Course Requirements

Students Seeking the PhD

Total Number of Required Coursework hours to graduate with RCTE PhD: 48

  • Common Curriculum: 18 hours (6 courses)
    • Fall Semester | Year 1
      • Trends & Methods in Rhetorical Studies (3)
      • Preceptorship (3)
      • Colloquium (0)
    • Spring Semester | Year 1
      • Trends & Methods in Composition Studies (3)
      • Inquiry & Innovation Seminar (3)
      • Preceptorship (1)
    • Fall Semester | Year 2
      • Controversies in Rhetoric and Composition (3)
      • Specialization (3)
    • Spring Semester | Year 2
      • Specialization (3)
      • Elective (3)


Specialization Curriculum: 18 hours (6 courses)

  • The Program will define known areas of expertise among the faculty, which will become part of our identity, but students will determine their own specialization areas as they go, with key mentoring moments built into the Program to help with their discernment (e.g., Inquiry & Innovation Seminar, Trends courses, faculty and peer mentoring). For example, consider these hypothetical Program and student focal areas and specializations:

Program Focus: Critical Writing Program Administration

  • Student 1 Specialization: Assessment
  • Student 2 Specialization: English as Second/Other Language Issues
  • Student 3 Specialization: The Politics of Organizational Structure

Program Focus: Critical Cultural and Media Studies

  • Student 1 Specialization: Radical Politics and New Media Art
  • Student 2 Specialization: Colonialism and Comedy
  • Student 3 Specialization: Revisionist Rhetorical Histories

Program Focus: Critical Community Literacies

  • Student 1 Specialization: Racism and Public Educational Policy
  • Student 2 Specialization: Power and Queer Youth Literacy
  • Student 3 Specialization: Central and South American Non-alphabetic Literacies


Courses need not be offered in students’ specialization area per se; rather, faculty will automatically offer courses in the Program’s focal areas (that’s just the nature of the work we do), and students will build up their specialization by taking coursework that’s interesting to them and that they feel they can build their specializations around.

Each year, the Program will produce and distribute via its website a list of Program Foci that the faculty available in the coming year feel they can responsibly accommodate. These foci are for generative and discernment purposes only; they are not connected in any administrative way with students’ plans of study (i.e., nothing about Program Foci establishes for students a requirement that must be fulfilled in order to progress through the Program).

At least four of the Specialization courses (12 hours) must be in RCTE. The other two courses (6 hours) may be taken elsewhere on campus, or transferred in from another institution.


  • Electives Curriculum: 12 hours (4 courses)
    • open to any subject area offered at the graduate level anywhere on campus;
    • may be applied to the Comparative Cultural Requirement (see the CCR Proposal for details);
    • may be applied to a minor (9 hours minimum required by Graduate College).


College of Social and Behavioral Sciences