Certificate in Professional Writing

Certificate in Professional Writing
Professional Writing

About the Certificate in Professional Writing

The Certificate in Professional Writing gives you a scenario-based deep dive into the kinds of writing essential to business. Our courses offer a series of concepts and practical applications that provide an accelerated understanding of the subtle arts of communication, enhanced by tips to make anyone a power-writer—a master of grammar, concision, and clarity.

Whether you are in an entry-level position and want to ramp up your writing skills or are an accomplished writer ready to expand and refine your repertoire, our professional writing courses take you to the next level. We take you beyond the basics of structure and style. Our coursework emphasizes professional expertise and extensive feedback as we share and cutting-edge findings in the field of writing. Find out how to incorporate your personal or corporate brand's story into every piece of communication and discover the best ways to identify and appeal to target audiences.

The Certificate in Professional Writing is a 4-course, 4 c.u.* credit program of study taught by University of Pennsylvania faculty. To earn the certificate, it is recommended that students enroll first in the Fundamentals of Professional Writing course, followed by any additional three professional writing courses.

Penn LPS Online courses in the Certificate in Professional Writing are offered on an accelerated (8-week) schedule. Courses in the certificate program are largely asynchronous with some optional synchronous sessions to be scheduled by the instructors.

You also have the option to enroll in individual courses without committing to the entire certificate, enjoying the flexibility and expertise offered by Penn LPS Online to suit your schedule and interests. Students who complete the basic certificate may pursue an advanced certificate (6-course, 6 c.u.*) by adding two additional courses from the advanced course list. Visit the Cost of Attendance page for course tuition and fee rates.

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

The Certificate in Professional Writing prepares you to:

  • Assess audience and purpose for communication targeted at achieving specific goals
  • Analyze different audiences, scenarios, and contexts in order to shape your messaging most effectively whatever your audience
  • Develop effective rhetorical strategies and skills to persuade specific audiences—personal, professional, and social—through visual, written, and multimedia communication
  • Draft and revise written work for precision, clarity, and power
  • Develop empathic and analytic skills to integrate and build upon other viewpoints and perspectives
  • Learn how readers, writers, and designers use complex multimedia texts incorporating language, image, sound, and gesture to produce a coherent, engaging message
  • Explore how to engage the senses—visual, aural, and somatic—to convey information effectively through social media
  • Understanding how to make complex information accessible to audiences through effective visualization


Certificate students who complete four of the five basic courses listed below earn the Certificate in Professional Writing. Those students are then eligible to pursue an Advanced Certificate in Professional Writing by adding two advanced courses.

Advanced courses

  • Writing for Popular Audiences
  • Writing with Numbers: Presenting Data Effectively
  • Writing for Presentation and Public Speaking
  • Public Relations and Crisis Communication

Courses are subject to change.

See Course Tuition

Meet the Faculty

Ells Browning

Ella R. Browning

Associate Director, Critical Writing Program

Kristen Gay

Kristen Gay

Associate Director, The Marks Family Writing Center

Matthew Osborn

Matthew Osborn

Assistant Director of Critical Writing, University of Pennsylvania

Valerie Ross

Valerie Ross

Faculty Director, Penn LPS Online Certificate in Professional Writing

Director, Critical Writing Program, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing

Fayyaz Vellani

Fayyaz Vellani

Lecturer in critical writing, University of Pennsylvania

Careers related to Professional Writing

The Certificate in Professional Writing is designed to enhance your business writing and communication skills and equip you with proven writing strategies applicable across writing contexts and professional settings. Career options include:

  • Editor
  • Fundraising/development consultant
  • Speechwriter and strategic communications professional
  • Grant writer

Course Registration

Summer 2019 registration is now open

Fall 2019 registration opens April 10

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