English - Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies, Master of Arts
The Master of Arts in English - Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies provides a curriculum that will prepare you to participate and advance current knowledge and practices in rhetoric, writing pedagogy, and composition theory and practice, and to use your understanding of research methodologies and writing skills in your academic writing, workplace writing, and information development.
The program focuses on providing quality instruction for students who are interested in language, literacy, and learning in contemporary society; who wish to teach writing or who teach in K-12, college, or specialized settings; and who intend to focus on community or workplace literacy programs.
The program in Rhetoric, Writing and Digital Media Studies allows students to follow a clearly articulated plan that provides for structure within a flexible framework, and that provides the skills necessary for succeeding in competitive work environments.
Requirements Accordion Open
To receive a master’s degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject areas, consisting of at least 30 units of graduate-level courses. (Many master’s degree programs require more than 30 units.)
You must additionally complete:
- All requirements for your specific academic plan(s). This may include a thesis.
- All graduate work with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0.
- All work toward the master’s degree must be completed within six consecutive years. The six years begins with the semester and year of admission to the program.
Overview Accordion Closed
In addition to University Requirements:
- Complete individual plan requirements.
|Minimum Units for Completion||36|
|Thesis||Thesis may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.|
|Research||Individualized research may be required by chosen emphasis or offered as an option.|
|Some online/blended coursework||Required|
|Progression Plan Link||View Program of Study|
The Rhetoric, Writing and Digital Media Studies program provides a curriculum that prepares students to excel as writers, scholars, and teachers. The program emphasizes the importance of critical reading, reflection, writing, digital media, and spoken language to cultivate knowledgeable citizens who understand and appreciate their civic, professional, and personal responsibilities in local and global communities. We specialize in preparing students for intercultural and interdisciplinary communication practices in digital and traditional work settings to further global engagement, diversity, and social participation. Students gain advanced skills in rhetorical theory and persuasive argumentation, social media literacy, multimedia writing, and design, professional and public discourse conventions, and teaching literacy and writing through theory-based application projects. They acquire the necessary tools to participate in local and global communities, and they establish a foundation of diverse writing practices for academic and workplace settings.
Student Learning Outcomes
Theory and Knowledge:
Examine and evaluate the major theories in rhetoric, writing, and digital media studies by participating in and advancing current knowledge and practices in the field.
- Evaluate and reflect critically on rhetorical terms and concepts used by rhetoricians from classical to modern times.
- Evaluate similarities and differences in the uses of language, the connections between organization and structure used in specific time periods, the connections between style and delivery, and the connections between persuasion and argumentation used in specific time periods.
- Understand how language practices during specific time periods were and are used to communicate about the diversity of human experience.
- Demonstrate knowledge of the contributions of rhetoric to workplace studies, literacy studies, narrative studies, digital studies, cultural studies, gender studies, and race studies.
- Research, evaluate, and apply rhetorical principles from classical to modern times for academic, professional and public discourse
Demonstrate an advanced understanding of research methodologies and writing skills applicable to English studies, including academic writing, workplace writing, and information development.
- Evaluate and reflect critically on methodological practices and concepts used in research designs in rhetoric, writing, and digital media studies.
- Understand research as a recursive process.
- Use research data to formulate or evaluate new research questions, using reason and persuasion in a logical argument.
- Summarize and evaluate a body of research, including primary and secondary sources.
- Demonstrate competent, ethical, and responsible use of information in academic and workplace writing.
Analysis and Critical Thinking:
Critically analyze how cultural artifacts (written, digital, visual, and spoken texts) shape identities and ideologies in diverse local, national, historical, and global communities.
- Research, evaluate, and apply knowledge of significant issues related to global learning, diversity, and sustainable educational and environmental practices.
- Write critical analyses exploring key texts and key concepts about historical and current rhetorical terms and concepts.
- Research, evaluate, and apply historical knowledge of rhetorical terms and concepts to show how contemporary language use is influenced by cultural knowledge.
- Research, evaluate, and apply rhetorical principles from classical to modern times to ethnically and linguistically diverse populations.
- Tailor your academic and professional work to a specific audience and focus your writing on a specific purpose.
Apply theoretical and practical knowledge to projects that synthesize and evaluate appropriate research, scholarship, and methodologies in rhetoric, writing, and digital studies
- Design text and digital projects that show the ethical use of language in diverse academic, public, and professional communities.
- Understand how cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, and economic factors influence communication practices in text and digital environments.
- Research, evaluate, and apply rhetorical principles to question current norms and dominant cultural assumptions expressed in text and digital media.
- Design and present text and media that addresses experiential learning
- Design and present projects that show a clear understanding of purpose, audience, and cultural, social, historical, and political contexts.
Research and Application:
Apply rhetorical, pedagogical, narrative, new media, and workplace theories and practices by carrying out advanced course-related and client-related projects directed at conceptualizing, researching, understanding, and reformulating current theories in the field of rhetoric and writing studies through appropriate professional activities (conferences, presentations, publications, social action, grants, internships, practicum experiences, extended research projects, fieldwork, and other activities).
- Articulate a theoretical framework for the project (including a literature review to assess the theoretical and methodological contributions previously made to this area).
- Identify and define appropriate methods of data collection and apply appropriate research methods.
- Use a research design appropriate to the audience and purpose of your project, showing understanding of rhetorical approaches to multimedia design.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the project and its implications to the field of rhetoric, writing, and digital media.
- Analyze, interpret and explain your findings and your project in an extensive project write-up.
- Present your original research to professional and non-professional audiences, articulating sustained, coherent explanations of your work.
- Apply appropriate writing and design standards and literacy skills to succeed in academic, civic, and personal life.
Actively participate in local, national, and global communities of academic and workplace writers by participating in professional development activities, and by creating and updating online profiles.
- Identify your career and learning goals and develop a personal career development plan based on your strengths and goals (Introduction to Rhetoric and Writing Studies).
- Effectively represent your experience, skills and competencies through written (resume, cover letter, social media, application materials) and verbal (interview skills, presentation skills, etc.) communication (Analysis courses, research projects course).
- Develop your project management skills (especially Workplace Writing and research projects).
- Establish, maintain, and grow your professional network (start in intro to Rhetoric and WS, continue in Analysis courses, and in research projects course).
- Increase your experience and marketability, as well as your level of knowledge about career opportunities, through internships or projects (internships and research project course).
- Apply appropriate communication and presentation standards to succeed in academic, civic, and personal life.
- Establish an online professional presence by designing, adding on a regular basis, and updating a digital portfolio.
Details Accordion Closed
Additional Admission Requirements
- Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
- NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
- Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
- Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent.
- Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
- For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
- International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy
Individual program admission requirements include:
- 2 letters of recommendation
- Personal statement or essay
- Resume or curriculum vitae
- Writing Sample
This Master’s degree requires 36 units distributed as follows:
- Theoretical Context: 9 units
- Analysis: 12 units
- Application: 6 units
- Elective courses selected in consultation with your advisor: 9 units
Take the following 36 units:
Theoretical Context (9 units):
Analysis; take the following four courses (12 units):
Application; take 3 units from each applications course (6 units):
Three elective courses, chosen with your advisor’s approval (9 units)
Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
The Master of Arts in English – Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies provides quality learning opportunities for students who wish to teach writing or who teach in K–12, college, or specialized settings; who are interested in language, literacy, and learning in contemporary society; and who intend to focus on educational, community, or workplace literacy programs. Faculty teaching in the program are committed to student inquiry, problem-focused discussions, and project-based learning. Students follow a clearly articulated plan that provides for structure within a flexible framework and that provides the skills necessary for succeeding in competitive work environments. Learn more about our faculty and alumni, and check out our RWDMS page for more information about our MA and certificate programs.
Our MA degree in RWDMS encourages you to explore your interests in writing pedagogy, composition theory, and digital media. We work with you on your research, writing, and project-design skills so that you can advance professionally as an educator, academic, or in any career. Our program focuses on rhetorical theory and persuasive argumentation, social media literacy, multimedia writing and design, professional and public discourse conventions, and teaching literacy and writing through theory-based application projects. You will also be working closely with faculty with a variety of disciplinary strengths, and you will join a talented community of fellow graduate students. The main goals of the program are to:
- strengthen your critical and analytical writing abilities necessary for teachers, writers, and scholars;
- prepare you to complete practical research projects needed in your current or future academic or workplace settings; and
- provide you with the tools to continue your studies in rhetoric, composition, communications, professional writing, and related fields.
- Flagstaff Mountain Campus: Study at the Flagstaff Mountain Campus, apply for a graduate teaching assistantship, and work with full-time faculty experts.
- Online: Study online with full-time faculty experts, pay competitive tuition rates. No residency required.
Length of program
The MA RWDMS can be completed in two years. If you are an on-campus student and have a graduate teaching assistantship, you should plan on two years. If you work full-time and are completing the degree online, many students take courses part-time (1-2 courses/semester). Degree completion depends on the number of courses students take.
Funding and tuition
MA RWDMS students are eligible to teach English composition courses in the English Department if they come to the Flagstaff Mountain campus. Furthermore, a limited number of tuition waivers are available to out-of-state or in-state students. More information on graduate teaching assistantships and tuition waivers is available on our “Graduate Assistantships” page. Mountain Campus students are also eligible for the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which allows residents of certain Western states and territories to pay in-state tuition. The eligible states and territories are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming. WRGP funding is not available for Online campus students who pay an affordable online tuition rate. You can find out more about NAU’s residency requirements for tuition purposes on this website: Arizona Residency for Tuition Purposes.
Employment after graduation
Students completing our program find employment and career advancement opportunities in a variety of areas:
- teaching writing/composition at the high school and college level
- social media/digital content writing, content production, and marketing
- grant and science writing
- editing and technical writing
- freelance writing
- community organizing and marketing
Preparation for future studies
Students in our program have successfully continued and completed their education in doctoral programs in rhetoric, writing, communications, or related field. Examples include:
- Arizona State University
- Michigan Technological University
- New Mexico State University
- Texas Technological University
- Syracuse University
- University of Arizona
- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
- University of New Mexico
To prepare you for your careers or future PhD work, you learn to analyze documents and produce relevant and practical projects geared towards your career goals. You’ll gain excellent communication skills as well as teaching skills by focusing on written and digital communication, global literacy studies, and teaching writing in diverse settings.