Rhetoric, Writing and Digital Media Studies, Graduate Certificate

Department of English

College of Arts and Letters

The 18-unit graduate certificate program in Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies is designed to provide professional development for current and future teachers of academic writing.

Teachers who are grounded in rhetoric and composition theories, literacy theories, and media literacies are well equipped to implement effective teaching practices in their composition classrooms and to continue teacher research to improve teaching practices.

    • Graduate certificate programs require a minimum of 12 credit hours. Many graduate certificate programs require more than 12 credit hours.
    • No more than one 400-level NAU course (3 - 4 units) may be used on a graduate certificate program.
    • No more than twenty-five percent of the units required for the certificate program may be transferred from another university.
    • A 400-level course (undergraduate course) completed at another university is not eligible for transfer credit.
    • A minimum grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved to obtain a graduate certificate. No more than three units of coursework with a Grade of "C" may be used in a certificate program.
    • A graduate student may pursue a graduate certificate concurrently with a graduate degree. Each graduate degree program must decide which, if any, certificate courses can be counted toward the graduate degree.
    • Students who are admitted to a graduate certificate program will be eligible for the official posting of the graduate certificate to their transcripts when all applicable coursework has been successfully completed and approved by the academic unit and the Graduate College.
  • Please be aware that federal financial aid is not available for some certificates, if the certificate is pursued and completed as a stand-alone certificate (i.e., not completed concurrently with a degree program).  See the “Details” tab for additional information.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 18
Additional Admission Requirements

Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

Purpose Statement

The Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies (RWDMS) Program engages students with a curriculum that prepares them as writers and scholars. The program emphasizes the importance of critical reading, reflection, writing, digital media, and spoken language to educate knowledgeable citizens who understand and appreciate their civic, professional, and personal responsibilities in an increasingly global community. 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 experience with rhetorical theory and persuasive argumentation, social media literacy and multimedia writing, professional and public discourse conventions through theory-based application projects. In addition, our courses provide a foundation for workplace writing and M.A. programs in rhetoric, writing, digital media, communication, and composition studies. 

Student Learning Outcomes
General Knowledge of English

  • Graduates will know about language as a system and about language change and variation. Students will be able to identify, describe, explain, or interpret such features as grammar, language patterns, language differences, the history of English, dialects, semantics, dictionaries and lexicons, idioms, or semiotic structures.
  • Graduates will know how effective writers and speakers adapt language to the varying circumstances of interpersonal communication, for various purposes in school, the workplace, civic life, and creative endeavors. Graduates will be able to describe and explain such discourse features as rhetorical situation (speaker, purpose, audience), performative language, orality vs. literacy, print literacy vs. media literacies, style, or word-choice.
  • Graduates will know basic concepts and terminology in the study of literature, linguistics, rhetoric, and creative writing. Students will know how to use appropriate disciplinary and professional language.
  • Graduates will know about forms, designs, and genres, including appropriate traditions and histories. They will know how formal conventions, social contexts, and audience expectations affect discourses purposes. Graduates will be able to describe and explain such things as literary and creative genres, canons, practical and professional writing formats and genres, types of rhetorical discourse, types of linguistic phenomena, or media and web formats and genres.
  • Graduates will know how social, cultural, and historical contexts affect personal expression; the reception, comprehension, or study of texts; and specific communication purposes for both writers and readers. Graduates will be conversant with English in global settings and with the increasing impact of international forces—the history and politics of cultural and linguistic diversity, of environmental sustainability, and of globalization—on the discipline of English. 
  • Graduates will know how to read and think critically in response to a variety of texts, drawing on appropriate knowledge, concepts, and terms from the study of literature, linguistics, rhetoric, and creative writing. Graduates will know how to focus these skills on the close interpretation of texts (which could include film, signs, encoded cultural forms or messages, or graphic art, in addition to printed works) or extend these skills to the close study of empirical data or information. Graduates will know how to draw inferences or conclusions from their reading or to formulate interpretive hypotheses or arguments from primary sources or researched information.
  • Graduates will know how to write effectively in several genres and for various purposes—with appropriate design, fluency, voice, style, vividness, self-awareness, and awareness of audience or reader. Graduates will know how to invent, find, develop, and support content relevant for their writing purposes.
  • Graduates will know how to critique and to augment, rework, or revise both their own writing and the writing of others. Graduates will know how to edit for style, for grammar, and for correct spelling and punctuation according to a text’s purpose, audience, and level or manner of discourse
  • Graduates will know how to use appropriate principles and methods of research for a variety of purposes in literature, rhetoric, writing, and linguistics. Graduates will know how to determine effective research scope, to apply and refine search strategies, to analyze and evaluate information, to synthesize and apply information, and to use information responsibly.
Applications and Attitudes
  • Graduates will know how to apply advanced academic training in English to further schooling or to public, professional, or workplace settings that demand clear, efficiently organized information-sharing; lucid expressions of imaginative thinking; persuasive, well-documented discourse; or concise, accessible expository communication. Graduates will know where and how to seek opportunities for employment, publication, continued education, public service, or personal enrichment. Collaborate with others on a project related to rhetoric, writing, and digital media studies and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the process and the final results.
  • Graduates will benefit from the study of English as a liberal arts discipline. This study imparts intellectual growth, empowers imagination, and attunes responsiveness to creative expression and artful communication. The study of English fosters habits of empathy, introspection, and ethical reasoning. It imparts resourcefulness in communication, aptitude for creative problem solving, and openness to change, adaptation, and opportunity.

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
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • Writing sample
    • Letter of Application
Certificate Requirements
  • Take the following 18 units:

    Introductory Courses (3-6 units):

    Analysis Courses (9-12 units):Elective coursework (3 units):
    • ENG course, or additional Rhetoric, Writing, and Digital Media Studies course. 
  • Federal financial aid cannot be used for this certificate.

  • 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.