Writing and Rhetoric
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Writing and Rhetoric at Mason

George Mason University has long focused on the importance of writing to all of our student and faculty endeavors, from a strong writing requirement in the Mason Core (our undergraduate general education program) to an award-winning Writing Across the Curriculum program. GMU offers a range of writing and rhetoric curricula at the undergradate, masters, and PhD levels: a Concentration in Writing and Rhetoric within the English major, a Writing Minor, a concentration in the English MA and graduate certificate in Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR), and a new PhD in Writing and Rhetoric. This site focuses on a broad approach to the study and activity of writing, but the English department also offers programs that focus on more narrow writing specializations in the English undergraduate degree, including the study of folklore, media, and literary texts; the department also houses a BFA and MFA in Creative Writing.

What is Writing?

The philosophy of all of our programs is founded on the premise that writing is not merely a skill: it functions in different ways depending on disciplinary context, genre, medium, and the relationship between writer and reader or designer and user. In short, it is a rhetorical activity. Good writers never stop learning how to improve their rhetorical skills and their craft; learning to write and becoming a writer is a life-long undertaking. The writing and rhetoric programs allow students to engage and research writing as:

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

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.

The Writing Minor

The minor in Writing and Rhetoric 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.

Professional Writing and Rhetoric - MA and Graduate Certificate

The MA concentration in Professional Writing and Rhetoric (PWR) and the PWR Graudate Certificate are oriented to workplace uses of language. In addition to training in pragmatic skills, the graduate programs are 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 the private and public sectors.

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. Our 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.


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