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Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences
Department of English

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Rhetoric and Composition Concentration
(Graduate Catalog)

Area Coordinator: Dr. Tracy Morse (


East Carolina University offers a Master of Arts degree in English with a concentration in Rhetoric & Composition. The program synthesizes philosophical, historical, and cultural dimensions of written communication through a wide variety of courses in rhetorical theory, composition pedagogy, discourse analysis, and literacy studies. Many of our graduates secure teaching positions at the community college level, while others find positions as directors of learning or writing centers. Some decide to continue graduate study at the doctoral level. Our program has enjoyed considerable success in placing its graduates in nationally recognized PhD programs.

What do rhetoric and composition specialists do? 

Scholars in the field of rhetoric and composition study a wide range of topics related to how writers use language to create effects among diverse audiences and within varying contexts. The kinds of research conducted by specialists in this discipline include:  

· Theoretical and scholarly investigations into the nature of written discourse (electronic/digital and print-based texts). 

· Ethnographic narratives which attempt to understand how texts are produced in a variety of academic and nonacademic settings.  

· Historical studies of the forms and technologies of writing.  

· Pedagogical studies that critically assess methods of teaching writing.  

· Case studies into the composing processes of experienced and inexperienced writers.  

· Rhetorical criticism of literary and other texts.

Coursework and Other Requirements

For questions regarding coursework and other requirements, please contact Dr. Tracy Morse (

Choose one research methods course from the following (3 s.h.)
ENGL 6009 Research Methods in Language Study
ENGL 6702 Research Methods in Technical and Professional Communication
ENGL 6805 Research: The Writer's Perspective
ENGL 7005 Bibliography & Methods
ENGL 7601 Research Design in Rhetoric and Composition

Required Courses (9 s.h.)
ENGL 6625 Teaching Composition: Theory and Practice
ENGL 7615 History and Theory of Rhetoric I or ENGL 7620 History and Theory of Rhetoric II
ENGL 7630 Cultural Rhetoric and Writing

Select two courses from the following (6 s.h.)
ENGL 6000 Critical Writing in English Studies
ENGL 7665 Rhetoric and Composition
ENGL 7950 Issues in Teaching Composition
ENGL 7960 Methods of Teaching English in the Two-Year College
ENGL 7975 Developmental English in the Two-Year College

Required Course (3 s.h.)
Select 3 s.h. from Linguistics, TESOL, or Technical and Professional Communication concentrations.

Electives (6 s.h.)
English courses outside the concentration or from another department.
Note: Students wishing to receive a graduate teaching assistantship must complete ENGL 6625 Teaching Composition: Theory and Practice.

Thesis or Comprehensive Assessment Project Requirement (6 s.h.)
A thesis, demonstrating the student's ability to gather, arrange, and interpret material which bears on a particular problem (6 s.h.) or a Comprehensive Assessment Project (CAP) with additional coursework in English (6 s.h.).

A Comprehensive Assessment Project (CAP) includes 1) a reading list determined in consultation with a faculty advisor in rhetoric and composition, 2) A portfolio of selected written work from the student’s MA coursework, and 3) an introductory/review essay. The student will present this portfolio, framed with the introductory/review essay, to his or her MA committee for formal review and defense.