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Doctor of Philosophy in English - Rhetoric and Composition

Learn more about how to apply to the PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at Ball State. 

Building on Ball State’s commitment to emerging media, our rhetoric and composition program encourages students to investigate the growing fields of digital literacy and visual rhetoric alongside traditional studies in rhetorical history, research methodologies, and composition pedagogies. Our doctor of philosophy (PhD) in English, with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition, is one of the oldest established programs in the United States.

Our flexible program encourages students to combine studies in rhetoric and composition with courses in other fields, both within the Department of English and outside of it, producing doctoral students with wide-ranging knowledge and skills. We offer both a doctorate and a master’s in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition.

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.
  • Students 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 will offered 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.

The graduate program is deliberately structured to maintain a small circle of highly motivated students. This enables a close collegial relationship between candidates and faculty already established in their areas of professional expertise. It also affords numerous opportunities for graduate students to explore the many and varied aspects of rhetoric and composition, including Writing Program, the Writing Center, and Writing Project participation.

By working intensively with faculty, you will present at national conferences, publish within print and electronic venues, and write internal and external grants. This active participation boosts your growth as a teacher, as a member of an institutional community, and as a professional. Further support for graduate students is offered through scholarships, grants, and assistantships.

Degree Requirements

PhD in English—concentration in Rhetoric and Composition, 90 credits

ENG 605 Teaching in English Studies
ENG 606 Literary Theory 1

ENG 620 Linguistics and the Study of English
ENG 693 Writing in the Profession
ENG 699 Contemporary Theories of Composition
3 (rhetoric and composition) hours in each of the
following areas:
Rhetorical History
Digital Literacies
Research Methodologies


9 additional hours directed electives in one of the
areas of emphasis

Coursework from Master's degree or equivalent
DISS 799 Doctoral Dissertation
Total Credits

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.

Foreign Language
Before writing their comprehensive examinations, candidates must establish competence in one language, other than English, relevant to their research.

Department of English
Robert Bell Building (RB), Room 297
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Phone: 765-285-8580
Fax: 765-285-3765
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