Ph.D. in Rhetoric & Composition

Internationally recognized since its founding in 1978, our Ph.D. program in Rhetoric and Composition prepares students for academic careers in the history, theory, and practice of rhetoric and composition. Graduates from our program have embarked on careers as tenure-track faculty members or as writing center directors. Others have pursued careers in education, business, and publishing.

Our Ph.D. students are fully funded through teaching positions or University fellowships. In addition, our program provides many research and professional development opportunities. Our students gain valuable administrative experience as Assistant Directors of the University Writing Center, the Composition Program, or the international Thomas R. Watson Conference.

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Our doctoral program introduces students to the teaching of writing, the history of rhetoric, current issues and research methods in rhetoric and composition, contemporary theories of interpretation, and interconnections among literature, rhetoric, and composition. Recent special topic seminars have focused on literacy, writing in the disciplines, new media and composition pedagogy, and the politics of language in composition. Click here for a listing of our graduate courses


As a Ph.D. student you will pursue your own research project on an original topic within the field of Rhetoric and Composition. Your research will culminate in a Ph.D. dissertation, supervised by faculty in the English Department and one outside reader. Click here for an overview of previously defended dissertations.

Career & Job Placement

Our Ph.D. program boasts a successful track record of placing graduates into tenure-track positions. Recent program graduates have gone on to such universities as the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Berea College, the University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Pittsburgh, Queens College (CUNY), State University of New York, Syracuse University, Wake Forest University, and the University of Washington. Before you graduate, we will work with you closely to help you navigate the transition from your graduate studies to your future career. Click here for our job placement overview.


Eligible doctoral students are fully funded for four years by departmental Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) positions or University Fellowships. GTA positions and University Fellowships include an annual stipend, health benefits, and a tuition waiver.

Teaching Opportunities

All doctoral students teach for at least two semesters in the First-Year Composition Program. Many also have the opportunity to teach advanced writing, technical or business writing, writing about literature, and introductory literature courses. As a GTA you will gain valuable experience in designing your own writing course on a theme of your choosing.

Administrative Positions

Many of our PhD students also pursue a range of professional opportunities in the English department or at the University of Louisville. Such opportunities include the following GTA positions:

We will also notify our students of other opportunities in the English department and throughout the university as they become available. 


More Information

If you would like to learn more about our Ph.D. program, contact the director of graduate studies or go to the Graduate Program Catalog for more information.

Apply Now

Are you ready to apply? Click on the link below for more information about the process and deadlines.