English - Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies, Master of Arts

Department of English

College of Arts and Letters

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.

  • 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.

    Read the full policy here.

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

Purpose Statement

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.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Personal statement or essay
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Writing Sample
Master's Requirements
  • 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)

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.