Bachelor of Arts in Technical and Professional Writing

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

Technical and Professional Writing (B.A.) — 45 units

Culminating Experience must be completed during one of the semesters of the student’s final (senior) year.

Core Courses (12 units)

TPW 400GWFundamentals of Technical and Professional Writing -- GWAR3
TPW 550Professional Editing3
TPW 555Visual Rhetoric and Document Design3
TPW 600Individual and Team Writing3

Skills Electives (15 units)

Select a minimum of 6 units from the list below and 9 additional units either from the list below or from interdisciplinary courses approved by your TPW advisor. Note: Skills electives cannot be from the department chosen for the subject matter focus.

TPW 200Writing Practices in Professional Contexts3
TPW 470Writing Professional Promotions3
TPW 480Writing Technical Documentation3
TPW 490Grantwriting3
TPW 585Technical Writing Online3
TPW 600Individual and Team Writing (elective for minor/certificate only)3
TPW 685Projects in the Teaching of Technical and Professional Writing1-4

Optional interdisciplinary course work typically would cover applied writing or editing; linguistics; organizational communication; graphic design and production; multimedia or computer tools; foreign language for business; or special topics related to workplace writing.

Subject Matter Focus (15 units)

Select a single one of the tracks below and complete 15 units according to the instructions. Note: All focus courses must be 200-level or above, with at least 9 units at 300-level or above.

Communications Track Options

Courses selected from any single one of these departments:

  • Communication Studies
  • Foreign Languages
  • Journalism
  • Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts
  • Design and Industry
  • Instructional Technologies

Technical Track Options

Courses selected from any single department in the College of Science and Engineering, any single department in the College of Business, or any single TPW advisor-approved department in the College of Health and Social Sciences.

Interdisciplinary Track Options

Courses selected to fit a customized concentration (based on an independently developed theme or on an existing interdisciplinary program) that is approved by the TPW advisor as relevant for technical or professional writing. (Examples: Arts Administration, Multimedia, Environmental Studies).

Culminating Experience (3 units)

TPW 695Internship in Technical and Professional Writing3

This course must be completed during one of the semesters of the final (senior) year.

Note: All units applied to the TPW B.A. must be earned with a grade of C or better.

Complementary Studies (12 units)

Twelve units of complementary studies are required of all candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Technical and Professional Writing. These units must come from courses bearing a prefix other than TPW, and not cross-listed with TPW. TPW majors can complete the requirement from within the major by taking 12 of the 15 units of classes required for their Subject Matter Focus. The Subject Matter Focus requires students to take 15 units of courses from a pre-approved list of non-TPW departments (e.g., Communication Studies, Journalism, Instructional Technology, Marketing), or to create a customized concentration based on courses from a mix of non-TPW departments, as approved by their major advisor. Although CS is already satisfied in the major itself, if students wish they may also meet their CS requirement by Study Abroad, courses taken in a secondary major or minor or certificate, or by choosing to take 12 units of a foreign language, any of which would also enhance the degree.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), in a major or minor, or may be an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = lower division; UD = upper division.

First Time Student Roadmap (4 year)

This 2016 - 2017 roadmap opens in a new tab.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California government
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), go to Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower division major requirements for this major
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper division transfer (for example, if course was not passed on first attempt, or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California community college of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower division general education in areas C and D until after transfer in order to focus on preparation courses for the major. (This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.)

Transferring from institutions other than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower division General Education requirements. As described above, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3 and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (GE A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All students must meet the transfer eligibility requirements outlines below for admission. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.00 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended
  • Complete 30 semester units (45 quarter units) of general education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90 quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a "C" or better grade in each basic skills course.