Carnegie Mellon University

Accelerated MA: MAPW 4+1

What is the MAPW 4+1?

The MAPW 4+1 is a special program under which Carnegie Mellon students (usually majors or minors in the English department) can qualify to complete the M.A. in Professional Writing in 2 semesters instead of the usual 3. It provides the advantages of an M.A. degree in an accelerated timeframe, allows you to broaden and deepen your skills and professional credentials, and doesn’t require that you take the GRE exam.

What are the Advantages of an MAPW over a BA or BS Degree?

M.A. degrees in general and the MAPW in particular tend to provide the following advantages over a B.A. or B.S. degree:

  • You complete your M.A. in only 2 semesters.
  • You benefit from the potential for higher starting salaries and annual* and lifetime earnings.**
  • You have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge and career preparation via further study, the required internship, and advanced elective courses that didn’t fit your undergraduate schedule.
  • You gain professional polish and poise.
  • You gain access to the network of close to 400 MAPW alumni working in communications fields throughout the US
  • You enhance your qualifications for promotion and advancement, particularly in the many larger organizations, including the federal government and technology corporations such as IBM, that have well-established pay schedules and ranks in which upper levels are generally restricted to employees with advanced degrees.
  • You enhance your prospects for advancement to managerial ranks and for fruitful working relationships with colleagues with advanced degrees.
  • You have the opportunity to pursue a generalized set of communication skills applicable to a range of careers or to focus on a specific career path. The six most common areas of specialization selected by MAPW students are these:

    • Writing for New Media, including web design and information design
    • Writing for Print Media
    • Editing & Publishing
    • Science, Technology, and Healthcare Writing
    • Public & Media Relations / Corporate Communications
    • Non-profit and & Policy Communication

The web page section on "Customizing the Degree" provides detail on the broad range of courses available to support each of these options.
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How Does the 4+1 Program Work?

The MAPW usually requires 3 semesters of coursework for a total of 12 courses plus a required internship. Students who major in professional writing or technical writing at Carnegie Mellon, or who have taken appropriate writing and rhetoric courses as part of their undergraduate studies, can, upon admittance to the program and approval of the program director, be granted credit for up to 4 courses toward the M.A. The required internship can be done in the summer between the student’s senior and M.A. year, the following summer, or in some instance, during the M.A. academic year.
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Who is Eligible to Apply?

Juniors and Seniors who major in professional writing or technical writingor have taken 4 relevant courses. Relevant courses are generally those courses designated as either "writing" or "rhetoric" courses by the English Department. Typical examples would be 76-390 Style, 76-373 Argument, 76-391 Document Design, 76-487 On-Line Information Design, 76-386 Language and Culture. A major in professional writing or technical writingwill always have 4 qualifying courses. BHA majors whose H&SS concentration is in professional writing or technical writingwill generally have 4 qualifying courses. Creative writing or EBA students or minors may have 4 qualifying courses. All students interested in the program are encouraged to consult with the MAPW director as they plan their junior and senior years to be sure they meet the qualifications.

EBA and creative writing students who have not taken 4 eligible courses are encouraged to apply to the program but may need to take up to the full 3 semesters of coursework.

Alumni of the English Department are also welcome and invited to apply.
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What Happens if I have More than 4 Qualifying Courses?

For qualifying courses beyond the 4 that can be used to reduce requirements for the M.A., you may be granted exemption for specific course requirements already met through these prior courses. You would still needs to complete 8 courses for the M.A. but may have elective choices in place of requirements.[Return to top]

How Can I Find out What Requirements and Electives I Might Have?

Make an appointment to talk with the MAPW program director, who will be happy to go over your record and suggest the various ways in which your courses can be charted onto MAPW requirements.
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How Do I Apply to the Program?

The first step should be to schedule a meeting with the MAPW director to express your interest. Then, go to the "Application" section of the website to download the application form. Complete the form, and submit it along with all of the following documents:

  • A current resume
  • A statement of Intent
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts from all undergraduate institutions you’ve attended
  • 3-5 writing samples. The application includes specific instruction on these.

As a CMU undergrad or alum, you do NOT have to submit GRE scores or pay the $50 application fee.
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What are the Relevant Application Deadlines?

Students may apply as early as the spring of their junior year or during their senior year. We ask that applicants complete and submit all required materials no later than February 1st preceding the fall in which they wish to enter the program in order to receive full consideration for financial aid. We do, however, accept applications through May or June for the following fall provided that the class is not yet full.
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Is a January Start Possible?

Although full-time students typically enter the program in the fall semester, CMU students who complete their B.A. or B.S. in December and have 4 courses that qualify as meeting MAPW requirements can, pending admission to the program and permission of the MAPW director, begin the program in January and finish the following fall.
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What Kind of Financial Aid is Available?

All students accepted full-time into the MAPW program receive a tuition remission scholarship that generally covers about 1/3 of the graduate tuition. In addition, we have merit-based aid available. This varies from year to year but can generally increase the total package of financial aid to around 40-45% of tuition. In addition, students accepted into the program full-time are eligible for federal loans to cover living costs and educational expenses, including tuition. There also are a small number of Research Assistant (RA) positions available through the department. These positions require 8-10 hours work per week at $11 per hour. Students who receive federal loans (e.g., Perkins) are generally also eligible for work-study positions in the department.
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How Can I Find out More?

Contact Department Head Dr. Christine M. Neuwirth <>.
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* According to 2001 data from the US Census Bureau, average monthly earnings for workers with a bachelor’s degree in the liberal arts were $3,443, while the comparable monthly figure for those with a master’s degree was $5,043. Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2005. What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in 2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Table D, p. 6.
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** According to data from the US Census Bureau, average annual and lifetime salaries across all fields are typically higher for M.A. than B.A. degrees. For 1997-99, for example, the average annual earnings of full-time workers age 25-64 with a bachelor’s degree were $52,200, while the annual earnings for those with master’s degrees were $62,300 (both figures in 1999 dollars). Over a working lifetime, the difference accounts for an earnings differential of .4 million or four hundred thousand dollars. And these are 1999 figures and do not account for either the recent trend to higher salaries for skilled workers or the compounding effect produced when higher initial salaries are raised in increases generally figured as a percentage of the base. Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2002. The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Figure 1, page 2 and Figure 3, page 4.
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