Technical Communication and Rhetoric - PhD

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

About This Degree

The Technical Communication and Rhetoric (TCR) PhD program prepares students to work as researchers and teachers at colleges and universities. In this program you will take courses in rhetorical theory, cultural and empirical research methods, online pedagogy, and more.

Our PhD students have the freedom to conduct research on topics that matter to them, such as climate change communication, professional communication in the Global South, and accessible document design for people with disabilities.


At a Glance

College: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department: English Department

USU Locations:

  • Logan campus

Faculty: View profiles of faculty members on the department directory.

Program Requirements

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

Most graduates of the Technical Communication and Rhetoric PhD program go on to work as university professors. Our PhD program is known for addressing issues of social justice, community engagement, diversity, and service learning— education that prepares our students to be competitive in the academic job market. For examples, recent graduates have accepted tenure-track jobs at Virginia Tech, Texas State, Boise State University, The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Missouri University of Science & Technology, and Montana State University.

Job Outlook



Lynne McNeill

Associate Professor
Office: RWST 301B

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Admission Requirements

The following materials are general application materials required by the USU Graduate School:

Application Requirements:

  • An electronically completed application form, available through the Graduate School website.
  • A $55 application fee.
  • All official undergraduate and graduate transcripts showing your GPA. The minimum requirement is 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for the last 60 credits taken.
  • Three letters of recommendation, two of which must be from former teachers if you have been enrolled in school during the last five years. These letters should be sent directly to the Graduate School by the letter writers. You will enter their contact information as part of your online application to the Graduate School, and the Graduate School will contact them directly regarding how to submit their letters.
  • International students must also submit an I-20 application form and a financial guarantee. The Graduate School website details these requirements.
  • International applicants from non-English-speaking countries must also provide evidence of English language proficiency. The Graduate School website details these requirements.

The Technical Communication and Rhetoric doctoral program also requires two writing samples, a curriculum vitae, and a statement of purpose. You will submit these materials as "Supplemental Items" with your online Graduate School application.

Visit the TCR PhD application page for details on supplementary items.

International students have additional admissions requirements.


The application deadline is January 15th. No applicants will be considered until all required information arrives in the School of Graduate Studies office. All application materials must be postmarked before or by the deadline.

Program Requirements

Students must take a six-credit research internship course that is designed to immerse students in research that will lead to their dissertation.

PhD Qualifying Exams:

Students are also required to successfully complete two major exams in order to advance in the PhD program. The first of these is a portfolio (qualifying) exam, which is to be taken at the end of the first year. The second is a comprehensive exam, which is to be taken at the completion of formal coursework. Successful completion of the comprehensive exam is required before students can begin formal work on their dissertation research.

At the end of their first year in the program, students will submit an individual portfolio of their work. Professional and/or academic work may be selected for inclusion in the portfolio, though it must be work the student has completed during their first year. The portfolio must include at least four documents and their accompanying reflective statements. To proceed beyond their first year in the program, students must pass the portfolio (qualifying) exam with a grade of high pass, pass, or low pass. A grade of low pass, while allowing the student to continue in the program, does serve to indicate concern about the student's ability to successfully complete the program. There are no retakes, and decisions are final.

At the end of their formal course work, students will write a comprehensive exam. This exam is comprised of two essays. Though the comprehensive exam is taken at the completion of coursework, students should begin preparing for this exam upon starting the program. To complete the exam, students are responsible for generating a reading list from which exam questions will be formulated, which must include at least 100 items. After submitting their reading list, students should meet with the members of their committee to discuss their reading. It is from these conversations that the exam questions will be drawn. For each essay, students will be given two questions and asked to answer one. The average exam length is 15 pages per essay. In addition, each essay must also include a works cited list. Students will have 72 hours from the time they are given the exam questions to complete both essays.

Financial Aid

Graduate Instructorship

This face-to-face doctoral program prepares students for careers in academia, so PhD students are expected to receive a Graduate Instructorship (GI-ship). A GI-ship pays an annual salary of $20,000.00 in addition to a tuition waiver and benefits, in exchange for teaching a 2/2 load (two courses each semester) and performing other responsibilities.

Be sure to write a paragraph about your interests in a GI-ship in your Statement of Purpose.

A variety of funding opportunities are also available on the graduate school website.

Take The Next Step

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