5.3 Concurrent BS in Technical Communication and MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication Degree Requirements and Curriculum Plans

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A concurrent B.S. in Technical Communication (TComm) and M.A. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication (RCPC) offers well-qualified students the opportunity for accelerated study, achieving both degrees within a 5-year time frame. A student enrolled in this program pursues a graduate M.A. degree while simultaneously completing the requirements for the B.S. in Technical Communication. Completing the concurrent degree program would enable students to enter the workforce one year earlier than through the traditional M.A. degree pathway. Up to six credits can be double-counted toward the requirements for both degrees. Students applying for the concurrent degree program should be motivated, focused, and able to handle a 16+ credit hour/semester schedule.

5.3.1 Eligibility (all qualifications must be met to apply)

  • A minimum 45 credits in undergraduate program completed
  • At least 12 credits of TComm courses completed with a major GPA of 3.2 or higher
  • A minimum cumulative ISU GPA of 3.0

5.3.2 Timeline

Students should know by the middle of their sophomore year if they are interested in pursuing the concurrent program. We recommend that students plan ahead and notify the coordinator of the Rhetoric and Professional Communication (RPC) program, Jo Mackiewicz (jomack@iastate.edu), as soon as they know of their intent to apply for the concurrent degree; if possible, the RPC coordinator should be notified of intent to pursue the concurrent degrees by the end of the 4th semester.

Students interested in concurrent enrollment should talk with the RPC coordinator about plans to apply for the concurrent program by no later than the end of the 6th semester by submitting the concurrent enrollment application materials (listed below).

If accepted into the concurrent enrollment program, students should begin taking graduate courses (by the onset of the fourth year of study). Students accepted into the concurrent enrollment program will continue to work with the RPC coordinator until the BS degree requirements are met. By the onset of the fifth year of study, students should have identified an area for their thesis/creative component and established a program of study committee (including a major professor).

Students become full-time graduate students upon acceptance into the concurrent degree program and are assessed graduate tuition and fees. Students are eligible for research assistantships upon entry into the concurrent degree program, although it should be noted that these opportunities are rare. Students are eligible to apply for a teaching assistantship early in the student’s 8th semester once it is determined that all requirements for the BS degree will be met by the end of the spring semester. The TA application deadline for current students in English Department graduate programs is January 15th. TA selection will follow the standard procedures for the department.

5.3.3 Admission Criteria

The admission criteria are generally the same as those required for all graduate students in the department. Application materials are reviewed by the RPC coordinator and/or graduate faculty in RPC, the department’s Director of Graduate Education (DOGE), and the department chair. Their recommendations are forwarded to the ISU Graduate College.

5.3.4 Application deadline and how to apply

As early as possible (no later than the end of the 6th semester), talk with the RPC coordinator about your interests and plans.

The following components make up a student’s application and must be submitted by the end of their 6th semester:

  1. Complete the form called Concurrent Enrollment for Undergraduate Student Wishing to Pursue a Graduate Certificate or Degree found on the Graduate College Student Forms website (https://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/student/forms/).
  2. The following documents should be prepared as one combined PDF document in the following order:
    • Write a statement of purpose, usually 1-2 pages, explaining why you want to pursue the M.A. in RCPC degree.
    • Provide at the end of the statement of purpose or as a separate page the names of three ISU TComm/RPC professors who agreed to serve as your referees. It is your responsibility to download and provide each one of them with the Letter of Reference Form and ask them to send the completed form directly to the English Department Graduate Program Administrative Assistant at englgrad@iastate.edu.
    • A resume.
    • A curriculum plan, created with the RPC coordinator.
    • A 10-page minimum (doubled spaced and word-processed) writing sample. The paper should demonstrate critical analysis and research skills and be written for an undergraduate course at ISU.

Submit both of the above documents to the English Department Graduate Program Administrative Assistant via email at englgrad@iastate.edu.

Once an admissions decision is made by the program, the Concurrent Enrollment for Undergraduate Student Wishing to Pursue a Graduate Certificate or Degree form will be sent to the Graduate College for consideration and official ISU approval. If approved, the Admissions Office enters the student’s application for graduate study. The application fee of $60 will be charged to the domestic applicant’s u-bill; the application fee of $100 will be charged to the international applicant’s u-bill.

Upon admission, applicants will receive departmental admission letters and official ISU admissions letters the same as other graduate program applicants.

5.3.5 Degree Requirements and Curriculum Plans

Curriculum plan BS in Technical Communication

300+ level undergraduate coursesVarious (total includes all 300+ ENGL courses)45
Core credits in the TComm majorENGL 214, 310, 313, 314, 415, 41618
Designated area of concentration (DAC)6 credits in a technical, scientific, or design field (if student has a minor, no DAC needed)6
Communication proficiencyENGL 150, 250, ADV
Comm Choice, and LIB 160
General education12 credits in A&H
9 credits in SS
8 credits in NS
3 credits in Math
*Elective choicesLING/ENGL 220, ENGL 302, 309, SP CM 312, ENGL 312, 350, 418, 477 487, 505, 529, 542, 549, 5869
*9 credits count as electives in the BS degree

Curriculum plan MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication

Area of CourseworkCoursesCredits Towards POS

This course does not count towards degree requirement credits. Students complete co-requisite their first fall semester upon entry into the program. Previous coursework that meets co-requisite must be documented by submitting the Pre/Co-Requisite Equivalency Petition.
1.0 credit
Engl 506
Engl 563A or C* (was 602A or C)
Choose from any of the courses in the categories listed.
TAs may count 3 credits of either Engl 500 or Sp Cm 513.

Multimodal composition and speech communication
Engl 503, 504, Engl 592B*#
Professional communication
Engl 505, 508#, 529, 542, 549*, 586, 587, Engl 592C*#
Engl 547*, 548*, 563A or C* (not used in Core), Engl 592A*#
After designated prerequisites and 6 graduate credits completed, students may take
Engl 603, 611*#, 631
* Cross-listed with Sp Cm
# Repeatable
Elective credits may come from English Department course offerings or from other university departments or programs (such as WGS 501, Sp Cm 540, Engl 522, or Engl 527).
Engl 699: Thesis Research
Engl 599: Creative Component
TOTAL 30 minimum

Five-year plan for Concurrent BS in Technical Communication and MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication

The table below is just one example of how the courses can be laid out in this five-year concurrent degree program.

First Year (Freshman)Engl 150 (or ENGL 250)
Humanities Choice
LIB 160
ENGL 214
Foreign Lang or Elective
ENGL 250 (if not in fall) or ENGL 310
Social Science Choice
Natural Science Choice
Humanities Choice
Foreign Lang or Elective
Total 16-17Total 15-16
Second Year (Sophomore)ENGL 313
TC Elective or Minor
Social Sci Choice
US Diversity Choice
Natural Science Choice
ENGL 314
ENGL 415
Humanities Choice
Electives or Minor
Total 18Total 18
Third Year (Junior)ENGL 416
Elective or Minor
Intl Perspectives Choice
Humanities Choice
Social Science Choice
ENGL 487 (recommended)
ENGL 477
Electives or Minor

Total 18Total 15
Fourth Year (Senior/MA)ENGL 503, 505, 506, or 586
ENGL 591E (prereq)
ENGL 547, 563A or C (as MA Core)
Electives or Minor
ENGL 529, 542, 548, or 549
Electives or Minor
Total 15Total 15
Fifth Year (MA)ENGL 503, 505, 506, or 586
ENGL 547, 563A or C (not used as MA Core)
ENGL 500 or Sp Cm 513
(TAs may count only 3 credits of either course)

ENGL 599/699
ENGL 529, 542, 548, or 549
Total 9Total 6

5.3.6 Curricular Policies and Guidelines

Transferring concurrent credits

After admission to a concurrent program, all courses taken during the concurrent status are placed on the graduate permanent record (transcript). After each concurrent term, the student must initiate a form called “Transfer of Courses for Concurrent B.S./Graduate,” which lists all courses to be transferred off the graduate permanent record to the undergraduate permanent record (transcript). The credits transferred are no longer available for use on the graduate program of study. However, the courses and grades will still appear on the graduate permanent record but will not be included in the graduate GPA. This form must be submitted to and approved by the RPC coordinator (Jo Mackiewicz; jomack@iastate.edu), the undergraduate college dean, and the Dean of the Graduate College (in that order).

If a student does not yet have a B.S. or B.A. degree, a graduate degree is not granted until the bachelor’s degree is awarded.

Only students in concurrent degree programs may apply, subject to Program of Study committee approval, up to 6 ISU credits used to fulfill the requirements for a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree program of study. These double-counted courses must be clearly marked on the “Transfer of Courses for Concurrent B.S./Graduate” form. These graduate credits may only double count while the student is a concurrent student.

5.3.7 Thesis or Creative Component options

In your last semester as an RCPC student, you will complete a substantial research project—either a traditional thesis or a creative component.

We encourage students who are planning to enter the workforce after graduation to consider one of the two following creative component options. The creative component options allow you to apply and display what you’ve learned in your coursework.

RCPC Creative Component Options

Professional Project Option

The form of your professional project will depend upon the nature of the professional project that you carry out. A packet of course materials, for instance, will take on quite a different form than a redesign of a website, a packet of promotional materials for a small business, or grant proposal written to a government agency. Past projects have also included the following: an instructional manual for operating equipment in a factory; a comics-style set of instructions for a computer lab; a website redesign for a local coffee shop; a history of our first-year writing program; and training materials for volunteers at ACCESS, a local women’s shelter.

With your professional project—whatever form it takes—you will include a project report. This report of 5,000 to 8,000 words should state a rationale for your project, describe the project’s audience and context, and discuss your methods (e.g., rhetorical strategies, technology). Your report should also explain how your coursework and secondary research informed your choices in carrying out your project. This report often begins as a proposal that you write at the start of your creative component in which you describe your plans for your project for your POS Committee.

Professional Portfolio Option

The professional portfolio consists of five parts:

  1. A portfolio website. This professional portfolio site describes who you are, describes your past and present professional roles, and organizes examples of your work (see below). Your website should be your original design and should follow best practices. It should be usable, accessible, well-conceived, well-executed, and attractive. It should follow all relevant intellectual property laws, including, when necessary, obtaining permissions, citing sources, and linking to sources. In short, it should promote you as a professional.
  2. An introductory memo of about 2,000 words to your committee.  This memo must address these two general questions: (a) Based on your coursework, what do you see as the major issues in rhetoric, composition, or professional communication? (b) How do you as a professional and the work presented in this portfolio address those issues? At least 10 sources must be cited, following APA style. After responding to these two questions, you should provide an overview of the documents in the portfolio.
  3. A résumé or curriculum vitae.
  4. Five documents—print or online—that you have worked on during your two years in the RCPC program.
  5. For each of those five documents, a 500-word meta-analysis. The meta-analysis should include:
    • Name of the course and the instructor.
    • Audience(s) and purpose(s) for the document.
    • Your role in creating the document if the document was prepared collaboratively.
    • Your goals for the document and a description of the document-development process.
    • Theories and principles that informed the development of the document.
    • In-text and reference list documentation of secondary sources that support the document-development choices. Again, follow APA style.

Submit your professional portfolio to your POS committee as a usable website.

5.3.8 Final Oral Defense of the Thesis or Creative Component (Final Oral Examination)

Students should refer to the above information about creative component options as well as Guidelines for Thesis and Creative Component (Concurrent MA) as soon as they begin to establish their POS Committee and share their research interests. See the section on Graduation for more details and information on finishing up as well as resources with links to very helpful information.