PhD Program Requirements

Advisement Checklist

PhD in Rhetoric and Composition Course Requirement form(PDF)

PhD in Rhetoric and Composition Exam Intent form(PDF)

Independent Study (ENGL 8100) form(PDF)

Coursework Requirements

Time Limit

Work on the doctorate must be completed within ten years of admission to the program.

Requirements for the Doctoral Degree Program

Students in this plan must complete at least 30 semester hours of coursework beyond the M.A. level, plus 20 hours of dissertation research. Before you begin taking classes, you should work out a plan of study with one of the faculty.

Course Requirements

A total of thirty hours of course work beyond the M.A. level (including, if desired, a maximum of six hours of coursework in related fields offered by other departments);

  1. Fifteen (15) Hours of the following courses (if not taken at the MA level):
    • ENGL 8170 History & Theory of Rhetoric & Composition I
    • ENGL 8171 History & Theory of Rhetoric & Composition II
    • ENGL 8180 Contemporary Issues in Writing Studies
    • ENGL 8120 Writing for Academic Publication (Pro Seminar)
    • ENGL 8125 Writing and Research Methodology;
  2. Nine (9) hours of rhetoric, composition courses, technical communication and strongly related courses
  3. To complete the 30-hour requirement, electives as needed in rhetoric and composition, language, theory, literature, or any strongly related fields of study outside of English (with approval from the student’s advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies and with a maximum of six hours of coursework outside of rhetoric and composition)
  4. Twenty (20) hours of ENGL 8999 Thesis Research.


Dissertation research may involve digital and workplace projects as well as textual studies, and the dissertation can be a substantial academic paper or a digital project with approval of the director.

Foreign Language / Alternative Research Skill Requirement

If not already completed at the Masters level, candidates for the Ph.D. with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition are expected to demonstrate fluency in one foreign language or to have received a grade of B or higher in any two of the following courses:   

  1. ENGL 8121, Rhetoric of Digital Media 
  2. ENGL 8122, User Experience Research
  3. ENGL 8123, Digital Media Productions


Because the requirements for the doctoral programs are complex, candidates for the degree are urged to consult regularly with the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English. By the time students have chosen their area of concentration and have completed the majority of their coursework, students should choose a major professor who is qualified to supervise their preparation for comprehensive examinations and to guide their thesis research.


See the College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Services Website for details, requirements, and current deadlines.