The interdisciplinary certificate in writing allows CU Boulder undergraduates to gain an understanding of and demonstrate expertise in writing studies, broadly defined. The certificate offers a curriculum that goes well beyond the writing courses that schools and colleges require of all students, thereby complementing a student's academic major, preparing students for professional life and enriching students' awareness of writing as a life-long tool for civic engagement. The certificate communicates the importance placed on writing well, and documents accomplishments of interest to graduate programs or workplaces emphasizing effective communication skills.

The certificate in writing is housed in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), and the curriculum is intentionally interdisciplinary. Participating units beyond PWR include English, linguistics, communication, journalism, media studies and education. The certificate includes a practicum component, and culminates in a curated electronic portfolio that students can use as they pursue further professional interests.


Students must complete at least 18 credit hours, 9 of which must be upper-division, and adhere to the following:

  • At least 6 credit hours: WRTG courses within the PWR (not including 1000-level courses).
  • At least 6 credit hours: courses from outside of the PWR.
  • At least 1 credit hour: required portfolio curation pass/fail course, and practicum course(s) focusing on applied professional work.

No more than two courses (6 credit hours) can be counted from a student's major, and no more than 6 credit hours of transfer work from another institution may be applied to the certificate.

Overview of Required Courses

Writing and Rhetoric Courses
Select at least two courses (6 credits) from the following:6
Information and Society
Introduction to Creative Nonfiction
Electives in Writing
Internship in Writing and Rhetoric
Writing in the Visual Arts
Topics in Writing
Writing on Science and Society
Technical Communication and Design
Writing on Business and Society
Writing for Emerging Workplaces
Open Topics in Writing: Advanced
Independent Study
Internship in Writing and Rhetoric
Courses Outside Writing & Rhetoric
Select at least two courses (6 credits) outside of the PWR. See details below.6
Portfolio Curation & Practicum Course(s)1
Portfolio Curation in Writing and Rhetoric
Total Credit Hours18

About the Requirements

Courses from Outside the Program for Writing and Rhetoric

Select at least two courses (6 credits) outside the program from the following two categories, in any combination.

Courses that Fulfill the A&S Upper-Division Written Communication Requirement
ARSC 3100Multicultural Perspective and Academic Discourse3
CHIN 3200Adv Wrtg Topics on Chinese & Japanese Literature and Civilization3
EBIO 3940Written Communication in the Sciences3
ENVS 3020Advanced Writing in Environmental Studies3
GEOL 3090Developing Scientific Writing Skills3
HIST 3020Historical Thinking & Writing3
HONR 3220Advanced Honors Writing Workshop3
IPHY 3700Scientific Writing in Integrative Physiology3
ITAL 3025Advanced Composition 2: Introduction to Literary Writing3
JPNS 3200Adv Wrtg Topics on Chinese & Japanese Literature and Civilization3
PHIL 3480Critical Thinking/Writing in Philosophy3
PHYS 3050Writing in Physics: Problem-Solving and Rhetoric3
RLST 3020Advanced Writing in Religious Studies3
SPAN 3010Advanced Rhetoric and Composition3
WGST 3800Advanced Writing in Feminist Studies3
Courses that Treat Theories and Contexts Pertaining to Writing

Students in the following programs may count up to two of the listed courses in their major (6 credits) toward the certificate.

Communication Majors
COMM 1210Perspectives on Human Communication3
COMM 1300Public Speaking3
COMM 2400Discourse, Culture and Identities3
COMM 3300Rhetorical Thinking3
COMM 3320Persuasion in Society3
COMM 3340Political Communication3
COMM 3410Intercultural Communication3
COMM 3420Gender and Communication3
COMM 3610Communication, Technology, and Society3
COMM 3630Organizational Communication3
COMM 4100Seminar in Honors Thesis Writing and Research3
Education Licensure Students 1
EDUC 3013School and Society3
EDUC 4135Story and Memoir3
English Majors 2
ENGL 1191Introduction to Creative Writing3
ENGL 2036Introduction to Media Studies in the Humanities3
ENGL 4026Special Topics in Genre, Media, and Advanced Writing3
ENGL 4116Advanced Topics in Media Studies3
ENGL 4830Honors Thesis3
Journalism Majors
JRNL 2401Media Coverage of Diverse Populations3
JRNL 3112Concepts in Visual Culture3
JRNL 3201Critical Perspectives on Journalism3
JRNL 3202Covering Political Campaigns3
JRNL 3401Sociology of News3
JRNL 4311Literary Journalism3
JRNL 4401News and Public Perception3
JRNL 4411International Media and Global Crises3
Linguistics Majors
LING 1000Language in U.S. Society3
LING 1010The Study of Words3
LING 2400Language, Gender and Sexuality3
LING 3220American Indigenous Languages in their Social and Cultural Context3
LING 3545World Language Policies3
LING 4800Language and Culture3
LING 4830Honors Thesis3
Media Studies Majors
MDST 3002Digital Culture and Politics3
MDST 3201Media, Culture and Globalization3
MDST 3321Media Industries and Economics3
MDST 3401Media, Food and Culture3
MDST 3711Media and Popular Culture3
MDST 3791Media and the Public3
MDST 4111Crime, Media and Contemporary Culture3
MDST 4211Asian Media and Culture3
MDST 4331Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality in Popular Culture3
MDST 4371Media and Religion3

Practicum Course(s)

Students must complete a 1-credit, pass/fail course for portfolio curation (WRTG 4910), along with one of the three practicum options below. Students may select the option that best suits their interest and career goals.


Of interest to students intending to work in business, industry or nonprofits:

  • Complete an internship, either with the PWR (WRTG 2930 or WRTG 3930) or with the major department (e.g., ENGL 3930 or JRNL 4931), that has a significant writing component. For an internship to count toward the certificate, it must be pre-approved by the certificate coordinator. Following the internship, the student must submit a brief (2–3 page) report describing the writing activities and how the internship contributed to learning outcomes.
Writing Center Consultancy or School-Based Literacy Practicum

Of interest to students intending to work in education and related fields:

  • WRTG 2090 Electives in Writing (3) (Writing Center Theory and Practice)
  • EDUC 4321 Writing Instruction for Elementary Schools (3) (for students already accepted into the teacher licensure program)
  • EDUC 4345 Secondary English Methods I (3) (for students already accepted into the teacher licensure program)
Graduate Study in Writing Pedagogy

Of interest to students intending to conduct graduate work in rhetoric and composition:

  • WRTG 5050 Graduate Studies in Writing and Rhetoric (3) (various topics, with permission).

Learning Outcomes

The certificate in writing has at its core a set of aspirational learning outcomes, which are met over the course of the certificate:

  • Ability to compose effectively in a variety of genres, ranging from academic genres to professional workplace genres and civic genres.
  • Ability to address a range of audiences effectively, and to understand how to accommodate secondary or multiple audiences.
  • Ability to analyze and/or argue effectively, and to call on available means of persuasion and apply appropriately a range of rhetorical strategies.
  • Ability to draw on a range of styles as appropriate to the purpose, audience, and rhetorical situation, and to meet professional standards of correctness.
  • Ability to apply disciplinary expertise to engage a range of readers, in a variety of rhetorical contexts.
  • Ability to compose with digital and multi-modal tools in evolving, hybrid genres.
  • Ability to understand and practice writing as an act of composing in the broader media landscape.
  • Ability to seek, access, evaluate, and apply a range of information literacy resources, and to appreciate the complex, evolving role of information in disciplinary and social contexts.
  • Ability to use composition skills effectively in broader contexts of communication, including public speaking.
  • Ability to apply compositional skills in professional contexts and organizations, ranging from advanced academic work to business settings, and in genres ranging from PowerPoint presentations to scientific posters.
  • Ability to appreciate and use composing tools in civic contexts and in life-long learning.

The student will have the opportunity to demonstrate how these aspirational learning goals have been met by creating and curating an electronic portfolio of work completed during the certificate experience. This portfolio asks students to synthesize their learning and articulate how it advances their academic and professional goals.