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Rhetoric & Composition Graduate Programs

Rhetoric & Composition M.A.

Rhetoric & Composition Ph.D.

About the Rhetoric & Composition Program

The master’s and doctoral degrees in Rhetoric & Composition emphasize rhetoric and composition theory, history, and research, and the ways these inform the teaching of writing.

Placement Record: Because most students are also teaching associates, the combination of coursework, teaching experiences, and administrative opportunities has resulted in graduates consistently earning tenure-track positions at a variety of colleges and universities. Many alumni of the M.A. concentration have gone on to earn Ph.D.s in the field at other universities. Doctoral alumni have an outstanding placement record in tenure-track positions.

Ohio University enrolls more than 20,000 students on the main campus in Athens, a vital community noted for sustainable living, slow food, and a thriving music and arts scene.

About the Coursework

The program’s small seminars, which consist of both M.A. and Ph.D. students, provide a friendly and supportive atmosphere, with students receiving ample personal attention. Beginning in 2022, doctoral students will take six courses in Rhetoric and Composition, including seminars and teaching apprenticeships. Master's students take four seminars in Rhetoric and Composition.

Rhetoric & Composition students also take classes in critical theory, literary history, and creative writing.

In addition, all English Department graduate students take classes across English studies.

Many students also earn certificates in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies or in TESOL.

Teaching Assistantships

Nearly all Rhetoric & Composition graduate students receive funding in the form of teaching assistantships, with additional fellowships available for select doctoral students. Ohio University has a tiered composition program in which undergraduates take a first-year composition course followed by an advanced composition course in the junior or senior year. All TAs begin their careers by teaching ENG 1510 using a curriculum. TAs also have the opportunity to teach advanced composition courses, including Women and Writing, Writing and Rhetoric II, Professional Writing and Rhetoric, and Writing about Sustainability.

Professional Development

The program offers teaching associates a variety of teaching and related professional development opportunities. Advanced TAs have the opportunity to develop their administrative abilities as Assistant Director of Composition or Assistant Director of the Student Writing Center. Writing tutoring positions also may be available.

The department brings in nationally recognized scholars in the field, such as Peter Elbow, Lester Faigley, Keith Gilyard, Richard Lanham, Kate Ronald, Victor Villanueva, Jonathan Alexander, Heidi McKee, Cynthia Selfe, Richard Selfe, Ann Francis Wysocki, Doug Downs, and Nancy Sommers.

Rhetoric & Composition Ph.D. Exam Sequence

The Rhetoric & Composition Ph.D. process takes students through a structured program to insure that they are prepared for participation in the broader community of Rhetoric & Composition on a national and, increasingly, international scale. For this reason we have three examinations:

  • First is a written, comprehensive exam that faculty recommend students take at the beginning of the third year, but must be taken by the beginning of the fourth year. This exam asks students to read and synthesize one decade of three different professional journals. Students then write three essays tracing the development of an important issue through each one of the journals.
  • Second is an oral exam on the dissertation prospectus that must be taken within six months of the written exam.
  • The final exam is an oral defense of the student’s dissertation.