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Graduate Degree and Certificate Programs FAQ


Is a graduate program right for me?

Graduate studies are just one option for continuing your education. Take this learning assessment pdf icon to find out which learning option best meets your goals, personal situation, finances, and learning style.


What is online learning like at SPSU?

If you're looking for "easy," you won't find that here. SPSU is an accredited member of the University System of Georgia, with high standards of learning and conduct.

Although the way you receive your education will be different from traditional, on-campus students, your learning experience will be just as, if not more rigorous.

Just like our traditional, on-campus undergraduate students, your classes follow the SPSU semester system. You'll even get holidays, like Labor Day and Spring Break. You'll interact with your professors and fellow students through projects, real-time chats, discussions, lectures, and a range of media.


What kind of technology do I need access to as an online graduate program student?

Wait until your professors tell you the specific software and hardware requirements for each course before you buy or upgrade.

You'll need reliable, steady access to a computer (Mac or PC) and high-speed Internet connection. You'll also need speakers and a mic (or a two-in-one headset), as well as a flat-bed scanner.

As a student, you are qualified to purchase discounted software from the University System of Georgia Software Resources & Services (SRS). Your software requirements may include:

  • a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word;
  • a spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel;
  • a presentation program, such as Microsoft PowerPoint;
  • graphics programs, such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop;
  • a layout program, such as Adobe InDesign; and
  • a pdf creator, such as Adobe Acrobat.

We also recommend a consistent file back-up system, such as an external hard drive, to protect your work.


Is there a final thesis or project required for the MSc programs?

While not required of all students, a thesis is one option for completing the MSc degree programs. If this option doesn't meet your needs, you can choose instead to take the all coursework option, or the internship option pdf icon. Review the graduate program requirements for more information.


How do I apply?

You are seeking admission into a special department at a special school. As such, we have unique procedures and requirements:

  • You won't need to communicate with the Graduate School; we'll do it for you.
  • You'll send all your application materials, or have them sent, straight to the English, Technical Communication & Media Arts department:
    Donna McPherson, Program Assistant
    Southern Polytechnic State University
    1100 South Marietta Parkway
    Atrium Building, J333
    Marietta, GA 30060
  • The application process includes numerous steps and varies by program type. Select the program you'd like to apply to for detailed instructions:
    an MSc degree program
    the Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication program
    an Advanced Graduate Certificate program

Your application materials are due for consideration by these dates:

  • July 1 for the Fall Semester (begins in mid-August)
  • November 1 for the Spring Semester (begins in early January)

Do I have to take the GRE to apply to either of the MSc programs?

If you have at least 2 years' relevant work experience or if you have earned the Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication from Southern Polytechnic State University you may be exempt from taking the GRE. In either case, you will instead submit an online portfolio of your professional or certificate work for review by the Graduate Review Committee.

If you are an international students who did not earn a baccalaureate degree from a college in the U.S., you should submit TOEFL scores.

For more information about the GRE, visit www.ets.org/gre.


Why the hour limitation for the MSc programs and Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication?

Graduate-level courses require more work: reading, studying, researching, writing. And the assignments—individual and collaborative—are significantly more complex. You should plan on 1 course taking at least 15 to 20 hours per week.

We want you to succeed, so we limit your first semester to 1 course. This gives you the opportunity to adjust to the workload and the online learning environment.


Are there internship opportunities in my program?

If you are an MSc student, you can find an internship that will count for 3 or 6 credit hours towards your degree. Visit Graduate Internships pdf icon for more information.


How do I register and pay tuition?

You have numerous options for self-registration. Read the instructions on the registration process, and note that your tuition and fees are due by the end of the phase in which you register. Visit Tuition & Fees for current rates, phases, and due dates.


Can I go on to further graduate studies?

Because Southern Polytechnic State University is an accredited school that's part of the University System of Georgia, you are also qualified to pursue an education at the Master's or PhD level.

After finishing the Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication, you may be interested in the MSc in Information Design and Communication program.

If you are interested in pursuing the MSc in Information & Instructional Design, you will need to begin your studies in that program. Your credits from the Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication will not transfer.

Once you earn a Master's degree in professional or technical communication (either at SPSU or another accredited university) or complete SPSU's Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication program, you may be interested in the advanced certificate programs we offer that allow you to focus on a select core competency as a way to increase your expertise:

Our master's students are also qualified to pursue an education at the doctoral level. Students with our master's degree have gone on to study at the PhD level at schools like Georgia State, Texas Tech University, and Old Dominion.


If graduate studies don't seem like the right choice for me, what are my other learning options?

SPSU’s Continuing Education Center offers short courses that provide hands-on, practical skill training in the fundamentals of technical communication, including technical writing, project management, Web design, and instructional design.

These non-credit courses cover the basics in only a few sessions and are a cost-effective way to learn if technical communication is the right career for you!

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English, Technical Communication & Media Arts Department  |  Southern Polytechnic State University
Atrium Building, J333  |  1100 South Marietta Parkway  |  Marietta, GA 30060

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