum with coursework focused on marketing, advertising, and journalism. Writers in this field create work that is used to communicate to a broad audience. Courses like public speaking require extensive knowledge of rhetoric and speech composition. Classes with a journalistic focus require writers to research and develop material suitable for news broadcasts or published formats.
15. Public relations: Writing is prevalent in public relations. Those who choose to write using this degree use their skills to become the voice of an organization, communicating with the public, other businesses, and the news media. Public relations studies include writing for speeches, press releases, and media communication.
16. Marketing: Businesses use writing to market products and services through content. A degree in marketing can include writing brand material for website copy, professional blogging, business proposals, and presentations. Marketing involves constant communication between professionals and outside contacts. Those in marketing also learn to communicate to an audience that best suits a product or service. Those who pursue writing through a marketing degree must learn to quickly deliver small amounts of interesting information to a consumer.
17. Advertising: An advertising degree can include courses in copywriting and instruction in writing scripts needed for radio, television, and other media commercials. Writers in this field are also responsible for creating all the copy for a product's packaging and promotional materials. Courses teach writing-focused ad techniques from pitching advertising concepts to creating storyboard outlines for commercial scripts.
18. Media communications/social media: Media writing is an emerging field for global digital platforms. Writing is necessary for websites, apps, and other interactive technologies. Writers who choose this major use their talents to craft content for digital and social media. They develop skills to understand an audience and adapt their communication to fit. Writing in this field is closely tied to business and marketing content with an emphasis on connecting directly to the consumer online.
19. Curriculum design: This degree is usually completed as a master's degree once a student has finished studies in education. Curriculum design relies heavily on writing to develop teaching materials in grades K-12. Curriculums are guidelines that include a rich collection of resources for teaching. Curriculum writers study how to plan lessons and units. They also take courses on how to compose supplemental materials that complement a lesson using both digital and print platforms. Curriculum writers may also be involved in the creation of textbooks.
20. Film: A degree in film includes courses in scriptwriting appropriate for television and movies. Writing for both film and TV is a complex process. In this field, writers are taught to understand camera directions, set staging, lighting, sound, and digital effects. A film degree prepares writers with experience in production so they can write comprehensive scripts that are used by every part of the production process.
21. Business writing: A degree that specializes in business writing may be part of a master's program. This area of study includes courses specific to a composition for business tasks and topics with a focus on analyzing the corporate environment. Those pursuing a business writing degree may choose a specialization like business journalism.
22. Literature: Literature courses require students to write about a text as they read and analyze the written word. Writers who study literature develop a deep understanding of the writing process by reading and evaluating a wide range of texts. Writers will study the cultural representation of people, groups, and ideas within texts, critique an author's work and compose responses to works of literature.