Certificate Program in Writing Instruction Specialist

Degree Conferred: Certificate only

The School of Humanities at Penn State Harrisburg offers a 15-credit postbaccalaureate certificate in the theory, pedagogy, and practice of writing. This Writing Instruction Specialist Certificate is designed to serve the continuing educational and professional development needs of educators and other professionals in writing and writing instruction. Completion of the program will prepare professionals to provide specialized assistance in composition and to serve as a resource on writing pedagogy.

The Writing Instruction Specialist Certificate program is grounded in ongoing changes in theory and instructional practices in writing, and changes in the requirements for continued education and professional development of teachers. In the last two decades, research has dramatically altered the understanding of the processes involved in writing. A shift in the conceptual model of writing theory, away from a product-centered paradigm toward a theory that concerns itself with the composing process, has expanded knowledge of writing and its role in learning. New pedagogical approaches address the behaviors and cognitive processes of student writers as well as the notion of composing as a method of creating meaning, and the ways in which writing is shaped by the social contexts in which it occurs.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Writing Instruction Specialist Certificate program will be granted to those candidates who possess a requisite combination of education and classroom teaching experience. Candidates must hold a baccalaureate degree or a master of arts degree from a regionally accredited college or university. All candidates must submit a non-degree graduate application. This application is online.

Professionals enrolled in the certificate program may also become a candidate in the Master of Arts in Humanities, Master of Arts in American Studies, or Master of Education in Teaching and Curriculum at Penn State Harrisburg if he or she meets the criteria for admission. Students enrolled in any of these master’s degree programs may apply credits earned in the Writing Certificate program to their master’s work as elective credits, with program approval.

Prescribed Courses

  • ENGL 409 COMPOSITION THEORY AND PRACTICE FOR TEACHERS (3) An overview of the theory and practice of writing for teachers, with emphasis on the writing process.
  • EDUC 452 TEACHING WRITING (3) Techniques for teaching the writing process, kindergarten through grade 12, including writing in content areas; workshop format.
  • ENGL 507 ENGLISH COMPOSITION STUDIES ( 3) An overview of composition studies, with particular attention to the schools of writing pedagogy.
  • ENGL 553 LITERACY STUDIES (3) An overview of current research on literacy, with particular attention to language, thought, and learning and their applications to writing.
  • ENGL 584 Studies in Rhetoric (3). Specific rhetorical problems, issues, or figures.

* The first two courses, ENGL 409 and EDUC 452, which comprise the Summer Writing Institute, part of the Capital Area Writing Project, provide the foundation for advanced composition studies and should be taken concurrently. For more information, contact Dr. Patricia E. Johnson, English Program Coordinator, at pej1@psu.edu or 717-948-6329.


This page is not a part of the official Penn State University Bulletin.