RCTE Applicant FAQs

If you have questions not covered here, please contact the program coordinator.

Application Basics

Given that most universities do not have a major in rhetoric and composition, many of our students come from various academic backgrounds. Most are English majors, but students come from Creative Writing, Music, Law, and other fields. The University of Arizona's RCTE program encourages interdisciplinary study and the integration of outside experience into rhetoric and composition. Demonstrated dedication to the field of rhetoric and composition is essential, however. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions in this regard.

RCTE does not have spring admission; all applications for an academic year must be submitted by December 31 of the previous year.

The average successful applicant has an undergraduate GPA of around 3.8, GRE verbal and/or analytic scores in the ninetieth percentile, and excellent letters of recommendation. Applicants shouldn't be intimidated by these statistics, however. Applicants who are particularly strong in other parts of the application can compensate for deficiencies in others. The main consideration is that the faculty feels the student would fit in and flourish with the diverse UA Program.

Usually students can gather enough information by emailing or phoning. Visits are very useful to get a "flavor" for Tucson and the RCTE Program and its faculty, staff, and students, but should by no means be considered a necessity. (Advance notice is encouraged so we can make sure to connect you with people in your area of interest. Please contact the program coordinator for details.

Applications to the RCTE program are online.

M.A. vs. Ph.D Programs

When applying for the RCTE M.A. or Ph.D. program, note it is NOT the same as the English M.A. or Ph.D. program! RCTE Ph.D. is our program name.


Yes, we now require PhD applicants to hold an MA degree by the time they intend to start in the PhD program. 

No. Due to changes in our funding structure, we do require PhD applicants to hold an MA degree by the time they intend to start in the PhD program at the University of Arizona. Exceptions to this requirement can be made if you do not require any funding support on a case-by-case basis. 

You should apply to the MA program if you intend on earning a terminal Master's degree. Typically, Master's students are teachers in the public schools or desire employment in community colleges. Some applicants with less background in rhetoric and composition apply to the MA program as a transition prior to applying to the PhD program. 

Transfer Credit

Up to 15 units earned at other institutions can transfer into the Ph.D. program. Six graduate units can transfer into the M.A. program.

Letters of Recommendation


If your recommenders are unable to submit their letters online, please have them email the letter to the program coordinator.


Yes, though letters from academic professionals are preferred.

Faxed and emailed recommendations are acceptable if on letterhead and signed.

Application Materials

There is no fixed length. Most people write from three to six pages.

There are no strict rules, although most statements describe how the applicant has arrived at the field of rhetoric and composition, why he or she has chosen to apply to the University of Arizona in particular, and what personal and professional experiences prepare one for the program. It is perfectly fine to "get personal." These statements of purpose are read very carefully, and play an important role in the admissions decision. They help the faculty decide whether or not you would fit in with the UA program.

Ideally, one's writing sample is an academic paper from a rhetoric or composition class. An academic paper dealing with rhetorical and composition issues is second best. Non-academic papers are discouraged, although they may be included to supplement your application materials.

Graduate Record Exam


Financial Aid

No. All our students are funded through Graduate Teaching Assistantships. There is no separate application.

The RCTE program offers Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAships),  Graduate Tuition Scholarships (GTS), and Graduate Fellowships. Students with GTAships typically teach two sections of undergraduate composition. A GTA's pay varies depending upon one's academic degrees and progress in the program. Tuition (in- and out-of-state) and health insurance are fully covered for a .50 FTE GTAship (teaching two courses per semester).

GTAships are renewed from year to year according to your original contract letter. GTS awards may be renewed depending upon availability.

If you are admitted into RCTE you will receive a GTAship. Graduate Fellowship monies may be available. The fellowships are need-based and a FAFSA form must be filled out in order to qualify.


Yes. However, the UA Miscellaneous Fees must still be paid by the student each semester.

Yes. New GTAs teach one class during their first semester.

For AY 2022-2023, the GTA salary for a 2-1 load ranges from $20,000 to  $20,500 per academic year depending on your earned degree (BA or MA). 

GTAs develop their own syllabi under supervision during their week-long training in the week before classes begin. Throughout the year they get further training and support in Preceptorship courses: small groups led by a faculty advisor.

19 students. Please contact the Writing Program Director and RCTE faculty member Shelley Rodrigo for more information regarding undergraduate composition courses.

Typical apartments run about $600 a month at the low end, to $950 at the high end. Two-bedroom houses rent for an average of $700-1250. Guesthouses can range from $400-1000.

Program Requirements

We do not currently have a foreign language requirement.

Seminars. There can be anywhere from 5 to 8 graduate students.

Students are supported toward their job search from their first day in the program. We offer a professional studies colloquium, and as students near completion, they participate in a RCTE Job Workshop. In addition, various RCTE and English Department meetings and consultations are available.