Should I Earn a Master’s in Writing with the Rise of AI?

Should I earn a master's in writing with the rise of AI? Students in a classroom listening to a lecture. One student has her laptop open.

Conversations around artificial intelligence (AI) writing software have become increasingly popular over the past year. While tech companies are excited, many people remain skeptical; AI can write, generate art, shop, take photographs, help you drive, and more.

Considering this, you may have wondered how the rise of AI will impact professional writing careers, especially with the rise of AI-writing software, such as ChatGPT. This curiosity may also be tied to concern, especially if you’re considering investing in a master’s degree in writing.

What is a Master’s in Writing?

A Master's in Writing is a graduate degree that can help you expand the art and craft of your writing skills. This degree is designed for those who are interested in writing theory, tutoring, and pedagogy. When you enroll in a master’s in writing program, you’ll likely be asked to select a concentration, such as fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

This program will prepare you for a wide variety of literary styles, genres, formats, and audiences, and help you lead a fulfilling career in a variety of areas, including:

  • Higher education
  • Editing and publishing
  • Journalism
  • Fiction and nonfiction

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a technology primarily found in computer systems that imitates human cognitive functions such as reasoning, problem-solving, and knowledge representation. It is typically used to come up with solutions, solve problems, answer questions, and make predictions.

This simulation of human intelligence has become popular across various fields because it can deliver results faster and has more processing power than the human brain.

How AI operates

Through machine learning, AI systems ingest large quantities of data and analyze it for patterns and correlations. After analyzing, the systems use the patterns and algorithms it detects to make predictions about future states and responses. 

These algorithms are essentially rules that provide a software platform with step-by-step instructions on completing particular tasks. They’re also designed to self-correct themselves to provide the most accurate results possible.

AI usage in written material

Many natural language processing (NLP) tools driven by AI technology are programmed to produce written content. NLP is made up of two components: natural language understanding (NLU) and natural language generation (NLG). 

Natural Language Understanding

Once the program is given a statement, prompt, or question to respond to, it utilizes the data that it was trained on to analyze the semantics and syntax. Semantics refer to the meaning and interpretation of the given text, whereas syntax refers to word arrangement and grammar. Through NLU, AI programs are able to detect denotations, connotations, and standard definitions of words.

Natural Language Generation

Once an AI program has enough information to understand the prompt it was given, it will begin NLG. In this process, the writing software will use the collected data to select words, construct phrases, and formulate sentences. Most artificial intelligence writing software follows a similar algorithm when curating content, which includes:

  • Content analysis — filtering data
  • Data analysis — decoding data, discerning its context, and discovering patterns
  • Document structuring — generating a document outline
  • Sentence creation — creating phrases and sentences to deliver the desired information
  • Grammar structuring — analyzing and rewriting sentences for grammatical accuracy
  • Content output — formatting the final content output

Limitations of AI writing

1. It lacks human perspective and expertise

Although AI-written text may look flawless at first glance, it lacks details that make up human language: emotional richness, humor, metaphors, cultural context, and empathy. This writing software also tends to have issues with the logical flow of ideas, which is an essential component of research reports and technical manuals.

2. Its content quality may be inconsistent

Since this writing software is relatively new, its output is likely to include grammatical and content-oriented inconsistencies. It also may produce outright false, unintelligible, or repetitive content.

OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, even stated that “ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers,” and that “the model is often excessively verbose and overuses certain phrases.”

3. It is limited in application

Currently, AI writing software is better at producing shorter text pieces than longer ones. Therefore, when it is asked to perform a more comprehensive task, the quality of its output is lower than if a human were to write it.

4. It can cause trust issues

Some AI writing software programs have settings that can help detect plagiarism. While this is helpful for its users, and for academic instructors who are concerned about their students being dependent on the platform, AI’s limitations remain, as its plagiarism detection is not always accurate.

In May 2023, a professor in Texas ran all of his students’ final papers through ChatGPT, asking the program if it wrote those papers. The chatbot falsely claimed to have written every single assignment, and the professor threatened to fail every student before realizing the chatbot had malfunctioned. As similar instances have occurred throughout the nation, schools are currently developing stronger policies to address the use or misuse of AI technology in the classroom, especially as its abilities advance.

How does AI impact writing professionals and students?

Recently, various industries have started utilizing this writing software to produce written content because of its efficiency and convenience. This has posed a concern for some writers, as they worry about being replaced by the ever-advancing technology.

While these concerns are valid, artificial intelligence cannot outperform human writers in their unique voices and perspective.

Connecting with your desired audience requires empathy, emotion, impact, and interpersonal dimension, which AI writing cannot duplicate.

These qualities are also core elements of effective storytelling, whether it be through fiction, nonfiction, or poetry.

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AI is your friend, not your foe

Despite growing concerns over AI, writers shouldn’t feel exempt from using AI tools. This writing software can help you advance your writing skills, from detecting grammatical errors to generating project outlines. It can also help you save time and increase your productivity. 

There is an array of artificial intelligence writing tools available for you to use, including:

  • Grammarly
  • Scrivener
  • Notion
  • Otter.ia
  • Sudowrite

The rise of AI should not steer you away from wanting to earn an M.A. in Writing, either. In a Master’s in Writing program, you will study literature in a variety of genres, learn editing skills, and take robust writing pedagogy courses. This graduate program will reinforce the value of your storytelling skills, and likely emphasize how AI’s skills are incomparable to your unique craft. Earning this graduate degree, even with the rise of AI, is also beneficial because you’ll: 

  • Earn a formal education in writing
  • Hone your skills with professionals in the field
  • Learn even more critical thinking skills
  • Develop better research abilities
  • Expand your networking opportunities

Careers that a Master’s in Writing will equip you for:

1. Social media manager

Median annual salary: $54,358
Projected growth: 10% (2021–31)

2. Copywriter

Median annual salary: $64,855
Projected growth: 4% (2021–31)

3. Adjunct professor

Median annual salary: $84,660
Projected growth: 12% (2021–31)

4. Communications specialist

Median Annual Salary: $58,370
Projected Growth: 6% (2021-31)

Get your degree at PLNU

If you want to elevate your writing craft and empower people by sharing stories, perspectives, and experiences, consider earning a Master’s in Writing. PLNU’s M.A. in Writing program is curated to prepare and empower career-focused professionals who can write, teach, communicate, tutor, and more.

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