Are you interested in a PhD program that combines the study of rhetoric, writing, and professional communication? Are you interested in studying writing and communication practices in community or public contexts?

The PhD program in rhetoric, writing, and professional communication, offered by the Department of English, provides opportunities to combine theory and practice in the study of rhetoric, writing, and professional communication. The program is particularly engaged in areas related to cultural, public, and community rhetorics across a range of genres and media. It provides future scholar-teachers with diverse, well-supported teaching experiences and fosters professional development as productive members of intellectual, teaching, and professional communities.

Our program is especially suited for students interested in researching the intersections of rhetoric, writing, and professional communication especially as applied to public or community contexts. Students can expect lots of attention and support in this program.

ECU Advantage

Our program includes accessible and supportive research-productive faculty who hold leadership positions in the field's major professional organizations and editorial boards. Faculty expertise and research includes the study of rhetorics and communication in professional spaces such as corporations, healthcare, science, and government as well as school, digital, community, and public contexts. Other research areas include the history, theory, and pedagogy of writing and literacy practices.

PhD students help support the work of ECU's Quality Enhancement Plan and hold leadership positions within the writing foundations program and the writing centers. Opportunities also exist for students to conduct research with faculty, and students have opportunities to conduct community-engagement research through coursework and collaborative research relationships within the department and across the university.

Academic positions in rhetoric and professional writing or technical communication are abundant, and students who pursue this degree would be qualified to serve as faculty at various educational levels and institutions.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Matthew Cox (2129 Bate Building; 252-328-6412; coxmat@ecu.edu)

The PhD program offers students the opportunity to combine theory and practice in the study of rhetoric, writing, and professional communication. Focusing on public and community rhetorics across genres and media, we provide future scholar-teachers with diverse, well-supported research and pedagogical experiences and foster professional development within intellectual and professional communities.


The doctoral program requires a minimum of 60 s.h. of course work beyond the master's degree.

    Required courses - 30 s.h.
    • ENGL 7600 - Research Methods in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication
    • ENGL 7605 - Discourse Analysis
    • ENGL 7615 - History and Theory of Rhetoric I
    • ENGL 7620 - History and Theory of Rhetoric II
    • ENGL 7780 - Theory of Professional Communication
    • ENGL 8300 - Seminar in Professional Development
    • ENGL 8600 - Seminar in Writing Studies and Pedagogy
    • ENGL 8615 - Seminar in Rhetorical Theory
    • ENGL 8630 - Seminar in Community and Cultural Rhetorics
    • ENGL 8780 - Seminar in Professional Communication
    Electives in ENGL or affiliate departments - 12 s.h.
      Dissertation - 18 s.h.
      • ENGL 9000 - Dissertation

      Please contact the director of graduate studies in English for additional details concerning application procedures, admission requirements, and specific academic requirements.

      For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

      Careers With This Degree

      Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

      • English Language and Literature Teachers, Postsecondary
      • Editors
      • Technical Writers
      • Writers and Authors

      Career Opportunities

      ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

      NC Tower

      This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

      • Self-employed;
      • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
      • Work outside of North Carolina.

      US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

      This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

      Degree-specific internships

      For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.