PhD in Rhetoric

Earn your doctoral degree in rhetoric at TWU.

Our PhD program is unique for its merger of rhetoric, writing and literature at a time when related academic units at other institutions are breaking away from one another. Philosophically and practically, we see that these subjects intersect and believe you will benefit from their combined study. Coursework consists of a core set of rhetoric classes, a self-designed area of specialization, and electives to ensure you have both a broad knowledge base and a deep understanding of your desired sub-field(s). As part of the Department of Language, Culture & Gender Studies at TWU, our program also collaborates closely with the Multicultural Gender and Women’s Studies Program and offers a number of cross-listed courses and interdisciplinary study opportunities.

As a doctoral student in our program, you will develop the ability to:

  • Work both collaboratively and independently.
  • Lead your peers.
  • Supervise the work of others.
  • Conduct and present original research in oral and written forms.
  • Use technology in the classroom.
  • Structure and plan your own courses.
  • Teach effectively.

We offer a range of face-to-face, online and hybrid graduate courses to allow our working, commuting and parenting students the opportunity to balance rigorous academic course work with their busy lives. Our face-to-face graduate courses are offered one day per week, typically in late afternoon or evening. Prospective and current students may apply for a distance-learning designation that allows for the PhD in Rhetoric to be completed fully online. A limited number of virtual seats in face-to-face courses will be guaranteed to distance learners. For more information, please contact the graduate program coordinator.

Career outlook

Our program will prepare you to lead a fulfilling career as a teacher, leader in your academic department, and researcher within the fields of rhetoric and literature by cultivating your proficiency in discourse analysis, communicative studies, writing and research. While this program largely serves the needs of aspiring post-secondary teachers, you will be prepared to contribute professionally in fields as diverse as writing, editing, government and business.

Opportunities for professional development

Our one-on-one mentorship, range of leadership opportunities, small class sizes, and varied course delivery methods set our PhD program apart. Students who receive graduate assistantships work in a variety of capacities, including:

  • Tutors in our campus writing center, The Write Site.
  • Course assistants for tenure-track faculty members who teach first-year writing, professional writing, literature and theory courses.
  • Teachers of record in their own first-year writing courses or literature courses.

We host regular professional development meetings for our first-year writing teachers. As part of a conscious effort to support your transition from student to professional colleague, we also will provide additional mentorship as you begin to present and publish your own scholarship. 

Technology is integral to our program. You will take courses in online pedagogy, and our graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) serve as teachers of record in computer labs and in hybrid and fully online courses. GTAs can also receive formal (paid) training in a month-long university online teaching development program.

Admission to the PhD in Rhetoric

Program Contact

Dundee Lackey, PhD
Graduate Program Coordinator

Application Deadlines

Fall – February 1 (priority review), July 1
Spring – November 1
Summer – February 1

Admission Requirements

  • Master's degree from a regionally accredited institution.
  • Applicants who lack the appropriate foundational degree (the bachelor's or master's) in English, literature, writing, or rhetoric may be required to complete a deficiency plan prior to beginning graduate courses in English. Specific requirements depend on an individual student's undergraduate course work in the discipline but may include 12-15 hours. Additional information on deficiency plans may be obtained from the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  • 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. If the department chooses to consider an applicant without a previous English, writing, or rhetoric degree, she or he may be awarded provisional admission. Provisional status may include a leveling plan which includes undergraduate and/or graduate-level courses in the English department.
  • Minimum of a 3.0 GPA on previous upper-division and graduate work.
  • Score of 79 on TOEFL (iBT) for international students.

How to Apply

Students interested in applying to graduate programs in English and Rhetoric are encouraged to contact the Graduate Program Coordinator prior to applying. Writing samples and statements of purpose are of particular importance in the application process.

  1. Apply for admission to the TWU Graduate School.
  2. Applicants must email the following materials in PDF format to the program coordinator with the subject heading "(Full Name) -Ph.D. in Rhetoric Application":
    • Statement of purpose
    • An academic writing sample
  3. Three academic or professional references should submit letters of recommendation as PDFs on institutional or organization letterhead directly to the program coordinator. Recommenders should include applicant name and "Ph.D. in Rhetoric" in the subject line.

Graduate Assistantships and Teaching Assistantships are available to students enrolled in the Ph.D. program. Assistantships are competitive as they provide stipends and out-of-state tuition waivers. For best consideration, students are encouraged to apply for assistantships at the same time they apply to the program. Additional information about types of work available and expectations can be obtained from the Graduate Program Coordinator. Please forward your application to the department chair at A personal interview may be required for graduate students who are seeking an assistantship.

International Student Admission Requirements

All students for whom an English proficiency test is required must meet the following minimum criteria:

  • TOEFL (paper-based): Score of 550 or higher
  • TOEFL (computer-based): Score of 213 or higher
  • TOEFL iBT: Score of 79 or higher
  • MELAB: Score of 80 or higher
  • IELTS: Score of 6.5 or higher
  • GRE: Verbal score of 500 or higher

Scholarships and financial aid

There are a number of scholarships designated specifically for students within the TWU English, Rhetoric and Spanish Program. Explore our graduate and organizational scholarships.

To apply for financial aid, please visit the TWU Financial Aid website.

Need more information?

Contact our graduate program coordinator, Dundee Lackey, PhD, at or:

Request More Information

Page last updated 9:09 AM, October 21, 2022