Concentration in Writing Studies and Rhetoric

The MA with a Concentration in Writing Studies and Rhetoric is a 30-credit degree program, allowing course work in any one of three areas: the rhetorical study of texts, the teaching of writing, or professional/non-academic writing. The student takes courses selected from a list of courses involving various aspects of the theory of writing/composition, rhetoric, and language studies, and successfully completes an MA Capstone Project or Master’s Thesis (for a total of 30 credits). Students wishing to concentrate on literary studies may be interested in our Concentration in Literature.

For more details about the strengths of the Language, Writing, and Rhetoric program, upcoming courses, and graduate student profiles, please see their area group page.

Course Requirements

1)  Two required courses (6 credits):

ENGL607, Readings in the History of Rhetoric to 1900
ENGL775, Seminar in Composition Theory or ENGL776, Seminar in Modern Rhetorical Theory

2)  Four courses chosen from the following (12 credits):

ENGL 605, Readings in Linguistics
ENGL 609, Technologies of Writing
ENGL 611, Approaches to College Composition
ENGL 612, Approaches to Professional and Technical Writing
ENGL 618, Writing for Professionals
ENGL 649, Readings in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy
ENGL 668, Readings in Digital Studies
ENGL 708, Topics in Rhetoric
ENGL 776, Seminar in Modern Rhetorical Theory
ENGL 779, Topics in Language Study

3)  Four electives (12 credits, unless a thesis is chosen, then two electives (6 credits) plus 6 credits of Thesis hours.)

Students may also elect to take a course in another discipline (Communication, iSchool, Education, Classics, etc.).  The course must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or the Rhetoric and Composition adviser (currently Dr. Sara Wilder)  prior to the start of the semester.

 Students may take up six credits of independent-study courses to fulfill 600-level electives requirement. Students may also, in place of three credits of an independent-study class, take one 400 level course to fulfill the elective requirement. Students interested in taking an independent-study course for 600-level course credit should collaborate with their professor in writing up an intended course of study and file it with the Graduate Office for approval by the DGS before the first day of classes each semester (please see Independent Study Form here). Students may also make special arrangements to do additional work in their 600-level courses to have those courses count as a seminar/700 level course. Students wishing to take a 600-level class as a seminar must provide the Graduate Studies Office with a proposal and syllabus detailing the additional work that will be undertaken in order for the course to be counted as a 700-level seminar. The proposal and syllabus must be signed by both student and instructor and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office for approval by the DGS at the beginning of the semester. Please see form for taking a course for seminar credit here. Students may not take an independent study for seminar/700 level credit except in extreme circumstances and only after receiving permission from the DGS.

At least three seminar-level courses are required, which may be counted toward any of the above requirements. 

Please note that students can't retake courses for credit; only one course number can count towards their degree requirements. Courses that end in a letter can count towards their degree requirements, given that the ending letter is different for both courses.

4) MA Capstone Project or Master’s Thesis.

Option One: MA Capstone Project. The Capstone, directed by a faculty advisor, may be based on a traditional seminar paper, revised and resubmitted; it may be a pedagogy portfolio; or it may be a digital project.

Option Two: Master’s Thesis, ENGL799 (6 credits). If this option is chosen,  The student may take 2 electives instead of 4.

Faculty Mentor

Each MA student will be assigned one faculty member as a mentor with whom you should meet at least once a semester. The purpose of these meetings will not be a discussion of your progress in the fulfillment of the program requirements (for which you should continue to meet with the Graduate Director or Graduate Coordinator); rather, the purpose will be to discuss your intellectual experience and progress in the program relevant to your particular field(s) of interest, your participation in the department's intellectual life as relevant to your field(s) of interest, as well as your professional plans for the remainder of the program and beyond. For the purpose of these meetings, the Graduate Studies Office has a short self-evaluation form with a few prompts for you to complete and email to your mentor before the meeting. During the meeting, you should discuss the form, obtain your mentor's signature, and return it to the Graduate Studies Office. The purpose of this form is simply to give you some points of discussion for your meetings with your mentor and to ensure that you are in touch with a faculty member in the department. This person will be there for you to talk to if you have any questions or concerns with regard to your professional and intellectual development. We intend this program to be a service to you, not as an additional requirement. While it is preferred that you meet with your mentor in person, we recognize that some of you are in the program as part-time students and have jobs outside the department that may make it difficult for you to meet with your mentor in person. As such, you have the option of conducting these meetings by phone or Skype. After the conversation, your mentor can simply forward your self-evaluation form to the Graduate Studies Office, in lieu of you submitting a hard copy with his or her signature.