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What does a Writing Professor do?

Dan Cavallari
By Dan Cavallari
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A writing professor works at a college or university and primarily teaches writing courses in addition to other duties. He or she may focus on a specific type of writing such as technical writing or creative writing, or may focus on the broader category of writing. A writing professor is a full time employee who may or may not be on a tenure track, and he or she must usually obtain an advanced degree such as a master's degree or PhD in order to be qualified to teach at the college or university level.

Many subcategories of writing exist, and a writing professor may teach just one or all of those subcategories. Sometimes professors focus on one specific area of writing, and the professor may both teach that type of writing and do research in that field. A successful writing professor strives to be published in various types of publications; a creative writing professor may choose to publish in journals, or he or she may be a novelist or poet. A professor who teaches essay writing may write regular editorials for newspapers and magazines; a technical writer may do research projects for trade publications, and so on. Professors work to hone their craft while teaching it, staying current on new developments within the field.

Some lower level writing classes at colleges and universities may not be taught by professors; instead, they may be taught by adjunct faculty or even students working toward a master's degree. Upper level classes and workshops are almost always taught by professors; if they are not, they are taught by a lecturer who may or may not be a full professor. Lecturers are qualified to teach certain subjects because of specific expertise they have obtained.

Writing professors may also be responsible for developing and running writing services programs, such as a writing lab or writing workshops. These types of programs are intended to help college and university students improve their writing outside of the classroom; any student can take advantage of such services, regardless of one's official major. The professor may or may not directly take part in day-to-day operations of the programs; they may instead choose to staff the programs with graduate students or other strong writers. Like other professors, writing professors may also act as academic advisors for students, deans for specific departments within the college or university, or other administrative positions on top of their duties as professors.

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