Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric

Total Semester Credit Hours Required

At least 90 semester credit hours beyond the baccalaureate, including at least 12 semester credit hours for dissertation.  Applicants to the program are expected to have earned a master's degree prior to beginning the doctoral program.  At least one degree, either the bachelor's or master's, should be in English, Writing, Rhetoric or a closely related field.  The number of hours from the master's degree that may count towards the 90 hours required for the PhD depends on the age and content of the courses completed.  Applicants are encouraged to discuss the transfer of courses with the PhD Program Coordinator.

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
Rhetoric Electives: 6 semester credit hours in rhetoric, writing, or linguistics
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
Additional courses, including those from other departments, may be substituted with prior approval.
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. Only one independent study course may be counted on the degree plan.
To complete 90 semester credit hours beyond bachelor's degree.
Students can expect to enroll in a minimum of 12 semester credit hours on the dissertation.
Total SCHs90


A minor is optional (six to nine semester credit hours). It must be in a discipline in which TWU 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. 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 for the Area of Specialization, which requires approval by the Graduate Studies Committee at least six months prior to the exam date. 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 is required.

Research Tools

Doctoral students are required to take two research tools, each equivalent to a minimum of 6 semester credit hours at the graduate level or 12 semester credit hours at the undergraduate level.

  1. Required Research Tool (6 graduate semester credit hours)
    The following courses from the Rhetoric Core make up one research tool: ENG 5343 and ENG 6083
  2. Required Research Tool (6 graduate semester credit hours or 12 undergraduate semester credit hours)
    Students may choose two courses from the following English courses to make up their second research tool: ENG 5083, ENG 5283, ENG 5363, ENG 6283ENG 6313, ENG 6323, or ENG 6343
    Courses listed above may be repeated when the specific topic of investigation varies.
    Students may also choose 1-2 research courses taught in other disciplines, such as information retrieval, ethnography, or statistics, as approved by the advisory committee and department chair; or 6 semester credit hours of graduate level or 12 semester credit hours of undergraduate level language courses.

Students are advised to select research tools which complement their Area of Specialization.

Students must receive a "B" or higher in all research tools. English and non-English courses may count toward the 90 semester credit hours of the degree, at the discretion of the advisory committee and department chair. Undergraduate courses taken as research tools may not be used in the semester credit hours that count toward the graduate degree.

Graduation Requirement

To allow for program-level assessment, PhD candidates must submit a copy of the dissertation to the Graduate Program Coordinator at the time of final submission to the graduate school. Submission of the dissertation to the coordinator is required for graduation.