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Doctor of Philosophy in English Rhetoric and Composition

Major: ERC
Degree Awarded: Ph.D.
Unit: GA
Program Webpage:

Program Information

Mission Statement

The Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition provides graduate training in the history and theory of rhetoric; theory and empirical research in composition; an area of literary study; and the relation of rhetoric and composition to allied fields (e.g., critical theory, cultural studies, linguistics). Goals for the Ph.D. are that students will 1) gain specialized and current disciplinary knowledge; 2) write a dissertation in which they initiate and complete specialized research that addresses an original and significant question in rhetoric and composition; 3) acquire experience and expertise as writing teachers.


*Note Applications must be complete, with all supporting materials, official transcripts, and GRE scores by the deadline to be considered for admission.

Jan. 5: Fall admission only.

Admission to the Ph.D.

Openings in the doctoral program are limited; therefore, admission is competitive. All doctoral degree applicants should present the following documents:

1. Complete official transcripts of previous undergraduate and graduate work;

2. Three academic letters of recommendation (that is, actual letters attached to the evaluation form from faculty members who can address the applicant's academic performance and potential); 

3. A written statement of no more than a thousand words detailing the applicant’s professional goals in the field of rhetoric and composition;

4. Scores on the Graduate Record Examination General Test (from within the last five years);

5. A sample of scholarly, critical writing (15-20 pages);

6. International students must also present scores of at least 600 on the TOEFL Examination (paper test) or at least 210 on the TOEFL Exam (computer test); IELTS scores are also accepted for consideration in lieu of the TOEFL;

Above documents should be submitted to:

Graduate Admissions
Houchens Building Suite 105
Louisville, KY 40292

        submitted via the online application:

7. Application for Graduate Teaching Assistantship:

GTA application should be submitted to:

Annelise Gray
Department of English
University of Louisville
Bingham Huanities Building RM 315

         Louisville, KY 40292

The English Graduate Committee reviews applications for the doctoral program in rhetoric and composition and makes all admission decisions. Applicants must have a Master’s degree at the time of matriculation. Completed applications are due no later than January 5th for fall admission only.

All applicants must fulfill the general requirements of the Graduate Admissions Office. Apply Now


All doctoral students are expected to complete a minimum of 51 graduate hours, distributed as follows:

Required (12 hours)



ENGL 602, Teaching College Composition



ENGL 620, Research in the Composing Process



ENG 691, Contemporary Theories of Interpretation of ENGL 692, Topics in Interpretive Theory



ENGL 689, Directed Reading for Comprehensive Preliminary Exams






Additional Requirements (15 hours from the following categories):



Pedagogy and Program Administration






Literary Studies (one creative writing course may be used to fulfill the literary studies requirement; students may also take a second theory course--in addition to the required course listed above--in partial fulfillment of the literary studies requirement)




Electives (12 hours):



Choose from offerings in Rhetoric and Composition.  One elective may be taken outside these offerings, including a course outside the department



Dissertation (690)



Minimum Total




Ph.D. Language Requirement

Each doctoral student must demonstrate proficiency in one language other than English. (See the Graduate Program Guidelines for more information.)

Time Limit and Residency for Ph.D.

All work for the Ph.D. must be completed within four years of passing the comprehensive exams.

A year of full-time residency is required of all students. A year of full time residency in the English doctoral program consists of the completion of two consecutive semesters of nine hours each.

For students holding Graduate Teaching Assistantships, a year of full-time residency in the English doctoral program is eighteen semester hours within a single academic year. Students ordinarily take nine hours of course work and teach six hours in the fall and spring terms.

Professional Requirements

Sometime during their tenure in the doctoral program, students must participate in a year-long supervised teaching-intern program. Graduate Teaching Assistants automatically fulfill the professional requirement once they have completed one successful year as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Other students must make arrangements in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies to fulfill the year-long supervised teaching requirement.

Comprehensive Preliminary Examination

When students have completed coursework and satisfied the language requirement, they may sit for the Comprehensive Preliminary Examinations. (See the Graduate Program Guidelines for a detailed explanation of these examinations.)

Admission to Candidacy

Students will be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. after they have completed coursework, met the language and professional requirements, and passed the comprehensive preliminary examinations; they remain doctoral degree candidates until they complete the dissertation.

The doctoral dissertation requires the equivalent of a full year of graduate work and involves registration in at least 12 credit hours in English 690.

Proof that the prospectus has been approved must be submitted to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies at least nine months before the dissertation oral examination.

Guidelines for writing the dissertation prospectus are included in the English department’s Graduate Program Guidelines. The dissertation will be submitted in the form and by the date prescribed by the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (see for the current guidelines).

Final Oral Examination

The defense of the dissertation will be scheduled by the date listed on the Graduate Program Calendar. The dissertation will then be revised according to the dissertation committee’s recommendations. One copy shall be submitted to the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies. Along with the dissertation, the candidate shall submit an abstract for publication in Dissertation Abstracts. Candidates may wish to produce a bound copy for the dissertation director, but the department does not require a bound copy.

Departmental Faculty

Department Chair

Glynis Ridley



Anderson, David R.

Biberman, S. Matthew

Billingsley,Dale B., Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs

Boehm, Beth, Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies

Brueggemann, Brenda, Director of Composition

Chandler, Karen M.

Clukey, Amy

Dietrich, Julia C., Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education

Golding, Alan C.

Griffin, Susan M., Justus Bier Professor of Humanities

Griner, Paul F.

Hadley, Karen C.

Horner, Bruce M., Endowed Chair in Rhetoric and Composition

Jaffe, Aaron

Johnson, Timothy

Kopelson, Karen 

Olinger, Andrea

Petrosino, Kiki, Director of Creative Writing

Rabin, Andrew

Rosner, Mary I.

Ryan, Susan M., Vice Chair

Schneider, Stephen, Director of Graduate Studies

Sheridan, Mary P., Director, Thomas R Watson International Conference on Rhetoric and Composition

Skinner, Jeffrey T.

Stanev, Hristomir

Turner, Joseph

Williams, Bronwyn T. Director, University Writing Center

Willey, A. Elizabeth, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Wise, Elaine O., Chair of the Division of Humanities


Visiting & Term Faculty

D'Antoni, Joan,  Instructor Term

Hachten, Dale F.,  Instructor Term

Rogers, Linda,  Instructor Term

Smith, Steve,  Instructor Term

Stewart, Thomas,  Assistant Professor Term

Tanner, Denise J.,  Instructor Term



Byers, Thomas B.

Cross, Geoffrey A.

Freibert, Lucy M.

Hall, Dennis R.

Henke, Suzette A.

Journet, Debra S.

Lu, Min-Zhan

Mattingly, Carol J.

Miller, Robert

Mullen, Karen

Richardson, Harold E.

Rickey, Mary Ellen

Van, Thomas A.

Contact Information

English Rhetoric and Composition - Ph.D.

Stephen Schneider, Director of Graduate Studies (502)852-0505
Annelise Gray, Graduate Program Assistant, Sr. (502)852-0505

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