Certificate Program in Professional and Technical Writing

The Bay Area needs well-trained technical writers who can communicate clearly to different audiences. SJSU’s Professional and Technical Writing (PTW) program has been training writers and editors for the workplace for over 40 years. Hundreds of our graduates work at companies in the Bay Area and beyond.

We have a strong job-placement record and relationships with many local employers. Even with the news of recent layoffs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that demand for technical writers will continue to increase for the foreseeable future, especially in our region. Employees with strong technical writing and professional communication skills are needed in a variety of workplaces and fields, from high-tech companies and advertising firms to nonprofit organizations and publishers. Silicon Valley has the most openings for tech writers nationally and pays higher salaries than anywhere else in the United States.

Our certificate program consists of four classes (two required, two electives) taken alongside our PTW major and minor students.

Core Classes, both required:

Electives (Select 2):

Note: Some other English classes (such as ENGL 103, ENGL 105, ENG 157, and ENGL 133) can be substituted for an elective if the need arises. Contact the PTW advisor for this option.

Assignments vary depending on course content but will include proposals, instructions, tech manuals, social media campaigns, formal reports, tutorial videos, and a variety of business communications. We also teach graphic communication skills, interviewing techniques, copyediting and document review, and the specific requirements of technical writing. Students come out of our classes with strong job documents, portfolio-ready pieces, and a network of mentors and colleagues.

Admission Requirements: Certificate students must have completed a bachelor’s degree at an accredited 4-year institution or an international equivalent.

Quick Facts

  • The certificate program generally takes two semesters to complete. Most certificate students take two classes a semester. The certificate can be completed in one intense semester, but please check with our program administrator to make sure all the classes are available.
  • The certificate is mostly in-person. While some individual classes might be offered online, our program focuses on in-class collaboration and team-based projects.
  • Most classes meet during the day. Because you will be attending the same classes as our undergraduate majors, classes are generally between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Classes are offered in the Fall and Spring semesters.
  • Most classes are only available in fall and spring semesters. There may be a class or two occasionally taught over the summer, but most of our classes are taught during the regular school year.
  • Enroll through Open University. Because you aren’t enrolling as a full-time student working towards a degree, you register for your classes through Open University, a way for community members to attend SJSU classes. The certificate program parallels these tracks within a degree program but offers non-matriculated students a stand-alone program for completing the same training.
  • Contact the program advisor (Dr. Mark Thompson, mark.thompson@sjsu.edu) with any questions! Yes, you can talk easily with a real person about the certificate.