Courses and Requirements

The Minor in Writing at MSU

The Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Cultures offers a Minor in Writing that is distinctive, flexible, and combines well with a variety of MSU majors to strengthen career and professional preparation. A distinctive feature of the minor at MSU is that courses are taught by faculty with industry experience in areas of scientific, technical, and professional writing, as well as editing and publishing. The minor gives you the tools not merely to compose for a class, but to produce compelling and accessible writing for a range of audiences and purposes. These foundational writing and critical thinking skills are necessary for today’s competitive job market.

Some students with aspirations for graduate, law or medical school studies, pursue the minor to better enable themselves to write more proficiently at higher academic levels, where work is more rigorous and written output is expected to be of a very high level. Others pursue the minor to gain experience with skills like project management, creativity, audience awareness, and digital communication—skills recruiters value in a wide range of careers.

The minor is flexible: you may elect to take courses that highlight your strengths and areas of interest within the writing field, prepare for applications in graduate writing programs (such as professional/technical communication), and enhance communication skills for the workplace.

Learning Outcomes

This minor frames writing as a powerful action, both in the workplace and in communities. Students in the minor know that rhetorics, technologies, disciplines, and cultures constantly shape each other and that writers must adapt to this interplay if they are to do good work in the world. More specifically, students in the minor

  1. demonstrate attention to rhetorical contexts.
  2. compose for and with diverse audiences.
  3. act as liaisons between and members of professional communities and their audiences.
  4. collaborate with attention to project management and citizenship.
  5. pay attention to their own positionality as well as the cultures they create for and within.
  6. make research-based arguments that are supported by clear claims and evidence.
  7. transfer rhetorical skills to professional and public contexts.


Students in the minor will complete 15-18 credits from the following courses:

All of the following courses (6 credits):

Principles of rhetoric and writing applied to professional and public writing, with emphasis on writing as social and professional action. Definition and major theories of the field, research tools and practices, genres and conventions, and professional style.

Writing and research methods in and with local, global, and online communities and organizations. Topics include methods of field research and textual analysis, working with quantitative and qualitative data, and ethics of representation. Focus on the ways in which culture informs and influences community and writing by/with communities.


One of the following courses (3 credits):

Rhetorical and cultural dimensions of composing in digital spaces. Study of and practice with the rhetorical affordances and expectations of different writing spaces. Practice in messaging across contexts and composing with multiple technologies.

Rhetorical, social, political, economic, and ethical dimensions of digital communication, including identity, community, genre, and events. Rhetorical dynamics of communication across digital spaces such as apps, websites, software, and other experiences.


One of the following courses (3 credits):

Various forms of public writing and rhetoric and their roles in civic and public culture. Emphasis on nonprofit communication practices, tools, and genres, and orientation toward culture and its influence on public and community writing. Practice in modes of public and civic discourse, including deliberative strategies and a range of public literacies with attention to cultural engagement.

Rhetorical and cultural dimensions of corporate writing. Practice in messaging across corporate contexts and composing for professional and consumer audiences.

Rhetorical and cultural dimensions of medical and scientific writing. Study of and practice with rhetorical affordances and expectations in scientific contexts.

Rhetorical and cultural dimensions of composing in public and civic spaces. Study of and practice with policy research, analysis, evaluation, narration, advocacy, and argumentation.


And electives with a WRA or XA designation at the 200-level or higher (3-6 credits)