FW: Re: Tech Comm Univ Programs

Subject: FW: Re: Tech Comm Univ Programs
From: techwr-l <techwr-l -at- HABITAT -dot- ORG>
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 09:20:30 -0500

Thank you, everyone, for all of the helpful and encouraging responses to
my recent post!

Following, I've compiled the responses I received directly.

Hi, Tristan --

I don't have any statistics on the U of W program, but general word of
mouth around the Northwest says it's a fantastic program. And the U of W
is a great university in general. (I live in Idaho now but was born and
raised in Alaska and graduated from the University of Oregon.)

I've taken non-university classes taught by professors of the graduate
tech comm program, and the professors are terrific. The professors also
are regular speakers at the annual WinWriters Online Help Conference in

For details about the program check the U of W web site.

Good luck.

I'd think the same way you would for a science or engineering program --
look at the academic and higher-end professional journals, and see who
is publishing. Try to get in on a program that is doing a lot of new

FWIW, when I was looking at graduate schools my senior year in a TC
program, I didn't find anything on UW. Now University of Portland...
but that was mostly the work of Jean Schulze, who left soon after for

Hope this was helpful....

It's a great school and a great program. It is one of the top five (some
say the second best program in the US). Other good programs are Florida
State and Carnegie Mellon.

Their website is:



My information may be out of date, but here are some of the more famous
U. of Wash: new, seeming energetic
U. of Minn: new, seeming energetic
U. of Mich: very old, mostly aimed at engineers
Carnegie Mellon: used to be tops, now being downgraded by Lit Profs
home university of the famous Dr. Karen Schriver
RPI: early leader, seems to be losing energy
Green something-something: name keeps popping up, but I know nothing
about it

P.S. This evaluation is from the point of view of computer documentation.

Tristan, here's something you might consider. The UW Technical
Communications masters program is highly theoretical. I learned this from
instructors in the UW Extension program in Technical Writing and Editing
both graduated from, and now teach in, the masters program. They all say
that the Extension classes are much more useful and keep the instructors on
their toes because the students are in the trenches (many are working tech
writers) and don't have time to theorize endlessly. The UW Extension
have the graduate level stuff but it is all applicable on the job. I chose
to go that way.

Obviously, I am inclined to go to the UW since it's in my neighborhood.
However, I investigated a number of distance learning programs, mostly
on-line, from reputable universities and their course content looked pretty
useless. The UW is in a center of a flourishing technology area and, I
believe, is on the leading edge.

FYI, I have a degree in English, am a fugitive from the corporate suite,
five years ago found my life's work in tech writing. Why am I going to
school? Because I wanted to pull together all I know into a cohesive whole
and see where the gaps were. I am loving it, even though working full time
and going to school two nights a week is tough.

Good luck.

**Original Message:
I'm currently looking at the master's program in technical communications
at the University of Washington, Seattle.

What's the best way to find out which graduate technical communications
programs in the U.S. are best? More to the point, is there a way to find
out if the program at UW is considered a good one or a poor one?

I don't know whether on-list replies are appropriate or not. If I get
useful replies directly I will combine them and forward them to the list.

Thanks for any help!

Tristan Robinson
Habitat for Humanity International
Americus, GA
tristan_robinson -at- habitat -dot- org

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