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By Oliver Tseng on October 13, 2020

This post originally appeared on the University Writing Program’s website

From cultivating skills to general interest, students select minors for many different reasons.

The University Writing Program’s (UWP) professional writing minor offers advanced instruction and intensive practice in writing and editing. The minor is mainly for students who want to be professional writers or who want to be better writers in professional contexts. Students can choose from a wide variety of courses and internships that best fit their interests and aspirations.

Read on to learn the skills you can develop as well as the careers, internships, and graduate program opportunities of professional writing.

Professional writing skills

A student talks with an advisor in a conference.
Joseph Dorsch, an animal science major, talks with LinkedIn's Ryan Sandler at UC Davis. LinkedIn came to campus to help students with writing better profiles, job interview skills, and photograph them professionally for their LinkedIn profile. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Writing and editing, the two main focuses of the professional writing minor, encompass numerous specific skills that have the potential to be valuable to any career.

Our large selection of courses spanning a multitude of topics allows you to specialize in your chosen area. For example, if you want to become a writer in a science field, Writing in the Professions: Science (UWP 104E) is the course for you. You would learn the general principles of writing scientific arguments, the rhetorical principles underlying effective scientific style, and much more. However, if you are more interested in writing about science-related news, Science Journalism (UWP 111C) would be more suitable. In this course, you would learn to carry out research methods used in this field, develop leads and organize articles, present data from scientific studies in an unbiased manner, etc. These distinctions between courses let you develop certain skill sets most applicable to your desired career.

In addition to varied writing skills, you can gain expertise in areas such as the following:

  • Communication through multiple forms of media

  • Rhetorical analysis 

  • User experience

  • Document and web page design

  • Project management and collaboration

  • Professional editing

Writing is an important skill to possess, especially for communication in the workplace. In the Job Outlook 2019 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), written communication skills ranked as the most sought-after attribute for new college graduates. This minor will be an asset to any career that values strong writing and communication skills.

Writing careers

When people think of professional writing, they typically think of careers in freelance writing, editing, and journalism. However, the professional writing minor can help students gain skills and experience applicable to an array of careers, even those in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The professional writing minor is just that, a minor, which can be paired with your major(s) to diversify and reinforce skills. Our alumni are prime examples of this, and they have graduated with a diverse selection of majors and pursued an equally diverse selection of careers.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) has an extensive list of careers with useful information such as entry-level education requirements and median salaries. Several careers in the OOH are in the field of professional writing under “Media and Communication Occupations” such as editors, public relations specialists, reporters, and technical writers. Some other careers in professional writing are publicity manager, marketing specialist, science writer, content developer, etc.

Another great resource is the UC Davis Internship and Career Center (ICC). The ICC can help  you plan your future career path, expand your network, and find jobs or internships.

Writing internships

Students in UC Davis T-shirts and blazers talk around couches in an office.
UC Davis students Hannah Poploskie, political science major; Preeti Naidu, computer science major; MaryAnn McNamara, international relations major; and TerrvyahYura Raju, international agriculture development major talk with Itzel Vasquez-Rodrigues of the Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry during UCAN Ambassadors Sacramento Advocacy at the State Capitol Building on April 29, 2019. The student were lobbying state representatives for funding for their schools and the UC system. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

The minor has an internship requirement, which provides opportunities for you to gain real-world writing experience in organizational settings. In an internship, you can expect to develop professional time management skills, valuable professional relationships, and your own professional writing portfolio.

An internship can be one already established or one created by you, as long as it fulfills the requirement for writing-related work and has an appropriate supervisor. These internships can be on or off campus. If you have trouble finding internships and/or want to complete the requirement in one quarter, check out our quarter abroad program Internships and Writing in Dublin.

Internships can be completed in any industry or profession that has writing projects to work on. Different fields include but are not limited to:

  • Digital communications

  • Journalism

  • Law and politics

  • Marketing and public relations

  • Finance

  • Science and technical communication

Graduate programs for professional writing

A building on UC Davis campus.
Voorhies Hall, home of the University Writing Program and the minor in professional writing. (Bella Bucheli/UC Davis)

The benefits of earning a master's degree in professional writing are specialized knowledge and career advancement. Specialized knowledge means exploring niche fields extensively as well as developing new skills. This specialized knowledge and the master’s degree itself spurs career advancement, which results in increased earning potential and job security.

There are graduate programs in various subfields of professional writing, some MAs and some MSs:

  • Science communication

  • Technical communication/Technical writing

  • Professional communication/Professional writing

  • Rhetoric and composition

  • Publishing and writing

  • Information design

There are currently around 200 graduate programs related to professional writing in the United States. Many of these programs offer full funding if you opt to become a teaching or research assistant. Several of our alumni have realized these benefits by going on to pursue or earn master’s degrees in subjects such as user experience (UX), rhetoric and writing studies, and science communication. You can look into the graduate writing program that best suits your needs.

Many of our alumni, as well, have completed graduate degrees in journalism and are now working as successful journalists. See this list of options for graduate schools for journalism.

If you have any questions or are interested in learning more contact Associate Director of Professional Writing Rebekka Andersen (uwpadvisor@ucdavis.edu), Internship Coordinator Cassie Hemstrom (uwpadvisor@ucdavis.edu), or Peer Advisor Bella Bucheli (uwppeeradvisor@ucdavis.edu). If you are interested in more professional writing news and content, check out our PW Facebook group.


Oliver Tseng graduated in 2020 with a major in English and minor in professional writing. He was a writing and editing intern for the University Writing Program.

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