PhD in Writing and Rhetoric

Catalog Year: 2024-2025

Banner Code: LA-PHD-WRTR

The doctoral program in writing and rhetoric offers a curriculum that emphasizes theoretical, practical, and productive approaches to composition, professional writing, and public rhetoric. The program is built on the premise that writing and teaching in twenty-first century organizations require the rigorous, integrated study of rhetoric, technology, pedagogy, culture, and research methodologies. In addition to our core curriculum, the program’s proximity to Washington, D.C. makes it uniquely situated to provide opportunities for research and internships that go beyond and enrich the student’s writing and rhetoric coursework. 

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 78

Doctoral Coursework

Core Courses

ENGH 720 Histories of Institutional Rhetorics 3
ENGH 722 Composition Pedagogies and Programs in Context 3
ENGH 724 Professional Writing Theory and Research 3
ENGH 726 Rhetorical Theory and Public Spaces 3
Total Credits 12

Required Research Methods Course

ENGH 702 Research Methods in Rhetoric and Writing 3
Total Credits 3

Primary Focus Area

With a faculty advisor, students complete any combination of the following courses totaling 12 credits. The selected courses should form a consistent area of research around a specific object, practice, method, set of theories, or sub-field.

Select four courses from the following: 12
Pedagogical Research
Studies in Rhetoric
Proseminar in Composition Instruction
Topics in Pedagogy
Advanced Proposal Writing
Special Topics in Writing and Rhetoric
Composition Theory
Core Readings in Writing Studies
Studies in Rhetorical Theory and Practice 1
Writing Program Design and Administration
Studies in Composition 1
Studies in Professional Writing 1
Studies in Public Rhetorics 1
Total Credits 12

May be repeated up to four times when topic differs.

Secondary Focus Area

The selected courses form a consistent secondary area of research that supports the student's primary area and developing research interests. It is strongly suggested that the secondary focus courses be taken in other programs or disciplines.

Select 3 courses from another program or discipline (see below) and/or the primary area courses, in consultation with advisor 9
Art and Visual Technology
Computer Game Design
Conflict Analysis and Resolution
Counseling and Development
Cultural Studies
Education Instructional Technology
Education Leadership
Educational Policy
Global and Community Health
Higher Education
Policy and Government
Public Administration
Public Policy
Social Work
Women and Gender Studies
Total Credits 9


Students complete elective courses chosen in consultation with an advisor. 30
Total Credits 30

Advancement to Candidacy

Prior to beginning dissertation research (normally after completion of 66 hours of coursework), students will take a written examination, successful completion of which will demonstrate a qualification for advancement to candidacy. The examination will cover foundation knowledge acquired in the writing and rhetoric core courses and in the student's area of primary focus.


The dissertation process, which begins after the student has completed 66 credit hours and passed the written qualifying exam, includes an oral exam on the dissertation proposal, the production of the dissertation, and an oral defense of the dissertation. The student's progress at all stages will be evaluated by the dissertation committee. The dissertation should use theoretical, historical, qualitative, and/or quantitative methods to address a rhetorical problem within an institutional or public context that is framed within a disciplinary field. While these projects are often multidisciplinary in approach, they should address a gap in a discipline's research as well as solve a public rhetorical problem.

Once enrolled in ENGH 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal, students in this degree program must maintain continuous registration in ENGH 998 or ENGH 999 Doctoral Dissertation each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries. Once enrolled in ENGH 999, students must follow the university's continuous registration policy as specified in the Academic Policies section of the catalog. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of ENGH 999.

At least 3 credits of 3
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal (3 credits required)
At least 9 credits of 9
Doctoral Dissertation (minimum of 9 credits)
Total Credits 12