Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric

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Total Semester Credit Hours Required

At least 90 semester credit hours beyond the baccalaureate, including 12 semester credit hours for dissertation.


A minor is optional (six to nine semester credit hours). It must be in a discipline that offers a graduate degree. Accordingly, one cannot minor in, say, literary theory or linguistics. To be able to teach the subject of one’s minor at the college level in Texas, one would probably need eighteen semester credit hours of course work. Consult the "Graduate Catalog" for additional information about minors. Students should discuss the value of a minor with their advisors.

Research Tools

Two research tools are required. Students must earn a "B" or better in all research tool courses.

Residence Requirements

Students are strongly encouraged to enroll full time for at least two consecutive semesters.

Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination is administered at the close of course work after the student has met the research tools requirement. Students must be enrolled at TWU in order to take the exam.  The examination may be taken only during April, July, or November of each year. The written examination has three parts: Historical/Theoretical Rhetoric, Applied Rhetoric, and the student's Area of Specialization. For the Area of Specialization, the student may choose a literary period, a topic, a practice, or a question that crosses texts and artifacts (in the broadest sense) and remains grounded in the social, historical, cultural, critical and theoretical texts that inform them.  Students submit a formal written proposal (which requires approval) for the Area of Specialization well in advance of the examination process. Within one month of successfully completing all three portions of the written examination, an oral examination is held. Students may attempt the exam (in whole or in part) twice. Failing the qualifying exam (in whole or in part) twice will result in the student being removed from the program.

Dissertation Defense

A public oral examination covering the area of the completed dissertation and areas related to it.

Research Tools

Students choose two of the following options (may choose the same option twice):

  1. 6 semester credit hours of graduate or 12 semester credit hours of undergraduate courses in the same foreign language or equivalency examination
  2. 6 semester credit hours of graduate-level American Sign Language or equivalency examination
  3. 6 semester credit hours of graduate-level computer science
  4. 6 semester credit hours of graduate-level library science
  5. 6 semester credit hours of graduate-level English courses. Select from ENG 5713, ENG 5283, ENG 5343, ENG 5353, ENG 5373, ENG 6083, and ENG 6913.

English courses taken as research tools will count towards the 90 semester credit hours of the degree; however, other courses (foreign language, computer science, and library science) will not count towards the 90 semester credit hours of the degree major.

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric Program of Study (90 semester credit hours)

Rhetoric Core24
Minimum of 24 semester credit hours in historical, theoretical, and applied rhetoric
Rhetoric and Composition: Theory and Practice
Rhetoric and Composition: Theory and Pedagogy of Electronic Texts
History of Rhetoric I
History of Rhetoric II
History of Rhetoric III
Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition
Area of Specialization15
Minimum of 15 semester credit hours chosen in consultation with the advisor and advisory committee
Theory Component3
Choose from ENG 5283, ENG 6343, and ENG 6313
Introduction to Graduate Studies in English (required of all doctoral students who have not already had a similar course)
Independent Study Option3
In consultation with the advisory committee chair, a student may elect to take a three hour indpendent study course to prepare for comprehensive exams. If a student perfers not to take this option, s/he may take an additional course in the area of specialization.
To complete 90 semester credit hours beyond bachelor's degree.
Minimum of 12 semester credit hours
Total Semester Credit Hours90