College of General Studies


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Writing Overview (PDF)

The Certificate in Writing is a 21-credit program designed for those who desire to improve their writing skills. In today’s world, the skillful use of the written word is fundamental. This program consists of academic courses taught by faculty of the Department of English. Participants may choose electives to focus on a particular style of writing or to obtain an overview of several writing styles. The program also offers internships with local media, including newspapers, magazines, and television.

Who should participate:

  • Students already enrolled in a degree program in the College of General Studies who wish to concentrate on the development of writing skills
  • Those who already have a degree, but who wish to develop their writing skills for personal or professional advancement
  • People seeking to embark upon writing as a profession

Upon completion of this certificate, participants will be able to:

  • Write clearly and accurately
  • Apply writing skills to both fiction and nonfiction works
  • Understand different forms and techniques used in various types of writing

This certificate is applicable to fields such as media, industrial organizations, governmental agencies, community groups, service providers, and businesses. Skilled writers may work in any organization or field.

Admission requirements

Students must meet requirements for admission to the College of General Studies. A certificate application form must be completed and returned to the College of General Studies. To avoid a late fee, you should complete this process when registering for courses. Students must have completed a Seminar in Composition course or its equivalent before registering for any of the following classes.

Obtaining the certificate

To receive the certificate, you must fill out an application with your academic advisor prior to completing your last term in the program. Check with your advisor for the application filing form and deadlines, and be sure all requirements for the certificate have been met. To avoid a late fee, you should complete this process when registering for the term.

Curriculum: 21 credits

In addition to Seminar in Composition, students must complete seven courses (21 credits). These classes should include two English writing courses (6 credits) and five English writing electives (15 credits).

  • A minimum of five of the required seven courses must be completed at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • No course will be accepted for certificate credit with a grade below C, and no course will be accepted as a prerequisite for a higher-level course if the grade earned is lower than a C

Required courses: 6 credits

All courses are 3 credits

ENGWRT 0520 Introduction to Fiction Writing

ENGWRT 0610 Introduction to Journalism and Nonfiction

Electives: 15 credits

All courses are 3 credits

Courses offered vary by term. Choose five additional courses from any combinations of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. A sampling of courses that can be used to fulfill the certificate requirements include:


ENGWRT 0530 Introduction to Poetry Writing

ENGWRT 1210 Poetry Workshop


ENGWRT 1010 Intermediate Fiction

ENGWRT 1090 Mastering Point of View

ENGWRT 1091 Autobiography and Creative Impulse

ENGWRT 1092 Writer’s Journals

ENGWRT 1094 Readings in Contemporary Fiction

ENGWRT 1095 Topics in Fiction

ENGWRT 1710 Senior Seminar in Fiction


ENGCMP 1103 Public Relations Writing

ENGCMP 1104 Creative Corporate Writing

ENGWRT 1330 Intermediate Nonfiction: Scene and Point-of-View

ENGWRT 1340 Advanced Nonfiction: Long-Form Narrative

ENGWRT 1377 Media Literacy: Reading and Writing in the Digital World

ENGWRT 1390 Readings in Contemporary Nonfiction

ENGWRT 1391 Writing the Review

ENGWRT 1393 Sports Writing

ENGWRT 1394 Science Writing

ENGWRT 1399 Topics in Nonfiction: Newspaper

ENGWRT 1403 Topics in Nonfiction: Electronic Media

ENGWRT 1900 Internship: Writing 

Requirements subject to change. Check with an academic advisor before registering.