Doctoral Degree

PhD Requirements

PhD students take 36 credits or 2 years of coursework before moving on to the Qualifying exams.

3 cr. Introduction to Graduate Studies (HU5000)
1-3 cr. Pre-Approved Course for Advanced RCR training
0-3 cr. Composition Pedagogy (if applicable)
12 cr. 4 Groundwork courses. Two of these should be in the student’s area of concentration and one course each in two other areas.
6 cr. 2 Focus courses, one of which can be at the 5000 level
9-14 cr. Other courses and up to 3 credits of practica, including 1 course in Methodologies/Methods or certification by advisor(s) of methods preparation

Methodologies and Methods (M/M) Preparation

Students must consult with their advisors during their coursework preparation in order to determine which M/M preparation would be most appropriate for their focus of study, and to be advised into appropriate means of preparing for their dissertations, theses, or projects.

Methodologies/Methods (M/M) Preparation is defined as relevant qualifications to conduct proposed research. Because of the wide variety of approaches to the generation of new knowledge in Rhetoric, Theory and Culture, means of adequate preparation should be determined by the student's advisor in consultation with the student and the committee. Depending on the nature of the project, appropriate M/M preparation may include dedicated methodology courses, courses with a designated M/M component, relevant prior research experience, or other special preparation approved by the student's committee.

PhD students should complete M/M preparation prior to the third year, and PhD advisors must indicate that this preparation has been completed in the annual review form for the student’s third year in the program.

Qualifying Examination

Qualifying exams should be taken during the student’s fifth semester (third year). Students should have their committees in place by the end of the fourth semester so they can begin the qualifying exam process. The committee consists of 3 faculty advisors from the Department of Humanities. 

Proposal Defense

After the student successfully completes the qualifying exam, the student then writes a dissertation proposal and defends it by the end of the third year (sixth semester). This may be a one-semester process, especially if the student needs to develop expertise in new areas (beyond coursework and the qualifying examination). Students must submit the departmental Two Week Notification Form at least 2 weeks prior to the proposal defense.

The proposal should be 15-20 pages (3,750-5,000 words) plus works cited. Following are guidelines for sections of the proposal, to be adjusted as appropriate for the diverse fields within the department:

  • Introduction—articulates an area of focus leading to a defensible question
  • Literature Review—situates the research question within the context of other current conversations and work in the field
  • Rationale for Study
  • Articulation of Research Question(s)
  • Methodologies/Methods—articulates an understanding of the appropriate means for undertaking the collection and analysis of data, or the articulation of appropriate rhetorical/hermeneutic approaches, as approved by the student’s committee, that will lead the student to contribute productively to their area of interest
  • Chapter Outline—as presently projected
  • Significance of Study—projected contributions to the field
  • Reference List

All committee members should participate in the proposal defense. Following a successful defense, the student must submit the “Humanities Department form for reporting on Qualifying Exams*”.

Upon successful completion of the proposal, students are required to petition the Graduate School to enter Candidacy. In order to petition to for this status, students must have a completed “Degree Schedule Form” and a completed “Petition to Enter Candidacy.” The RTC program requires that these forms be submitted through the RTC Graduate Program Office together with the “Humanities Department form for reporting on Qualifying Exams*” upon successful completion of the Proposal Defense. Students are expected to bring all three forms with them on the day of the Proposal Defense.

*Note that editable forms must be opened in Acrobat or other pdf editing software.