The Master’s of Teaching Writing degree: Teaching the Art of Teaching

by William York

For someone that wishes to increase their education, writing ability, and teaching ability, Auburn University at Montgomery offers the perfect solution: the Master’s of Teaching Writing degree. The Master’s of Teaching Writing (MTW) program offers two tracks for the student: completing the whole degree or receiving a certificate of teaching writing.

According to the AUM website, students seeking the master’s degree would complete 30 credit hours and prepare a thesis or professional portfolio to complete their degree. This process generally takes two years to complete. During that time, first-year students might work as writing consultants or research assistants. Whereas, second-year students may be given the opportunity to teach in the composition program. Students seeking the Certificate of Teaching Writing (CTW) would take 18 credit hours (or 15 if they already possess a master’s or other postgraduate degree).

Dr. Shannon Howard, Director of the Masters of Teaching Writing, said the degree does not look to replace the well-prepared students from the College of Education who teach at the middle school or high school level. The purpose of the Master’s of Teaching Writing is to prepare an individual to teach at the college level, mainly freshman composition, wherever that may be.  Dr. Howard even quoted one of her current graduate students, Ashley Warren, who said that the degree “provides a bridge upon which students and teachers can connect.”

Since everyone comes from a different background and has different writing styles or abilities; the Masters of Teaching Writing is designed to teach instructors to understand and adapt to the students they are teaching. Dr. Howard said, “No one students background is similar to another’s. We want the teachers to work with a variety of students and not just the student that we imagine in our head. Because the student that we imagine in our head is probably our same color, same gender, and had the same background that we did. So we discuss the ways in which a student might struggle in school and the way different cultures, different countries, and different races help prepare our students to bring their own experiences into the class and how to build on that”. According the AUM Graduate Catalog 2018-2019, “Students enrolled in this degree program will receive training in composition pedagogy, basic writing instruction, and writing across the curriculum theory and implementation.”

Lastly, a student can expand upon this degree by either working with the College of Education or the College of Business. If the student wants to work with the College of Education then while the student is in the Masters of Teaching Writing then they can take electives in e-learning and content area literacy from the College of Education. However, students who plan to work outside academia can take electives from the College of Business to prepare themselves for careers in written communication.

So who is this program designed for? The MTW program offered at AUM is designed for anyone who either wishes to teach English at the college level or someone who just wants to improve their writing skill. This degree could be great for people who work outside academia like journalists, professional writers, or public relation specialists. If you have any questions about the program you can contact Dr. Howard at