Professional Writing & Rhetoric

Professional writers are in demand to link ideas, technologies and products with people who need to understand those developments or to use them. San Francisco State’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) program can prepare you for that critical communications role through our major, minor and certificate programs.

Professional writers work in almost every field of industry and public life, including high-technology industries, business, government, research and nonprofit organizations. The work that PWR graduates go on to do might involve technical writing and documentation, editing, graphic and document design, training, research, information management, promotional writing, grant writing or other forms of proposal- and report-writing.

After completing the PWR program, you can begin your writing career with important advantages: an academic degree or certificate in the field, improved and focused skills, an understanding of professional expectations for writers and a portfolio of relevant writing samples.

PWR was TPW

Note: Starting Fall 2019, the Technical and Professional Writing (TPW) program was replaced by the Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) program. Students who declared Technical and Professional Writing as their major prior to Fall 2019 are not affected by this change and can continue as TPW majors. Please contact PWR coordinator Neil Lindeman with any questions.

Program Contacts

Neil Lindeman, PWR Coordinator
Email: lindeman@sfsu.edu
Phone: (415) 405-0493
Office: HUM 423

Two students sitting outside at a table with their laptops

Advising

Please get in touch anytime you have questions about your course of study and career planning. In addition, if you can, please arrange for an advising session during the semester you enter the program. At this session, we will set up an advising worksheet for your file, review program requirements, discuss your career interests, and identify a tentative course schedule for you.

To arrange for advising, please email the faculty advisor for PWR students, Neil Lindeman.

Requirements for an English Degree with Professional Writing & Rhetoric Concentration

  • Core Requirements (24 Units)
    • Lower-Division (6 Units)
      • ENG 218 - Writing the First Year: The World, the Text, and You (3 units)
      • ENG 250 - Topics in Literature and Culture (3 units)
    • Upper-Division (18 Units)
      • ENG 402 - Introduction to Professional Writing and Rhetoric (3 units)
      • ENG 420 - Introduction to the Study of Language (3 units)
      • ENG 461 - Literature in English Since 1800 (3 units)
      • ENG 480GW - Junior Seminar - GWAR (3 units)
      • ENG 583 - Shakespeare: Representative Plays (3 units)
      • ENG 640 - Global Texts and Practices (3 units)
  • Requirements (21 Units)
    • Required Courses (9 units)
      • ENG 540 - Professional Editing (3 units)
      • ENG 545 - Visual Rhetoric and Document Design (3 units)
      • ENG 618 - Individual and Team Writing (3 units)
    • Electives (9 units) [Select three:]
      • ENG 200 - Writing Practices in Professional Contexts (3 units)
      • ENG 470 - Writing Professional Promotions (3 units)
      • ENG 471 - Writing Technical Documentation (3 units)
      • ENG 490 - Grant Writing (3 units)
      • ENG 585 - Professional Writing for Digital Audiences (3 units)
      • Other courses with the approval of an advisor. 
    • Capstone Experience (3 units)
      • ENG 695 - Internship in Professional Writing and Rhetoric (3 units)

Review the current Bulletin for further information. 

Please get in touch anytime you have questions about your course of study and career planning. In addition, if you can, please arrange for an advising session during the semester you enter the program. At this session, we will set up an advising worksheet for your file, review program requirements, discuss your career interests, and identify a tentative course schedule for you.

To arrange for advising, please email the faculty advisor for PWR students, Neil Lindeman.

Regional Scholarship

The Gordon Memorial Scholarship is sponsored by the Northern California chapters of the Society for Technical Communication. Please see below for more information and for the application. The deadline to apply is June.

National Scholarship

The Technical Editing Special Interest Group of the Society for Technical Communication is offering a scholarship of ~$1,400. Please see below for more information about the scholarship, eligibility, and the online application process.

The deadline to apply is July. Winners will be notified in early August.

STC Technical Editing SIG Scholarship

College of Liberal & Creative Arts Scholarship

PWR students can apply for the Edward B. Kaufmann and Evans-Hsu-Kauffman scholarships.

Internship Overview

Successful internships benefit both students and the organizations that sponsor them. Our program provides the preparation, connections, and structure needed to make internships work as they should.

Course Work

  • Enrollment in internship course:
    • ENG 695 (3 units)
  • Required prerequisites:
    • ENG 402, 540, 545 and an additional two electives in the Professional Writing & Rhetoric concentration.

Expectations and Assignments

  • Pre-placement review of resume and portfolio
  • Minimum of 120 hours of internship work over a minimum of six weeks
  • Supervision by a professional
  • Relevant work:
    • Writing
    • Editing
    • Writing-related research
    • Writing-related graphic design
  • Log of hours and activities
  • Final report
  • Required conferences with sponsor and ENG 695 instructor

Academic Oversight

  • Minimum of four conferences with ENG 695 instructor
  • Resume and portfolio review
  • Contract approval
  • Interim review
  • Final evaluation

Sponsor Evaluation

Minimum two reviews:

  • Interim written report and conference after 50 - 60 hours
  • Written report and grading after 120 hours

PWR Internships FAQs

Can I complete a PWR internship as a non-major?
Yes, you can, but you must first complete all the ENG 695 prerequisites.

How should I find an internship?
You will be responsible for arranging your own internship, rather than being placed in one by the PWR program. However, the program does provide support to help students in their internship search (the ENG 695 instructor will review this with you) . Another good option would be to reach out and network with family, friends, and PWR alums. Some students have had success “cold” contacting companies for which they would like to work and which they know employ professional writers or editors.

Will I be paid for my internship?
Maybe. While most nonprofit organizations rely on interns to volunteer, some will provide compensation, typically a stipend, though sometimes an hourly wage. (Others may offer contingency fees based on the outcome of grant proposals, but this is not recommended.) For-profit companies typically offer interns either an hourly wage or a stipend. For more information about the relevant law see this New York Times article regarding California’s Revision of Rules on Paid and Unpaid Internships. Internship compensation does vary (typically ranging from $10 to $25 per hour).

How can I do an internship if I already have a full-time job?
You have a few options. One option would be to do the internship at your job, if that is possible within the guidelines for doing so. Another option would be to negotiate with your employer to adjust your hours or days of work, so that you could fit in the hours required for an internship. The third option would be to intern for a nonprofit organization or business that is flexible about its hours and about your time on site, so that you can work evenings and weekends and put in much of your time off site. Nonprofit organizations are most likely to offer this flexibility to students who are interning on a volunteer basis.

Can a friend or family member supervise me in my internship?
No, because the person who supervises you assigns you a grade for the internship.

Can I do my internship with multiple sponsors?
No. All 120 hours must be at one place, with one supervisor and with one contract. If you start with one sponsor and that does not work out, then you will have to start all over again with another. So try to be sure that any internship you find is stable and appropriate before you sign a contract and begin putting in hours of work.

Can I do my internship at my current job?
Maybe, if you can have relevant new learning experiences there. Usually this would require that you work in a different department or area, work under a new supervisor and/or complete a different type of project than you have done before. In such an on-the-job situation, for purposes of internship grading, your internship supervisor would only evaluate your performance in meeting the new challenge specified in your contract, not your overall job performance.

What if the internship sponsor wants me to do work that is not writing/editing related?
That’s up to you to negotiate with your sponsor. The only 120 hours that will be counted for the internship will be hours that are spent doing writing/editing related work. You may choose to perform other types of duties for your internship sponsor (especially if you are paid), but you cannot log such hours towards your internship. So, if you suspect that your internship sponsor may want you to do other kinds of work in addition to writing/editing, be sure to discuss this up front, so that there are no misunderstandings.

Can I do my internship working from home, rather than at the job site?
Yes, you can, if that is okay with your internship supervisor and if doing so will still provide you with a professional work experience. However, you would still need to be supervised by having your supervisor direct and review your work, giving you regular feedback on your performance. Typically, it is helpful to have at least some ability to meet in person for this.

How long does it take to find an internship?
That varies. Typically, finding an internship can take several weeks after preparing your resume and portfolio, because of the time required to apply, to be interviewed, etc. Although sometimes this process takes less time, it also can take longer, particularly if you are selective about pay, location, hours, type of work, etc. Of course, the availability of internships may fluctuate with the job market and time of year, as well.

What are “writing-related production” and “writing-related research”?
Although, in general, most hours that count toward your internship must be spent directly in writing or editing tasks, you also can include production (e.g., graphic design, desktop publishing, document formatting or coding) or research (e.g., meetings, interviews, observations) if and only if these tasks are done for a project for which you also do some writing or editing. For example, putting a Word document into a Framemaker template would not usually count, but it could if you also proofread and corrected that same document. Similarly, attending a general company meeting typically would not count, but attending a publications department staff meeting in which an article that you wrote was discussed would count.

What if the supervisor who signs my contract leaves the organization or if I’m assigned to a new supervisor?
In that case, the new supervisor should contact the internship instructor as soon as possible, explaining the reason, verifying familiarity with the contract terms and confirming the new supervisor’s ability to evaluate all of your work for the entire internship.

What if multiple people supervise my work?
That may happen. However, only one person can sign your contract and the evaluation forms. That person should coordinate with your other supervisors to get their feedback about your work.

What will determine my final grade?
Your final grade is usually assigned by your internship supervisor. However, the instructor may make exceptions based on the professionalism of your process, your portfolio and resume, the content of your meetings with your instructor and/or other special circumstances. If you believe that exceptional circumstances should be taken into account when assigning your grade, please talk to the internship instructor.

Faculty

Lindeman, Neil
Neil Lindeman ( He/Him/His )
Professor
PWR Coordinator
(415) 405-0493
Bridget Gelms
Bridget Gelms ( She/Her/Hers )
Assistant Professor
PWR Faculty
(415) 338-3112
SF University 1899 seal in grey
Robert Dvorak ( He/Him/His )
Lectuer Faculty
PWR Faculty
n/a
Regina Neu
Regina Neu ( She/Her/Hers )
Lecturery Faculty
PWR Faculty
n/a

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