Rhetoric and Professional Communication


Program Information:

Program Statement:
    The PhD in Rhetoric and Professional Communication focuses on the rhetorical theory, history, pedagogy, and practice of written, oral, visual, and electronic communication (WOVE) in professional communities, such as business, industry, science, and government. The degree prepares graduates for academic positions in rhetoric, in multimodal composition, and in business, professional, and technical communication, as well as for work in the private and public sectors as professional communication specialists, editors, designers, and communications managers. Candidates are required to complete 72 hours of graduate credit including a dissertation and to pass a portfolio assessment, a preliminary examination (consisting of a written comprehensive examination and a special field examination), and an oral defense of the dissertation. The English Department offers a Master of Arts in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication as well.
Degrees Offered:
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Program Handbook(s):
Learning Goals:
  • Demonstrate understanding and application of theories, research methods, and concepts in rhetoric, professional communication, and multimodal composition
  • Use a variety of technologies and media for designing and implementing effective, audience-centered communication
  • Analyze and critique communication in a variety of organizational and public contexts
  • Synthesize multiple historical and contemporary sources within research projects
  • Design and produce scholarship that makes a significant contribution to the field
How long does it take to earn a degree?
  • Median time to earn the doctorate: 4.8 years (Methods)
  • Median time to earn the master’s: No data

Program Contact:

Contact: Teresa Smiley
Phone: 515-294-2477
E-mail Address:

Mailing Address:

    English Department
    Graduate Studies Program, 203 Ross Hall
    Iowa State University
    Ames, IA 50011-1201

Admission Requirements:

Graduate College Requirements:
  • 4 year Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent)
  • Academic Records/Transcripts
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA (Program may alter requirement.)
  • Proof of English Proficiency.
Program Specific Requirements: International Requirements:
  • Financial Statement: Application
  • English Proficiency Minimum:
    TOEFL Paper (PBT) 623
    TOEFL Internet (iBT) 106
    IELTS 8
    PTE 79
    Duolingo (approved through spring 2025) 125

Application Information:

Application Deadlines:
    January 5 (once per year for fall semester entry only), with applications accepted and evaluated beginning October 15. Early applications are encouraged.
Application Details:
    This program is open to domestic and international students.

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