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How to Apply

Prospective students can apply to the graduate program in Rhetoric and Composition through one of three home departments: English; Communication; or Education, Culture and Society. Each department has its own emphasis and approach to enhance the study of Rhetoric and Composition, so applicants should carefully evaluate which department will best facilitate the types of graduate studies he or she would like to pursue.

The application process varies slightly between each department, but the majority of the requirements are the same. Listed below you will find a general checklist for applying to the graduate program in Rhetoric and Composition, followed by links to the department specific requirements. In each case you will apply first to the University of Utah's graduate school and then to the specific department. If you have any questions at any point in the process, please contact the Writing Program for assistance.

  1. Apply to the University of Utah's graduate school (make sure that you meet the graduate school requirements before applying).
  2. Pay the application fee.
  3. Submit transcripts from all previous universities and colleges you have attended.
  4. International students need to submit their TOEFL scores.

1. Departmental Application: Complete and submit the departmental application. Each department allows you to specify that your area of study is Rhetoric and Composition in the following ways.

  • English: On the English Department application, check the "Rhetoric and Composition" emphasis.
  • Communication: Check "Rhetoric" and/or "Writing Studies" on the Areas of Emphasis Checklist.
  • Education, Culture and Society: Check the "DOCTORAL PROGRAM (Ph.D.) ECS / Rhetoric and Composition" option on the departmental application.

2. GRE Scores: If you are applying to either the Communication or English departments, you will need to take the GRE and submit your scores to the department. While there is no minimum score required, we do carefully consider the test as we evaluate your overall application. If you are applying to the Education, Culture and Society department, you do not need to submit GRE scores.

3. Writing Sample: The writing sample is a critical part of your application regardless of the department to which you are applying. For Ph.D. applicants, your writing sample should be a significant paper such as a portion of your Master's thesis or a graduate seminar paper. If you are applying to an MA program, your writing sample might be a senior thesis or substantial paper demonstrating your best academic work.

In both cases, the Writing Program is looking for writing that demonstrates your analytical thinking, your sense of academic inquiry, command of rhetorical and composition tools, and your ability to engage existing literature on your topic. While your writing sample need not be directly related to the field of Rhetoric and Composition, we encourage you to select a sample that in some way addresses or engages issues relevant to writing or literacy.

4. Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement: In this document, please include information that helps us better understand your motivations for pursuing graduate work in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Utah. For example, you might discuss experiences you have had teaching writing or rhetoric, or perhaps you became interested in the field after taking a related undergraduate course. Also include the areas of Rhetoric and Composition that interest you, professors with whom you would like to work, and your future goals.

5. Three Letters of Recommendation: Your letters should come from academic sources who can attest to the quality of your academic work. Please note that the English and Education, Culture and Society departments require that you use a specific form for your letters.

6. Application Deadlines:

  • English: Both the departmental and graduate school Ph.D. and MA, with or without funding, applications are due December 15th.
  • Communication: All graduate school materials must be received by December 15th. Departmental materials must be received by January 15th.
  • Education, Culture and Society: All graduate school materials must be received by January 15th. Departmental materials must be received by February 1st.

Below you will find the application websites for the English; Communication; and Education, Culture and Society departments. More detailed instructions along with all of the required forms can be found on these pages.

Education, Culture and Society

If you have questions regarding the application process, please feel free to contact the Department of Writing & Rhetoric Studies or the graduate advisor in your chosen department.

Gerri Mackey, Department of English
Phone: 801-581-7131
Office 3500 LNCO

Amity Mower
Department of Communication
Phone: 801-587-7272
Office: 2400 LNCO

Hanna Morgan 
Department of Education
Culture and Society 
Phone: 801-587-7814
Office:  307 MBH

Jay Jordan
Department of Writing & Rhetoric Studies
Phone:  581-7090
Office:  3700 LNCO

Last Updated: 8/1/17