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Our PhD students study in a program that is unique for its merger of rhetoric/writing and literature at a time when related departments at other institutions are breaking away from one another. Philosophically and practically, we see the subjects intersect and believe students benefit from the combined study of literature, rhetoric and writing theory. While required courses and electives in historical and applied rhetoric are the foundation of the program, students also select a major period of literature (either in the British or American traditions) to study. Students develop abilities to work collaboratively as well as independently, to lead peers effectively, to supervise the work of others, to conduct and present original research in oral and written forms, to use technology effectively in the classroom, to structure and plan their own courses, and to teach effectively. For more information, please contact Program Coordinator Dr. Lou Thompson at

Whom We Serve

The curriculum prepares students to lead fulfilling lives as teachers, leaders in their academic departments (often directing writing programs), and researchers within the fields of rhetoric and literature by cultivating their proficiency in discourse analysis, communicative studies, writing, and research. While the program largely serves the needs of aspiring future post-secondary teachers, students prepare to contribute professionally in fields as diverse as writing and editing, government, and business.

What to expect

We offer a range of face-to-face, online, and hybrid graduate courses in literature, pedagogy, writing, and rhetoric to allow our working, commuting, and parenting students the opportunity to balance rigorous academic course work with their busy lives. Our face-to-face graduate courses are offered one day per week, typically in late afternoon or evening. While our online offerings provide important flexibility for graduate students, the program is not intended to be a fully-online program and cannot be completed through online classes only. Although we are a woman’s focused university, we do admit male students, and our graduate population generally includes men. Our program collaborates closely with the Multicultural Gender and Women's Studies Department at TWU and offers a number of cross-listed courses. As a result, we also share students. Gender and Women's Studies students often also earn an MA in English, while our MA students can earn credit towards their degrees or towards the Graduate Certificate in Multicultural Gender and Women's Studies

Recent courses have focused on Disability Rhetoric, Digital Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric, The Harlem Renaissance, The American Short Story, Southern Literature, Faulkner, Poetry, Studies in Folklore, Realism and Naturalism, The Booker Prize, Allegory in Old and Middle English, Virginia Woolf, Post-Colonial Literature, Foucault, Bakhtin, and Rhetorical Figures. Upcoming topics include Call and Response: Slave Narratives and Neo-Slave Narratives, Narrative, Grant Writing, Literacy, Burke, and Documentary Film.

Use the link for more information about the program expectations.

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How to Get Started

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Opportunities for Professional Development

Our individual mentoring of students, range of leadership opportunities, small size, and varied course delivery methods set our PhD program apart. Our graduate students who receive graduate assistantships work in a variety of capacities: as tutors in our campus writing center, The Write Site; as course assistants for tenure-track faculty members teaching everything from first-year writing to professional writing to literature and theory courses; and as teachers of record in their own first-year writing courses or literature courses. We have regular professional development meetings for our first-year writing teachers and provide the support and mentoring that students need as they transition to presenting and publishing their own scholarship. We make a conscious effort to support that very important transition from student to professional colleague.

Technology is integral to our program. We provide students with courses in online pedagogy. Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) serve as teachers of record in computer labs and in hybrid and fully online courses. GTAs can also receive formal (paid) training in a month-long university online teaching development program.

page last updated 1/3/2017 2:14 PM