Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing


To the Applicant

Through the Gateway Writing Project's Graduate Certificate, you can deepen your understanding of the writing process and how to teach it successfully to diverse learners. You can take the time to hone your own writing in a variety of modes. You can examine the cultural and political role of writing in today's society and learn the power of culturally responsive teaching. You can gain a systematic and purposeful view of teaching techniques, writing theory, new research, and student learning. As a result, you will develop an organizing vision that provides a context for what you know today and a basis for evaluating what you discover tomorrow. You will build a personal portfolio for multiple purposes, including district-level professional advancement and National Board Certification. Most important, perhaps, you will find a professional learning community.

The Writing Project Tradition

The Gateway Writing Project has sponsored summer institutes and high-quality professional development serving hundreds of teachers since 1978. GWP is the official St. Louis site of the National Writing Project, which pioneered the concept of "Teachers Teaching Teachers." The National Writing Project has been described as "arguably the most successful teacher network in the United States" (Ann Lieberman, Carnegie Foundation, 2002).

At UMSL, the Gateway Writing Project is academically rooted in the Department of English and in the Division of Teaching and Learning. Through partnerships with Harris-Stowe State University, public schools, charter schools, and independent/parochial schools, GWP has reached K-12, college, and adult learners across the metropolitan area.

The Next Step

Graduates of the Gateway Writing Project have asked for a coherent program of study building on the experience of the summer institute and leading to a professional credential. To meet these needs, GWP has developed the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing -- an 18 semester-hour program in English and Education that can be coordinated with a master's degree or pursued as a post-master's certificate.

Goals of the Graduate Certificate

  1. To promote better writing in the schools and address the ongoing concern of educators and the general public over poor student performance in writing.
  2. To prepare teachers at all levels (K-12, college, adult education) to design curriculum that uses writing to promote learning in all subject areas.
  3. To prepare teachers to assess students' learning through writing.
  4. To practice the core principle of the National Writing Project: Teachers of writing must themselves be writers.
  5. To create a learning community where teachers can reflect on their own teaching and their own writing.
  6. To help teachers build personal portfolios with multiple purposes, including district-level professional advancement and National Board Certification.

Bulletin Description

Jointly housed in the Division of Teaching and Learning and the Department of English, GWP's Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing prepares teachers at all levels (K-12, college, adult) to improve their students' performance in writing. The program also emphasizes the value of writing to promote learning in all content areas. In all courses, the participants write, revise, share feedback, and reflect on their own writing development. Based on the National Writing Project's core belief that teachers of writing must themselves be writers, the GWP certificate brings together sound pedagogy, composition theory, and writing practice.

The Graduate Certificate is an 18-hour program offered through the Gateway Writing Project; it may also be coordinated with other graduate programs. Certificate courses may be applicable to the Masters of Arts in English with emphasis in composition or to various Masters of Education programs. The GWP Certificate is especially appropriate for post-master's candidates who wish to pursue a specialization in teaching writing.

The Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing requires a 12 semester hour core of Gateway Writing Project courses: The GWP invitational institute (6 hrs.), a designated "topics" course (3 hrs.), and an exit course (3 hrs.). Electives (6 hrs.) may be chosen from approved offerings in English or in Education. The Certificate requires a minimum of 12 semester hours at the 5000 or 6000 level.

Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing

Course Descriptions (2011)


Eng/SecEd 4880: Writing for Teachers (or equivalent course)
Prerequisite: English 3090, 3100, or a comparable course in advanced composition.
Bulletin Description: Designed for prospective as well as in-service teachers, the course includes: (1) writing-short papers to be shared in workshop groups; (2) reading-current theory and research on writing and the implications for teachers; (3) teaching-classroom activities that foster growth in writing. (Writing for Teachers is offered fall, spring, summer at UMSL.)

Computer Basics (coursework or competency)
Participants will need to use computers for writing and for teaching. Continuing Education & Outreach programs are available for participants who need to develop their computer skills.

Core Courses (12 sem. hrs.)

Eng 4850/ TchEd 5850: Topics in the Teaching of Writing (1-3)
Prerequisite: English 3100 or equivalent.
Bulletin Description:
Special topics in the practice of and pedagogy of writing designed for in-service teachers. Topics may include writing at specific grade levels, writing/reading workshops, writing in urban settings, writing across the curriculum, action research, new technology, classroom and district level assessment. May be repeated once for credit if topics differ. Counts toward Certificate in Writing. (A variety of Topics courses are offered on and off campus, during the summer and academic year.)

Eng/TchEd 6880: Gateway Writing Project (6)

Bulletin Description

An intensive course in the writing process and the writing curriculum, designed for experienced teachers. Readings of current theory and research will be related to participants' experience as writers and as teachers. Topics may vary. May be repeated for credit. No more than six hours may be applied toward the M.Ed. Counts toward the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing. (The GWP Invitational Institute is offered every summer.)


TchEd 6890: Seminar in Professional Writing for Teachers (3)

Eng/ TchEd 6880; near-completion of Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing. 

Bulletin Description:

 Capstone seminar for the Graduate Certificate in Teaching Writing. Each participant will pursue the dual role of writer/ writing teacher by designing individual projects with one of these emphases: (1) research writing based on a classroom inquiry into the teaching of writing; (2) expository and creative writing based on an inquiry into the teacher's own evolution as a writer. Seminar meetings include both face-to-face and online communication.



Electives for the Graduate Certificate (6 sem. hrs.)

Electives may be chosen from other GWP offerings OR from courses in an appropriate academic department with advisor's approval. Must include at least one more 5000-6000 level course.

Electives applicable to an M.A. in English with writing emphasis
Eng 5800 Modern Linguistics
Eng 5840 Theories of Writing
Eng 5850 Studies in Composition
Eng 5860 Writing/Reading Theory
Eng 5870 Composition Research
Eng 5890 Teaching College Writing
Electives applicable to an M.Ed. in Elementary or Secondary Education
El Ed 6387 Literacy Acquisition . . .Urban Students
SecEd 6430 Problems of Teaching English in Sec. School
El Ed 6432 Problems & Research in Language Arts
El Ed 6482 Problems & Research in Elementary Reading
El Ed 6630 Communication Arts Instruction
Ed REM 6714 Action Research in Education
Courses in adult and higher education may also be approved

For further information, contact:

Nancy Robb Singer
Director, Gateway Writing Project
(314) 516-5517
443 Lucas Hall

Diane Scollay
Associate Director, Gateway Writing Project
(314) 516-5578
306 Tower

Admissions Process

Candidates must be admitted to the Graduate School and by the faculty admissions committee for the Graduate Certificate in the Teaching of Writing. The committee will consider applicants on the basis of an interview, two essays, and supporting documentation (see below). Criteria include experience teaching writing at any level and academic record, especially in writing and the teaching of writing. To apply:

(1) Fill out the Data Sheet and attach the following:

Send your application materials to the Writing Project:

Nancy Singer, GWP Director
358 Marillac, University of Missouri-St. Louis
One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121

(2) Submit an application to the Graduate School.

Request official copies of transcripts to be sent to this address:

Graduate School Admissions Office
225 Millennium Student Center
University of Missouri-St. Louis
One University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121

To obtain an application for graduate study, phone (314) 516-5458, visit Graduate Admissions in 225 MSC, or go online to http://www.umsl.edu/divisions/graduate/admissions/application-form.html.

Applications are reviewed by the GWP Certificate Committee as they are received, year-round, and applicants are contacted for a personal interview. Each new participant then meets with a faculty member for an advising conference, program planning, and course selection.

Questions? Contact Nancy Singer at (314) 516-5517, or by email at singerna@umsl.edu