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English - Professional and Technical Writing Certificate


NOVA's Professional Writing Certificate serves the following groups of students:

  • Professional writers currently working in a variety of fields, including business, military, medicine, government, science, and industry.
  • Recent college graduates interested in a career in professional writing.
  • Workers in all fields and at all levels who need to upgrade their communications and writing skills in order to advance their careers.

NOVA's Professional Writing Certificate program offers students an exciting opportunity in an in-demand career field projected to grow 10% between 2014 and 2024; in our region, the field is expected to grow substantially as well, and professional writers in the DC metro area can expect to earn anywhere from $73,000 to more than $87,000 per year, depending upon education and experience.

Tailored to meet the growing regional demand for professional writers, NOVA's Professional Writing Certificate program welcomes students from a wide range of degree programs and professional fields who wish to increase their chances for career advancement and employability. Our program prepares candidates to compose documents and manage professional communications for a variety of professions. Writers will gain expertise in composing, designing, and editing electronic texts as well as in developing a comprehensive foundation in grammar and punctuation.

To accommodate the diverse needs of modern professional writers, NOVA's versatile Professional Writing certificate offers a number of electives that can be used for program completion. Elective courses include journalism, technical report writing, graphic design, writing for publication, writing for the Web, social media, and communications. Our Certificate includes a pathway for students with work-related experience, and students can also include completed, relevant coursework from prior academic institutions. The final course in the Certificate is a capstone class, in which students prepare a "professional portfolio" of exemplary writing (and other projects) that will be useful in advancing their careers. Students also will receive guidance in finding employment opportunities and in preparing for job interviews.


The Professional Writing Certificate is available on every campus, though not every class in the certificate program is offered on every campus each semester. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with a Professional Writing Certificate program advisor either before enrolling in Professional Writing Certificate program classes or as soon as possible in their first semester of enrollment.

Completion Requirements

Students must complete ENG 111 (or its equivalent) in the first semester of the certificate program, a total of 18 credits of core professional writing courses, and 9 credits of elective courses. Students also must complete ENG 298 (Seminar and Project) in the final semester of the certificate program.

Credit for Prior Learning

Students in this program may be eligible to receive credit for prior learning and eligibility will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Innovative Program Design

The Professional Writing Certificate is a value-added credential that can be completed in tandem with the AA/AS, and it provides NOVA graduates with documentation for skills that are highly valued in the field. Organizations and departments interested in working with the Professional Writing Certificate program faculty to design specific sequences for the students should contact the current co-chairs of the Professional Writing Certificate program (see contact information on this page).

Gainful Employment Disclosure


First Semester
Course Credits
CST 110
CST 227
Introduction to Communication or
Business and Professional Communications
1ENG 111 College Composition I 3
1ENG 115 Technical Writing 3
ENG 114
Eng 116
Scientific Writing or
Writing for Business
2----- Professional Writing Elective 3
3SDV 100 College Success Skills 1
Total 16
Second Semester
Course Credits
ENG 123 Writing for the World Wide Web 3
ENG 205 Technical Editing 3
2----- Professional Writing Elective 3
2----- Professional Writing Elective 3
4ENG 298 Seminar and Project 3
Total 15
Total credits for the Professional Writing Certificate = 31

1Students must complete ENG 111 or its equivalent in the first semester of their registration.

2Should be selected in consultation with an academic advisor. English approved electives are ENG 114, ENG 116, ENG 121, ENG 131, ENG 135, ENG 200, ENG 210, ENG 280, ENG 290. For Non-English elective: ART 209, ART 116, ART 251, ART 284, BUS 100, CST 115, CST 227, LGL 126, MKT 201, MKT 221, MKT 284, and other courses that may relate specific area of professional writing.

3May substitute the SDV 101 Orientation section related to this program.

4Students must complete ENG 298 in their final semester of Certificate study.