Rhetoric and Composition Specialization

The M.A. in English with a specialization in Rhetoric and Composition allows students to pursue the study of writing and writing instruction, including:

  • the theory and practice of writing and writing instruction
  • the roles writing plays in public and private contexts
  • the composing processes used by writers in varying contexts and for particular purposes
  • the social, cultural, and historical forces shaping writing and writing instruction
  • the impact of technology on writing and writing instruction


Students pursuing the M.A. in English with a specialization in Rhetoric and Composition at Colorado State University can draw on a wide range of resources:

  • a nationally recognized faculty with expertise in the history, practice, and theory of writing and writing instruction
  • course offerings within the department covering key issues in the field
  • courses offered in related departments, such as Speech Communication and Journalism and Technical Communication
  • a nationally recognized program for preparing graduate students to teach writing
  • a strong commitment to innovative uses of technology to support writers and teachers of writing, including a dedicated computer lab for graduate students, two computer-supported writing classrooms, and resources available online
  • the opportunity to participate in funded research conducted through the University’s Center for Research on Writing and Communication Technologies
  • a well-supported internship program that allows students to work on projects inside or outside the University, including internships in the Community Literacy Center and the gtPathways Program
  • opportunities to work on print and online publications, including the Freestone, the Department’s alumni magazine

Application Process: The deadline for us to receive all of your application documents to the M.A. program in Rhetoric and Composition is February 15 for the fall term only. Teaching Assistantships are available on a competitive basis and January 15 is the deadline for us to receive all of your application documents for both this program and an assistantship. Most assistantships begin in the fall semester.

Course of Study

  • E501 Theories of Writing
  • E504 Situating Composition Studies
  • E600B Research Methods and Theory or another approved research methods course
  • E633 Special Topics in Discourse Studies
  • One course in historical backgrounds of writing (select from the following: E637 History of Writing or SPCM601 History of Rhetorical Theory
  • Three courses in elective credits (at least nine credits in Rhetoric/Composition/English or closely related fields), selected in consultation with the advisor. Courses may not include those used to satisfy other requirements for this program.
  • E692 Rhetoric and Composition Seminar (1 credit taken in successive spring semesters for a total of two semester credits)
  • E698 Final Project (two credits are required) or E699 Thesis (six credits are required)

Available Courses: Students in the program can choose from among the following courses inside and outside the department. Students may select additional courses in consultation with their program advisors. Up to nine credits of coursework may be taken outside the department of English. (Please note that all courses listed below may not be offered during a given two-year period.)

  • E501 Theories of Writing
  • E502 Literacy, Language, and Learning
  • E503 Investigating Classroom Literacies
  • E504 Situating Composition Studies
  • E507 Special Topics in Linguistics
  • E522 Linguistic Semantics, Pragmatics, and Discourse
  • E526 Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language
  • E600 Research Methods and Theory
  • E603 Computers and Writing
  • E605 Reading/Writing Connections
  • E607A Teaching and Writing—Rhetoric and Composition (GTA training course)
  • E615 Reading Literature—Recent Theories
  • E632 Professional Concerns in English
  • E633 Special Topics in Discourse Studies. Recent topics include Rhetorics of Emotion, Autoethnography, Rhetorics of Resistance and Change, Politics of Literacy, Composition and Chaos Theory.
  • E635 Critical Studies in Literature and Culture
  • E637 History of Writing
  • E641 Writing Nonfiction: Variable Topics. Past courses include Nature Writing, Fiction/Nonfiction Boundaries, Creative Science Writing.
  • E684 Supervised College Teaching
  • E687 Internship: Variable Topics, including Literacy Tutoring and Teaching (local nonprofits, Center for Community Literacy), Writing Centers, Literary Editing (Colorado Review, Freestone, gtPathways), Web Design
  • E692 Rhetoric and Composition Seminar
  • JT 513 Impacts of New Communication Technologies
  • SPCM 503 Transformations in Rhetorical Theory
  • SPCM 512 Rhetorical Criticism


There are also other dynamic and relevant elective courses offered through the departments of Communication Studies, Education, and Journalism and Technical Communication that can be used to fulfill course requirements.


  • Completion of Plan A (thirty-two semester credits, including six credits of thesis) or Plan B (thirty-four semester credits, including two credits of final project)
  • Completion of the required core courses listed below
  • Completion of the Rhetoric and Composition Seminar
  • Oral defense of a thesis or final project
  • View the Current advising Check Sheet
  • For additional details, see graduate Advising Notes: M.A. Programs

Elective Credit Options

Students will take at least three courses (nine semester credits) in elective credits. Students will work with their advisor to define their elective credits and to determine appropriate course work. The theory and history courses may be included in the elective credits. Typical areas of study include:

  • The Teaching of Writing
  • Theories of Writing
  • Literacy Studies
  • Rhetorical Contexts for Writing and Communication
  • Technology and Writing
  • Composition Administration and Curriculum Development

Faculty Education and Research Bios