What Makes Our Program Distinctive?-Department of English - Carnegie Mellon University

What Makes Our Program Distinctive?

Among the particular strengths of our Ph.D. in Rhetoric program are:

Size and Selectiveness

Our rhetoric faculty is among the largest anywhere, yet we admit only two to four new Ph.D. students each year. This means that our students work intensively in close collegial relationships with faculty mentors and frequently engage in joint research.

A Distinguished Faculty

Carnegie Mellon's rhetoric faculty includes distinguished scholars with a variety of disciplinary strengths. Among these are rhetorical, cognitive, and linguistic theory, discourse analysis, technology and literacy, composition research and pedagogy, rhetoric and culture, workplace communication and community literacy, and the history of rhetoric.

Interdisciplinary Resources

The program offers interdisciplinary strengths and opportunities via student and faculty diversity and the broad resources of the Carnegie Mellon community. Carnegie Mellon's core rhetoric faculty has disciplinary backgrounds in psychology, linguistics, speech communication, and anthropology as well as English and rhetoric. The variety provides both a range of theoretical and methodological approaches and a wide variety of research questions for students to explore. In addition, students have the opportunity to work with the English Department's distinguished faculty in Literary and Cultural Studies (with special strengths in feminist and postcolonial theory and African American studies) and with faculty members in history, anthropology, design, psychology, sociology, and computer science. English department faculty members in Carnegie Mellon's well-known creative writing program are also available to work with graduate students in rhetoric on relevant projects. And students contribute their own diversity to this mix. Current students, for example, have backgrounds in professional writing, English, ESL, linguistics, philosophy, history, communication, and design.

Professional Development

Ph.D. students are encouraged to make professional contacts and present their research at conferences and through publication beginning in their second year in the program, and they have a variety of options for getting teaching and administrative experience during their Ph.D. years. All students have the opportunity to teach in the freshman writing program and to propose and offer self-designed courses through CMU's summer offerings. Additional opportunities include working in settings like the The Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, the Center for the Arts in Society, the Community Literacy Center, or the Center for Innovation in Learning. By the time they graduate, most CMU Ph.D.s are published scholars with an extensive record of conference papers and a variety of professional experience relevant to their careers.

The Pittsburgh Community

Pittsburgh provides a wide variety of resources for research, including well-known faculty members in rhetoric, linguistics, and related disciplines at the University of Pittsburgh and at many other local colleges and universities. The city is ethnically, culturally, and professionally diverse and provides many potential sites for research and rhetorical action. Pittsburgh is also a good place to live, accommodating a variety of lifestyles and offering safe, affordable housing, a broad range of accessible cultural and recreational opportunities, and an appealing geographical setting.