Graduate Degree - Rhetoric and Writing - Doctor of Philosophy

Rhetoric and Writing - Doctor of Philosophy
Program Code:
5752 Rhetoric and Writing
Program Level:
Award Type:
Doctor of Philosophy
Start Term:
College of Arts and Letters
Relevant Excerpt(s) from Academic Programs:
Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures
Relevant Excerpt(s) from Academic Programs:

Excerpt from the official Academic Programs Catalog:

Listed below are the approved requirements for the program from the official Academic Programs Catalog.
Students must consult their advisors to learn which specific requirements apply to their degree programs.
Requirements as represented in Degree Navigator are not available for this program.

College of Arts and Letters

Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures

Graduate Study
Rhetoric and Writing - Doctor of Philosophy

The doctoral degree in rhetoric and writing provides students with the critical skills necessary to do scholarly research in rhetoric and writing and prepares students for faculty and administrative positions in university-level writing and literacy programs. Students interested in becoming rhetoric or composition scholars take courses in composition pedagogy and rhetorical theory and elect one of several available concentrations in American cultural rhetorics, critical and community literacies, digital rhetoric and professional writing, and teaching English to speakers of other languages. This degree also prepares students to study writing practices in the workplace and to research, develop, and administer a variety of academic, workplace, civic, government, nonprofit, publishing, and digital writing projects. In addition, students will be prepared to design writing curricula and training programs, do advanced document development, conduct usability studies and publish results.

Students with specific interest in educating prospective teachers of literacy in university-level positions in English education or literacy education programs can choose to concentrate in critical studies in literacy and pedagogy, which prepares literacy educators who: (1) draw on critical theories and critical understanding of language, literacy, and discourse to shape pedagogies of multiliteracies; (2) develop curricular practices that support students’ ability to read and write multiple texts, (3) understand multiple uses of print, digital and visual rhetorics in order to engage students in critical consumption production, and design; and (4) undertake qualitative research in school, university, and community settings.

The College of Arts and Letters recognizes the high importance of development among its doctoral candidates of a proficiency in college teaching and it strives to provide teaching experience in the form of graduate assistantships along with organized discussion of the ends and means of the teaching career.


To be considered for admission to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Rhetoric and Writing an applicant must:

  1. Specify the concentration the applicant wishes to pursue.
  2. Include in the letter required by the college, a statement of purpose and a statement of instruction philosophy.
  3. Submit two writing samples (major research paper, summary of master’s thesis, or digital documents).

To be admitted to the program on regular status, an applicant must have a master’s degree or the equivalent, a minimum grade-point average of 3.5 in graduate-level courses, and at least three letters of recommendation from persons qualified to assess the applicant’s ability to pursue advanced graduate study.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Arts and Letters, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Rhetoric and Writing

The student must:

1. Complete a minimum of 27 credits of graduate course work. No more than 6 credits of 400-level course work will count toward the degree.
2. All of the following core courses (18 credits):
WRA 805 Rhetoric Theory and History 3
WRA 853 Workshop in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 870 Research Methodologies in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 878 Composition Studies: Issues, Theory, and Research 3
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric 3
WRA 885 Research Colloquium 3
3. Concentrations.
Complete at least three courses, a minimum of 9 credits, in one of the following concentrations:  Critical Studies in Literacy and Pedagogy, Cultural Rhetorics, or Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing. A list of courses eligible for each concentration is available from the program director. Courses used to fulfill core requirements may not be used to satisfy concentration requirements. Other concentrations may be approved the student’s guidance committee.
4. Complete the language requirement through one of the following:
a. Demonstrate second-year proficiency in a foreign language including American Sign Language.
b. Complete two courses in language variation.These courses can not be courses used to fulfill the core or concentration requirements.
c. Complete two courses in African American vernacular English and rhetoric. These courses cannot be courses used to fulfill the core or concentration requirements.
d. Complete two courses in teaching English to speakers of other languages. These courses cannot be courses used to fulfill the core or concentration requirements.
e. With the approval of the guidance committee and as appropriate to the student’s research interests, demonstrate proficiency in a specialized symbolic system, such as a computer language, statistics, etc.
5. Pass two written comprehensive examinations: one on the core and one on the areas of concentration.
6. Pass a pre-dissertation examination consisting of an oral examination based on a written prospectus and a preliminary bibliography for the dissertation project.
7. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Academic Standards

A student must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.5 in all graduate courses.

A student may count toward the degree only those courses in which the student has received a grade of 3.0 or higher.

A student may accumulate no more than 6 credits with a grade below 3.0 in rhetoric and writing courses taken for the purpose of satisfying the degree requirements.

A student who fails the comprehensive examinations, the pre-dissertation examination, or the final oral examination in defense of the dissertation, may repeat that examination only once, during the following semester.