Last Updated 2013-02-15
English MA, Rhetoric and Composition
Together, the Graduate Student Handbook
and your graduate program handbook should serve as your main guide throughout your graduate career. The Graduate Student Handbook includes university information, policies, requirements and guidance for all graduate students. Your program handbook describes the details about graduate study and requirements in your specific program. While both of these handbooks are wonderful resources, know that you are always welcome to talk with faculty and staff in your program and in the Graduate College.
The central activities and missions of a university rest upon the fundamental assumption that all members of the university community conduct themselves in accordance with a strict adherence to academic and scholarly integrity. As a graduate student and member of the university community, you are expected to display the highest standards of academic and personal integrity.
Here are some resources to help you better understand your responsibilities:
The MA in Rhetoric and Composition trains students to engage in technologically adept, theory-informed research and teaching about rhetoric, writing, and literacy.
Students in the program
- Learn how rhetorical theory has and can inform the teaching and practice of academic, professional, and civic writing
- Conduct advanced research and participate in scholarly discussions of Rhetoric and Composition Studies
- Are prepared for advanced teaching positions, writing-intensive professional positions, and PhD programs in rhetoric and composition or related disciplines
Enrollment for graduate courses is managed by the DWR prior to electronic registration. To protect space in the courses for our students, the department marks graduate courses in the online class schedule as closed; this does not necessarily mean that the courses are full. To register, you will need to obtain a permission number from the programs assistant via e-mail.
The course requirements are outlined by the plan of study (see appendix A). In planning your plan of study, start with the core or required courses. If at all possible, you should take ENC 6335 (Rhetorical Traditions) and, if you are on an assistantship, ENC 5276 (Writing/Consulting: Theory and Practice) your first Fall term, and ENC 5705 (Theory and Practice in Composition) your first Spring term. Note that ENG 6720 (Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition) is typically offered only every other year, so be sure to enroll in this course when it is offered.
If not taken from DWR graduate offerings, your unrestricted electives must be approved by the director of degree programs and should complement the areas you will pursue in your thesis. Depending on your interests, you should consider courses in the English, Public History, Digital Media, and Texts and Technology graduate programs.
If approved, you can also take up to six hours of ENC 6918 (Directed Research) as independent studies. To obtain approval to enroll in an independent study course, students must propose a topic, related readings, and set of assignments to a DWR or affiliated faculty member. The proposal (with faculty approval) must be submitted to the programs assistant one week prior to the last day of classes in the term before you will enroll in the independent study. Faculty members are under no obligation to teach independent study courses, but many will do so if the topic supports their own teaching and research responsibilities. If the faculty member agrees, the student should check with the program assistant to determine whether it will meet the requirements in your plan of study. Independent studies may not duplicate courses in the catalog, whether or not that course is scheduled for a given semester.
You should not register for thesis hours until all of your coursework has been completed.
Because it is a capstone requirement, the annotated bibliography cannot be approved until you have completed 18 credit hours in the program, and must be submitted and approved by the program director (or designee) before you begin taking thesis hours. In your last semester of regular coursework, you should identify a thesis director from among the DWR faculty. This director will then guide you in developing and completing an annotated bibliography of at least 15 scholarly sources (probably more) related to the thesis topic you plan to pursue. Your annotations should not simply summarize the sources but should evaluate them and point to how you might use them in your thesis (and can then hopefully be used in one of your thesis chapters). In consultation with other DWR faculty, your thesis director may ask you to add to or revise the annotations before approval, so plan on submitting your bibliography at least a month before classes end.
Each student must complete at least 33 credit hours, including 12 credit hours of required courses and 18 credit hours of elective courses. Before beginning thesis hours, the student will develop and get approved an annotated bibliography related to their proposed thesis topic.
The program requires that students complete a thesis approved by the graduate faculty that contributes to some aspect of rhetorical, writing, and/or literacy studies.
Required Courses—12 Credit Hours
- ENC 6335 Rhetorical Traditions (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6720 Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition (3 credit hours)
- ENC 5705 Theory and Practice in Composition (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6712 Studies in Literacy and Writing (3 credit hours)
Elective Courses—18 Credit Hours
Restricted—12 Credit Hours
- ENC 5237 Writing for the Business Professional (3 credit hours)
- ENC 5276 Theory and Practice of Tutoring Writing (3 credit hours)
- ENC 5337 Rhetorical Theory (3 credit hours)
- ENC 5745 Teaching Practicum (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6945 Community Literacy Practicum (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6244 Teaching Technical Writing (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6306 Persuasive Writing (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6247 Proposal Writing (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6332 Gendered Rhetoric (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6333 Contemporary Rhetoric and Composition Theory (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6338 The Rhetorics of Public Debate (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6339 Rhetorical Movements (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6429 Teaching Writing with Computers (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6245 Teaching Professional Writing (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6740 Topics in Rhetoric and Composition (3 credit hours) Note: This course may be used in the degree program a maximum of 2 times when course content is different.
- LIN 5137 Linguistics (3 credit hours)
- LIN 5675 English Grammar and Usage (3 credit hours)
- LIT 6435 Rhetoric of Science (3 credit hours)
- ENC 6428 Rhetoric of Digital Literacy (3 credit hours)
Unrestricted—6 Credit Hours
Students will work with an adviser to choose two other graduate-level Writing and Rhetoric courses or approved courses outside the department (e.g., English, Texts & Technology, History).
Thesis—3 Credit Hours
Students complete a formal thesis on a topic selected in consultation with an advisory committee and will meet both departmental and university requirements for the thesis.
- ENC 6971 Thesis (3 credit hours)
The annotated bibliography should consist of at least 15 sources relevant to the student's thesis. It must be completed before the thesis and approved by the program director in consultation with the student's planned advisory committee. Annotations should indicate how the student might use the sources in the thesis.
Timeline for Completion
If you take classes full time (nine hours per spring and fall term, six hours in summer term), you should be able to complete your MA coursework, complete your proposal, and at least begin your thesis within two years, depending on course availability. Given that most theses take multiple semesters to complete, three years in the program is the most realistic timeframe. Below is a sample timeframe; keep in mind that your own best plan will depend on your individual situation.
Possible Timeline for Completing Program in Three Years
First Fall Semester
- Complete 6-9 hours of coursework
First Spring Semester
- Complete 6-9 hours of coursework
First Summer Semester
- Complete 3-6 hours of coursework
Second Fall Semester
- Complete 6 hours of coursework
- Complete Graduate Studies academic integrity training
Second Spring Semester
- Complete 6 hours of coursework
- Form thesis committee and get approval of annotated bibliography by end of semester
Second Summer Semester
- Complete 3 hours of directed research or advised electives
- Complete draft of thesis proposal
Third Fall Semester
- Complete 6 hours of thesis work
- Revise proposal and have it approved by end of semester
- Work on thesis
Third Spring Semester
- Complete 6 hours of thesis work
- Complete and possibly defend thesis
Third Summer Semester
- Complete 1 hour of thesis work
- Defend thesis
After your coursework has been completed and annotated bibliography approved, you must produce a thesis. Note that a thesis should not be proposed, researched, written, revised, and defended in a single semester; therefore, you must plan carefully and work in concert with your thesis director and committee.
All MA students engaging in thesis research must be continuously enrolled every term, including summer, until they finish their thesis.
University Thesis Requirements
The College of Graduate Studies Thesis and Dissertation page contains information on the university’s requirements for dissertation formatting, format review, defenses, final submission, and more. A step-by-step completion guide is also available at Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation.
All university deadlines are listed in the Academic Calendar. Your program or college may have other earlier deadlines; please check with your program and college staff for additional deadlines.
The following requirements must be met by dissertation students in their final term:
- Submit a properly formatted file for initial format review by the format review deadline
- Submit the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form well before the defense
- Defend by the defense deadline
- Receive format approval (if not granted upon initial review)
- Submit signed approval form by final submission deadline
- Submit final dissertation document by final submission deadline
Students must format their dissertation according to the standards outlined at Formatting the ETD. Formatting questions or issues can be submitted to the Format Help page in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site. Format reviews and final submission must be completed in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site. The Dissertation Approval Form is also available in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site.
The College of Graduate Studies offers several thesis and dissertation Workshops each term. Students are highly encouraged to attend these workshops early in the dissertation process to fully understand the above policies and procedures.
The College of Graduate Studies thesis and dissertation office is best reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choosing a Topic Area
When writing your thesis, the topic you choose should represent an area of sustainable interest for you. It is also essential that you choose a topic for which your coursework has prepared you, and a topic about which at least one DWR faculty has expertise. When you have identified the general area you would like to pursue, you should start the process of choosing a thesis director.
Choosing a Thesis Director
Make an appointment with a DWR faculty member whose area of expertise complements your area of interest. Ideally, you should meet with such a faculty member to begin the process of selecting a topic at least a calendar year before you intend to graduate. Be prepared to explain how your interest developed and how it relates to your previous coursework and your professional goals. Together, you and your thesis director will narrow your area of interest into a workable topic. You will also work together to determine other faculty to possibly serve on your committee.
Choosing a Committee
Your thesis director and you will agree upon at least two other readers with expertise in your topic to compose the thesis committee. One of the required two readers must be a UCF DWR faculty or affiliated faculty member; the second reader may be a faculty member from another department. If you plan to have two professors co-direct your thesis, both must be DWR faculty members.
If no faculty member in DWR agrees to direct your project, or if you are unable to identify two other experts to form your committee, you must select a different topic.
Your thesis committee must be approved before you can enroll in thesis hours. You may obtain a Thesis Committee Approval Form from the programs assistant.
Writing and Submitting a Proposal
During your first semester of thesis hours, you will submit a proposal and obtain formal approval of that proposal from your committee. A copy of this proposal, along with a signed approval form, is filed with the programs assistant. If your proposal is not approved before the end of your first semester of thesis hours, you will likely receive a “U” for those hours.
You can ask the director of degree programs or other DWR faculty or students for sample proposals, which are typically between 10-20 pages long. If written well, your proposal can serve the basis of a thesis chapter. Proposals typically contain the following parts or elements:
- statement of purpose that explains the project’s exigence and scope, overviews the central research questions and approach, and previews the remaining proposal
- explanation of how the project will contribute to conversations in the field (includes discussion of existing research) (note: this could be part of the outline of chapters)
- outline of the proposed chapters
- preliminary bibliography
- committee section that explains the roles and expertise of committee members
- timeline for completing the project
Proposal for research involving human participants should include an Institutional Review Board application, referenced in the methodology section.
Proposal Committee Meeting
After working with your director to revise your proposal, you will send it to the other members of your committee for feedback, and your director will schedule a proposal meeting with the full committee. During this meeting, the committee will approve, conditionally approve, or ask you to revise the proposal. Once approved by the committee, you will pass along the proposal to the programs assistant. Be sure to plan carefully and communicate effectively with your committee so that you have time to complete an approved proposal before the end of your first semester of thesis hours. Do not begin writing your thesis until your proposal has been approved by the committee. If your committee rejects your proposal despite all your revisions, you must select a different topic and/or a different committee.
Writing Your Thesis
Before you begin writing your thesis, review the Graduate Studies thesis and dissertation gateway website: www.students.graduate.ucf.edu/ETD/. You can also email or make an appointment with the thesis and dissertation editor through email@example.com. The University Writing Center also offers support to graduate students and thesis writers: www.uwc.ucf.edu.
You can ask the programs assistant or director of degree programs for sample theses. Most theses include the following chapters:
- introductory chapter that overviews the project and situates it in the field
- chapter explaining methodology
- two or three chapters presenting argument or study
- concluding chapter that reinforces how thesis contributes to field’s knowledge and poses directions for future research
Defending Your Thesis
You will defend your thesis at a public meeting attended by your committee and any other interested members of the general public, including faculty members, graduate students, and your friends and family. During the defense meeting, chaired by your director, you will most likely briefly present and reflect on your project (describing its exigence, process, and key features) before committee members ask you questions about it.
A thesis defense must be scheduled at least six weeks ahead of time, and a public announcement of the defense must be given to the programs assistant and posted at least two weeks ahead of time.
To schedule your defense, establish a mutually convenient date and time for you and your committee. After conferring with the committee members, you will need to contact the programs assistant in order to schedule a room. As soon as possible, notify your committee and the programs assistant of the place, date and time. While you may schedule a defense in the summer, many faculty members are not available for extensive thesis work from April 1 to September 1. Please plan carefully and consult frequently with your thesis director about schedules and deadlines.
At least two weeks (ideally longer) before the defense, you will need to distribute copies of your thesis to the committee members and programs assistant. You will need to bring at least two copies of the thesis approval form to the defense. If your thesis is successfully defended, these forms will be signed (in black ink) by your committee.
Before you can submit a final version of the thesis to the Graduate Studies, the thesis director must indicate it was screened on Turnitin.com by signing the “Review for Original Work” section on the Thesis and Dissertation Attachment form.
You are responsible for securing all signatures and submitting all required documents, electronic and paper, to Graduate Studies. When you submit your final e-document to the university for graduation, you must also submit a copy to the DWR programs assistant.
Financial support is offered only to full-time degree-seeking students. You ordinarily do not need to complete a special application for assistantships or fellowships. You are, however, required to let us know of your interest by January 15, of every year, and to submit a current curriculum vitae to be considered for an assistantship.
MA students are eligible for three kinds of support:
The university provides need-based scholarships funded by the federal government. These are based on financial need as determined by the FAFSA form and are awarded in the middle of April. We encourage all students to complete a FAFSA application form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.
These competitive, merit-based awards are usually reserved for newly admitted students. These awards pay a stipend and/or provide a tuition waiver. Fellows are nominated by the department in the first week of March. To be eligible, students must have their entire application on file by January 15.
These merit-based awards may be applied for at any point in your degree program. Different assistantships have different eligibility criteria and requirements. Consult with the director of degree programs for more information on which assistantships are available and what they require.
If you work in another department on campus, you may not be eligible for an assistantship. Students who have earned 36 semester hours or more are no longer eligible for assistantships (though this rule may be waived based on exceptional department need).
Types of Assistantships
Assistantship opportunities are as follows:
Writing Consultant Assistantships
Writing consultant assistantships, which come with a stipend and partial tuition waiver and are renewable, enable students to work 20 hours per week as consultants in the University Writing Center (UWC). In addition to working one-on-one with writers (or groups of writers) on an appointment or walk-in basis, consultants may also give presentations about the UWC, lead special topic workshops, work with small group projects, develop pedagogical or publicity materials, and consult with writers via telephone or the Internet. All consultants are also expected to perform office duties such as filing, answering phones and data entry. Because the UWC collaborates with the Writing Across the Curriculum program, writing consultants might also be asked to work with students and faculty as part of this program.
Good communication skills are essential for this job, and all writing consultants must be interested in learning more about writing. Candidates must be able to think critically, ask good questions, and demonstrate a sincere interest in the writing of other students. Because the UWC is not a remedial service, consultants must be able to work with students at all levels in all disciplines.
Every consultant is required to attend initial training when first hired and weekly seminars throughout the semester. Participation in an online discussion and professional development projects are also required.
To be considered, indicate your interest in your application letter, briefly explaining why you would like to work in the UWC. Applicants may also be asked to submit an additional application form, interview, and writing sample.
Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) enable students to teach in the First-Year Composition Program. They are typically awarded for a full academic year, are renewable, and include a partial tuition waiver. To be eligible, you must have completed eighteen graduate credit hours, including ENC 5705. Doing well in ENC 5705, which will provide you with the theoretical and pedagogical training to teach composition at UCF, is crucial. If you are awarded a teaching assistantship, you will be required to complete additional training from the First-Year Composition program, Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, and Graduate Studies. You also will be expected to participate in ongoing Composition meetings and workshops. While teaching, you must also be a full-time graduate student, taking at least nine credit hours each semester.
To be considered, indicate your interest in your application letter, briefly explaining why you would like to teach in the First-Year Composition program. Applicants may also be asked to submit an additional application form, interview, and writing sample.
Research and other assistantships, which typically do not come with tuition waivers, are also occasionally available through DWR and other UCF units, such as the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning and the Information Fluency Initiative. Research assistants funded through DWR could work on program-wide projects such as WAC workshops or program assessment. They may also serve as graders for faculty members. Like teaching assistants, research assistants are expected to participate in ongoing Composition meetings and workshops.
Graduate Workshops and resources
At least one each year, DWR faculty will lead professional development workshops for students in the program. Topics include preparing for conferences, submitting manuscripts for publication, and applying to PhD programs. Students should also take advantage of the excellent composition workshops and rhetoric reading group meetings held each semester. Though not specific to the field of rhetoric and composition, UCF Career Services can also help you evaluate career choices, apply to graduate schools, and refine your networking, interviewing, and presenting skills.
All students in the program should probably be members of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), a branch of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); this membership includes subscriptions to the flagship journals College Composition and Communication and College English. You can learn more about CCCC at www.ncte.org/cccc. Other memberships you should consider, depending on your interests and career or graduate school plans, include the following:
Conferences and Travel Support
Attending one or more of the major rhet/comp conferences is an excellent way to learn more about the field and connect with others doing similar research. While conference presentations are not required for the MA degree, such presentations are professionally important, and graduate students are encouraged to pursue them. Your faculty members will likely mention conference opportunities in your classes, and you will receive email announcements about them as well.
The following are major conferences that cover a range of topics about writing, rhetoric, and literacy, several of which are affiliated with an organization mentioned above:
The following are more specialized conferences:
Most professional organizations and conferences offer special rates for graduate students, and some (including the CCCC Convention and RSA) offer modest grants or scholarships to graduate students. Each year CCCC sponsors Scholars for the Dream Travel Awards to encourage scholarship by graduate students in historically underrepresented groups.
UCF graduate students presenting at a conference can also get funding from the Student Government Association (www.sga.ucf.edu) and Graduate Studies (www.graduate.ucf.edu), the latter of which offers graduate travel awards. If you teach in the First-Year Composition Program, you might also be eligible for a small travel grant from this program. Contact the director of degree programs for more funding opportunities.
All graduate students who will travel to professional workshops and conferences should obtain an approved Travel Authorization Request (TAR) from the department, particularly if the travel occurs during the same semester as a GA/GRA/GTA contract.
Scholarly publications are not required for the MA degree, but students are encouraged to submit at least one manuscript for publication while in the program, particularly if they are planning on applying to Ph.D. programs. Publications need not be full-length journal articles or book chapters; indeed, book reviews, professional newsletter articles, and other smaller publications might be better places to start. Although all of the field’s journals are open to publishing graduate student work, and even the larger journals frequently publish book reviews by graduate students, the following journals publish articles by graduate students more frequently:
Students interested in developing a manuscript for publication should strongly consider taking ENG 6950 (the English M.A. Capstone course) after they have a course paper or draft from which to work. This course, which can be taken as an advised elective, can only be taken after you have completed 18 hours of credit.
UCF provides various graduate student achievement awards including:
Graduate Excellence Awards
Each year, students can submit a portfolio for nomination of College and University level awards of excellence. These are intended to showcase student excellence in academic achievement, teaching, research, leadership, and community service.
Award for Excellence by a Graduate Teaching Assistant - This award is intended for students who provide teaching support and assistance under the direction of a lead teacher (rather than working as an instructor of record). This award focuses on the extent and quality of the assistance provided by the student to the lead instructor and the students in the class.
Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching - This award is for students who serve as instructors of record and have independent classroom responsibilities. The focus of this award is on the quality of the students teaching and the academic contributions of those activities.
Award for the Outstanding Masters Thesis - This award recognizes graduate students for excellence in the Masters thesis. The focus is on the quality and contribution of the student's thesis research. Excellence of the Masters thesis may be demonstrated by evidence such as (but not limited to): publications in refereed or peer-reviewed journals, awards and recognitions from professional organizations, and praise from faculty members and other colleagues in the field. The university award will be forwarded to a national-level competition sponsored by the Council of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) when the thesis discipline corresponds to the annual submission request.
- College of Graduate Studies Forms
A listing of general forms and files for graduate students including student services and records and graduation forms.
- Graduate Petition Form
When unusual situations arise, petitions for exceptions to policy may be requested by the student.
- Traveling Scholar Form
To request to take advantage of special resources available on another campus but not available on the home campus such as course offerings and research opportunities.
- Thesis Advisory Committee Form
Thesis committees must be approved by the director of degree programs, DWR chair, and the CAH associate dean for academic programs prior to student enrollment into thesis hours.