What is Science Writing

The MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing is a one-year program that leads to a Master of Science (SM) in Science Writing. But what is science writing?

About Science Writing

Science writing means writing about science, medicine, and technology for general readers. It appears in magazines and newspapers, in popular books, on the walls of museums, on television or radio programs, and on the internet. It grapples with DNA, fractals, synapses, and quasars, but always with grace and style. Its practitioners worry as much about how to tell the story of science as the science itself—and yet, in maddening paradox, as much about the science as its telling. Science writing tackles big ideas, important issues. It’s ambitious, creative, hard to do—yet utterly compelling.

What science writing is not is a technical report aimed at other specialists. Or a lab paper, or a how-to manual, or a peer-reviewed research article in even the most prestigious scientific journal. These are not the focus of this program.

Science writers address the larger public about the science and technology that shape modern life, as well as the broader social issues—nuclear power safety, for example, or bioethics, or the environment—that science so profoundly influences.

Science writers respect scientists and engineers, but don’t treat their work as privileged, or as immune from informed criticism. Science writers never forget that the work of science takes place within a human and historical frame—and supply their readers with that context as needed.

Science writers may, or may not, hold academic credentials in science or engineering. But they are always humanists, one foot in the sciences, the other in the arts, as apt to be seduced by a shapely sentence as by an elegant scientific idea.

It is this dual nature that MIT‘s Graduate Program in Science Writing always seeks to foster. The need for men and women who can lucidly interpret and explain science to the wider public has never been greater. Modern technological society leaves a widening gap between citizens and wielders of scientific expertise; graduates of our science writing program help narrow that gap. The values and practices of science and technology pervade modern life; our graduates probe and knowledgeably question them.