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The RWS Graduate Program

The department offers a Master of Arts Degree in Rhetoric and Writing Studies. We welcome students from a variety of backgrounds whose interests include theories and histories of rhetoric, professional and technical writing, the teaching of writing, new media, and rhetorics of culture, politics and social difference.

The M.A. program offers students an opportunity for intensive study of written, spoken and visual language and their relationship to knowledge, culture, and professional practice. Courses inquire into the resources of persuasion and ways in which these have been theorized historically; writing theory and pedagogy; and the social, political, and workplace frameworks in which arguments are situated.

The program prepares students for advanced study in rhetoric and such careers as teaching at the college and secondary levels; curriculum design; technical, scientific and professional writing; public relations; corporate communication and training; publishing; document and information design; educational technology; web development; medical informatics and others.

Students in the M.A. program complete a 30-unit program of study beyond the bachelor's level.

Program Requirements

The general program is a customizable path that prepares students for advanced study or a range of careers in writing-related fields and offers flexibility of emphasis and class selection.  

Core Courses (15 units)
  • RWS 600 - Reading & Writing Rhetorically (3)
  • RWS 601A - History of Rhetoric I (3)
  • RWS 602 - Modern Rhetoric and Composition Studies (3)
  • RWS 640 - Research Methods in Rhetoric and Writing Studies (3)
  • RWS 790 - M.A. Exam Preparation (3) or RWS 799A - Thesis or Project (3) 
Electives (15 units)

Fifteen units of thematically focused electives selected with the approval of the graduate adviser.

See our courses page for more information.

The specialization in the Teaching of Writing prepares students to teach writing at the post-secondary level and offers secondary school teachers additional training and opportunities for advancement.

Core Courses (15 units)
  • RWS 600 - Reading & Writing Rhetorically (3)
  • RWS 601A - History of Rhetoric I (3)
  • RWS 602 - Modern Rhetoric and Composition Studies (3)
  • RWS 640 - Research Methods in Rhetoric and Writing Studies (3)
  • RWS 790 - M.A. Exam Preparation (3) or RWS 799A - Thesis or Project (3) 
Required classes (9 units)
  • RWS 512 - Writing Center Practice, Research, and Theory (3)
  • RWS 609 - Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing (3)
  • RWS 796A - Teaching Internship (3) or  RWS 798 - Special Study (3)
Electives (6 units)

Six units of thematically focused electives selected with the approval of the graduate adviser.

See our courses page for more information.

The specialization in Professional Writing prepares students for careers as professional writers in business, industry, public agencies, and government within the broader disciplinary context of rhetoric and writing studies, as well as to teach technical and professional writing at colleges or in specific training settings.

Core Courses (15 units)
  • RWS 600 - Reading & Writing Rhetorically (3)
  • RWS 601A - History of Rhetoric I (3)
  • RWS 602 - Modern Rhetoric and Composition Studies (3)
  • RWS 640 - Research Methods in Rhetoric and Writing Studies (3)
  • RWS 790 - M.A. Exam Preparation (3) or RWS 799A - Thesis or Project (3) 
Required classes (9 units)
  • RWS 504 - Advanced Professional Writing (3)
  • RWS 607 - Writing Project Management (3)
  • RWS 796B - Writing Internship (3) or RWS 798 - Special Study (3) based on work experience, where appropriate and with the approval of the Rhetoric and Writing Studies graduate adviser.
Electives (6 units)

Six units of thematically focused electives selected with the approval of the graduate adviser.

See our courses page for more information.

The culminating experience for the M.A. in Rhetoric and Writing Studies offers a choice to write a Thesis orProject or to take the M.A. Examination.  Your Master’s Thesis, Project, or Exam is the most important piece of work you will produce during your Master’s level study.  Any of these documents provides the opportunity to demonstrate your mastery of the foundations of rhetoric as well as its uses for various questions and situations. 

It is up to you to choose which of these options is most appropriate for you.  If you are planning to go on to a Ph.D. program or a career for which it is important to have a research document in your portfolio, or if there is a particular problem that you wish to research in depth, the Thesis is an excellent option.  If you are in or entering a field in which it would be useful to create a practical product that is based on rhetorical knowledge (for example a technical document or manual), the Project is an excellent option.  If it is less important to you or to your employers to demonstrate that you have researched a significant problem or produced a practical document, the M.A. Exam is an excellent option, for it still offers an opportunity to synthesize and demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the field of Rhetoric and Writing Studies.  

Students writing a thesis or project enroll in RWS 799A Thesis. Students writing the M.A. Exam enroll in RWS 790 Exam Preparation.  These are described in greater detail below.

A thesis is a systematic study of a significant scholarly problem. It identifies the problem or gap, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and the methods of the study, analyzes the data, and offers conclusions. The finished product evidences new knowledge, originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization, language, and format, professional writing, and thorough documentation.  The operative term is new knowledge.  Theses typically run between 40 and 100 pages.

Examples of recent RWS theses (available in our library):

Joseph Bush. Philosophy and Praxis of Multilingual Tutors. Chair, Kathryn Valentine

Rebecca Cammack. From Toilet to Tap: The Evolving Discourse of Recycled Drinking Water. Chair, Richard Boyd

Clara Cushing.  Old as Time: Circulation of Gender Conceptions in Beauty and the Beast Tales. Chair, Suzanne Bordelon 

Lorise Diamond. Implicitly Biased Diversity: An Ideological Aporia in Digital White Space. Chair, Cezar Ornatowski

Bree MacDonald. Musical Borderisms: An Ideological and Narrative Analysis of Tejano, Norteño, and U.S. Country Music. Chair, Glen McClish 

Ruben “Ruby” Mendoza. Hollow Eve: A Non-binary Artist Queering Heteronormativity. Chair, Suzanne Bordelon 

Sarita Tanori. Shifting to Conocimiento: A Qualitative Study on Rhetorical Vulnerability in First­ Generation Latinx Experiences. Chair, Kathryn Valentine

A project is primarily an application of disciplinary knowledge, expertise, and capacities. It demonstrates originality and independent thinking, appropriate language use, organization, and rationale. Examples in RWS are a technical manual, handbook, curriculum plan, or web-based or other instructional program. The project is described and summarized in a written abstract that includes the project’s significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion or recommendation. Students prepare a “cover” report/paper or “intellectual framework” detailing their project, approach, methodology, literature, and rationale that serves as an introduction (10–20 pages).  Projects vary considerably in length, but typically run between 40 and 100 pages.

Examples of RWS projects (available through our library):

Martin Ciesel. Ethos Building in the Digital Realm: A Practical Guide to Digital Portfolios. Chair, Jennifer Sheppard

Colleen Dong.  A Rhetorical Approach to Teaching Children's Literature. Chair, Glen McClish

Lubna Nona.  Using the Common Core Standards to Teach Rhetoric in the Middle School English Language Arts Curriculum. Chair, Glen McClish

You should plan at least two semesters for writing your thesis or doing your project.  Remember to check the deadlines for thesis submission listed on the Graduate Studies website  while you plan your schedule for research and writing and before you commit yourself to a graduation date.  These deadlines come long before the end of the semester. Calculate back from the submission deadline to allow sufficient time for members of your committee to read your thesis and for you to accommodate their comments and suggested revisions.  

Steps for Selecting a Thesis Committee and Registering for 799 Thesis

You may assemble a thesis committee and register for 799 Thesis after completing 8 of the 9 courses on the official program of study.  That is, you may begin working on the thesis concurrently with the last course on the official program of study if you have met all other requirements (e.g., removal of conditional status; filing of Program of Study, advancement to candidacy).  You may continue thesis work in successive semesters by registering for 799A, 799B, and thesis extension.  However, you should begin the research and background work for your thesis, including identifying faculty for your thesis committee, as early as your RWS 640 course in your first year.

While approaching a prospective thesis chair, it is wise to have a fairly good idea of what your thesis project will be. The more clearly you can articulate your idea, the better the chances that the faculty member understands clearly what you are proposing to do and the easier it is for him or her to decide to be your chair.  Generally, if the faculty member and you share a mutual interest in an area of the faculty member’s expertise and the faculty member knows that your work is of acceptable quality, he or she will agree to chair your thesis.  However, faculty members are not required to agree to chair a specific thesis.  You’ll choose the other members of your thesis committee in consultation with your chosen committee chair. You are required to have one committee member from an SDSU department outside of RWS. Use the thesis prospectus (see guidelines below) to select prospective members of the thesis committee.

When you have assembled the thesis committee, you should

  • get a thesis committee form from the Graduate Office, SSE 1401
  • have the form signed by the chair and the other members of the committee
  • agree in principle with your thesis chair on the rights to the results of the work reported in the thesis. Agreement over such issues should be obtained in writing before beginning research. To facilitate this process, an agreement form is attached (as page 2) to the Appointment of Thesis/Project Committee form. It must be completed and submitted with the Thesis Committee Form to the Graduate Division. For the entire policy regarding “Rights to Dissertation/Thesis Data and Publication Authorship,” see the Thesis Department section of the Montezuma Publishing website.
  • be familiar with university policy on using human subjects for research and secure appropriate permits. University policy requires that students intending to engage in research involving human subjects receive approval of their research procedures before beginning the collection of data.  Detailed information regarding the approval process can be found at the Research Integrity/Regulatory Compliance website. Remember, the Graduate Division will not accept the Appointment of Thesis Committee Form until the necessary approvals have been obtained.
  • register for RWS 799 Thesis

Preparing a Thesis Prospectus

Once you have selected a faculty member who has agreed to chair your thesis, you can begin to work with him or her to prepare a thesis prospectus (see the guidelines below). The purpose of the prospectus is to help you articulate your ideas to a point where it is clear to you and to your chair, as well as to prospective members of your thesis committee and to any other interested readers, what your thesis project is and how you will approach it.

The thesis prospectus should be between five and eight pages long and contain the following sections:

  1. TITLE

  2. DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT
    A brief (one page) description of the proposed study or project: What is your research question?  What are you going to investigate and write about? What are the goals of the study or project? How do you see the general shape of the work? 

  3. BACKGROUND OF PROJECT: REVIEW OF LITERATURE
    This section should demonstrate familiarity with the major issues and literature involved.  Think of this section as providing the context for your proposed study. You may provide a brief description of the situation, issues, debates, and questions that motivate interest in the topic and in the proposed study.  The section should also serve as the rationale for the proposed study, demonstrating the need for such a study: Why is the proposed study or project relevant, interesting, called for, or worth doing? What does your project add to existing knowledge?

  4. METHODOLOGY
    This section should explain the proposed method of proceeding (archival research, ethnography, empirical research, textual analysis, observation, data analysis, and so on) and well as your “archive” or data.  In so far as possible, this section should also demonstrate the relevance of the proposed method to the goals of the study. 

  5. TENTATIVE CHAPTER OUTLINE
    This section should list the tentative chapters or sections of the thesis and briefly describe their proposed content.

  6. TIMETABLE FOR COMPLETION
    This section should present the timetable for completing the thesis, allotting sufficient time for research, writing, reviewing, and revising.  

  7. WORKING BIBLIOGRAPHY
    This section is a list of primary and secondary sources that will be used in the study.

For more information on preparing a thesis, please read information from SDSU’s Division of Graduate and Research Affairs' website.

For details regarding deadlines, formatting requirements, and detailed submission information see Montezuma Publishing's Thesis Review website.

A comprehensive examination is defined by the CSU as an assessment of the student’s ability to integrate the knowledge of the area, show critical and independent thinking, and demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. The results of the examination evidence independent thinking, appropriate organization and high level of writing competency, critical analysis, and accuracy of documentation.

The exam functions as a capstone experience, with students drawing upon and synthesizing disciplinary knowledge acquired in their coursework. It also functions as a demonstration of competence (broad-based knowledge of some important disciplinary issues) and in some cases it provides an opportunity for students to develop research interests they have been working on for some time. 

In practice the exam changes a fair amount depending on the cohort of students.

We negotiate a reading list at the start of the semester that combines coverage as well as the particular interests and trajectories of the group.

Exam Procedures:

On the first day of the exam students write a series of short, specifically focused essays. Following the first day, students spend six days writing essay responses to three more expansive prompts. All work is open book and open notes and the exam is pass/fail.

Learning Outcomes for the Exam:

In the three parts of the exam, taken together, students will:

  • articulate the projects and arguments of texts on the reading list, showing the role of each in constructing the field of rhetoric;
  • create connections across texts and historically, showing how authors build on, expand, illustrate, revise or differ from previous writers' work;
  • use texts on the reading list as lenses through which to reflect on their experiences as M.A. students in Rhetoric and Writing Studies and on their current or projected vocations;
  • extend one or more writers' arguments by showing how they could be built out, illustrated, or used as the basis for further research.

Sample Exam Questions:

  • There is a substantial body of research in the field of technical and professional communication devoted to the transitions writers experience when moving from academic to professional discourse communities. Selzer’s “The Composing Processes of an Engineer,” published in 1983, and Anson and Forsberg’s “Moving Beyond the Academic Community,” published in 1990, were two of the first pieces of scholarship to examine this issue. Subsequent scholarship (Dias, Dias et al., Freedman and Adam, and Bay) has compared reading practices, task definition, engagement, authority, contextual shaping, and a variety of other factors in order to chart disciplinary and workplace topographies. This research presents arguments about the theoretical frameworks best suited to understanding workplace and academic writing, and it often suggests ways of reforming pedagogy and practice.

    Drawing from this body of research, answer the following questions: What are some of the major findings of this body of research? What are some major shifts in the research literature?  Which findings, and which proposals for reforming pedagogy, seem most promising to you and why?

  • Amidon, Nelson, and Plfugfelder argue that “by examining how ‘flatten the curve’ (FTC) visualizations served as a rhetorical anchor for communicating the risk of viral spread during the COVID-19 pandemic, technical and professional communication (TPC) stands to learn much about visual risk literacy (Richards, 2019): the ability to comprehend visual depictions of risks and translate this understanding into informed and ethical decision making. Risk visualizations function as useful aids to understanding text-based messaging, but in a highly visual culture, these graphics often stand alone.” Begin by unpacking what they mean in the context of this article and then, drawing on other pieces on your reading list, discuss some of the key issues raised by these authors for the TPC field broadly and in relation to visual communication specifically.
  • In “Composition at the Turn of the Twenty First Century” Richard Fulkerson attempts to map what he calls “Comp-Landia.” He contrasts two texts, Eight Approaches to Teaching Composition, published in 1980, and A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, published in 2001. This comparison is used to identify “large-scale changes in the discipline” and describe what he sees as the major philosophies of composition at the turn of the century. This raises the question of how one might update Fulkerson’s map of “Comp-landia.”  Present an account of how you would update Fulkerson’s map. You could use the new, 2014 edition of A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, b) texts you are familiar with, and/or c) the 2010 issue of CCC titled “The Future of Rhetoric & Composition.” 

  • Yancey’s “Writing in the 21st Century” is one of several recent texts arguing that digital technologies present exciting new opportunities for rhetoric and composition. She claims that the new digital environments reconfigure practices of composition, definitions of literacy, and the nature of what it means to be a writing teacher. Discuss her main claims, and consider how other scholars have responded to her text. You may wish to consider extensions/adaptations of Yancey’s work, challenges, critiques, and how recent studies of digital literacy can be brought into conversation with her article. Lastly, you can analyze Yancey’s rhetoric – the way she constructs the terms of the debate, constitutes a disciplinary community, and the precise nature of her call to action.
  • In Plato’s Phaedrus writing is discussed in relation to memory, knowledge and authority. True rhetoric is compared to ‘pure’ writing inscribed in the soul of the listener, and is associated with stability, order, transparency and clarity (276a, 277a). False rhetoric is likened to ‘impure’ writing and defined as transitory, promiscuous, unreliable and unstable (275e).  Contemporary arguments about electronic text and new media literacy typically stress the novel, revolutionary nature of digital technologies. However, to what extent do these texts remain indebted to concepts and distinctions identifiable in Phaedrus?
  • A number of writers on your reading list make the case for argument-based approaches to the teaching of writing. Discuss and evaluate the case they make for a) why argument matters, b) how it is best taught, c) which rhetorical theorists provide the most useful resources for argument-based pedagogies, and d) whether argument-based approaches can be integrated with alternative frameworks such as cultural studies or expressivism.
  • Two of your texts, Katz and Burke, offer readings of Hitler’s rhetoric, though in the interest of different projects.  Both could be said to be anchored in Aristotle: Burke clearly traces in Hitler what Aristotle called “available means of persuasion.” Katz suggests that technical writing is a form of what Aristotle called deliberative rhetoric and its concern with efficiency.  Sketch the overall argument of each piece, and show how both could be of use for professional/technical writers.

 

Thesis/Project Option (Plan A)
  • Filing the Program of Study
    The Program of Study (POS) is a contract among you, RWS, and the University.  Essentially, it’s an electronic list of the courses you will take in order to satisfy the requirements for the degree, including both required courses and electives.  The POS requires classified graduate standing and is submitted by the graduate advisor electronically in consultation with you.  Once the POS is approved by Graduate Studies, it becomes binding. However, we can petition for changes using a Petition for Adjustment of Academic Requirements.

  • Advancement to Candidacy
    Once advanced to candidacy, you are officially recognized by the University as a candidate for the degree.  In order to be advanced to candidacy, you need to have an approved POS on file, completed 12 POS units, have a minimum GPA of 3.00, and no grade lower than a C. The graduate advisor recommends you electronically for advancement to candidacy, usually at the same time the POS is submitted.

  • Select committee chair
    The principal criteria for selecting your thesis chair are expertise and a good working relationship.  Of these two, the latter is paramount.  Your chair needs to be someone with whom you work well.  
  • Complete Thesis Prospectus
     Work with your committee chair to complete your thesis prospectus. This step can be completed any time up to this point, but must be finished before you can choose your other committee members. 

  • Select second department member and outside member for committee
    The second member should also be a person who knows and appreciates your work.  Your outside member must come from a department other than RWS and should have expertise relevant to your subject, although this is not absolutely required. 

  • Arrange and attend pre-thesis committee conference
     After selecting your committee and sharing your thesis prospectus with them, you will arrange a meeting with the committee.  This event is intended to provide you with initial guidance for your thesis/project.  At the close of the meeting, your committee members will sign your Appointment of Thesis/Project Committee form. 

  • File Appointment of Thesis/Project Committee Form with GRA
    You will not be able to register for RWS 799A until this form is submitted and processed by GRA.
  • Register for RWS 799A

  • File for graduation
    This is accomplished through your Webportal and requires a small fee.  The deadline is usually at the end of January or the beginning of February  for spring graduation. 

  • Complete Thesis/Project
    Working first with your chair and subsequently with the remaining two members of your committee, complete the chapters necessary for completing your thesis. 

  • Attend Thesis/Project debriefing meeting or presentation
    Once your three committee members are essentially satisfied with your work, you will schedule and attend your debriefing meeting or presentation.  This could be a conversation with your committee, in which they discuss the project and make final suggestions for completion, a presentation of your findings open to the public, or a combination of the two.  At the successful completion of this meeting/presentation, your committee will sign your signature page.

  • File thesis with Montezuma Publishing
    In order to guarantee spring graduation, you need to file your thesis with Montezuma Publishing by the “at risk deadline,” which is in late March.   Filing “at risk” may require you to register for RWS 799B through Open University and subsequently graduate in a later term. 

  • Graduate
    You have the opportunity to attend both our departmental graduation and the College of Arts and Letters ceremony.  They are typically held on a Friday in mid-May.  Students who intend to graduate in summer are also invited to participate. 
Comprehensive Exam Option (Plan B)
  • Filing the Program of Study
    The Program of Study (POS) is a contract among you, RWS, and the University.  Essentially, it’s an electronic list of the courses you will take in order to satisfy the requirements for the degree, including both required courses and electives.  The POS requires classified graduate standing and is submitted by the graduate advisor electronically in consultation with you.  Once the POS is approved by GRA, it becomes binding. However, we can petition for changes using a Petition for Adjustment of Academic Requirements.

  • Advancement to Candidacy
    Once advanced to candidacy, you are officially recognized by the University as a candidate for the degree.  In order to be advanced to candidacy, you need to have an approved POS on file, completed 12 POS units, have a minimum GPA of 3.00, and no grade lower than a C.  I recommend you electronically for advancement to candidacy, usually at the same time the POS is submitted.  When approved for advancement to candidacy, you become eligible to sit for the comprehensive examination/Plan B.
  • Register for RWS 790

  • File for graduation
    This is accomplished through your Webportal and requires a small fee.  The deadline is usually at the end of January or the beginning of February.  For 2021, the date is February 5

  • Attend RWS 790
    RWS 790, the course in which you prepare for and take the exam, meets weekly to discuss the course reading list, which is usually determined by the instructor and students. This course is typically only offered in the spring semester.


  • Sit for the Comprehensive Exam
    The comprehensive examination assesses your ability to integrate knowledge of your subject area, show critical and independent thinking, and demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. The exam is usually held in April.  The  deadline for reporting exam results is usually in early May. All sections of the exam must be successfully completed before then for you to graduate. 

  • Graduate
    You are invited to attend both our departmental graduation and the College of Arts and Letters ceremony.  They are typically held on a Friday in mid-May.  Students who intend to graduate in summer are also invited to participate. 

Testimonials

"I started studying rhetoric and composition at SDSU while working as a technical writer in the software industry. I wasn't sure I wanted to keep working as a technical writer, and I was intrigued by the little bits I learned about rhetorical theory in my technical writing class. I also wanted the opportunity to teach writing. It turns out that I enjoyed studying rhetoric and composition so much that I decided to pursue a PhD in it, and I'm finding that the classes I took at SDSU gave me an excellent foundation. Studying rhetoric is a great choice for someone who wants to embark on graduate work but keep their options open. There's just so many directions you can take your skills...into industry, into teaching, further into academia. The faculty at SDSU were also great to work with. They provided me loads of support and encouragement, especially in terms of professional development."

Megan Little, Professor of Practice at University of San Diego

How to Apply to the Program

The M.A. Program in Rhetoric and Writing Studies welcomes students from a wide variety of backgrounds. We look for applicants who are strong writers with strong academic records and who may have rich work experiences on which to build.

To be admitted into the program, you must:

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
  • Have a GPA of at least 3.0 in the last 60 semester units (90 quarter units) attempted in their bachelor's degree studies or in your post-baccalaureate studies.
  • Have been in good standing at the last institution attended
  • Have completed all three sections of the new GRE (Graduate Record Examination). On the Analytical Writing part of the GRE students are expected to have a 4.5 or higher. Please remember that all three sections are required. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement that applicants for graduate study at SDSU submit scores for the GRE is suspended for the Fall 2022 admissions cycle.

In addition, if you are a foreign student, you must have at least a 550 score on the TOEFL

Fall 2022 Admissions
  • Submit Cal State Apply Application – December 15
  • Submit Documents (scores and transcripts) to Graduate Admissions – January 12
  • Complete Program Application – January 12
Step 1: Apply to the University

All applicants to the program must first fill out an online application on Cal State Apply and pay the required fee by December 15, 2021. An SDSU RED ID Number will then be assigned which allows tracking of application status online. The application submission period begins on October 1, 2021.

When applying to Cal State Apply, please make sure to select one of these Rhetoric and Writing Studies M.A. programs as your Major/Program objective:

  • 112201 Rhetoric and Writing Studies: Individualized Study (MA)
  • 112202 Rhetoric and Writing Studies: Teaching of Writing (MA)
  • 112203 Rhetoric and Writing Studies: Tech/Prof Writing (MA)

Please note that the department is Rhetoric and Writing Studies, not English.

Step 2: Submit Official Transcripts and Test Scores to the Graduate Admissions Office
  • Official transcripts – from all colleges and universities attended
  • GRE test scores sent directs from ETS (Institution Code: 4682)
    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement that applicants for graduate study at SDSU submit scores for the GRE is suspended for the Fall 2022 admissions cycle.
  • And TOEFL scores if applicable

    Enrollment Services
    Graduate Admissions Document Processing Unit
    Sand Diego State University
    San Diego, CA 92182-7416

If you have questions regarding Steps 1 and 2, please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at (619) 594-6336 or email [email protected].  International applicants may contact the International Recruitment Office at (619) 594-6336 or e-mail [email protected].

Step 3: Program Application

Must be received by January 12, 2022.

Complete the RWS program application.

You will need to submit electronically:

  • Statement of Purpose - A 750-1000 word statement of purpose (explaining reasons for applying to the program, background, interests, experience, as well any other relevant information). This is a very important part of your application. For ideas and help on writing this statement, visit the Purdue University's page.
  • Résumé/CV
  • Writing Sample - A writing sample of minimum ten (10) pages (may be a combination of shorter documents). Academic essays or professional work only, please.
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation - Letters should be from faculty members or recent employers.

Please note that the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies begins to accept applications on October 1, 2021 for admission in Fall 2022.

Testimonials

"I can’t speak highly enough about the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies at San Diego State University. One of the highlights is the faculty. The professors are intelligent, engaging, and highly committed to helping students. I was very impressed with the level of personal attention we each received. In addition, I found my fellow graduate students to be thoughtful, talented, and creative people who enriched my experience greatly. In terms of the program itself, I received a strong foundation in rhetorical theory and history, and I benefited from classes in teaching writing and professional writing that offered strong practical value. Today, as the editor of Point Loma Nazarene University’s magazine, I find myself drawing on the tools of rhetorical analysis I learned at SDSU. When I have taught freshmen composition at PLNU, I have relied upon my experiences as a teaching associate. In short, earning my master’s degree in rhetoric and writing was a delightful, stimulating experience. I would recommend the program to anyone who has a passion for language and its many purposes."

Christine Spicer, Editor for The Viewpoint Magazine at Point Loma Nazarene University

Support

The Teaching Associate Program in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies (RWS) offers exciting opportunities for financial support and teaching experience to graduate students across the disciplines. Teaching Associates are hired to teach one or two lower division general education writing classes (RWS 100 or 200). All of these writing classes are designed to help SDSU undergraduates undertake writing projects that have the depth and complexity of university work, that draw upon a variety of sources, and that show sound decisions about structure and prose style. More information can be found on our teaching associate program page.
The Writing Mentors Program offers graduate and upper division students the opportunity to blend theory with practice. The primary goal of the program is to assist a diverse population of students in developing the advanced reading and writing abilities necessary to succeed at the University level and beyond. More information can be found on our writing mentors page.
The SDSU Writing Center provides writing tutoring to students across the entire university.  Working with a broad variety of students and assignments provides excellent experience.  Specific requirements for employment, as well as more information about the center, are available on the Writing Center website.
The Presidential Graduate Research Fellowship (PGRF) is a university-wide competition designed to recruit non-resident graduate students who demonstrate outstanding potential for achievement in research or creative activity. Awards provide a waiver of non-resident tuition for the first year of an SDSU graduate program, and are renewable subject to good academic standing. Renewals provide a maximum of 5 semesters overall for master’s students, and 10 semesters for doctoral students. Competitive applicants to the RWS master’s program will be nominated by the graduate adviser.
The department is often able to provide financial support for graduate students who travel to professional conferences to present papers.  In addition, funding is often available for students whose research requires travel to archives or research sites. Students are invited to apply to the chair of the department, Dr. Glen McClish, at [email protected] for consideration.
The Student Research Committee and the Division of Research Affairs would like to invites SDSU graduate students to apply for Graduate Student Travel Funds. These support travel associated with scholarly research and creative activities. There are two funds, and each has a different deadline and set of constraints. Students may apply to both funds for the same travel, but can only be awarded from one fund. More information is available on the Travel Funds page.

Testimonials

"In 2004, I set out to find a Master’s program that would improve my craft as a teacher. Specifically, I wanted to learn more about reading and writing. Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and obtaining a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English, I had convinced myself that I was ready for a different learning experience. Rhetoric and Writing Studies was a completely new discipline to me, a subject that I new very little about. I was ready to engage in new conversations, especially those that would deepen my understanding of language and its relationship to meaning and knowledge. The Department of Rhetoric and Writing Studies was a perfect fit for me. Offering an emphasis in the teaching of writing, this Master’s program taught me the value of reading and writing rhetorically and developed in me the necessary skills and vision needed to prepare modern students for the rigors of academic environments. Rhetoric and Writing Studies is a program constructed of thoughtfully developed classes by highly competent professors. The professors in this program care deeply about their students and make every effort to develop relevant, challenging curriculum. Completing this program has enriched both my academic and professional career. I am forever grateful."

Jonathan LeMaster, High School English Teacher

Advising

Dr. Jennifer Sheppard
Office: Storm Hall West 103 | Phone: (619) 594-2696 | Email: [email protected]

Important Links

Class ScheduleSDSU University CatalogAcademic Calendar