Ph.D. Rhetoric & Professional Communication

Coursework | Qualifying Portfolio | Internship | Comprehensive Exam | Dissertation | Faculty

Image of Goddard Tower

Doctorate in Rhetoric and Professional Communication

The Ph.D. program in Rhetoric and Professional Communication offers courses in rhetoric, composition studies, professional communication, and critical/cultural studies, which can be viewed at Drawing on a range of research methods and pedagogical approaches, we support students from diverse backgrounds pursuing interests in industry, government, and education, including universities, community colleges, and public schools.

We admit students in the fall semester only of each academic year. Complete applications are due by February 1. Application information is available at

About the program

The faculty in the Rhetoric and Professional Communication (RPC) program approach research, teaching, and other professional practices from multiple perspectives. We value collaboration and synthesis. We encourage critical engagements that challenge the borders traditionally drawn between theory and practice, production and reception, and creativity and critique. We promote situated inquiry that negotiates cultural, technological, disciplinary, and textual constraints in order to imagine and realize new possibilities.

We regularly revise our graduate curriculum to stay current with changes in the field. We have designed our program to provide a theoretical foundation in key sub-disciplines (Composition, Rhetoric, Critical/Cultural Studies, and Technical/Professional Communication) through required core courses. Students also have the flexibility to pursue their own interests through numerous specialized courses. Faculty continually develop new course offerings based on their own expertise and research interests, as well as the needs of our students.

The Ph.D. program in RPC admitted its first class in 1991. Since that time, we have graduated more than 50 doctoral students who have gone on to hold professional and technical writing positions, non-profit positions, and academic positions at institutions such as Virginia Tech, the University of Houston, the University of Central Florida, Texas Tech, Miami University of Ohio, Shawnee State, Hamline University, the University of Colorado, and the University of Delaware. Alumni have completed dissertation research on a wide range of subjects in writing studies. For a list of dissertation titles, visit