Degree Requirements

Students Seeking the MA Degree

Thirty (30) units are required for completion of the MA degree. Coursework is concentrated within RCTE, although there are opportunities to explore courses in the other English programs, as well as outside the department.

Some courses outside of English may count under RCTE. Students interested in having an outside course count as a requirement should obtain a copy of the course syllabus and consult with the RCTE Program Director.



Students Seeking the PhD

PhD students must complete 48 units of coursework, plus an additional 15 units of dissertation. The RCTE program course requirements outlined below allow students flexibility to develop a plan of study that best suits their individual interests.

Coursework is a major component of the doctoral degree in our Program and serves several simultaneous functions:

  • orients students to major issues, concepts, theories, and practices in areas of inquiry deemed by our faculty to be important for 21st Century scholars of Rhetoric and Composition;
  • helps to solidify both graduate school and intellectual cohorts, which contribute to the short term and long term success of our students;
  • familiarizes students with the accepted and emerging professional practices related to academia;
  • facilitates student exploration of a variety of research areas, which thus helps students discern an area of specialization (needed for comps and the diss);
  • assesses students on their developing abilities to perform advanced level scholarship and function collegially in an academic setting.

Given these objectives, the Program uses a coursework model that focuses in Year 1 on orienting students to major trends, concepts, and principles in Rhetoric and Composition, as well as on mentoring and cohort building. In Year 2 and following, students will pursue avenues of specialization (even if only tentatively) in their remaining coursework.

Specifically, here’s how we propose that students complete their doctoral coursework:

Total Number of Required hours to graduate with PhD: 66

Minimum Diss. Hours: 18

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 (3)
  • Spring Semester | Year 3
    • Preliminary Exam Workshop

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 the following 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.


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).


Transfer Credits

Students are allowed a maximum of 15 transfer credits according to the following distribution:

  • 9 hours (max) in the Electives Curriculum (NB: these may not be accepted by minor programs--check with the minor department)
  • 6 hours (max) in the Specialization Curriculum

0 hours (max) in the Common Curriculum


Additional PhD Requirements

  • Qualifying Portfolio
  • Preliminary Exam
  • Dissertation



College of Social and Behavioral Sciences