Teaching Writing Certificate

The Graduate Certificate in Teaching Writing is a 20-hour program of study for certified middle school or high school teachers, part-time university writing faculty and lecturers in other disciplines, and M.A. students interested in earning a certificate in writing to enhance their professional teaching careers. To facilitate the schedules of grade 6-12 teachers, courses are offered on weekends, weekday evenings, and during the summer (e.g., two-week intensive courses).

The Certificate requires completion of five graduate courses consisting of one core course and four elective courses. Major topics include theories and methods of teaching writing; understanding linguistic diversity; uses of technology in writing; social aspects of writing development; non-fiction writing; writing assessment; and teacher research. Graduate credits earned can be applied toward the M.A. in English upon acceptance into the M.A.

The aims of the Certificate program are as follows:

  • To prepare teachers of writing from middle school to the university by engaging in the theories and best practices that promote student learning and lead to improvement in student writing;
  • To support teachers who pursue professional development through course work in a structured program of study;
  • To encourage middle school and high school teachers to pursue a graduate degree in English (credits may apply toward an M.A. in English) or one in Education; and
  • To strengthen IUPUI's, and especially the School of Liberal Arts', professional mentorship of Indiana's middle school and high school teachers.

For questions about admission to the program and graduation procedures contact:
The School of Liberal Arts Graduate Program Office
CA 513

For questions about advising and curriculum contact:
André Buchenot, Associate Professor of English,, 317-278-0391, or
Pofessor Steve Fox,, 317-278-2054

Teaching Writing Certificate Requirements


Admission to the Certificate program requires one of the following:

  • Successful completion of a B.A. with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) or the equivalent from an accredited institution; or
  • Current enrollment as a Graduate student at IUPUI; or
  • Successful completion of an M.A. degree or higher at an accredited university; or
  • State certification in middle school or high school teaching.
  • A one page Personal Statement regarding your interest in the program is also required.


Follow the IUPUI application procedureNote: If you have already submitted an application for a graduate or certificate program in English at IUPUI, please contact to obtain an application fee waiver. Application fee is $70 USD.

NOTE: The certificate programs do not require letters of recommendation. However, the online application can only be submitted if at least one recommender is named.

Curriculum Requirements

Teachers earn a Certificate by satisfactorily completing five graduate courses, or a minimum of 20 credit hours, in the teaching of writing. The five graduate courses consist of one core course and four elective courses. Four graduate credit hours may be taken at another accredited institution with approval by the Graduate Certificate adviser.

Core course (4 cr.):

  • W509 Introduction to Writing and Literacy Studies (4 cr.)

Elective courses: (16 cr.):

  • W500 Teaching Writing: Issues and Approaches (4 cr.)
  • W508 Graduate Creative Writing for Teachers (4 cr.)
  • W510 Computers in Composition (4 cr.)
  • W531 Designing and Editing Visual Technical Communication (4 cr.)
  • W590 Teaching Composition: Theory and Practice (4 cr.)
  • W600 VariableTopics in Rhetoric and Composition (4 cr.):
    • Assessing Writing
    • Qualitative Research
    • Basic Writing Pedagogy
    • Written Englishes: Living Cultural Realities
    • Teaching Technical and Professional Writing
  • W605 The Writing Project Summer Institute (4 cr.)
  • W609 Individual Writing Projects (1-4 cr.)
  • W615 Graduate Creative Non-fiction Writing (4 cr.)
  • W697 Independent Study in Writing (1-3 cr.) 
  • Writing Project Advanced Institute

Teaching Writing Certificate Courses

W500 Teaching Writing: Issues and Approaches (4 cr.)
This course looks at one of the mainstays of teaching writing-the process of writing-and the issues that arise in writing classrooms as well as the approaches that have been used to resolve such issues. As with W509 and W590, the course examines the theories that converged to produce process pedagogy, but the emphasis of the course is on the practical aspect of teaching writing. These practical aspects include structuring class time, organizing peer groups, constructing writing assignments, the teaching of grammar, evaluation and grading, and language differences. Thus, the course looks beyond the application of theory (W590) to the more practical concerns of implementing theory-based ideas systematically and effectively.

W508 Creative Writing for Teachers (4 cr.)
Giving students a deeper understanding of the creative process and teaching them to think and talk about writing as writers do, this course offers strategies for critiquing creative work and provides guidance in developing creative writing curriculum suited to their classroom needs. The class emphasizes hands-on writing activities in poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction that are easily adaptable for use with student writing at every level. Most exercises and writing techniques are also useful in teaching expository writing and fulfill state requirements. This is a course that stresses the development of a process over the production of finished works.

W509 Introduction to Writing and Literacy Studies (4 cr.)
This course is one of the gateway courses in the English M.A. and is the required core course for the Certificate in Teaching Writing. It focuses on the concerns of scholars in rhetoric and composition, and literacy studies more broadly. It serves as an introduction to what these scholars write, and to how they use various methods to investigate important research questions associated with writing and literacy practices. In the process, it prepares students to be critical readers of academic writing and introduces them to possible directions for research.

W510 Computers in Composition (4 cr.)
This course explores the technological theories that shape writing instruction at the secondary and post-secondary level. Students will read theory-centric texts and compose critical responses. These writings will culminate in a semester project of no fewer than 15 pages. In addition, students are asked to engage with a range of digital composing software including: image editors, page layout programs online content management systems, and web authoring software. The purpose of this work is to encourage students to reexamine their assumptions about teaching and technology. Ideally, students will leave W510 able to intervene into the use of digital software in educational settings.

W531 Designing and Editing Visual Technical Communication (4 cr.)
In this course, students learn principles of designing publications that communicate both visually and verbally, learn to create and edit paper and electronic publications for clients' contexts, develop project management skills, and enhance group collaborative writing skills. This course counts toward the Graduate Certificate in Teaching Writing.

W590 Teaching Writing: Theories and Applications (4 cr.)
Drawing on current scholarship and relevant statements from the rhetorical tradition, W590 examines theoretical assumptions in the design of classroom practices. The course focuses on knowing what we teach-and why-when we say that we teach writing. It also investigates how theories of reading, language, and technology apply to composition; how processes are central to written composition and teaching it; and how learning to write involves social and individual activities. Students respond to the assigned readings and analyze writing experiences taken from a variety of contexts, culminating in an independent project on a specific issue.

W600 Topics in Rhetoric and Composition: Qualitative Research in Literacy (4 cr.)
This course introduces students to the theory and methodology of conducting qualitative research on writing and reading. Student will spend the majority of the semester designing and conducting a research project on the literacy practices of a local group of readers/writers. Such a project is demanding and requires students to be self-directed. This work will be rewarded with experiences and data that will directly apply to each student's research and teaching goals. Students will: 1) Construct a solid theoretical understanding of qualitative research methods; 2) Gain practical experience conducting research; 3) Further their research and teaching agendas.

W600 Topics in Rhetoric and Composition: Basic Writing Pedagogy (4 cr.)
This course examines the history, theory, and practice of basic writing in the United States. Rather than adhere to a single definition of basic writing, W600 asks students to analyze how scholars and institutions construct "basic writing" and "basic writers" within particular social and historical frames. Through these analyses, students will develop strategies for approaching the problematic of basic writing in their current and future work as instructors. This course prepares students to develop more nuanced understandings of basic writing theory and more sophisticated approaches to basic writing instruction.

W600 Topics in Rhetoric and Composition: Written Englishes: Living Cultural Realities (4 cr.)
In the culture or institution of literacy, one dialect or language variety is sanctified as proper for writing-the so-called "grapholect," or Edited Written English. However, we are seeing more and more significant publication (fiction and nonfiction) in dialects of English previously considered oral (e.g., by Alice Walker, Gloria Anzaldua, Geneva Smitherman). In this course, we will consider the language variety or dialect called "correct" or "standard written English," its meaning, history, and politics. We will view this dialect against the backdrop of a multicultural, multilingual nation drawing on the English language as a means of articulating other identities and realities besides those expressed by mainstream writers. In addition to examining home and community language varieties from a sociolinguistic perspective, we will look at policies such as "Students' Right to Their Own Language" and recent approaches to language learning such as code-shifting and code-meshing, as well as the influence of global Englishes (non-U.S. English varieties).

W600 Topics in Rhetoric and Composition: Teaching Technical and Professional Writing (4 cr.)
In this course, students develop a deeper understanding of the theory that undergirds the teaching of technical/professional writing, design a technical/professional writing course and its activities, and learn to respond thoughtfully to and assess student work. The course addresses secondary and post-secondary teaching situations and counts toward the graduate Teaching Writing Certificate.

W605 Writing Project Summer Institute (3-6 cr.)
The Summer Institute invites teachers from K-university to consider major issues involved in the teaching of writing and explore the pedagogical approaches inherent in these issues. The institute follows the National Writing Project philosophy, which insists on the primacy of teacher knowledge, expertise, and leadership, and believes that teachers of writing must be writers themselves. Thus, two important strands in the Summer Institute are (1) Teachers demonstrating effective instructional practices and discussing writing pedagogy, and (2) Individual writing fellows working on writing and research projects that they initiate, plan and complete under the direction of the HWP co-directors.

W609 Individual Writing Projects
For more information, contact the Kim Brian Lovejoy (317-274-2120), Director of the Graduate Certificate in Teaching Writing.

W615 Graduate Creative Nonfiction Writing (4 CR)
This is an advanced course in the theory and practice of creative nonfiction writing with an emphasis on the personal or familiar essay. Students will read a collection of important statements about the art and craft of essay writing as well as some classic and contemporary examples of the genre. Students will also produce and be graded on a significant body of work in the genre as well as a series of reading responses and regular written critiques of peer work-in-progress.

W697: Independent Study in Writing: Writing Project Advanced Institute (1-3credits)
This course is by application and invitation only. Teachers K-university explore current theories of writing and their application in the classroom. Preference is given to active classroom teachers.