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The Composition and Cultural Rhetoric Doctoral Program (CCR)

Current Students: Curriculum (revised 2010)

To earn the Ph.D., a student must complete a minimum of 45 credits beyond the master's degree (counted as 30 credits), for a total of 75 required credits. Of these, 36 credits are in required and elective courses. The program is designed to be completed in 4 years. Required credits are distributed as follows:


  • 18 credits in a required core
  • 18 credits in electives, 9 of which must be taken in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric
  • 3 credits in doctoral readings (in preparation for qualifying examinations)
  • 6-18 credits of dissertation

Students who enter with a master's degree in rhetoric and composition or have satisfactorily completed graduate courses in appropriate areas of study at Syracuse University or at other institutions may apply up to 12 extra previously earned credits to course requirements, based on a careful evaluation of their transcripts that includes an examination of course syllabus and in some instances work produced for the course.


All students take a required 6-course core in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, which becomes the primary area for qualifying examinations. Students must pass comprehensive written qualifying examinations, including one primary and two secondary areas. Students must complete a written dissertation that is a book-length work of scholarship and defend it viva voce.


Core Required Courses
CCR 611 Composition Histories/Theories
CCR 631 Contemporary Rhetorics
CCR 632 Studies in Writing Pedagogy
CCR 633 Writing, Rhetoric and Technologies
CCR 634 Ancient Rhetorics
CCR 635 Advanced Research Practices


Elective Courses
6 Courses (3 of which must be CCR courses)
CCR/CRS/WGS 636 WRT/CRS/WGS 436 Feminist Rhetorics
CCR 637/WRT 437 Advanced Creative Nonfiction
CCR 651 Interdisciplinary Studies in Language and Literacy
CCR 711 Advanced Theory and Philosophy of Rhetoric
CCR 712 Advanced Theory and Philosophy of Composition
CCR 732 Advanced Studies in Composition Pedagogy
CCR 733 Rhet/Comp & Digital Humanities
CCR 744/ CRS 744 African American Rhetorics
CCR 745 Writing Program Administration
CCR/WGS/QSX/CRS 746 Queer Rhetorics
CCR 747 Authorship Studies
CCR 751 Studies in Social History of Rhetoric
CCR 760 Studies in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric: Selected Topics


Doctoral Dissertation Credits: 3 credits in Doctoral Readings (preparation for comprehensive examinations) and 6-18 credits in Dissertation are required.


CCR 887 Doctoral Readings
Advanced readings and seminar discussion in preparation for doctoral qualifying examination.


CCR 999 Dissertation


Other Credit Options

Transfer Credit & Waivers

Students entering with a Master's degree in Rhetoric and Composition, or who have satisfactorily completed graduate courses in appropriate areas of study (e.g., composition, rhetoric, literacy, communication, or discourse studies) at Syracuse University or at other institutions, may have up to 12 hours applied to their required course credits. Upon entering the graduate program, those who wish to "transfer" in credits should make an appointment with the Graduate Director to discuss the transfer course(s).  The Graduate Director will then

  • review transcripts from the student's previous graduate work;
  • review previous syllabi, reading lists, or papers for the course(supplied by the student).

After review of these documents, the Graduate Director will decide whether or not the course work is appropriate for transfer credit.

In addition, when appropriate, students may petition to have a course from inside or outside the department substitute for a core or track course.  The case for such a substitution must be made to the Graduate Director.  If the Graduate Director approves the petition, then the candidate must complete the necessary paper work in consultation with the Graduate Director.

Independent Study

Students are allowed up to 9 credits of independent study courses in the CCR program or in other departments. Independent studies will count toward the 12 elective credits for the degree. Normally, independent studies are undertaken when students have research interests and intellectual projects that cannot be accommodated within the usual cycle of required, core, or elective courses.

To launch an independent study, the student will seek a faculty advisor with knowledge or interest in the student's proposed topic to sponsor the independent study. In consultation with the faculty advisor, the student will establish the course reading list (where appropriate) and the intellectual project or projects to be completed within the time frame of the independent study. Once the student and faculty advisor have agreed upon the plan for the independent study, the student should submit the following to the Graduate Director and the Graduate Committee:

  • The College of Arts and Sciences Independent Study Form with the sponsoring faculty advisor's signature.
  • A one page addendum with a brief rationale (1-2 paragraphs) for the independent study, a reading list if appropriate, and a brief description (1 paragraph) of the intellectual projects that will be completed.
  • The student/faculty advisor should indicate the number of credits being proposed.

Barring unusual circumstances, the independent study forms should be submitted by the end of the semester prior to the semester in which the student and faculty member plan to start the independent study. After the Graduate Committee reviews the proposal and the Graduate Director and the Department Chair provide their signatures, the student should register for the appropriate course number. For independent studies in CCR, the course number is CCR 690.
While many faculty are usually willing to sponsor independent studies, students should keep in mind that independent studies are done on top of the faculty's regular research, teaching, administration, and service loads and no extra compensation is granted.