Majors and Minors
About the Writing Studies B.A.
The writing studies major at UMD offers concentrations in Journalism or Professional Writing. Both tracks require 40 semester credits, which include core courses, required courses, and electives. The program begins with the history of writing practices and moves into the study of genres, systems of production and distribution, and related institutions. Drawing from the resources of linguistics, students develop an understanding of the relationship between writing, cognition and communication.
Written communication skills are consistently reiterated as essential to professional success for the individual. Effective writers, by the same token, are essential to the operation of business, government and civic life. In alignment with the endeavors of the geographical region, writing studies majors have potential for leadership in research tourism, mine development, medicine, journalism, government agencies, and graduate studies.
Writing studies majors develop skills in the analysis of rhetorical situations, and learn to think reflectively and critically about their role as writers for professional and civic life. Our students gain insight in the selection of media, and learn how to produce texts appropriate for a variety of discourse communities. Because of the engaging faculty in the Writing Studies Department and the content of the major, students receive an excellent college experience and are prepared for a fulfilling career after they graduate.
All Writing Studies majors complete a senior-year Capstone Experience, in which they work individually with their advisers both to look back at their work in Writing Studies courses at UMD, and to look forward to the next step in their careers.
In addition to the major, students are required to minor in another field of study. Or, a double major in another subject at UMD is strongly recommended, since this allows students to further enhance their diversity of skills and grow their interests throughout their four years at UMD.
Professional Writing Track
The professional writing curriculum combines knowledge and experience with writing technologies from a liberal arts, as well as a technical, perspective. Students apply principles of rhetoric, design, cultural theory, and creative thinking to professional writing projects in a variety of fields.
Key areas addressed in this track relate to:
- designing and delivering documents
- making persuasive arguments
- developing a variety of writing techniques
Students gain an understanding of writing’s ethical and social implications, as well as cultivate skills relevant to professional situations. The professional writing track gives students experience in developing successful relationships with writing/design communities and other audiences.
Graduates of the professional writing track are prepared for careers as writers in any number of organizations, institutions, and businesses.
The journalism curriculum engages students in the study and practice of mass communication in a converged, multimedia environment. The program is built on a liberal arts foundation, including the history, traditions, routines, and practices of journalism.
Students in this track focus on:
- the sociology of news and the context of how it is practiced
- the study of legal and ethical dimensions in journalism
- the skills needed to succeed professionally
Graduates of this program will integrate cutting edge communication technology with a strong commitment to professional and community ethics. They will be prepared for careers as reporters, editors, producers and photographers in print, broadcast, and multimedia news.
The B.S. in linguistics prepares students to undertake the study of language in a rigorous, scientific manner. The major offers basic and advanced courses in the sound, structure, and meaning of language, and it teaches students the fundamental methods of scientific inquiry. The curriculum focuses on both the internal place of language in the human mind and brain, as well as the external role of language in communication and culture. Along the way, students will consider many topics in linguistics, such as syntactic structure of languages, semantic and pragmatic meaning, language acquisition, language disorders, language evolution, dialects and sociolinguistic variation, language and gender, computational linguistics, and many others. With topics such as these in mind, students will be trained to form research questions, gather data, and make arguments based upon their observations. They will also gain experience working with a wide range of languages and diverse cultures. The program will also require a background in science and mathematics consistent with a bachelor of science degree, which will allow students a straightforward double major in many of the established science majors at the University.
There is a diversity of employment opportunities for linguistics majors. The analytical skills and experience with language makes linguistic majors particularly appealing to computer and software companies, as writers and analysts of all types, in education, in projects such as speech recognition and machine translation, and as preparation for advanced study in all of the liberal arts, social sciences, and computer sciences disciplines. Finally, the United States Department of Homeland Security and federal law enforcement agencies routinely hire employees trained in linguistics.
The study of Information Design provides students with broad knowledge and hands-on experience in the ways that writing intersects with visual media and information technologies in contemporary society.
Bringing together theory and practice, a minor in Information Design provides both the critical tools for understanding digital media and visual cultures from a liberal arts perspective, as well as the verbal/visual skills to create a variety of documents including Web sites, informational graphics, brochures, visual narratives, presentations, and graphic interfaces.
Information Design is invaluable for work in fields as diverse as journalism, education, business, art, statistics, film, technical and professional writing, Web design, the social sciences, creative writing, engineering, and English studies.
Information Design traces the many new forms that writing takes in twenty-first-century cultural practice.
The minor in Journalism at UMD teaches students to produce fair and thorough news. Students learn to write and think clearly. They learn to report on the community they live in. They learn to work across news platforms, from print to video, from the Internet to photography.
Many UMD Journalism students take internships or part-time jobs in local media outlets, including daily newspapers, television newsrooms and monthly magazines.
Recent graduates have found jobs writing and editing at newspapers, producing television and radio news, and working for communications departments in public institutions and private industry.
This interdisciplinary minor develops the student's systematic understanding of the nature of language. It has numerous career applications, including professional writing, human relations, and the law. Linguistics has many subfields and can overlap with anthropology, communication, communication sciences and disorders, education, English, foreign languages, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. Students may choose to complement a major in Professional Writing or Journalism with a minor in linguistics. A B.A. in English with an emphasis in linguistics and a designated minor for the M.A. in English are also offered.
This minor enables students to develop writing, reading, and rhetorical expertise relevant to professional communication. Emphasizing the production and analysis of texts and practice in varied writing techniques, the minor also provides a foundation in the study of professional writing as a field of inquiry.