English (Writing, Rhetorics and Literacies), PhD

English (Writing, Rhetorics and Literacies) PhD students explore history, theories and methods of rhetorical inquiry across disciplines such as anthropology, law, psychology, religion, history, cognitive science and beyond. The curriculum offers an inquiry driven model with a fundamentally real-world focus. With a variety of internships and professional development opportunities and a strong mentoring program, students are prepared for entrance into academia as well as a variety of careers.

The faculty in Writing, Rhetorics and Literacies include nationally and internationally recognized scholars in the areas of historical rhetorical studies, visual rhetoric, rhetorical genre studies, protest rhetoric, composition studies, composition pedagogy, digital communication, digital culture, environmental sustainability, science and technical writing, literacy studies, second language writing, and writing program administration. Doctoral students have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of teaching and administrative experience, while our first-year teacher training is a model program for other universities. Writing, Rhetorics and Literacies graduates enjoy a 90% placement rate in academic positions (45% tenure track).

5 years to degree
5 years TA funding
12 faculty

Degree Overview

This 84-hour program requires 42-72 hours of coursework and research including 12 hours of dissertation. PhD examination consists of two papers, an oral or written exam and a prospectus. There is a language requirement. The ideal candidate will have interests in composition/writing theory, rhetorical theory, and literacy studies, and examine the ideological, pedagogical, and social dimensions of words, symbols, and images. 

How to apply

All applications for admission to the program must be approved by the doctoral admissions committee in the Department of English and by the Graduate College. There are several requirements for admission, none of which will be arbitrarily disregarded, and the best applicants will meet or exceed all of these criteria. However, the admissions committee will consider the individual aspects of each application.

Deadline: January 1

The GRE is not required to apply.

For details, see the Application Procedures link or click the Apply Now button in the left menu. 

placement rate in academic positions (45% tenure track).

I am happy to be a part of the English department at ASU. I am particularly excited about the opportunities that the intersection of writing and rhetoric presents to me as I move through my graduate work. Once I graduate from this program, I hope to work in an English and rhetoric department at a four-year university.

--Kayla Bruce, PhD in English writing, rhetorics and literacies, 2017


The Doctor of Philosophy is a total of 84 hours. In general, a student with an appropriate master's degree must complete a minimum of 54 credit hours of approved graduate work, which includes 12 hours of dissertation. Research hours may be used towards course work in consultation with the advisor. A student without an appropriate master's degree usually must complete 84 hours of work at ASU. At the advisor’s discretion, students may include up to 12 hours of appropriate, graduate-level course work undertaken at another university, and not previously counted towards any other degree.

A minimum of 84 credit hours is required without an appropriate MA.

Requirements and electives


Core Course - Approaches to Research


Concentration Coursework


Focus Area


Writing for Publication/Scholarly Writing


Research and Electives




Courses and electives

The program encourages transdisciplinary study, and its flexible requirements enable students to pursue those aspects of the disciplines that interest them the most. The program prepares students for entrance into the field as teachers, scholars and professionals.

  • ENG 501 Approaches to Research
  • ENG 551 Rhetorical Traditions
  • ENG 552 Composition Studies
  • ENG 556 Theories of Literacy

Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor or the WRL Program Director when selecting additional courses for their focus area as these courses provide the depth of training needed for dissertation research. Students should take at least two 600-level courses.To fulfill the focus area requirement, students may choose from the following:

  • ENG 525 Teaching Second Language Writing
  • ENG 553 Technologies of Writing
  • ENG 554 Rhetorics of Race, Class, and Gender
  • ENG 560 Genre Studies
  • ENG 625 Advanced Studies in Second Language Writing
  • ENG 651 Advanced Studies in History and Theories of Rhetoric
  • ENG 652 Advanced Composition Studies

  • ENG 654 Advanced Studies in Rhetoric, Writing, Technology & Culture

  • ENG 655 Disciplinary Discourses

  • ENG 656 Studies in Cross-Cultural Discourse

  • ENG 598 Topic: Writing for Publication/Scholarly Writing*

*Note: Students should take the course after they have completed both 15-18 credits of coursework at ASU and an acceptable draft paper.

  • Students should consult their supervisory committees when choosing electives.
  • ENG 799 Dissertation

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