Carnegie Mellon University

Masters of Rhetoric Program

The Rhetoric graduate faculty bring students into contact with the major subfields of rhetoric that can be pursued for the PhD. In addition, they advise students on a range of non-academic opportunities beyond the M.A.

The M.A. in Rhetoric is a one-year intensive program in rhetoric, writing, and communication that prepares students for a variety of contexts including, but not limited to, the Ph.D. degree in rhetoric; related academic and professional graduate programs, including law school, policy work, work in nonprofits; and work as a writing editor or writing tutor in college, school, company, and freelance settings. 

For students interested in pursuing a Rhetoric PhD, the Rhetoric faculty are resources for helping with acceptance into a leading Rhetoric Ph.D. program (which, for some students, has been CMU’s Ph.D. program). M.A. students will take courses with Rhetoric Ph.D.'s and learn what is required for success as a Ph.D. The M.A. Rhetoric program is open to both part-time and full-time students. Additional reasons for choosing the Rhetoric M.A. include:

  • The size and quality of the rhetoric faculty. The rhetoric faculty are recognized leaders in rhetorical theory and its relationship to composition, cognition, discourse, visual design, politics, law, feminism, translation, embodiment, pedagogy, statistics, computing, and technology.  Whatever the interest in rhetoric, students will find it among our faculty — and the program's faculty will take an interest in each individual student. They take as much pride in their mentoring as in their research.
  • The quality of the English department and of CMU. CMU is a tier-one research institution with an accomplished faculty in many fields related to rhetoric. M.A. students can take elective courses across programs in the English Department and in other departments. Students have the opportunity to work with the English Department's distinguished faculty in Literary and Cultural Studies and with faculty members in history, anthropology, design, psychology, sociology, and computer science. Faculty in our storied creative writing program are also available to work with M.A. students in rhetoric on select projects.
  • Opportunities to tutor in a state-of-the art communication center that specializes in applying research-based instruction to develop communicators’ skills in a range of contexts: from first-year writing to advanced, cutting-edge scientific and technical research.  Graduate tutors have gone on to a range of positions as college writing instructors, technical communicators, and secondary school instructors.

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Spotlight: Stephanie Larson

Professor Larson's research interests include feminist rhetorical theory and criticism, body politics, disability studies, public sphere theory, and rhetorics of health and medicine. Her first book, What It Feels Like: Visceral Rhetoric and the Politics of Rape Culture (Penn State UP, 2021), investigates contemporary rhetorics of rape culture by tracing the affective presence of women’s bodies in institutional, legal, cultural, and medical discourses. In addition to her research, Professor Larson teaches graduate courses in the professional writing and rhetoric programs on topics such as style, feminist rhetorics, disability studies, research methods, and rhetorics of the body.

Stephanie Larson