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A&S—Communication: Rhetoric and Communication

The department offers the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Communication. Areas of emphasis: history, theory, and criticism of rhetoric; public address and argument; and media and cultural studies; and rhetoric of science. Many students conduct work in two or more of these areas. The curriculum emphasizes theoretical, philosophical, critical, cultural, and historical approaches to communication.

Contact Information

Director of Graduate Studies: Dr. John Lyne
Main Office: 1117 Cathedral of Learning
Fax: 412-624-1878

Additional information concerning the department's graduate program may be obtained by contacting or writing to University of Pittsburgh, Department of Communication, Graduate Admissions, 1117 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.


Admission is highly selective, and limited to those who can be funded.  The program's focus is on the PhD, and admission for the MA program will be limited to those deemed likely to complete the PhD.. In order to be considered for admission to graduate standing, students must meet the requirements of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and supply (by January 1) all materials called for in the department's application guidelines, including a completed application form, copies of all post-secondary educational records, Graduate Record Examination scores sent directly from the Educational Testing Service, at least three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and an article-length academic writing sample. Non-native speakers of English without a degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the U.S. must also have the Educational Testing Service send TOEFL scores as part of the application. Citizens of other nations follow a separate set of guidelines that include TOEFL requirements and certified /notarized translations of transcripts and diplomas for applicants from countries where English is not the official language. Upon admission, candidates will be assigned an advisor who will assist them in planning a course of study.

Financial Assistance

The department makes every effort to sustain funding and full remission of tuition for five years of doctoral study for students entering directly from undergraduate programs, and four years for students entering with an M.A. or equivalent in Communication or cognate field. In addition to teaching assistantships there are also several non-teaching fellowships, including some dedicated to underrepresented groups, available through the University. See listing of available fellowships for all graduate students at the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Requirements for the MA

Master's degree candidates must successfully complete 30 credits of graduate course work, including two core offerings required during the first fall semester in residence: a teaching practicum and an introductory proseminar. In the semester in which they will complete their course work, students will take a comprehensive written and oral examination testing general knowledge of the field, specialized knowledge derived from specific course work, and mastery of individually tailored reading lists.

Requirements for the PhD

Doctoral students must complete 72 hours of course work (including the MA credits as well as the departmental core requirements of COMMRC 2296 Proseminar and COMMRC 3384 Teaching Practicum). Students will, in consultation with their advisor and faculty committee, develop a plan of study. Students’ successful completion of this plan, as well as their comprehensive grasp of the field, will be tested by a written and oral examination, under the supervision of the advisor and faculty committee convened for this specific purpose. On passing this examination, students will work with their advisor to develop a dissertation prospectus, will guide the ensuing research and writing and, eventually sit as a body for a publicly open defense of the finished work.

William Pitt Debating Union

Graduate students interested in public argument and argumentation theory can pursue co-curricular study and teaching of argumentation practices by working with the William Pitt Debating Union (WPDU), one of the nation's most venerable debating societies.

Course Listing


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