Carnegie Mellon University



Technical Writing


Technical Writing,, San Francisco


BA in Chemistry (with an additional major in Technical Writing), Carnegie Mellon University, May 2010


Undergraduate students at Carnegie Mellon University have the option of an accelerated MA, also known as the 4+1 option. Students who take advantage of this opportunity complete the MAPW program in two semesters instead of three. Helen Park is one such student.

In May, Helen graduated from CMU with a BA in Chemistry and an additional major in technical writing. She started out her undergraduate career on the BS track, after being captivated by organic chemistry. However, she soon realized that she was not destined to spend the rest of her life in either science or medicine, so she decided to finish the degree as a BA in order to redirect her focus to technical writing. Outside the classroom, she was a copy editor at The Tartan (Carnegie Mellon’s student newspaper), co-editor in chief of Reactions (the Chemistry Department newsletter), and a member of Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity.

At first, Helen did not really consider the 4+1 option, but it quickly became an obvious decision: “I was a little uncertain about the program because I thought it had a purely professional writing bent, but then I heard about being able to specialize in technical writing and began warming up to it.  Several people pitched the idea to me, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. And of course, it is hard to beat getting a master’s in one year!”

Helen, who plans to start a career in technical writing when she graduates in the spring, advises other students considering the 4+1 program, especially those hoping to focus on technical writing, to take courses at the undergraduate level to see if its right for them.

“If you’re considering technical writing as a career, or even if you’re merely curious, Software Documentation (76-474) is one of the most valuable classes you can take,” she adds.

Helen cites CMU’s student-run happenings as her favorite part of life on campus: “There’s so many things to like about CMU!  But if I guess I had to name one thing, I’d say student-run productions and events i.e. Bhangra in the Burgh, Dancer’s Symposium, Scotch & Soda performances, and, of course, Carnival.  Also, the bagpipes playing on the Cut on nice evenings and the cheap McConomy movies.”

Fall 2010 Courses

Writing for Multimedia, Rhetorical Grammar, Planning and Testing Documents, Organizational Communication, Professional Seminar