PhD Degree Requirements


Students Seeking the PhD

The coursework in the doctoral degree serves several 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, Composition, and the Teaching of English;
  • 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 focus for their own research; assesses students on their developing abilities to perform advanced level scholarship and function effectively in an academic setting.

Given these objectives, coursework focuses on both orienting students to major trends, concepts, and traditions in Rhetoric, Composition, and the Teaching of English and enabling students to pursue their avenues of specialization.



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: 15 units

Fall Semester | Year 1

  • ENGL 597R: Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition (3)
  • Preceptorship* (3)
  • Colloquium

Spring Semester | Year 1

  • Qualifying Portfolio workshop (3)
  • Either ENGL 696T: Rhetorical Theories (3) or ENGL 510: Theory and Practice of Composition (3). Courses are offered in alternating years with one course taken in Year 1 and one course taken in Year 2.
  • Preceptorship* (0)

Additional Course Requirements: 9 units

  • Specialized Methods: student’s choice of one additional methods course, offered either in RCTE or in another program (3)
  • Histories: student’s choice of one class focused on histories, offered by RCTE faculty (3)
  • Comprehensive Exam Workshop (taken in the spring semester of comprehensive exam. (3)
  • Other electives (24):
    • 9 hours must be taken in RCTE (Immersive Cultural Requirement is included within this requirement)
    • remaining 15 hours may be taken in any subject area offered at the graduate level anywhere on campus;
    • may be applied to the Immersive Cultural Requirement (see the ICR Proposal for details);
    • may be applied to a minor, if a minor is declared (9 hours minimum required by Graduate College).


Dissertation: 18 units


* If a student does not have a GTA position in the Writing Program and does not take Preceptorship, the student can select an alternative course to fulfill this requirement in consultation with the RCTE Program Director that aligns with the student’s outcomes and professional goals.

Transfer Credits

Students are allowed a maximum of 15 transfer credits.


Additional PhD Requirements

  • Qualifying Portfolio
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Dissertation




College of Social and Behavioral Sciences