Winner of the Frank R. Smith Award for best article in the journal
Purpose: This paper updates Harner & Rich’s 2005 survey of undergraduate degree
programs in technical and professional communication (TPC) in the U.S. and
provides information about the current number of degree programs, locations of
degrees programs, and curricula, both required and elective.
Method: We used course catalogs to analyze the curricula of 65 programs that offer
majors in TPC. We employed qualitative inquiry methods based primarily on textual
analysis and the deployment of codes to assign a summative attribute for course types.
Results: We located 185 undergraduate programs in TPC in the U.S. that offer
majors, concentrations, emphases, tracks, and specialization, a 131% increase from
the 2005 study, and restricted our analysis to 65 programs that offered majors in
TPC. Degree programs no longer are predominately housed in English departments.
The most significant gain is to the number of programs housed in Technical
Communication Programs. The majority of programs require 30-36 hours of credit.
A set of “core courses” are emerging in the field-wide curricula. There is a significant
increase in the number of programs requiring document/information design, Web,
internship, and capstone courses. In contrast, few require literature courses.
Conclusion: Curricular data show an emerging consensus on the core courses and
elective courses within undergraduate curricula. In addition, for the first time, the
field has data to assess trends over time.