Business & Technical Communications

Online business and technical communication certificate
Online Business and Technical Communications Certificate

Now available in the UW Flexible Option format, the Business and Technical Communications Certificate offered through the UW-Milwaukee College of Letters & Science provides a curriculum that will enable students to develop exceptionally strong writing and communication skills. In today’s uncertain economy, it is more important than ever for workers to be multi-skilled and flexible in their professional areas. The Business and Technical Communications Certificate combines an innovative approach with practical skills in writing, research, communication, and technologies that will enable students to improve their skills for working in a broad range of contexts.

About the UWM English department

The competencies and assessments for this certificate were developed by the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) which offersUWM banner_logo programs emphasizing outstanding research scholarship and innovative pedagogy in Literature and Cultural Theory; Rhetoric and Composition; Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Media, Cinema and Digital Studies.

Hear from faculty involved in the development of Flexible Option competencies and assessments.


A Competency-based and Self-paced Program

The UW Flexible Option offers a new way to earn a college degree or certificate, different from both face-to-face classroom instruction and traditional online instruction. In this UW Flexible Option program, you will:

  • Earn credit for what you know. You may draw upon your existing knowledge to complete assessments and make progress toward your certificate. It does not matter where you gained your knowledge—from prior courses, work experience, military training, or other learning experiences. If you know it and can show it, you can use it to earn credit.
  • Advance at your own pace. Progress toward this certificate is based on assessments of key competencies determined by UW-Milwaukee faculty, not seat time in a classroom. Take assessments whenever you are ready. Pass one and move on to the next.
  • Receive personalized support. A dedicated Academic Success Coach will work with you to create a learning plan and a timeline tailored to fit your goals and knowledge. Your coach will help you prepare for assessments and point you to the learning resources you need to succeed.
  • Start when you want, at the beginning of any month. Your progress is not limited by a traditional semester or term-based schedule, and you can take breaks in between subscription periods if and when you need to.
  • Learn skills employers value. By passing assessments of critical competencies, you will prove your mastery of the skills and knowledge that are important to employers.

Best of all, you will earn a certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, an institution that is recognized and respected.

Watch this short video to find out how Flexible Option programs make it possible to earn your UW degree in less time than a traditional classroom or online program, while spending less money.


Prospective Student Profile

The UW Flexible Option is especially designed for self-motivated nontraditional students who want their previous schooling, work skills, and prior knowledge to apply toward degrees or certificates. The competency-based and self-paced format of the UW Flexible Option fits the schedules of students who must balance work and family responsibilities with educational goals. Because most Flexible Option competencies and assessments are delivered online, students have the opportunity to learn when and where they choose.

This program is ideally suited for:

  • Individuals who wish to develop strong written communication skills
  • Students who seek professional training and education to advance their careers
  • Motivated, disciplined self-starters who can work independently
  • Those who recognize the value of a University of Wisconsin degree

Take the Flex Fit self-evaluation, a self-paced, online survey designed to help you and a UW Flexible Option Admission Specialist determine whether the UW Flexible Option is the right fit for you.

Take the Flex Fit

Areas of Study

Students will develop competencies in communication that are critical to a wide range of contemporary jobs and organizations:

  • Business and technical communication
  • Strategic writing skills
  • Organizational leadership skills
  • Information design
  • Project management
Get Info Kit


Competency Sets
English 206x—Intro to Business and Technical Communication

Assess and address rhetorical situations

  • Research and assess audience, purpose, and context, using local, organizational, national, cross-cultural, and global perspectives.
  • Select appropriate communication channels and media.
  • Select appropriate logical and rhetorical strategies (e.g., arguments of fact, policy, worth, expediency).

Write clearly for audience, purpose, and context

  • Write with effective style, demonstrating knowledge of plain, passive, and persuasive approaches and good use of tone, word choice, vocabulary, and level of information.
  • Maintain mechanical and grammatical correctness.
  • Demonstrate ability to write effectively for international audiences, ESL audiences, and translation.

Demonstrate effective self-presentation skills

  •  Understand the role, possibilities and norms of speech, including examples of digital orality (e.g., IM, SMS, social media) in public face to face and online interactions.
  • Able to take an ethically defensible, dialogic stance.
  • Able to deliver an effective presentation online and F2F.

Master professional and technical genres

  •  Demonstrate understanding of genres (e.g., letters, memos, social media posts, technical descriptions, instructions, proposals, multiple kinds of reports), including rhetorical purpose, common traits, and organization.
  • Format and effectively structure documents using appropriate professional tools.
  • Conduct effective research and make effective and ethical use of sources and documentation (APA, MLA, etc.).
English 435x—Advanced Business and Technical Communication

Master all phases of document life cycles

  • Self-reflectively manage drafting and revising.
  • Conduct and manage multiple levels and types of editing.
  • Manage documents, including cycling, tagging, storing, and retrieving.

Demonstrate skill in researching business cases

  • Define research subjects and formulate questions/hypotheses.
  • Develop research methodology and triangulate data collection.
  • Evaluate, synthesize, and compile information from multiple text and online sources.

Master document testing

  • Define metrics that will indicate the success of documents
  • Design and conduct evaluations that will test documents against those metrics.
  • Synthesize, analyze, present, and implement test results.

Demonstrate advanced writing and presenting skills

  • Articulate and apply knowledge and importance of copyright, trademarks, patents, privacy, and proprietary information.
  • Employ rhetorical strategies for effective visual and document design.
  • Reflect on and justify composing processes and rhetorical decisions.
English 428x—Strategic Writing for Organizations

Understanding crisis communication

  • Demonstrate understanding of systems perspective on communication.
  • Analyze crisis situations in terms of pre-crisis, crisis event and post-crisis.
  • Evaluate responses to crisis situations, by organizations and individuals.

Apply theories of strategic communication planning

  • Identify and explain theories of strategic communication.
  • Analyze possible applications of relevant communication theories.
  • Compare and contrast various communication theories for their usefulness in message development.

Manage stakeholders and organizational issues

  • Understanding stakeholder groups relative to specific organizations and issues.
  • Analyze relationship between specific crises and stakeholders.
  • Create responses to specific crises relative to relevant and appropriate stakeholders (for organizations, issues and individuals).

Develop communications plans for organizations

  • Identify the components of an organizational communication plan.
  • Analyze and evaluate examples of organizational communication plans.
  • Creating functional organizational communication plans for organizations.
English 439x—Information Design

Analyze and critique information designs

  • Analyze design situations, relying on research from rhetoric, cognitive psychology, and graphic design.
  • Employ framework of principles (such as Williams’s contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity) to evaluate paper and electronic designs.
  • Use common design terminology related to layout, typography, information architecture, and graphic elements.

Design effective graphics, tables, and other visuals

  • Identify and appropriately utilize tools and methods for design and publishing.
  • Plan and implement usable design solutions to information problems.
  • Test and evaluate design effectiveness.

Design effective interfaces and documents

  • Identify and use appropriate tools and methods for design and publishing.
  • Research and develop solutions for design problem.
  • Design layouts, typography, and graphic elements needed for implementation.

Design effective information architectures

  • Identify and use appropriate tools and methods for design and publishing.
  • Research and develop solution for structure/architectural problem.
  • Design layout, architecture, metadata, and other elements required for implementation.
English 429x—Technical Communications and Organizational Leadership

Analyze group processes from the perspective of a member and a leader.

  • Assess a given situation and determine appropriate leadership strategies, taking into consideration the charge and the modality (ex. FTF, Skype, e-mail).
  • Understand the functions of different group member roles and how they enhance group process.
  • Justify choices about role-taking and communication strategies in the group setting.

Demonstrate understanding of specific audiences and message design choices

  • Apply knowledge of communication norms to a variety of professional situations
  • Make reasoned decisions about communication choices
  • Demonstrate knowledge about the importance of communicating appropriately, effectively, and ethically.

Describe effective and efficient collaboration relative to writing projects.

  • Effectively and efficiently delegate responsibilities to other group members in a computer-mediated context and face-to-face when assigned a leadership role.
  • Manage others in the process of revising and editing group work.
  • Effectively use online collaborative tools (e.g., Google Docs).

Explain how conflict resolution strategies apply to the technical communication process

  • Analyze conflict situations in workplace projects and identify possible management strategies.
  • Identify potential strategies for de-escalating conflict among members of a group working on a project.
  • Analyze how feedback is used in order to respond productively to conflict that arises in task groups.
English 437x—Project Management

Master basic concepts and terminology

  • Identify suitable projects.
  • Describe key skills and expectations for project managers.
  • Align and develop project methodologies in keeping with organizational goals, business requirements, culture, structure, and strategy.

Demonstrate ability to plan projects

  • Create detailed project definition.
  • Develop project plans, and work estimates.
  • Develop work breakdown structure, project schedule, and budgeting of resources (human, material, financial).

Demonstrate ability to control projects

  • Demonstrate understanding of project control techniques.
  • Develop project status reporting methods.
  • Develop and articulate abilities to manage changes, deliverables, issues, and risks.

Demonstrate ability to execute projects

  • Demonstrate skills at leading projects.
  • Develop and demonstrate strategies for managing team collaboration and communication.
  • Develop and demonstrate strategies for managing performance and scheduling.



hlc-accred-logo.originalThe competency-based Flexible Option degree programs of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin Colleges are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools.


Talk to a Flex Outreach Specialist

We’d be happy to answer your questions and talk with you about how this flexible degree program can help you achieve your goals. Call today!

M-F, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST

Other ways to contact us:


UW Flexible Option
UW–Extension, Office of Student Success
5602 Research Park Blvd, Suite 303
Madison, WI  53719
Fax: 608-262-4096