Jul 19, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2019-2020 
Rensselaer Catalog 2019-2020 [Archived Catalog]

Communication and Rhetoric Ph.D.

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The mission of the Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric is to enable students to make a contribution with rigor, depth, and creativity on issues related to communication in technologically mediated contexts.

For over 30 years, Rensselaer graduates have been the leaders in the study of the relationship between communication and technology. As new forms of technologically mediated communication emerge, research and scholarship are needed to describe their nature and account for their unique effects. Uniquely positioned to provide an environment for graduate study in communication in technologically mediated contexts, the program combines the resources of a premier technological university with a faculty strongly grounded in theory and research as well as technology and media.

The key to the Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric is its multidisciplinary nature. This program draws from numerous disciplines across the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. Students in the Ph.D. program in Communication and Rhetoric take advantage of this multidisciplinary base to design dissertation projects that are both innovative and rich. In the Ph.D. program in Communication and Rhetoric, all students complete a two-course core, Directed Research, and at least one course outside of the department’s offerings. Students may also take up to three application courses in areas such as graphics, human-computer interaction, hypermedia, Web design and development, or writing. With this structure, our program is highly tailored to the individual career goals of each student. Students who join the Communication and Rhetoric community are expected to become active researchers and scholars. 

Ph.D. students also have numerous opportunities to further their teaching. All students teach under the direction of a faculty supervisor. The program values professional service and offers graduate students opportunities to undertake important service obligations to the department and community. Students are supported through teaching and/or research assistantships. Students in the program are also very competitive for university-level fellowships.

The Ph.D. in Communication and Rhetoric requires satisfactory completion of 90 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, which includes an appropriate master’s degree, which will be counted as 30 of the required 90 credit hours. After completion of an appropriate master’s degree, students are required to take 36 credit hours of course work at Rensselaer. Some Plans of Study may require additional course work beyond this 36 credit-hour minimum, typically not to exceed 42 credits. More information about this program can be found at http://www.cm.rpi.edu/pl/phd-communication-rhetoric-647.

Outcomes of the Graduate Curriculum

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  • conduct advanced scholarly research by developing competence in the following 3 categories: a) theoretically informed analysis of historical and contemporary communication practices; b) analysis and critique of historical, legacy, and new media technologies; c) mastery of a set of methodologies necessary to carry out projects in the field of communication and rhetoric.
  • design and articulate research problems and conduct independent, original, and significant research.
  • demonstrate knowledge of the historical, social, cultural, and rhetorical contexts that shape, and are shaped by diverse communication practices and media environments.
  • communicate effectively to specialized and general audiences.


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