The PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication
A general description of the Rhetoric and Professional Communication doctoral program at Iowa State.
Researchers in rhetoric seek to understand, describe and shape the relationships between communicators and audiences within the communicative act—particularly the various psychological, historical, cultural, and technical forces that condition it. Our PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication focuses on the rhetoric of professional communities and the need for communication expertise within business, technical, and scientific communities.
Our program is committed to studying the rhetorical and technological complexities of contemporary communication practice. We embrace multimodal composition, new media, and digital collaboration. Founded in 1991, we were among the first PhD programs in the United States to feature the role of rhetoric in technical and professional communication. Before the decade of the nineties ended we were already configuring a university-wide multimodal curriculum and building partnerships with colleagues in Speech Communication. Our program has always promoted communication scholarship by founding and nurturing key journals in the field. Today our breadth of faculty expertise, robust technology infrastructure, multimodal pedagogy, and responsive curriculum make possible a comprehensive approach to rhetoric-in-the-workplace and rhetoric-in-the-disciplines. Research generally falls within three areas of excellence: rhetoric of science & technology, visual communication, and multimodal communication across the curriculum.
At Iowa State, PhD students study recent theory and research in professional communication as well as the history of rhetoric and critical theory. You will have the opportunity to design and carry out research, teach courses, present conference papers, and prepare papers for publication.
Recent RPC students have had opportunities to:
Professional Preparation Beyond Coursework
Students are considered apprentice professionals. In addition to coursework, students serve on committees and work closely with faculty on a range of activities, including research, administration, and program development. Most students publish during graduate school. This kind of professional preparation is considered an integral part of the curriculum.
In addition, many graduate students have grant-funded support for work on major research projects initiated by senior RPC faculty.