English @ OU

Graduate Program in Rhetoric and Composition

We invite you to apply to the masters or doctoral graduate program in Rhetoric and Composition at Ohio University, located in southeast Ohio in the beautiful foothills of the Appalachian mountains.



What we offer

We emphasize rhetoric and composition theory, history, and research, and the ways these relate to the teaching of writing. Because most of our students are also teaching associates, the combination of coursework, teaching experiences, and administrative opportunities has resulted in our graduates consistently earning tenure track positions at a variety of colleges and universities. Recent doctoral graduates are now on the faculty of Rider University, Buena Vista University, and the University of Houston. Many alumni of our MA concentration have gone on to earn Ph.D.s in the field at other universities.

What the program is like

Professor Doug Downs, author of Writing about Writing, gives public lecture entitled, "Escaping the Philosopher's Den: The Rhetorical Theory that Writers Actually Need to Know"

Our small seminars, which consist of both M.A. and Ph.D. students, provide a friendly and supportive atmosphere, and professors are able to pay close attention to each student. Situated within the English department, the rhetoric and composition concentration maintains conceptual connections with the department’s literary, cultural and creative writing concentrations. The department hosts a graduate student conference and has brought in nationally recognized scholars in the field, including Peter Elbow, Lester Faigley, Keith Gilyard, Richard Lanham, Kate Ronald, Victor Villanueva, Jonathan Alexander, Heidi McKee, Cynthia Selfe, Richard Selfe, Ann Francis Wysocki, Doug Downs, and Nancy Sommers. OU’s nationally ranked library system provides excellent support for research. We offer our teaching associates a variety of teaching and related professional development opportunities. Possible courses are first and third-year writing and rhetoric, computer-mediated composition, gender and writing, writing about culture, professional writing, and introduction to literature. Administrative opportunities include assistant to the director of composition, computer consultant, and writing center tutor.


Where We Are

Ohio University enrolls over 20,000 students on the main campus in Athens, a vital community noted for sustainable living and a thriving music and art scene.

Who We Are

  • Sherrie Gradin, Professor. Areas of emphasis: rhetorical and composition theory, history, and practice; queer and gender studies; neoromantic rhetoric; and writing program administration.
  • Mara Holt, Associate Professor. Areas of emphasis: feminist rhetorics, collaborative learning, race/whiteness, academic labor.
  • Jennie Nelson, Associate Professor. Areas of emphasis: composition theory and pedagogy; and empirical research.
  • Albert Rouzie, Associate Professor. Areas of emphasis: computers and composition studies, electronic discourse, rhetorical and composition theory, and ecological criticism, rhetoric, and composition.
  • Talinn Phillips, Assistant Professor. Areas of emphasis: rhetoric & composition, second Language writing, and writing centers.

Funding and Professional Development Opportunities

Most of our accepted applicants receive full support as Teaching Associates in the department. Some doctoral applicants receive fellowships that provide extra stipends and teaching release in the first and fourth years. TAs have opportunities to teach a variety of courses. Possible courses are first and third-year writing and rhetoric, computer-mediated composition, gender and writing, writing about culture and society, professional writing, rhetorical approaches to writing, the research paper, and introduction to literature.

Teaching Associates in the Rhetoric and Composition program have outstanding opportunities for training and valuable work experiences. These include:

Rhetoric and Composition Requirements

In addition to the general PhD requirements, doctoral students in rhetoric and composition will take take six doctoral seminars in rhetoric and composition. They also take Critical Theory I or II, one creative writing workshop, and one course in literary history or another course in critical theory. In addition to the general MA requirements, masters students in rhetoric and composition will take take four seminars in rhetoric and composition. They also take Critical Theory I and one literary history seminar. All Rhetoric and Composition students select their rhetoric and composition seminars from the following list:

  • ENG 7800 – Special Studies Seminar in Rhetoric and Composition
  • ENG 7960 – Rhetorical Traditions and Theories
  • ENG 7970 – New Media Composition in English Studies
  • ENG 7980 – History and Theories of Composition
  • ENG 7990 – Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition

Special topic seminars in rhetoric and composition cover a wide variety of subjects and ground students in both the theory and practice. Some recent courses include the following:

  • Rhetoric and Poststructuralism/Postmodernism
  • Collaborative Rhetorics
  • Women's Rhetorics
  • Queer Rhetorics
  • Eco-English Studies
  • Responding to Student Writing
  • Philosophical Pragmatism and Constructions of Community
  • Writing Program Administration

Rhetoric and Composition PhD Exam Sequence

Our PhD process takes you through a structured program to insure that we prepare you for participation in the broader community of rhetoric and composition on a national and, increasingly, international scale. For this reason we have three examinations: first, a written, comprehensive exam that we recommend is taken at the beginning of your third year, but must be taken by the beginning of your fourth year, second, an oral exam on your dissertation prospectus that must be taken within six months of the written exam (if you fail the prospectus defense, you have an extra semester to revise the prospectus and pass the defense), and third, an oral exam ("defense") of your dissertation. Click here for more information.


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