Describes RPC program requirements for PhD students.
For the Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Professional Communication, students complete a minimum of 60 credit hours above the B.A. or B.S., plus 12 hours of dissertation credit. Students must have completed a bachelor's or master's degree upon entering the PhD program and are expected to complete their doctoral work within five years.
Because students often enter with master's degrees from many different disciplines, the curriculum is designed to be flexible, and advisors work with students to design an individual, flexible program tailored to their interests, using the many resources in the department and the university at large.
In fulfilling the degree requirements for the RPC doctorate, students take courses in rhetorical theory, writing and analyzing professional documents, the history of rhetoric, research methodologies, and pedagogy. Courses in the practice of professional communication cover the production of business and technical documents, from editing principles to document design; methodologies studied include those of allied disciplines such as ethnography, statistics, and historiography.
There is a primary core of four courses (12 credits) designed to prepare students to pursue their interests:
Students then choose one additional course in history, practice, and methods, as well as one course each in pedagogy and linguistics (15 credits).
Students also choose a concentration, from which they choose four courses (12 credits). In the past, students have chosen from a wide range of fields, such as computer science, design, women's studies, sociology, literature, education, psychology, and history.
This leaves six free elective courses in RPC (18 credits). In addition, many graduate students have grant-funded support for work on major research projects initiated by senior RPC faculty.
Portfolio and Comprehensive Examinations
The examinations are also part of professional preparation. Students complete a portfolio during their first year from papers they have composed in their courses and revised with the help of faculty and peers. At the end of their coursework, they write a comprehensive exam (three essays that show their grasp of the field) and give an oral presentation.
Students work closely with a committee of their choosing, composed of three RPC faculty and two faculty from other disciplines.
In the past, students have written on a very wide range of topics using an equally wide range of research methods. For a list of dissertation topics, see our list of alumni.
Program Time Limits
Those students entering the Ph.D. program with a master's degree are expected to complete their degree within five years. Those who do not hold a master's degree upon entry in the Ph.D. program are expected to complete their degree within seven years.
Cases in which the student leaves ISU during his or her graduate career and later returns are dealt with individually by the Director of Graduate Education, the student's POS committee, and the Graduate College.
If you are not an Iowa resident for tuition purposes, you may gain such status by meeting two criteria:
Graduate assistants working quarter-time or more are assessed fees at the resident rate, regardless of their residency status.
Ph.D. students are expected to earn at least 24 credit hours during two consecutive semesters or during a continuous period including two semesters and a summer session. This requirement does not apply to doctoral students who are employed at least half-time (e.g., teaching assistants) by Iowa State University. Students must also complete (at Iowa State University) a minimum of 36 credits which have been approved by the POS committee.