Writing and Rhetoric at Mason

Mason’s writing and rhetoric degree programs offer students an immersive writing experience, in which they conduct research, study with thought leaders in writing and rhetoric fields, and collaborate on projects that engage community partners.

What is Writing?

The philosophy of all of our programs is founded on the premise that writing is not merely a skill: Writing functions in different ways depending on disciplinary context, genre, medium, and the relationship between writer and reader or designer and user. In short, writing is a rhetorical activity.

What is Rhetoric?

Our programs use a definition of rhetoric that encompasses much more than simply argumentation or persuasion. For us, rhetoric intersects the construction of knowledge and the communication of knowledge. What we communicate, including what we write, speak, and gesture, reflects and influences what we know, understand, or assume about any given topic.

What is Writing and Rhetoric Research?

 In our writing and rhetoric programs, students engage and research writing as:

  • an object of study
  • a network of processes and activities
  • a communication practice grounded in rhetorical theories and methods
  • a system representing thought, speech, and action through multiple genres and forms
  • an occupation

GMU offers a range of writing and rhetoric curricula at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels: a concentration in Writing and Rhetoric within the English major, a Professional Writing Minor, a concentration in Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) within the English MA , a Graduate Certificate in Professional and Technical Writing (PTW), and a PhD in Writing and Rhetoric.

BA in English - Concentration in Writing and Rhetoric

The writing and rhetoric concentration is designed for students who want to write persuasive discourse in a variety of media and genres. Students may choose from several courses that provide instruction and guided practice in diverse types of prose, including professional and technical writing, web writing, ethnography, editing, and various forms of nonfiction writing.

Professional Writing Minor

The minor in Professional Writing provides opportunities to learn and apply advanced strategies for writing academic, professional, and civic documents. Students examine the theoretical, interdisciplinary and professional aspects of writing, and develop their expository, persuasive, organizational, and stylistic skills through close analysis of rhetorical situations and the features and approaches of successful writing.

MA in English - Concentration in Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR-MA)

The PWR-MA  is oriented to workplace uses of language. In addition to training in pragmatic skills, this graduate program is characterized by a self-reflexive attention to workplaces as institutions and sites for rhetorical action. Courses on research in nonfiction writing complement instruction in rhetoric, editing, technical communication, digital publication, and ethnography to prepare students for roles as writers and communicators in private and public sectors. By completing capstone projects or theses, students apply the research methods introduced in coursework to uncover and contribute new knowledge about a particular area of professional writing and rhetoric. Graduates of the PWR-MA program go on to execute writing-related projects in a variety of industries or proceed to doctoral programs, such as Technical Communication PhDs or Rhetoric and Composition PhDs.

Graduate Certificate in Professional and Technical Writing (PTW)

Comprised of the core courses of the PWR-MA, the PTW graduate certificate enables training in skills relevant to workplace uses of language and nurtures rhetorical awareness of workplace contexts. The PTW certificate helps students professionalize for careers in writing. Students enhance their understanding of current workplace writing practices, practice identifying and applying solutions to common workplace writing problems, diversify their skillsets, and expand their professional networks. In addition to completing the four core courses, students also take two courses with an emphasis in either Technical Writing or Proposal Writing.

PhD in Writing and Rhetoric

George Mason's doctoral program in Writing and Rhetoric offers a curriculum that emphasizes theoretical, practical, and productive approaches to writing in organizations and in public spaces. This program is built on the premise that writing and teaching in twenty-first-century organizations requires the rigorous, integrated study of rhetoric, technology, culture, and research methodologies.