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Technical Communication Certificate

Technical Communication Certificate

The Technical Communication Certificate (TCC) has established itself as a program that meets industry and government agencies' demands for students with skills as communicators and for communication specialists. Because employers value well-developed communication skills, TCC courses will enhance success in co-op/intern positions and post-graduation careers. TCC graduates overwhelmingly confirm not only that the certificate gave them an edge over other candidates during the recruitment process, but also that the communication knowledge, skills, and attitudes they acquired while in the program helped them succeed in their jobs and helped prepare them for the communication and management tasks in today's multifunctional team environments.

The Technical Communication Certificate, offered by the Department of Engineering Professional Development (EPD), complements all undergraduate degrees. TCC students gain experience in career-applicable skills by

  • Receiving education in principles and processes for communicating about technical subjects (including problem solving methods, audience analysis, rhetorical analysis, conventions of format, and usability testing).
  • Gaining education in the fundamentals of written, oral, and visual communication (including organization, structure, style, mechanics, format, and delivery).
  • Learning effective interpersonal communication and management skills (including teamwork, interviewing, leading and facilitating groups, project management, and international communication).
  • Gaining opportunities to research and think analytically about contemporary issues and to consider ethical issues.
  • Using current technology to encourage effective communication in a variety of environments (including use of the web, distance communication, electronic publishing, group software, and layout and presentation software).

While the certificate is designed especially for engineering students, students from other fields, as well as graduate students, seek out the program. Students who complete the certificate will have the notation "Technical Communication Certificate" added to their transcripts.

Aside from the relevant courses offered in the TCC, students especially value the close contact with faculty through advising, independent study projects, and collaboration. Students in the program often take on leadership roles in other college or campus student organizations and projects, further developing their communication, team, and management skills.


The TCC Program admits students who have already completed the following prerequisites:

  • English/Speech first year communication course or equivalent (General Communication, Part A)
  • Four courses (12-credit minimum) in science and/or engineering, including at least one intermediate-level (minimum 200-level) course.
  • Three courses (9-credit minimum) in liberal studies including a foreign language.

To apply, students must have an overall GPA of at least 2.5 and a grade of at least a B in the General Communication Part A course.


To graduate with the certificate in technical communication, students must complete at least 24 credits, with a minimum of 9 credits in technical proficiency courses and a minimum of 15 credits in technical communication courses.

In addition to course requirements, students must achieve a 3.5 average in EPD Technical Communication courses and complete the program within five years from their application date. Students must meet regularly with the certificate advisor and must compile and submit a portfolio of their work for the internship course. Students cannot count courses completed on a pass/fail basis toward the certificate.

See complete listing of approved courses that can meet the requirements below.

Technical Proficiency Courses: 9 credits

A minimum of one course each from three areas:

  1. Mathematics/Statistics
    Courses must be chosen from the approved list
  2. Computer Science
    Courses must be chosen from the approved list
  3. Management/Economics/Business
    Courses must be chosen from the approved list
Technical Communication Courses: 15 credits from the three areas below.
  1. Required EPD Courses (5 credits)
    EPD 397 Technical Communication, 3 cr. Note: Graduate students can substitute EPD 597 (Professional Communication) for EPD 397
    EPD 497 Technical Editing, 1 cr
    EPD 398 Technical Communication Internship (required), 1cr. This course, completed in conjunction with the Technical Communication Internship, can be repeated for an additional credit which will count toward elective courses in technical communication from EPD. Also, this course can be substituted with a special project completed as an Independent Study course.
  2. Elective Courses in Technical Communication from EPD (7 credits minimum)
    EPD 151 Technical Information Resources, 1 cr.
    EPD 265 Teams in the Engineering Profession, 1 cr
    EPD 275 Technical Presentations, 2 cr
    EPD 374 Intermediate Technical Japanese, 3 cr
    EPD 395 Computer-Assisted Publishing, 3 cr
    EPD 597 Advanced Technical Writing, 3 cr
    EPD 690–1 Special Topics: The Wisconsin Engineer magazine, 1 cr (up to 2 credits count toward elective courses in technical communication from EPD)
    EPD 690–2 Special Topics: Web Design: Theory and Application, 3 cr (LSC 532 can be substituted here)
    EPD 690 Social and Ethical Impacts of Technology, 1-3 cr
    EPD 690 LC (Dean's Leadership Council), 1 cr
    EPD 690 Special Topics: User Centered Engineering Documents, 1 cr
    Independent Study courses: Special credits in Technical Communication (EPD 299, 399, 499). By instructor approval only.

    Note: These EPD courses do NOT count toward the TCC:
    EPD 654 Teaching Science and Engineering
    EPD 690 Core Competency in Sustainability
    EPD 690 ATE Powertrain
    EPD 690 Essential Skills for Engineering Productivity
  3. Elective Courses in Communication from Outside EPD (3 credits minimum)
    Courses must be chosen from the approved list.

Substitution of courses substantively equivalent to those listed will be considered by the Technical Communication Curriculum Committee. Students must submit requests for substitution with supportive material before beginning the course.

For further information about the TCC, contact: Department of Engineering Professional Development, Technical Communication Program, Laura Grossenbacher, Ph.D., M1050 Engineering Centers Building, 1550 Engineering Drive, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-2472; tc@tc.engr.wisc.edu; tc.engr.wisc.edu.