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PhD Degrees in Composition and Rhetoric: Program Information

A Ph.D. program in composition and rhetoric prepares students for academic careers specializing in written English. As students refine their writing skills through intensive coursework, they also learn and apply teaching methodologies.

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Essential Information

A doctoral (Ph.D.) program in composition and rhetoric prepares graduates for careers in research and teaching. Applicants must have a master's degree, preferably, but not necessarily, in English or a related subject. Students usually are required to be proficient in a language other than English. Applicants will also need GRE scores and a writing sample. The program usually requires about five years of study to complete.

A Ph.D. program in composition and rhetoric usually includes courses in the written language and literacy as well as work as university teaching assistants and instructors. Major courses generally cover topics including classical rhetoric, literacy, and modern rhetoric. Many programs call for choosing a minor area of study, which often is selected based on the student's future career plans. For instance, a student interested in becoming a university professor might choose a minor in education.

After the coursework is completed, many schools require a presentation of a portfolio and passing an oral examination. Researching, writing, and defending a dissertation make up the final year or two of the Ph.D. program.


Ph.D. Degree in Composition and Rhetoric

A Ph.D. program in composition and rhetoric involves rigorous writing expectations as well as training as a university instructor. Through research, analysis and the study of both teaching and writing, students become focused on academia. Emphasis is placed on critical, persuasive, and research-based writing. Additional focal points include investigating literacy and the usage of written language. Some possible course titles include:

  • Theory of composition
  • Literacy viewpoints
  • Traditions in rhetoric
  • Composition teaching methods
  • Exploring discourse

Popular Career Options

Composition and rhetoric Ph.D. programs are typically geared for students interested in academic employment. Job titles could include:

  • University professor
  • Writing consultant
  • Writing program director
  • Academic research specialist
  • English department administrator

Continuing Education

A Ph.D. is a terminal degree program. However, as graduates progress through their careers, they can attend seminars and conferences in various subsets of composition, writing, and teaching methodology.

A Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric may be a good degree program for students interested in English composition and teaching, as graduates most often work in academia.

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