Graduate Degree

Rhetoric and Writing - Doctor of Philosophy

Rhetoric and Writing - Doctor of Philosophy
Plan Code:
Program Level:
Award Type:
Doctor of Philosophy
College of Arts and Letters
Writing, Rhetoric, and American Culture

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.

College of Arts and Letters

Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Cultures

Graduate Study
Rhetoric and Writing - Doctor of Philosophy

The doctoral degree in Rhetoric and Writing prepares students to conduct research and teach courses in writing studies, digital rhetoric, experience architecture, and technical and professional communication. Students learn to do this work by engaging with scholarship, learning with faculty, collaborating on research teams, producing multimodal content for organizations, understanding people-focused experiences, teaching in our programs, and working with local and global communities. Through these experiences, students examine issues of accessibility, ethics, literacy, and storytelling through writing, composing, and making. Central to this work is applying and developing theories and methodologies to be a positive force for structural change, growth, and innovation with an emphasis on culture, context, and access.

This degree prepares students to lead in various workplaces, including academia, civic, corporate, government, and nonprofit organizations. Our students go on to administer programs in academia, conduct user experience research for organizations, design products and services in industry, manage international projects, publish in academic and trade journals, and research and teach in higher education contexts.


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 (12 credits):
WRA 801 Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 810 Writing, Composing, Designing, Making 3
WRA 870 Research Methodologies in Rhetoric and Writing 3
WRA 880 Theories of Rhetoric and Writing 3
For students who already hold an Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing from our program, alternative arrangements will be made with regards to their core course requirements. Alternatives can include independent studies or fulfilling the requirement by taking other courses offered in the program with the approval of the Director.
3. Concentrations.
Complete at least three courses, a minimum of 9 credits, in one of the following concentrations:  Cultures, Identities, and Communities; Leadership and Administration, Writing Pedagogy and Learning; or Technical and Professional Communication. 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. Pass a written comprehensive examination on the core courses and the area of concentration.
5. Pass a pre-dissertation examination consisting of an oral examination based on a written prospectus and a preliminary bibliography for the dissertation project.
6. 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.