M.A. Concentration in Rhetoric and Composition

Advisor: Chris Anson

The graduate concentration in rhetoric and composition provides focused study of writing and literacy, the teaching of writing and the role of persuasive language in academic disciplines, professional and civic life and culture at large. Graduates have gone on to work as practical communicators in industry, to teach at all levels of education and to pursue doctoral degrees in this field. The concentration offers a flexible curriculum, a nationally recognized faculty and an award-winning graduate teaching assistantship program. 

Our rhetoric and composition program is situated in a vibrant intellectual community that also includes researchers in technical communication, digital humanities, and communication, rhetoric and digital media. Collaboration among these programs yields a rich mix of faculty and student interests and expertise. Rhet/comp students gain a firm theoretical foundation in both composition and rhetoric, and also have opportunities to study writing and new media, composition pedagogy, experimental and multimodal composition, rhetorical history and criticism, technical communication, writing across the curriculum, writing program administration, digital rhetoric and more.

How to Apply

Check Out Comments From Alumni:

Story 1

"student-faculty ratio..."

The program's student-faculty ratio makes it very valuable; I always felt like I could access faculty for advice and feedback on my work.

      -- Stephen Taylor, MA '18, Rhetoric & Comp Concentration
Story 2

"...I felt welcome and comfortable."

The faculty and students are all extremely welcoming and knowledgeable. From the time I first visited NC State I felt welcome and comfortable. My experience has been excellent!

-- Christine Barba, MA '16, Rhetoric & Comp Concentration
Story 3

"partnership between students and faculty..."

NCSU does an excellent job with communication with students, and making the advising process much more than simply fulfilling degree credits. The faculty and staff take the time not only to teach students, but to develop and support students, which sets NCSU apart and contributes greatly to a student's overall experience and their future success. Beyond the effective curriculum and positive classroom environment, the connection and partnership between students and faculty is beneficial to all students in the program. 

        -- Angela Bush, MA' 17, Rhetoric & Comp Concentration
Story 4

"...hidden jewel."

I believe that the MA program in English at NC State is somewhat of a hidden jewel. As a terminal Master's program in English, I received individualized attention from professors who are intellectual giants in their specific field (especially the Rhet/Comp faculty), while also being close enough to the CRDM program to work with their doctoral students. That working environment has helped me grow as a student, teacher, and scholar in notable ways. I see clear and substantial development in my abilities since joining this program.

      -- Gavin Johnson, MA '15, Rhetoric & Comp Concentration
Story 5

"...a balance of autonomy and support"

There is a lot of freedom in what you can do regarding coursework, research topics, and teaching pedagogies. The teaching assistantships provide a balance of autonomy and support and value undergraduate teaching.

-- Kim Lilienthal, MA '16, Rhetoric & Comp Concentration


Disciplinary Core (15 credit hours)

  • 1 course in Composition (3 hours): ENG 511 Theory and Research in Composition. This course introduces major research and theoretical perspectives on the teaching of writing.
  • 1 course in Rhetoric (3 hours). Choose one of the following:

ENG 514 History of Rhetoric 
ENG 516 Rhetorical Criticism: Theory and Practice
ENG 554 Contemporary Rhetorical Theory 
ENG 515 Rhetoric of Science and Technology

These courses address major issues and concepts in rhetoric ranging from Greek antiquity to contemporary poststructuralism, and applications from public speeches to popular culture to teaching to technical communication. Most are cross-listed in the Department of Communication.

  • 2 elective courses in rhetoric and composition (6 hours).  Select from the rhetoric courses listed above; the research methods courses listed below; or special topics courses in areas such as computers and composition, emerging genres, writing across the curriculum, and writing program administration (usually offered as ENG 583 Studies in Rhetoric and Writing.
  • 1 course in linguistics (3 hours).  Linguistics courses provide perspectives on language structure, change, and social impacts that are important to understanding educational and public uses of language.  ENG 525, Variety in Language, is especially recommended if you are planning a teaching career.  Note: If you choose a linguistics course to fulfill your research methods requirement (e.g., ENG 527), you may take an additional rhetoric or composition elective in this slot instead.

Research Component (6 credit hours)

  • 1 course in research methods (3 hours). Before embarking on your capstone research, select one research methods course congruent with your disciplinary interests. Courses such as the following will fulfill this requirement.

ENG 506 Verbal Data Analysis
ENG 513 Empirical Research in Composition
ENG/COM 516 Rhetorical Criticism: Theory and Practice
ENG 527 Discourse Analysis
ENG 532 Narrative Analysis
ENG/COM 581 Visual Rhetoric: Theory and Criticism
ENG 583 Studies in Rhetoric and Writing (when topic is methodological)
ENG 585 Studies in Film (when focused on pertinent methodologies)
ENG 587 Interdisciplinary Studies in English (when focused on pertinent methodologies)

  • ENG 676 Master’s Capstone Research (3 hours), taken in the final semester. The capstone project should be on a topic that draws from scholarship in the area of rhetoric and composition or that is of clear relevance in the field. It should be conceived to address a specific audience and designed for a specific situation; thus, it could be composed as an article targeting a specific journal or conference; a curriculum plan or teaching materials for a particular instructional agenda; an online resource fulfilling a well defined need; etc. The master's project should be developed in consultation with faculty in rhetoric and composition and must be approved by the advisor for the concentration.
          See more info about the Capstone Process here.
          See Capstone Abstracts Archive for past topics.

Distribution Requirements (6 credits)

  • To connect with other core areas of English Studies, all M.A. in English students take two courses in Literature or Film.

Open Electives (6 credits)

  • 2 electives selected in consultation with the concentration advisor. These courses may be from rhetoric and composition, linguistics, literature, digital humanities or other areas within the English Department, or, when appropriate to meet particular goals, from the Department of Communication, Foreign Languages, History, Psychology, the College of Education, or other fields.