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Gain a broad understanding of rhetorical and writing studies: histories, pedagogies, research strategies, technologies, and administration.

As a student in our doctorate of philosophy in English (rhetoric and composition) program, you’ll investigate the influences of digital and multimodal writing alongside rhetorical history, research methodologies, and composition pedagogies. Additionally, graduate coursework in Writing Program and Writing Center administration prepares students for future faculty administrative appointments.

Our flexible program encourages you to combine studies in rhetoric and composition with courses in other fields, both within the Department of English and outside of it, giving you wide-ranging knowledge and skills.

Our Alumni

Learn more about what our graduate-program alumni do.

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What Can You Do with an English Major?

We’re asked this question all the time. Our answer: A lot. You will learn skills that transfer across hundreds of possible careers and industries—some of which may not even exist yet. Our graduates go on to work in marketing, publishing, non-profit fundraising, speechwriting, as well as in countless other fulfilling occupations.

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Program Benefits

Weaving throughout this program are two commitments: the first to the importance of pedagogy and of the teaching moment, the second to the importance of technology in its myriad guises and contexts.

  • Historically, the study and performance of rhetoric has been united with the teaching of rhetoric.
  • You’ll receive a solid grounding in the practice of rhetorical instruction, the administration of writing programs, and the integration of writing centers into those programs.
  • Effective teaching of rhetoric and composition is emphasized, and the program is organized so that teaching assistants receive a full semester of teacher preparation before entering their own classrooms. Their teaching is supported through teaching circles and close mentoring.

Because of our commitment to technological literacy and digital rhetoric, you also learn both instruction and practice in the use of technology in the classroom as well as in the creation of discourse (i.e., hypermediated environments).

Whether literary, political, or private, discourse has always formed through a medium by means of a technology. So, we take into account the tools that people use to create meaning in their cultures.

This course of study increases your awareness of and possibilities for various media and technologies.

Major Requirements

The PhD in rhetoric and composition is a 90-credit-hour program that includes 39 to 45 hours of core courses, a series of electives or transferred credits from a master’s degree, and 16 hours for a doctor’s dissertation.


Total Graduate Studies: 90

  • core courses: 39-45
  • electives: 29-35
  • dissertation: 16


A few of the classes you will take include:

  • ENG 699 Contemporary Theories in Composition
  • ENG 604 Teaching with Technology
  • ENG 689 Writing Center Research and Administration
  • ENG 605 Teaching in English Studies

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Graduate Catalog.

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Note: For purposes of advising, enrollment in all graduate courses in the Department of English requires permission of the department.

Comprehensive Examinations

At the completion of coursework, students take comprehensive examinations covering the concentration and cognates. Oral examinations follow the written exam.


Candidates for the PhD must complete a dissertation on an original topic under the guidance of a committee of faculty. The dissertation requires 16 hours of credit in DISS 799.

Paying for Your Education

Ready to Apply?

Review our admission requirements, dates and deadlines, and instructions. Then complete our online application.

For consideration, complete applications must be received by February 1st for a Fall semester start date. After February 1st, please contact the department regarding program availability before beginning the application process.

More Information

If you would like to learn more about this program or about Ball State Graduate School in general, please complete our online form to request more information. Or if you’d like to speak with someone in our department directly by phone or email, please contact us.

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