Nonfiction Writing and Publishing (Grad Certificate)

The Certificate in Nonfiction Writing and Publishing is a program aimed at improving nonfiction writing of all varieties and genres. It can be taken as part of a degree program or as a stand-alone pursuit.  

Good writing — which includes the ability to read, analyze, synthesize information and concepts, and express them with words — is a universal need. Every student should have this ability. Writing is an especially important professional skill that can help transcend disciplines and equip you for life within and beyond the academy.

Some academic studies are text-based, for which reading and writing nonfiction are essential crafts; the humanities are especially good examples. But science and technology, too, require the capacity to communicate, particularly if their findings are to enter general society or influence policy.

This certificate addresses these needs. It features writing-intensive courses that require weekly submissions, as well as writing-involved courses that feature writing within the context of disciplinary-based research and publishing.

The certificate is linked with schools and programs across ASU's campuses, as well as with the Virginia Piper Center for Creative Writing.

The certificate requires 15 graduate credit hours. You may earn the certificate as a stand-alone program, or as part of a degree-granting program.


Master course list

The one required course is HPS 591/HSD 598 Masters of Nonfiction (3). This course is offered each year and is team-taught by a rotating group of professors.

The certificate also requires two courses (6) from the "Writing Intensive" selections and two courses (6) from the "Writing Involved" selections. The latter selection reflects the genres and publication outlets from a variety of disciplines.

Also, credits are available for participating in specific workshops and projects sponsored by the Virginia G. Piper Writing Center. If you are interested in a stand-alone certificate, additional writing-intensive courses may be substituted for writing-involved.

Writing-intensive courses

  • COM 598 Creative nonfiction
  • HPS 591 Masters of nonfiction
  • HPS 591 Literary nonfiction
  • HPS 591/PUB 598 Writing and publishing nonfiction
  • HSD 59129681 Professional Writing: Commentary
  • MLS 598 Writing about social issues

Writing-involved courses

  • HPS 591 Topic: Embryo Project Seminar
  • HST 502 Public History Methodology
  • HST 591 Topic: Research
  • JMC 445 Science and Medical Writing
  • LAW 791 Creative Writing
  • MLS 598 Exploring Subcultures in American Life
  • MLS 598 Food Writing
  • MLS 598 Memoir and Personal Essay
  • MLS 598 Nature and Science Writing
  • MLS 598 Reviewing Popular Culture
  • MLS 598 The Writer's Journey
  • MLS 598 Travel Writing
  • MLS 598 Writing Book Proposals
  • PUB 501 Introduction to Scholarly Publishing
  • PUB 502 Scholarly Editing
  • PUB 503 Advanced Scholarly Editing
  • PUB 510 Research in Scholarly Publishing
  • PUB 598 Internship
  • SOS 598 Thesis and Dissertation Writing Workshop
  • SOS 598 Topic: Interdisciplinary Writing
  • SOS 598 Writing a Grant Proposal
  • SOS 598 Writing a Paper for Publication
  • TWC 543 Proposal Writing
  • TWC 546 Technical and Scientific Reports
  • TWC 598 Topic: Environmental Writing
  • TWC 598 Topic: Writing for Educators

Courses offered in 2016

Fall 2016   

C Session — Full semester

  • HPS / HSD 520 Masters of nonfiction (writing-intensive)
  • HPS 591 Topic: Embryo Project Seminar (writing-involved)
  • COM 598  Writing true stories that matter (writing-intensive)

A Session — 7.5 weeks

  • MLS 580 Practicum (writing-involved)
  • MLS 593 Applied project (writing-involved)

B Session — 7.5 weeks

  • MLS 580 Practicum (writing-involved)
  • MLS 593 Applied project (writing-involved)
  • MLS 598 Food writing
  • MLS 501 Writing about social issues


Frequently Asked Questions

When can I apply?
Applications can be submitted any time. However, we recommend you use the following dates to ensure admission for the correct semester:

Fall - apply by the previous April
Spring - apply by the previous September
Summer - apply by the previous February

Is there an enrollment fee?
Yes, there is a $70 fee. This applies to all applicants, regardless of whether you are already in enrolled in ASU’s graduate school.

Do I have to be enrolled in a degree-granting program to apply for the certificate

No. You may earn the certificate as a stand-alone program. Official program language will reflect this fact beginning in fall semester, 2015.

Is it possible to re-take a course for credit?You may take those courses listed as "repeatable for credit" more than once.  If you are unclear whether a course qualifies, ask the instructor.

May I substitute a writing-intensive course for a writing-involved course?
Yes, but you cannot substitute a writing-involved course for a writing-intensive one.

Are other courses possible beyond those listed as approved?
Possibly. You will need to petition the program coordinator.  We recommend you do this well in advance of taking the course.

Can I be admitted if my GPA is below 3.0?
A provisional admission is possible. Your GPA must be 2.8 or higher, you must submit a resume or biographical statement and furnish three writing samples.

Are any courses mandatory?
Yes. HPS/HDS 520 Masters of Nonfiction is required of all certificate students. It's offered every year.

Can I pursue the certificate online?
Some courses are offered online, though not Masters of Nonfiction. It is not possible to complete the certificate wholly online. 

Do I have to be admitted to graduate school to take the certificate?
Yes. If you are already in a graduate program, you can enroll in the certificate in addition to your disciplinary program. If you are not in graduate school, then you must be admitted to graduate school and enroll in the certificate program.


Degree Offered

Nonfiction Writing and Publishing (Grad Certificate)
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of

Downtown, Polytechnic, Tempe, West

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted any time, but we recommend applying at least three months before the semester you wish to begin.

Related Programs

Request information

Please complete and submit the form below, and a representative will contact you about enrolling at ASU

Fields marked with * are required.

I'm interested in
About me...

USA Format: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Format: mm/dd/yyyy