3.0 MA in Digital Rhetoric & Professional Writing: Program Overview

Program Overview
The MA in Digital Rhetoric & Professional Writing (DRPW) serves both as a professional degree for students interested in a technical/professional writing career track and as a preparatory degree for PhD-level work in rhetoric, writing, communication studies, media studies, or technical communication. Designed for completion in a minimum of two years, this program provides students with a theoretically grounded yet practical experience in technical/professional writing, with a special focus on designing writing for digital environments.

Thesis and Portfolio Options
Both concentrations are available under either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). A total of 30 credits are required for the degree under either plan. The student’s program of study must be approved by the program director.

MA in DRPW Course Requirements

Requirements for Plan A & Plan B
1. All of the following core courses (12 cr.):
WRA 415 Digital Rhetoric (FS)
WRA 420 Content Management for Professional Writers (SS of even years)
WRA 841 Professional Writing Theory and Research (SS of odd years)
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric (FS)**

**With the approval of the director and the major advisor, WRA 805 or another theory course may be substituted.

2. Two of the following courses (6 cr.):
WRA 410 Advanced Web Authoring (SS)
WRA 852 Portfolio Workshop (SS of odd years)
WRA 893B Internship in Professional Writing (FS, SS, US; scheduled individually)

3. A minimum of six (6) additional credits from the following list. All courses are three (3) credit hours unless otherwise stated.
WRA 410 Advanced Web Authoring (SS)
WRA 417 Multimedia Writing (FS)
WRA 446 American Indian Rhetorics (SS)
WRA 453 Grant and Proposal Writing (FS)
WRA 482 Information and Interaction Design (FS of even years)
WRA 848 American Cultural Rhetorics: Theory and Methodology (SS)
WRA 852 Portfolio Workshop (SS of odd years)
WRA 853 Development of the Essay (FS)
WRA 854 Nonfiction Writing Workshop (SS)
WRA 860 Visual Rhetoric Theory for Professional Writers (SS of even years)
WRA 872 Methods of Research into Language Learning and Literacy (SS)
WRA 877 Community Literacy (SS of even years)
WRA 878 Composition Studies: Issues, Theory, and Research (SS)
AL 881 Teaching with Technology in Arts and Humanities (FS, SS, US)
WRA 882 Contemporary Theories of Rhetoric (SS of even years)
WRA 892 Seminar in Rhetoric and Writing (FS, SS)
WRA 893B Internship in Professional Writing (FS, SS, US; scheduled individually)
WRA 898 Masters Research (1-3) (scheduled individually)
WRA 980 Studies in Rhetoric (SS)
WRA 992 Seminar in Language, Literacy, and Pedagogy (FS)
ENG 991A Topics in English Language Studies (FS, SS)
LIN 437 Semantics and Pragmatics (FS) or LIN 837 Advanced Studies in Semantics and Pragmatics (FS of odd years)
LIN 471 Sociolinguistics (FS) or LIN 871 Advanced Studies in Sociolinguistics (SS) An STA graphic design course (in consultation with STA instructor)

NOTE: Completion of WRA 410, WRA 852, and WRA 893B may not count towards both requirements #2 and #3.

Additional Requirements for Plan A (6 cr.)
WRA 899 Masters Thesis Research (6 cr.).
Pass a final oral certifying exam on the thesis and coursework.

Additional Requirements for Plan B (6 cr.)
Complete an additional six (6) credits of coursework from the list of electives above.
Pass a final certifying examination on the coursework.

In the first year in the MA program, all DRPW MA students will be advised by the DRPW advisor until they establish an advisory committee.

MA Advisory Committee
By the second semester of MA study (typically, by March 15 of the spring semester), all DRPW MA students must form an advisory committee.

The advisory committee consists of three faculty affiliated with the Rhetoric & Writing program, two of whom must be instructors in the DRPW program. One of these faculty members should be designated as chair. The student’s advisory committee must be approved by the graduate director.

The advisory committee does the following:

  • makes recommendations regarding the student’s course of study, including needed coursework;
  • files the student’s Annual Progress Report;
  • reviews the student’s professional portfolio at the end of each year of study;
  • provides a written formative evaluation of the student’s work and progress each year; and
  • serves as the thesis committee for Plan A students, guiding and evaluating the student’s thesis project; or
  • serves as the examination committee of the certifying portfolio for Plan B students.

The student may make changes in her/his advisory committee with the approval of the graduate program director.

Once the student submits a Report of the Advisory Committee (which lists the advisory committee chair and members), the chair of the student’s advisory committee becomes the student’s advisor. Students should consult regularly with their advisors–meaning at a minimum of two or three times per year (or more often if circumstances warrant). Students who fail to form a advisory committee by the end of their first year are considered to be not making satisfactory progress. (See Section 5.0 Academic Standards.)

Annual Progress Report and Annual Review
Students are to meet the committee formation and course requirements specified for the academic year (beginning in the fall) in which they “officially” enter the program). For more information, see Section 5.0 Academic Standards.

Annual Review

Every student in the DRPW MA program will develop and maintain an ongoing professional portfolio, to be used once per year by the student’s advisory committee in evaluating the student’s progress towards the degree.

This portfolio (which can be print, electronic, or a combination) will include samples of the student’s work during the degree program–including representative work done in courses (the student should include good, excellent, and even not-so-good work) and professional work done outside courses (e.g., conference presentations).

Each year, the portfolio should also include a new reflective essay that provides evidence of reasoning and reflection on how the student’s program has affected their research and teaching and their understanding of that work in terms of their professional goals.

This portfolio can serve both as the annual review portfolio and as the basis for certifying exam portfolio, depending on the student’s year in the program. See “Maintaining Academic Good Standing” in Section 5.0 for details on portfolio assessment.