Certificate in Science Writing and Rhetoric

Logo: SciWrite, University of Rhode Island

This graduate certificate program combines graduate-level training and an off-campus internship in science writing and rhetoric to provide graduate students with a solid foundation and skills for taking often-complex scientific results and communicating them to both specialist and non-scientific audiences, including the public and policy makers. This certificate signals to potential employers that the awardee has the knowledge, skills, and technical ability to convey science in a diversity of written forms to an array of audiences, including non-scientists. 

Completion of this certificate will aid one in qualifying for positions such as science writer for an environmental non-profit organization, communications coordinator for a biotechnology company, communications specialist for a health agency, science communicator at an institute for geospatial analytics, public information officer for a federal resources agency, extension specialist for a university or a state Sea Grant program, or simply as a scientist with highly sought after communication skills.

Program requirements 

This certificate program is open to currently enrolled, full‐time or part‐time graduate students or to professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree in a science field. The program requires a total of 15 credits of coursework that, with the approval of their advisor and committee, can be applied toward the graduate degree of a matriculated student. Students enrolled in the certificate program must complete all courses applying to the certificate with a grade B or higher.

The following courses are required (usually completed in year 1):

  • WRT 533: Graduate Writing in the Life Sciences (3 credits)
  • NRS 543: Public Engagement with Science (3 credits)
  • BES 593: Internship in Science Writing (3 credits, any semester)

WRT 533 and NRS 543 must be completed prior to enrollment in BES 593. Internship opportunities for BES 593 will be coordinated by Dr. Nancy Karraker (Department of Natural Resources Science).

The remainder of the program will consist of six credits from the following supporting courses (usually completed in year 2):

  • BES 500: Advanced Science Ethics (1 credit,) AND BES 501: Advanced Science Communication (2 credits)
  • BES 533: Using Multimedia to Communicate Science (3 credits)
  • OCG 533: Graduate Writing in Marine and Environmental Sciences (3 credits)
  • COM 522: Media and the Environment (3 credits)
  • NRS 542: Environmental Crisis Communication (3 credits)
  • NRS 568: Visualizing Environmental Advocacy (3 credits)

Admission requirements 

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. International students are required to have an overall TOEFL score of 80 or more AND meet the minimum in each individual area: Reading 20, Writing 22, Listening 17, Speaking 17.

Application Instructions 

Application for admission is completed electronically. Prospective graduate students will need to provide:

  • College transcripts certifying successful completion of a bachelor’s degree
  • Two letters of recommendation from peers, mentors, or colleagues attesting to your ability to complete graduate-level coursework, and
  • A personal written statement explaining why you are seeking a graduate certificate in science writing and rhetoric.

    Completion of the Graduate Record Exam is not required.  Applications for Fall semester admission should be submitted by 10 August and applications for Spring semester admission should be submitted by 10 December. 

Your status as a prospective graduate student, an graduate student enrolled outside of the College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS), or a graduate student enrolled in CELS determines your application process. You will either:

  1. Apply through the online grad application system (see here for entry, select “Apply”),

  2. Complete the ‘Request to Change/Add a Degree Program” available here (scroll down to the first set of forms, it’s the last one).

Review the following examples to determine how you should apply:

  • Example A: You are a prospective grad student who wants to apply to the graduate certificate program, and are currently NOT a URI student.

    How to apply: Must apply through GradCAS, provide the documents listed above, and pay application fee
  • Example B: You are a current URI grad student who wants to apply to the graduate certificate program, and are in a graduate program that is within CELS (e.g., BES).

    How to apply: Complete the ‘Request to Change/Add a Degree Program”, and apply for a fee waiver (this will be granted for currently enrolled students)*
  • Example C: You are a current URI grad student who wants to apply to the graduate certificate program, and are in a graduate program that is NOT within CELS (e.g., Dietetics, Oceanography, Kinesiology, English).

    How to apply: Must apply through GradCAS, and apply for a fee waiver (this will be granted for currently enrolled students)*

*Fee waiver information can be found on the URI Graduate School Admission page (scroll down to where it says “Adding a certificate or a second degree program?”).


Standard URI tuition and fee rates for graduate programs