Carnegie Mellon University

Curriculum - Rhetoric Ph.D.

To receive a Ph.D. in Rhetoric, a student must do the following:  

  • Complete, with a cumulative GPA of at least a B (3.00), 72 hours (216 units) of approved course work. Approved courses are normally at the 700- level or above in Carnegie Mellon’s system. (Note that students with previous graduate training may petition the Graduate Committee for approval of transfer credit. See the relevant policy.)
  • All Ph.D. candidates who enter the program without an M.A. will be required to complete an extra year of coursework to earn their M.A. before proceeding to their Ph.D. work.
  • Required coursework includes:
    • 76-824 Theory and Design of Writing Instruction
    • 76-863 Contemporary Rhetorical Theory
    • 76-882 History of Rhetoric
    • 76-884 Discourse Analysis
    • Elective classes of individual interest selected in consultation with your advisor to mesh with your research interests. These may come from existing course offerings in the graduate program, either inside or outside the English Department. Students are normally expected to take graduate-level courses as electives, although exceptions can be made when undergraduate courses are more appropriate for the student’s needs.
    • One 4-hour (12-unit) Directed Research in Rhetoric course (76-800) in which a student in an original research project in collaboration with or under the supervision of a Rhetoric faculty member. This may involve working with a faculty member on his or her research, or it may involve the student’s own pilot or exploratory research, conducted under close faculty supervision. Students taking Directed Research in Rhetoric must receive the approval of his or her advisor before registering for the course; and develop a written research plan with the supervising faculty member before the beginning of the semester. The plan should include concrete milestones and requirements for the semester. A copy of the plan must be submitted to the Assistant Director of Graduate Programs before the end of the first week of classes. Students may take up to a total of 12 credit hours (36 units) of Directed Research in Rhetoric, in addition to any Directed Research in Rhetoric units they completed as M.A. students (or in their first year in the program if admitted without an M.A.).
    • One semester 76-902 of Teaching Writing Practicum
    • One 4-hour (12-unit) Directed Reading course (76-911), taken in the final semester of coursework under the supervision of your Ph.D. Exam Committee Chair.  During this Directed Reading course, your will draft your Ph.D. Exam Proposal.
  • Complete the Research Tool Requirement
  • Present a public paper by the end of the second year of Ph.D. coursework
  • Pass the Ph.D. exam
  • Develop a satisfactory dissertation prospectus
  • Write and successfully defend a Ph.D. dissertation