Published: Oct. 16, 2018

This fall, CU Boulder students from across disciplines on campus can hone their writing skills—something most employers have been calling for in recent years by routinely ranking writing and communication skills as essential in the workplace—through the newly launched Interdisciplinary Certificate in Writing.

Students earning the new certificate will learn to...

  • Write effectively in a variety of genres, ranging from academic to professional workplace and civic
  • Address a range of audiences effectively
  • Analyze and/or argue effectively through a range of rhetorical strategies
  • Draw on a range of writing styles depending on the purpose, audience and rhetorical situation
  • Engage a range of readers in a variety of rhetorical contexts
  • Write for the digital media landscape
  • Communicate effectively as a public speaker

The certificate, which has been in the works for more than 10 years, will help set those who earn it apart from others in their field by giving them a skillset that extends well beyond the core writing requirements of most universities, according to Professor Rolf Norgaard, who spearheaded the new certificate.

"This isn't a traditional, print-based writing program that could have existed three decades ago, rather we aim to develop writing and communication skills that compliment a student's major, better preparing them for professional life once they earn their degree," said Norgaard, who also is associate director of the Program for Writing and Rhetoric on campus.

Students earning the certificate will need at least 18–19 credit hours from courses on everything from Writing in the Visual Arts to Writing on Business and Society or Technical Communication and Design, which students can tailor to their specific majors. The overarching goal of the certificate is to arm students with the critical skills of highly skilled writing and communication, no matter their major.

"This does not replace a traditional major, but it adds enormous value," Norgaard said. "For example, if you are an MCDB major interested in medical school, a writing certificate will speak volumes about your ability to communicate. Or, if you are an English major, having this writing certificate that is very grounded in client-based work and technical communication is a wonderful augmentation to your English degree."

The certificate also includes built-in practicum experience, which is required and can include a writing intensive internship, tutoring on campus or other writing-related work in the community."We don't want to limit writing to the four walls of a classroom; we want to open that cage," he said. "Service learning project in the community or client work for a business or campus entity are excellent examples of this type of experience. The best training for a writer is to engage in these challenges with real audiences outside the classroom."