Graduate Programs


In all facets of the graduate program, our aim is to prepare students to be culturally and technologically engaged thinkers, writers, researchers, teachers, and citizens. To meet this goal, we work to provide a humane educational experience informed by rigorous intellectual and ethical practices. We believe that students should become good citizens of their disciplines, professions, and communities. We encourage students to think dynamically about their career goals, and to educate themselves for the future, not just for today.

This conviction is implicit in both the design of our program and in the intellectual culture we strive to create. We work to engage students´ intellectual development in ways consistent with our desire to prepare students to use and to study rhetoric-to become exemplary practitioners of rhetoric within their communities, workplaces, and classrooms, as well as to become researchers and scholars of practices, methods, and modes of rhetoric, especially as these relate to literacy and pedagogy.

Our program is distinctive in its attention to the productive interchange between traditions and areas of study historically believed to be divergent or oppositional:

  • community literacies;
  • cultural rhetorics;
  • digital rhetorics;
  • professional writing;
  • and critical studies in literacy and pedagogy.
  • We are committed to introducing our students to the discipline of rhetoric and composition as an historical, theoretical, methodological, and institutional entity; we balance this commitment with an openness to innovation and flexibility in envisioning the future of the field.

Because our program emphasizes rhetoric not only as theoretical engagement but also as productive action, we envision many sites of practice as appropriate for “doing rhetoric”: communities, classrooms, workplaces, cultures, and texts (print, digital, and non-alphabetic). The most immediate opportunity that students have to practice rhetoric in this way is by answering our open invitation to contribute to the shape of our program as it develops.

Our collective sense of ourselves as scholars and practitioners extends to commitment to teaching as a significant intellectual activity. We believe the work we do in places of literacy instruction is important not just because adult literacy development is a disciplinary commitment or because teaching is a significant aspect of our professional lives, but also because classrooms (and other learning environments) are rich and essential sites of rhetorical practice, action, and inquiry. For these reasons, opportunities for various kinds of teaching-and occasions to reflect and theorize this practice-are an important part of graduate education in our program.

We believe that programs, curricula, and instructors must engage learning as it happens in emergent, often unpredictable ways. Further, professional development must happen within a context of engagement with individual needs, motives, and goals, and must recognize the diverse life experiences students bring from various histories, cultures, and social positions.

Our sense of professional identity extends to a commitment to service to our department, institutions, professional organizations, and communities. Service is often woven into our knowledge making and pedagogy, and as such is valued highly. Rhetoricians have a longstanding ethical imperative to make knowledge with and for people, a civic-mindedness that infuses our professional identity often as much as our teaching and research. Students in our program are encouraged to envision their work as taking place at the intersections of scholarship, teaching, and service within a range of linguistically and culturally diverse contexts.