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What is Rhetoric?

Rhetoric is the study and uses of written, spoken and visual language. It investigates how language is used to organize and maintain social groups, construct meanings and identities, coordinate behavior, mediate power, produce change, and create knowledge. Business, politics, advertising, everyday life – all use rhetoric or are influenced by it on a daily basis. Rhetorical study and written literacy are understood to be essential to civic, professional and academic life. Browse our website to see which of our programs might best prepare you for your future.


14th Annual RWS Landmark Lecture

Demagoguery, Deliberation, and Democratic Hope

3:30-5:00 in Aztec Student Union 230-B (Metztli Meeting Room)

Panelists: Dr. Patricia Roberts-Miller is Professor of Rhetoric and Writing at The University of Texas at Austin and Dr. James Crosswhite is Professor of English at the University of Oregon.

Learn more about this event.

Important Links

  • Writing Center
    The center helps students at all levels and in all disciplines strengthen their academic writing abilities.  It enhances the writing instruction that students receive in their classrooms through one-on-one attention from experienced readers.
  • Writing Placement Assessment (WPA)
    All undergraduates must demonstrate competency in writing skills at the upper division level as a requirement for graduation. At San Diego State University, the Writing Placement Assessment is used to assess that competency.
  • General Math Studies (GMS)
    GMS prepares students to satisfy the CSU Entry Level Mathematics requirement and to prepare students to succeed in their GE entry level Mathematics course.


  • Teaching Associate (TA) Program
    The Teaching Associate Program offers exciting opportunities for financial support and teaching experience to graduate students across the disciplines. TAs are hired to teach one or two lower division general education writing classes.
  • LORE Journal
    LORE is an electronic journal edited by the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies Department at San Diego State University. The journal’s focus is on rhetoric, writing, teaching, and culture.
  • Give to RWS
    Gifts from alumni, parents, students, and other friends help the department make a lasting impact on our world. Every gift makes a difference. All donations are tax-deductible, private and secure.