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Composition and Rhetoric Graduate Programs

Are you interested in writing and the teaching of writing? Digital composing and remix? Intercultural rhetorics? The rhetoric of queer identity? Professional writing? Writing and civic action? Writing center work? Do you want to explore rhetoric across several of these areas—or develop your own area? Then take a good long look at the Composition and Rhetoric graduate program at Miami University.

We offer both MA and PhD degrees in composition and rhetoric, both of which allow you to pursue a variety of interests in the field. Our nationally-prominent, award-winning faculty are deeply committed to helping you pursue your interests, expand your knowledge and expertise, and assist you in launching your professional career. At Miami you will be joining a strong, vibrant, interactive community of scholars and teachers who collaborate on research, on teaching, on administration, and on service to the university and community.

Our graduate curriculum will provide you with a solid foundation in the field of composition and rhetoric—in theory, history, methodology, and pedagogy—along with opportunities to specialize in particular areas. Our particular strengths and specialty areas include

  • rhetoric and composition pedagogy
  • digital and multimedia rhetoric and composing
  • community and public rhetorics, civic engagement
  • intercultural and comparative rhetorics, second language writing
  • professional writing
  • feminist and queer studies
  • writing program administration, writing centers, and writing-across-the-curriculum

Founded in 1981 our graduate program has helped hundreds of graduate students achieve their goals by promoting their scholarly inquiry and research skills, their pedagogical talents, and their overall professional development. Our placement rate for doctoral graduates seeking full-time faculty positions at universities is 100% (for the past ten years)—see our page on Alumni for details about doctoral student job placement. Other advantages of graduate study at Miami include:

  • Extensive faculty mentoring, support, and advising from the first semester through job placement.
  • Diverse teaching opportunities in state-of-the-art computer classrooms including teaching appointments in the Professional Writing major, the Rhetoric and Writing minor, and first-year composition. MA and PhD graduate students receive teaching assistantships that provide tuition remission and a stipend to support their graduate work, including summer support. MA students on teaching assistantships begin teaching composition in their first semester (with extensive support).
  • Extensive administrative and leadership opportunities in the Composition Program, the Digital Writing Collaborative, the Howe Writing Center, and the Howe Writing Initiative in the Farmer School of Business.
  • Opportunities for interdisciplinary study and research through affiliations with such campus programs as Literature, Creative Writing, Linguistics, and TESOL (within the Department of English); Asian/Asian-American StudiesBlack World StudiesDisability Studies, Emerging Technology in Business + Design, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

M.A. Requirements

The Master of Arts (MA) with a concentration in Composition and Rhetoric combines intensive study of current theory and practice within the discipline with carefully supervised training in the teaching of writing. Small classes with some of the most distinguished teacher-scholars in the field enable students to build individual research agendas shaped in relation to faculty expertise.


Ph.D. Requirements

PhD students take eight seminars during their first two years that include core foundation courses as well as electives of their choice. Four required foundation courses offer a breadth and depth in the field; two seminars are additional composition and rhetoric courses, and two seminars are open electives in English at the 600 level or above that are relevant to the individually planned course of study. A course of study might center on any one of the subfields in the discipline, such as composition theory, composition pedagogy, digital media studies, ethnic rhetoric, historical rhetoric, linguistics, literacy studies, professional writing, writing center study, women’s rhetoric, or any devised interdisciplinary field. It might focus on a single historical period or cut across them in order to achieve historical range. It might use any of a variety of research methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative research.

Funding Opportunities

  • MA Graduate Assistantships provide tuition remission and a stipend to support their graduate work that permits them to teach two sections of first-year composition in the College Composition program during their first year in the program, and three during the second.
  • PhD Graduate Teaching Assistantships provide students with tuition remission and a stipend to support their graduate work for five years, with the possibility of a dissertation fellowship in the fourth, fifth, or sixth year.

    For assistantships, students have opportunities to teach in the College Composition Program, the Professional Writing major, and the Rhetoric and Writing minor in the English Department and in other programs, such as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies or Emerging Technology in Business and Design.

Administrative Opportunities

A considerable strength of our program is that we offer extensive and diverse administrative opportunities for graduate students to gain professional, administrative experience while contributing in positive ways to the university community. For doctoral students especially, this level and scope of administrative experience provides a strong professional credential for university writing program administration.

Assistant Directors of Composition

Each year two doctoral students are awarded positions as Assistant Directors of Composition. In this capacity, they serve as co-administrators with the Director of Composition, helping with administration, curriculum development, and teacher preparation in the first-year composition program. Their primary responsibilities are:

  • to co-teach with the Director the graduate seminars and practica on the teaching of writing (ENG 731, ENG 606, and ENG 607);
  • to advise and work with the new TAs who are teaching first-year composition (ENG 111) and advanced composition (ENG 225).

Assistant Directors and Consultants, Howe Center for Writing Excellence

The Howe Center for Writing Excellence is a university-wide center that involves both a writing-across-the-curriculum (WAC) program and the Howe Writing Center (a student writing center where undergraduate and graduate consultants work with student writers). A variety of assistantships and paid hourly opportunities exist for MA and PhD students to work as Writing Center consultants and as assistants on various WAC projects and other initiatives, providing graduate students with excellent opportunities for gaining experience in these important areas of writing studies.

The Ohio Writing Project & Department of English Master of Arts in Teaching

One of the first sites of the prestigious National Writing Project, the OWP is an active professional development program offering workshops and seminars for K-16 teachers. The OWP offers an annual youth writing camp, a large fall teacher conference, and administers Miami’s Master of Arts in Teaching English (MAT). The OWP welcomes students who are interested in writing program administration, middle/high school writing center development, and K-12 literacy projects.

Teaching Opportunities

In addition to first-year composition, graduate students have opportunities to teach in the Professional Writing major, the Rhetoric and Writing minor, the College Composition program and in other programs, such as Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Interactive Media Studies.

Teaching Composition

Teaching assistants take a graduate pedagogy seminar (ENG 731) in their first semester and a teaching practicum in their second semester to support their teaching of English 111. While all sections of English 111 have common outcomes and curriculum, students have considerable flexibility in designing, implementing, and research innovative composition assignments. In fact, our composition teacher’s guide and student publication are substantially revised by a team of graduate students each year. All sections are taught in digital environments and students employ digital technologies to compose and circulate digital texts for public audiences. Teachers in the program receive extensive support and mentoring in digital pedagogy.

Teaching in the Professional Writing Major

PhD students at Miami have the opportunity to teach within the department’s Professional Writing major. Current PhD students teach courses such as Digital Writing and Rhetoric, Composition Theory and Research, Business Writing, Technical Writing, Advanced Composition, and Digital Humanities, and this teaching experience often helps our students find successful tenure-line positions. Our students always teach in digital environments, and our program offers extensive support for teaching with digital technologies.

Composition and Rhetoric Faculty

Our Faculty

Gabriele Bechtel

Ph.D., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2009

Associate Teaching Professor
Chief Department Adviser and Assistant Chair





Tony Cimasko

Ph.D., Purdue University, 2009

Senior Lecturer in English and ESL Composition Coordinator

Areas: Second-language writing, participation by second language learners in mixed L1/L2 classrooms, multimodal composing, and mismatches between student expectations and writing program standards





Linh Dich

Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2012

Associate Professor of English (Middletown Campus)

Areas: Language practices, representation, race, Asian-American rhetoric, community and public theories in digital environment





Theresa (Tess) Evans

Ph.D., Ball State University, 2012

Associate Teaching Professor

Areas: Business and professional communication, hybrid and online writing instruction, digital and multimodal writing and rhetoric, industrial-age advertising rhetoric. 





Lizzie Hutton

Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2018

Assistant Professor of English, Director of the Howe Writing Center

Areas: Writing Studies, literacy studies, reading-writing connection, disciplinary history of English studies, writing center studies, transfer studies





Emily Legg

Ph.D., Purdue University, 2016

Associate Professor of English

Areas: Indigenous rhetorics, cultural rhetorics, digital rhetoric, new media and composition, professional writing





Tim Lockridge

Ph.D., Virginia Tech, 2012

Associate Professor of English, Director of Professional Writing

Areas: Digital rhetoric, writing technologies, composition theory and history, digital publishing, web standards and markup languages, publics and counterpublics





Heidi McKee

Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2005

Professor, English Department
Affiliate Faculty, Armstrong Interactive Media Studies

Areas: Business and professional communication; digital writing and rhetoric, writing center and program administration, research ethics and methodologies.





James Porter

Ph.D., University of Detroit, 1982

Professor of English and Emerging Technology in Business & Design

Areas: Rhetoric theory and history, professional communication, digital rhetoric, rhetorical ethics, intellectual property, online writing instruction





Michele Simmons  

Ph.D., Purdue University, 2000

Professor of English

Areas: Public rhetorics and civic engagement, research methodologies, visual and digital rhetoric, community-based research, environmental rhetoric, professional communication





Adam Strantz

Ph.D., Purdue University

Assistant Professor, English and Emerging Technology in Business
and Design

Areas: Digital rhetoric, data visualization, accessibility, graphic design, computer code, professional writing





John Tassoni

Ph.D., Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1992

Professor of English (Middletown Campus)

Areas: Composition and rhetoric, open-access issues





Elizabeth Wardle

Ph.D., Iowa State University, 2003

Roger and Joyce Howe Distinguished Professor of Written Communication
Director, Howe Center for Writing Excellence

Areas: Transfer, threshold concepts, FYC as writing studies, writing program administration, composition theory, genre theory, activity theory





Sara Webb-Sunderhaus

Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2006

Associate Professor of English, Director of Composition

Areas: Composition theories, histories, and pedagogies; literacy studies, Appalachian studies, retention and writing studies; feminist methodologies and pedagogies

Current Graduate Students

MA Students

MA Students

photo of Kate AltanyKate Altany

BA, Ohio University

Research interests: bridging creative writing and rhet/comp pedagogy, first-year writing, writing identity through creative nonfiction, reader-writer relationship, writing program administration





Photo of abbi-aswegan-amediAbbi Aswegan-Amedi

BA, Auburn University

Research interests: digital literacy, digital communities, social media, pop culture, and composition theory





Wren Burks

BA, Professional Writing, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga


Morgan Christie

BA, BS, University of New York at Cortland

Research Interests: Mental Health Rhetorics and Rhetorics or Comedy




Thomas Gurinska

 BA, Miami University

Creative Interests: Queer and trans rhetorics historically and today, rhetorics of the body, queer temporality, queer history, how archives impact queer legacy, gender studies, queer theory


Claire Metzger

BA, English, Wittenberg University
BFA, Creative Writing, Full Sail University

PhD Students

Manea Alharbi

MA, Murray State University
BA, Murray State University

Research Interests: second language writing, composition pedagogy, writing centers

Shatha Alhubail

MA, University of Dayton
BA, University of Damman





Emma Boddy

BA, Miami University

Research Interests: transfer and creative repurposing, teaching and composition pedagogy, and interdisciplinary writing





Destiny Brugman

MA, Western Washington University
BA, Montana State University

Research Interests: digital communities, writing centers, new materialism, online writing instruction, hospitality and compassion pedagogical practices, feminist rhetoric





Cameron Cavaliere

BS, Slippery Rock University
MA, Auburn University

Research interests: digital rhetoric, writing centers, feminist rhetoric, community writing, publics and counterpublics





Will Chesher

MA, Ball State University
BA, John Brown University

Research Interests: graduate student writers, research methods and methodologies, writing pedagogy, administration





Laura Edwards

MA, University of Dayton
BA, Cedarville University

Research Interests: writing center, digital rhetoric, feminist theory, and pop culture





Alan Knowles

MA, Wright State University
BA, Wright State University 


Kyle Larson

MA, Miami University
BA, New College of University of Florida

Research Interests: (counter)public writing and rhetorics, social activism, critical pedagogy, writing centers





Brian Leingang

MA, Wright State University
BA, Miami University

Research Interests: composition pedagogy, developmental writing, assessment, placement, rural literacies, community colleges, and bridging the gap between high school and college





Su Liu

MA, Nankai University, Tianjin, China

Research Interests: writing pedagogy





Anita Long

BA/MA Miami University 

Research interests: FYC pedagogies, feminist research methodologies, and teaching research





Mckenzi Monday

BA, English, MA, Public Administration, Xavier University
MA, English, University of Dayton

Research interests: composition theories, transfer, transactional theory, reading in the writing classroom, speculative literature





Rena Perez

BS, MA, University of Central Florida

Research Interests: composition theory and pedagogy, writing assessment, language and literacy studies, writing program administration





Brad Reitz

MA, English Texas State University, 1993
BA, English, University of Texas, 1990

Research Interests: business writing, intercultural communication and pedagogy





Joshua Scheidler

BA, Writing for Diverse Contexts, Olivet College
MA, English, Western Michigan University





Ryan Vingum

MA, Miami University
BA, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Research Interests: writing centers, online writing instruction, social media

Current Course Offerings


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