The University of Massachusetts Amherst
HFA - College of Humanities & Fine Arts view HFA submenu

Composition and Rhetoric

At UMass, students interested in studying composition and rhetoric at the graduate level will find a well established program focused on the study of writing in academic and public spaces, emphasizing the intersections of theory, pedagogy, and literate practice.


Graduate students specializing in rhetoric and composition take core courses in composition theory, rhetorical theory, literacy studies, and research methodologies. These core courses are supplemented by a wide array of special topics courses on public discourse, genre theory, race and writing, gender and writing, and writing and emerging technologies, to name just a few.

The English Department's extensive graduate-level course offerings in literary and cultural studies, creative writing, and American Studies allow graduate students further flexibility to define their own course of study and research projects.

Funding and professional development

Our graduate students work closely with a distinguished composition and rhetoric faculty and enjoy a wide variety of paid teaching and professional development opportunities. This includes opportunities to grow as teachers in our nationally recognized first-year Writing Program, writing-across-the-curriculum program, and computer-equipped writing classrooms.

Rebecca Dingo and Haivan Hoang
Rebecca Dingo and Haivan Hoang at the WRAB Conference in Norway

    Our community

    Composition and rhetoric graduate students and faculty form a friendly community, coming together outside of the classroom for a variety of activities, including student-organized writing groups, program potlucks in the spring and fall, and monthly "comp shares."

    Comp shares are informal gatherings where students and faculty share their research, receive feedback on writing-in-progress, and discuss professional development topics.


    Applicants to the PhD concentration in Composition and Rhetoric must have the MA in hand before enrolling in the program; the degree should be in English or a related discipline. The strongest applications will include theoretical or research-oriented study in composition and/or rhetoric, ideally more than one course. Read more about admissions.