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Rhetoric and Writing (Ph.D.)


Campus:  Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus, Instructions: Residential/On Campus

Program Overview

Carolyn Commer, Director, Ph.D. Program in Rhetoric and Writing

Carolyn wears a blue jack and green blouse and smiles at the viewer in this headshot, photographed in front of brick buildings and winter trees.
Carolyn Commer, Director, Ph.D. Program in Rhetoric and Writing

The PhD Program in Rhetoric and Writing at Virginia Tech focuses on rhetoric in society. We study language use and rhetorical activity in public, academic, corporate, and governmental settings in a collective effort to engage pressing social and cultural issues through academic discourse, public policy, and community outreach. 

Why choose this program?

  • Virginia Tech’s Rhetoric and Writing doctoral program has distinguished faculty whose research attends to social problems, disciplinary questions, and the information demands of a cyberconnected world. Areas of strength include medical rhetoric, data visualization, human rights, human-computer interaction, user experience, and cultural and feminist rhetorics. 
  • Virginia Tech is a top-notch research institution and the College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences where English is housed possesses a variety of opportunities available to students which enable students to excel. 
  • Our small program enables students to get individualized attention with award-winning and research active faculty. 
  • We engage in rhetoric and writing research that contributes to social progress, examines how literate practices create, circulate, and prioritize societal values and the public policies based on those values, and examines how rhetoric and writing empower and control access to power in these social systems. 

What You'll Study

Degree requirements will include 60 hours of graduate coursework past the bachelor's degree plus 30 hours of research and dissertation. Of those 60 hours of coursework, up to 30 may be transferred from an appropriate Master's degree.

Because rhetoric and writing are inherently interdisciplinary subjects, this program invites students to complete some coursework in related fields such as Language and Literature, Communication, Science and Technology Studies, Political Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Women's and Gender Studies, Science and Technology in Society, ASPECT, and Engineering Education, as well as courses in preparing the future professoriate offered by the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

  • Minimum GPA 3.0 (4 Scale)
  • GRE Optional
  • TOEFL/ IELTS score Required  (If Applicable)

Learn more 

The Department of English has a limited number of graduate assistantships and fellowships available for students applying for full time study on the Blacksburg Campus. Entering students can apply for such funding as part of their admissions application. No separate application required.

Find out what loans are available as a graduate student and other opportunities.

Priority deadline: January 16 for consideration for funding
Final deadline:  January 16

Carolyn Commer, Director, Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing
416 Shanks Hall 
181 Turner Street NW 
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Marie Trimmer
Graduate Programs Coodinator
310 Shanks Hall


Carolyn Commer, Director, Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing
416 Shanks Hall 
181 Turner Street NW 
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Rhetoric and Writing (Ph.D.) Faculty 

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Center for Rhetoric in Society

At the Center for Rhetoric in Society, we examine multiple rhetorics, bridging academic and public discourses to enact engagement and social change. Our mission is to investigate language use through rhetorical and narrative analysis to understand significant social problems. Graduate research assistants participate in all aspects of the Center, including grant writing, assisting faculty in research, organizing research symposia, and writing scholarly articles.