Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is technical and professional communication anyway?

Defining an entire field is not an easy task, but the following definition sums up what we do fairly well: technical and professional communication (TPC) is a field of study that examines ways to help specialists and nonspecialists communicate with one another through the use of clear, concise, organized, and ethical language; audience-oriented graphics and design; and appropriate technologies for the rhetorical situation.

2. Where might I find employment after I graduate with an MTPC degree?

Our graduates are currently employed in a range of jobs, including technical writers, corporate trainers, proposal developers, web developers and designers, information developers, manual writers, content managers, and many others.

3. How long does it take to earn the degree?

Students who enter the program with graduate assistantships usually complete the program in four semesters (two years) without attendance during the summer. Other students typically take from three semesters to three years, depending on their outside commitments to work and family. Graduate students at Auburn are allowed five calendar years to complete a master's degree.

4. What kinds of professional organizations are there for MTPC students?

MTPC students are encouraged to take advantage of student memberships (with reduced rates) in national organizations such as the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and the IEEE Professional Communication Society. Depending on the student's career goals, other useful organizations are the Project Management Institute (PMI), the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA), the Council of Science Editors (CSE), and the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW). Many of these organizations have regional chapters that sponsor seminars and conferences.

5. Will I be able to attend any conferences or seminars?

The Auburn Department of English is sometimes able to provide support for graduate students who give presentations at professional meetings or conferences. This support is capped each year at a specific dollar amount. Other opportunities to participate include the AU English Graduate Association's annual Research Colloquium and other campuswide research forums for graduate students. The Auburn Women's Studies Program provides travel and conference funding for students who conduct research on women's and gender studies topics.

6. How is the MTPC different from an MA in English?

The MTPC degree is a very useful degree for students preparing for careers as technical writers, editors, or project managers in technical or professional communication and for other students seeking to enhance their credentials as professional communicators. The MTPC degree is also a useful degree for anyone who wishes to teach writing courses at a junior or community college level, particularly if he or she also gains experience as a graduate teaching assistant.

The MTPC degree is not a suitable choice for students preparing for careers as teachers of literature or creative writing at any level. It does not prepare a student for admission to a doctoral program in literature or creative writing. It is not the best choice for students who hope to work as literary editors or for academic presses (these jobs are very difficult to obtain). It also is not the best choice for students who wish to pursue doctoral-level study in linguistics or rhetoric and composition, unless the student has a strong secondary interest in technical and professional communication.

Last Updated: September 03, 2013