Composition and Rhetoric PhD

PhD Requirements & Funding

PhD students take eight seminars during their first two years that include core foundation courses as well as electives of their choice. Four required foundation courses offer a breadth and depth in the field; two seminars are additional composition and rhetoric courses, and two seminars are open electives in English at the 600 level or above that are relevant to the individually planned course of study. A course of study might center on any one of the subfields in the discipline, such as composition theory, composition pedagogy, digital media studies, ethnic rhetoric, historical rhetoric, linguistics, literacy studies, professional writing, writing center study, women’s rhetoric, or any devised interdisciplinary field. It might focus on a single historical period or cut across them in order to achieve historical range. It might use any of a variety of research methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative research.

Four Foundation Courses (16 hours)

  • ENG 732: Histories and Theories of Composition
  • ENG 733: Histories and Theories of Rhetoric
  • ENG 735: Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition
  • ENG 737: Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric

Two additional seminars in composition and rhetoric (8 hours)

Two open electives in English at 600 level or above relevant to course of study (8 hours)

Special Topic Courses

Special topic courses that count toward the additional seminars and the open electives are offered each semester. Recent special topic courses have included: Writing Program Administration, Professional Writing, Digital Composition, Rhetorics of Public Spheres, Comparative Rhetorics, Rhetorics of Style, For more information see Recent Courses.

Other required coursework:

  • ENG 605: Issues in the Profession (2 hrs.)

Language or Cognate Requirement

Beginning in Fall 2018, the doctoral student is required, before sitting for the comprehensive examination, to show competence in one language other than English or to take two courses in  a cognate field.

A candidate may fulfill the language/cognate requirement by:

  • having passed within the last 10 years two undergraduate courses in the language at the 200 level or above;
  • taking two courses in a cognate field (e.g. Educational Leadership, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, History, Interactive Media Studies)
  • completing 617/618 in a language department at Miami;
  • taking a language examination given by a foreign language department at Miami University; or
  • presenting a language, other than English, which is the candidate’s native language. The Graduate Committee will accept language examination scores administered at the graduate level or graduate-level courses equivalent to 617/618 from other accredited universities.

Candidacy Requirements

A comprehensive exam including an area of concentration, a special topic, and a reading list approved by a student’s advisor committee. The exam is an opportunity to discuss with your committee how readings from your designed concentration inform your continuing research interests.

A dissertation including a prospectus and defense.


PhD Graduate Teaching Assistantships provide students with tuition remission and a stipend to support their graduate work for five years, with the possibility of a dissertation fellowship in the fourth, fifth, or sixth year.

For assistantships, students have opportunities to teach in the College Composition Program, the Professional Writing major, and the Rhetoric and Writing minor in the English Department and in other programs, such as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies or Emerging Technology in Business and Design. For more information, please see Teaching Opportunities.

We typically admit 3-4 students to each program per year.

Dissertation Fellowships

A Graduate School-funded dissertation fellowship is available to students entering their fourth, fifth, or sixth year of the doctoral program during the term of the award. This fellowship may be for one or two semesters of support. The department’s Sinclair Dissertation Fellowships may be awarded as one-semester or full-year fellowships for eligible doctoral students entering their fourth, fifth, or sixth year. Applicants must have successfully passed their comprehensive examination by the published application deadline, typically in early April. Applicants must submit a dissertation prospectus that has been read and approved by all committee members, and a cover letter in which they briefly outline the project and present a timeline for completing the dissertation.

The criteria for awarding the fellowships are the quality of the project as expressed in the prospectus, and the likelihood that the applicant will complete the dissertation during the term of the award.