PPW Major

Public & Professional Writing Major

The Public and Professional Writing major allows students to undertake rigorous intellectual work that will deepen their engagement with writing as a form of social action and professional exchange that has consequences in the world. Students in the major can expect to

  • address critical questions in public and professional writing;
  • learn how to use the forms and genres of particular professions or fields;
  • learn how to compose effectively on behalf of an organization or campaign;
  • learn how to create engaging documents and carry out inquiry projects for a particular audience;
  • compose using appropriate modalities and technology;
  • compose with awareness of textual forms and conventions;
  • conduct responsible and ethical research;
  • explore the history and politics of writing in specific contexts;
  • engage with public debates over language, globalization, education, and writing; and
  • compose as a creative and disciplined form of critical inquiry.

The English Department’s PPW major requires the completion of 33 credits.

Students may choose to follow clusters of courses that will lead to in-depth study in specific areas or for specific career paths: Writing to Support Scientific Research, Preparing for Law School, Writing for Nonprofits, Writing for Business, Teaching and Composition Studies, Advertising and PR Writing, Black Rhetoric and Public Writing, Composing Digital Media, Editing and Publishing, Preparing for Graduate School, Public Engagement, and others. See a list of possible clusters that you can pursue.>


The Seminar in Composition requirement must be completed prior to enrollment in any ENGCMP course at or above the 400 level. A Seminar in Composition course can be selected from the following list:

ENGCMP 0200 Seminar in Composition
ENGCMP 0203 Seminar in Composition: Gender Studies
ENGCMP 0205 Seminar in Composition: Film
ENGCMP 0207 Seminar in Composition: Education
ENGCMP 0208 Seminar in Composition: Service-Learning
ENGCMP 0210 Seminar in Composition: Writing with Film
ENGCMP 0212: Seminar in Composition: Topics in Diversity
FP 0003 / FP 0006 Freshman Seminar

Requirements for the Major

Download a PDF checklist>

  • ENGCMP 0420 Writing for the Public
  • ENGCMP 0560 Writing Arguments
  • ENGCMP 1551 History and Politics of English Language
  • ENGCMP 1900 PPW Internship (3 cr.) OR ENGCMP 1901 UTA: Teaching or Tutoring Writing (3 cr.)
  • ENGCMP 1910 Bridge Seminar
  • Three 1000-level ENGCMP Courses
  • Three ENGCMP courses at the 400, 500, 600, 700, or 1000 levels 

Other information:

  •  Satisfactory/No Credit option: There is no limit on the number of courses in the major that can be taken on an S/NC basis. Note that S is the equivalent of a C or better.
  • Grade requirements: A minimum grade of C or better (not C-) is required in ENGCMP 0420 and 0560.
  • Writing (W) requirement: Most ENGCMP courses satisfy the W requirement. Students pursuing a second major are required to complete an additional W course in that department.
  • Up to six credits from another school or English Department program can count toward the major. Check with your advisor or the PPW director about specific courses.
  • Related area: A minimum of 12 credits is required in any one Arts and Sciences department chosen in consultation with the major advisor. The completion of an official Arts and Sciences minor or an Arts and Sciences or UCIS certificate also satisfies this requirement.

English Advising:

The PPW major is one of several English Department majors, and our students are advised by the English Department advisors. You can make an appointment with an English Department advisor by visiting their page.

Amy Flick CL 501C 412-624-6656 aif12@pitt.edu

Jeff Aziz CL 501C 412-624-2228 jeffaziz@pitt.edu

Lori Campbell  CL 501C 412-624-6559 lmc5@pitt.edu


Other Contacts:

Dana Nowlin-Russell, Director for PPW, dnruss@pitt.edu

ENGCMP Courses That Count Toward the PPW Major

All ENGCMP courses at or above the 400 level can count toward the PPW major, as long as you complete the requirements listed above.

NOTE: ENGCMP 0400: Written Professional Communication and ENGCMP 0401: Written Professional Communication: Topics in Diversity cover much of the same course content. Therefore, students should expect only one to count toward their major electives.

You can browse brief course descriptions of all the courses that count toward the PPW major.>