Rhetoric and Composition College Major Guide 2024

What is a Rhetoric and Composition Major?

The Rhetoric and Composition major is an interdisciplinary field that delves into the art and science of effective communication. This major prepares students to become adept at crafting persuasive, clear, and impactful written and spoken messages. It's an ideal path for those who have a passion for writing, analyzing texts, and understanding how language influences people and society. As a student in this major, you'll explore various forms of communication across different media, learn to adapt your writing for specific audiences, and develop critical thinking skills that are invaluable in any career.

In this major, you will:

  • Study the history and theory of rhetoric, understanding how persuasive communication has evolved over time.
  • Learn about composition strategies to enhance your writing skills across various genres and platforms.
  • Analyze texts from multiple perspectives to understand the effectiveness of different rhetorical strategies.
  • Engage in workshops and writing projects that allow you to practice your skills and receive feedback from peers and instructors.

Top Courses Required for the Rhetoric and Composition Major

The curriculum for a Rhetoric and Composition major typically includes a blend of foundational courses, advanced writing and analysis classes, and specialized electives. Here are some of the top courses you might encounter:

  • Introduction to Rhetoric and Composition: This foundational course covers the basics of rhetorical theory and the principles of effective composition. You'll learn about different rhetorical situations and how to craft appropriate responses.

  • Advanced Writing Workshop: Focuses on developing your writing skills through intensive practice. You'll work on various projects—ranging from academic essays to creative nonfiction—and receive detailed feedback.

  • Rhetorical Theory: Offers a deep dive into the theories behind persuasive communication. You'll study classical rhetoricians, as well as contemporary theories that address digital media and visual rhetoric.

  • Composition Theory and Pedagogy: Prepares you for teaching writing at different levels. This course explores different approaches to teaching writing and how to apply them in classroom settings.

  • Digital Rhetoric: Examines how digital platforms have transformed communication. You'll learn about writing for the web, social media strategies, and analyzing digital texts.

  • Research Methods in Rhetoric and Composition: Teaches you how to conduct research in the field. This includes both qualitative and quantitative methods, as well as how to analyze and present your findings.

  • Writing Across Cultures: Focuses on cross-cultural communication and how cultural contexts influence rhetorical strategies. You'll explore issues of language diversity, translation, and global communication practices.

Choosing to major in Rhetoric and Composition opens up a world where language is both an art and a strategic tool. Whether your future lies in writing, education, law, public relations, or any field where effective communication is key, this major equips you with the skills to excel. Through rigorous coursework, practical writing experiences, and critical analysis, you'll become a proficient communicator ready to make your mark in the world.

Rhetoric and Composition Major FAQs

What can you do with a major in Rhetoric and Composition?

With a degree in Rhetoric and Composition, your career options are both varied and exciting. Here are some paths you might consider:

  • Content Writer/Editor: Crafting engaging content for various platforms.
  • Technical Writer: Producing clear and concise technical documents such as manuals and product descriptions.
  • Copywriter: Creating persuasive marketing materials.
  • Academic Researcher or Instructor: Contributing to academic knowledge or teaching the next generation of writers.
  • Communications Specialist: Managing internal and external communications for organizations.
  • Public Relations Specialist: Shaping and maintaining the public image of companies or individuals.

How will this major prepare you for the workforce?

In this major, you'll gain a robust set of skills that are highly valued in the workforce:

  • Advanced Writing Skills: Learn to write clearly and persuasively in various formats.
  • Critical Thinking: Develop the ability to analyze texts and arguments critically.
  • Research Proficiency: Master the art of conducting thorough research.
  • Public Speaking: Gain confidence and skill in oral presentations.
  • Collaboration: Work effectively in teams to produce comprehensive projects.

What kind of internships should you look for?

Internships are a great way to gain real-world experience. Aim for opportunities that let you flex your writing, editing, and communication skills. Consider internships in:

  • Publishing houses
  • Marketing agencies
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Corporate communications departments
  • Media outlets

How can you make the most out of your major?

To truly excel, consider the following tips:

  • Engage in Writing Workshops: These can provide invaluable feedback on your work.
  • Contribute to Campus Publications: Gain experience and build your portfolio by writing for college newspapers or literary magazines.
  • Attend Guest Lectures and Seminars: Expand your understanding of the field by learning from experts.
  • Network: Connect with professors, alumni, and professionals in your areas of interest.
  • Pursue Related Minors or Electives: Complement your major with studies in areas like digital media, marketing, or literature.

What graduate programs can you pursue after this major?

Continuing your education can further enhance your expertise. Popular graduate programs for Rhetoric and Composition majors include:

  • Master’s in Rhetoric
  • Master’s in Communication
  • Master’s in English
  • MFA in Creative Writing
  • Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition

Each program offers a different focus, allowing you to tailor your advanced education to meet your career goals.

Rhetoric and Composition Major Resources

Professional Associations

Joining a professional association is a fantastic way to connect with peers, learn about the latest research, and advance your career. Here are some top associations for Rhetoric and Composition professionals:

Industry Publications

Staying informed about the latest trends, research, and discussions in Rhetoric and Composition is crucial. Here are some publications that can help you do just that:

  • College Composition and Communication: Published by the CCCC, this journal offers scholarly articles on the teaching of writing.
  • Rhetoric Review: A scholarly interdisciplinary journal that publishes in all areas of rhetoric.
  • Technical Communication Quarterly: Published by the ATTW, focusing on technical writing in various contexts.
  • Journal of Business and Technical Communication: Covers the latest developments in business and technical communication practices.

Other Resources

Beyond associations and publications, there are several other resources that can support your growth and development in the field:

  • Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab): An invaluable resource for writing guidelines, APA/MLA formatting, and teaching materials.
  • CompPile: An inventory of publications in post-secondary composition, rhetoric, ESL, and technical writing from 1939 to the present.
  • The WAC Clearinghouse: Offers a wide range of open-access resources for teachers who use writing in their courses.


For those looking to advance their careers or find new opportunities in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, Career.Guide is an excellent resource. Here, you can find:

  • Job listings tailored to Rhetoric and Composition professionals.
  • Career advice and tips on resume building, interviewing, and more.
  • Information on continuing education and professional development opportunities.

Remember, engaging with these resources can help you stay at the forefront of your field, find collaborative opportunities, and make meaningful contributions to the discourse community. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, there's always something new to learn and explore.

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