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The RWS Major

The Rhetoric and Writing Studies major at San Diego State University—the only such major in the California State University system and in the San Diego region—aims to produce sophisticated writers and interpreters of texts whose analytical, communicative, and persuasive abilities will meet the demands of almost every twenty-first century profession, including business, law, marketing and advertising, politics, science, education, professional writing and more.

The RWS major is an ideal subject of study to combine with other majors or minors. Its small classes will facilitate meaningful interaction with faculty and it complements virtually any field of study or content area. The major also provides excellent preparation for graduate-level study in business, law, and a range of disciplines in the humanities and sciences. 

Students in the major study how persuasion and meaning function in a wide variety of public and professional contexts, learning how to:

  • Communicate and express ideas effectively;
  • Persuade and inspire diverse audiences;
  • Analyze and produce information, messages, and arguments in a range of media and technologies;
  • Express a position clearly and ethically.

The prerequisites for the RWS major consist of six units from:

  • RWS 200 - Rhetoric of Written Arguments in Context (3 units) or JMS 210 - Social Media in the Digital Age (3 units)
  • RWS 250 - Rhetoric in Everyday Life (3 units).  [RWS 250 also satisfies a General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning, Humanities]

See our courses page for more information.

The major is comprised of a minimum of 30 units in Rhetoric and Writing Studies.

Five core courses (15 units) are required:

  • RWS 411 - Digital Rhetorics (3 units)
  • RWS 498 - Seminar: Writing and Research (3 units)
  • RWS 500W - Advanced Writing Strategies (3 units) or RWS 503W - Professional Writing (3 units)
  • RWS 506 - Internship (3 units)
  • RWS 410 (formerly 510) - Rhetoric and Culture  (3 units)

The remaining 15 units will be selected from elective courses in the Rhetoric and Writing Studies Department.  See our courses page for more information.

The program will produce graduates who will

  1. Identify and evaluate rhetorical theories.
  2. Comprehend the complex nature of writing as a process and practice reflective learning to improve their writing.
  3. Understand literacy as an array of advanced language and critical thinking abilities, including the assessment of multiple contexts.
  4. Analyze and produce texts using conventions and methods common to the field.

Students pursuing the RWS major will

  1. Describe and evaluate major rhetorical theories from various contexts. 
  2. Apply major rhetorical theories as they discuss, interpret, and analyze visual and verbal arguments.
  3. Apply effective, flexible strategies for generating, revising, and editing texts for various audiences.
  4. Synthesize and integrate insights from one project into another through reflective learning.
  5. Interpret literacy as a complex process by assessing historical, cultural, professional, and technological contexts.
  6. Appraise the complexity of verbal and visual literacy by assessing audience expectations and the social aspects of multimodal composing.
  7. Differentiate and illustrate conventions of academic and professional writing, including genre, visual design, and elements of style.
  8. Evaluate and synthesize research materials within their own analytical research papers and/or professional projects, applying methods common to the field.
  9. Analyze rhetorics of global and structurally marginalized communities, with attention to the ways rhetoric creates, enforces, and disrupts power relationships historically and contemporarily.

Learning Outcomes Matrix

This curricular matrix illustrates where Student Learning Outcomes are Introduced (I), Developed (D), and Mastered (M) in required courses so that students achieve the Program Learning Outcomes for the Rhetoric and Writing Studies Major.

View the matrix


Emma Lee Whitworth
Office: Storm Hall West 123 | Email: [email protected]

Important Links

Class ScheduleSDSU University CatalogAcademic CalendarMajor Academic Plan | SDSU Library Research Guides