Science Writing

The Graduate Certificate in Science Writing is a flexible, part-time program of online classes, infused with the prestige, quality and value of Johns Hopkins University.

Quick Stats

Course Locations Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC; Online
Available 100% Online Yes. (Optional on-site 7- to 10-day residency.)
Entry Terms Fall, Spring or Summer semester
Certificate Requirements Five courses

Journalism, Creative Writing, Communication and Multimedia Skills to Write or Edit on Science, Medicine, Technology, Health, or Nature

From a flower’s delicate petal to a galaxy’s distant glow, science writing explores and explains how our world works. The best science writing inspires a deeper understanding, a sense of wonder or a need to act. The online / low-residency Science Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University strives to guide the next generation of writers and editors who will help us comprehend how increasingly complex issues of science, medicine and technology affect our lives. Students choose from a five-course Graduate Certificate or a nine-course Master of Arts. Others seek only a course or two of special interest. A brief but exciting Residency course, optional for the Certificate, offers intensive face-to-face study to complement the group and personal interaction of our engaging online classrooms. Because most of our students have jobs or other obligations, our convenient part-time format allows each to decide an individual, flexible pace of study.

The innovative Hopkins Certificate and degree are based on the belief that today’s successful science writers require a working knowledge of diverse skills, from journalism and communication to multimedia and the literary arts. Students focus first on journalistic and creative writing and editing techniques to craft enticing, understandable prose for digital or print venues, from magazines and books to social media and websites for companies, associations, agencies or others. Along the way, students may choose to acquire communication skills to promote viewpoints or write for clients, and they develop multimedia expertise to thrive in the ever-changing digital universe. All Hopkins writers and editors also are challenged to monitor science itself, to disclose how research can falter, mislead, or be misused. The MA and Graduate Certificate in Science Writing are part of the Advanced Academic Programs at Hopkins, a division that focuses on graduate credentials for working adults.

Science Writing students from Hopkins have visited a research island in Maine, control rooms at NASA, historic museums in Italy, and world-famous genetics and biotech labs in Washington and Baltimore. They have observed surgeons in the operating room, sailed with biologists on the Chesapeake Bay, heard from Nobel and Pulitzer winners, and interacted with science writers from The Washington Post, New York Times, National Public Radio, National Geographic, Science, and other publications. From space and the oceans to nanotechnology and climate change, from cell phones and robots to fitness and genetics – even from personal experience to public policy — the ever-changing topics chosen by our science writers are essential to an enlightened citizenry of the 21st Century.

The success of graduates of our partner program at Hopkins, the MA in Writing Program, extends for two decades in thousands of articles, essays, stories, poems and other works in hundreds of print and online publications, including prestigious venues such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, New York Times, Discover, Esquire, Washington Post, Psychology Today, and Salon.com – plus 230 books and counting. Best-selling author Molly Caldwell Crosby’s books include American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History (a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” winner) and Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic (a recommended book in Scientific American and Discover.) Michael Klesius was honored by Oliver Sacks in Best American Science Writing. During the program, students have earned prestigious internships, including a recent slot at Science magazine. In the workplace, Writing Program and Science Writing graduates have obtained writing, editing, and communication jobs at the Washington Post, National Red Cross, Chemical and Engineering News, AARP, Nature Conservancy, National Geographic, American Geophysical Society, and many federal agencies or private companies.

Students in the Science Writing Program do not focus on creating scientific research reports, journal articles for peer review, or other scholarly/academic constructs, nor do we teach technical writing for instruction manuals or complicated textbooks. Our curriculum also isn’t designed for those who need help with English as a Second Language. While the program may offer individual courses in those areas, our Science Writing students aim to translate the complicated information and trends of science, medicine and technology into meaningful, perceptive prose that serves a vital public purpose.

Hopkins Science Writing: A Long History

While Johns Hopkins recently discontinued its full-time graduate program in science writing, our part-time program remains thriving and growing in its 21st year. After two decades of onsite courses in Washington and Baltimore, the science writing components of the Master of Arts in Writing Program at Hopkins is shifting to the new MA and Graduate Certificate, for a national and international audience. Through the new online / low-residency format, we combine innovative curriculum, savvy instructors, and flexible convenience with the Hopkins brand of quality, value and experience. We intend to remain one of the best programs available, anywhere.

The Certificate and the Degree

The Science Writing Program offers both the Graduate Certificate and Master of Arts to meet diverse needs. The five courses of the Certificate provide basic skills and an overview of the field. The nine-course degree, with its required Residency and extra courses, offers deeper, more sophisticated lessons, plus the additional career and job development of the thesis process and thesis course. The degree also allows students to expand career skills into writing-related fields such as multimedia and communications. Only three Certificate courses can count toward the Degree. If you start with the Certificate and decide to move up to the degree, you should make that decision before you start a third course.

To Apply

Visit our admissions wizard to apply to the program conveniently online. To learn more details about the application process and required writing samples, click here.

Contact Us

For more information, email sciencewriting@jhu.edu or call 202-452-1917. For one-on-one help, email Melissa Hendricks or David Everett. The Science Writing Program is based at the Johns Hopkins Washington, DC, Center and at the main Homewood Campus in Baltimore, Maryland. However, students may attend from anywhere in the nation and, if they have a strong command of writing and reading English, from around the world.

*Certificate Program pending US Department of Education approval for federal financial aid eligibility.