2.3 MA in Rhetoric, Composition, & Professional Communication Degree Requirements

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Students admitted to graduate study for the MA in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication (RCPC) do not declare a specialization but may choose electives from a particular area of concentration to strengthen their understanding of that area (e.g., teaching multimodal composition, teaching professional communication, teaching speech communication, developing professional documents, understanding and using communication technology, analyzing visual design).

2.3.1 Degree Requirements (Effective Spring 2023)

Requires 30 credits of coursework.

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

2.3.2 Curricular Policies and Guidelines

The MA RCPC program does not include a foreign language requirement.

2.3.3 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 (see more information here).

RCPC Creative Component Options (Effective Fall 2021)

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.

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.

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

Students should refer to the above information as well as Guidelines for Thesis and Creative Component (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.

2.3.5 Student Learning Outcomes

The RCPC program combines the pedagogy focus of a degree in rhetoric and composition with the technical skill and practicality of a degree in professional communication. Upon graduation, students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of the interplay of rhetoric, composition, and professional communication in local and global contexts.
  • Analyze a rhetorical situation and develop communication that responds to it effectively and ethically.
  • Develop communication that helps build a socially just society.
  • Use communication to contribute to an affirming and inclusive classroom/workplace environment.
  • Apply the historical and theoretical understanding necessary to assess the use of specific communication technologies within complex organizations.
  • Combine verbal and visual communication skills to produce effective communication in contemporary organizations.

Measures for evaluating a student’s success in meeting these objectives include these:

  • Achievement on coursework
  • Familiarity with useful and common software programs and technologies
  • Successful completion of a thesis or a creative-component project.