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M.A. in English, Rhetoric and Composition

downtown Boise in winter, courtesy of Boise State Photo ServicesWith one of the largest writing studies faculties in the Northwest, Boise State University’s MA in English, Rhetoric and Composition provides students with a strong foundation in both rhetorical theory and composition pedagogy, preparing graduates for both careers in the teaching of writing or work as writing specialists .  

We boast an exciting range of research and teaching opportunities.  There are assistantships to teach in our nationally-recognized first year writing program, and opportunities to work in a thriving writing center.  Our graduate students often share their work at annual meetings of national organizations such as the Conference on College Composition and Communication and the International Writing Centers Association.  Recently, we hosted the national Council of Writing Programs Administrators conference.   

Our distinguished faculty includes specialists in rhetorical theory, pedagogy, creative nonfiction, digital rhetoric, writing program and writing center administration, and ESL.


Cheryl McKell, a 2016 graduate of the program, was one of twenty BSU students and faculty who attended the national Conference on College Composition and Communication in Houston.

Many of our graduates have found full-time teaching positions at regional colleges including the College of Western Idaho and the College of Southern Idaho.  Others have gone on to receive PhDs in rhetoric and composition at major universities (the University of New Hampshire, Florida State University, Washington State University, the University of Massachusetts, Purdue University, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Louisville) and now hold tenure-track positions. Still others  have pursued non-academic careers have found employment in developing web content, public relations, nonprofit work, higher education administration, and other jobs that demand strong communication and rhetorical skills. 



Beginning in Fall, 2016, students enrolled in the MA in English, Rhetoric and Composition program at Boise State will benefit from a new, updated curriculum, one that broadens the mission to prepare graduates to be writing specialists as well as writing instructors.  New coursework widens students’ perspectives on how to use their rhetorical knowledge in a range of professional settings, including nonprofits, businesses, advocacy organizations, and government. While graduate work with us can lead to careers in college teaching, students can also pursue coursework in professional writing, including web design, writing for social media, and grant writing.  It’s a flexible degree, one that is designed to address how writing and composing is changing.

Required Core Courses (12 credits)

ENGL 555 Writing in Rhetoric and Composition Studies

ENGL 554 Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition

ENGL 561 Theories of Composition

ENGL 562 Theories of Rhetoric

Writing and Rhetoric  Electives (6 credits)

Courses to be selected from the following:

ENGL 502  Teaching Creative Nonfiction, Poetry, and Fiction Writing

ENGL 511  Rhetorical Theory for Workplace Writers

ENGL 513  Technical Editing

ENGL 515 Visual Rhetoric and Information Design

ENGL 524 Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshop

ENGL 534 Form and Theory of Creative Nonfiction

ENGL 536 Proposal Development

ENGL 537 Writing for Social Media and Online Communities

ENGL 545  Contemporary Issues and Institutional Contexts in Rhetoric and Composition

Writing, Teaching, and Learning Electives (6 credits)

ENGL 501 Teaching Writing

ENGL 503 Writing Center Pedagogy and Administration

ENGL 540 Issues in Writing, Teaching, and Learning

ENGL 567 Grammar and the Teaching of Writing: Theory and Practice

ENGL 582 Selected Topics in Teaching English Language Arts (when topic involves writing instruction)

ENGL 590 Practicum/Internship 1-3 credits

ENGL 598 Seminar for Teaching Assistants

English Electives (6 credits)

To be selected from graduate offerings in Literature, Linguistics, Rhetoric and Composition, Technical Communication, Creative Writing and English Education. The electives may a maximum of three credits of independent work in ENGL 595, ENGL 596, and ENGL 696.

Culminating Activity (3 credits)

ENGL 591 Project OR ENGL 592 Portfolio OR ENGL 593 Thesis