Department of English Language and Literature   SIUE
Rhetoric and Composition Studies

The Writing Program @ SIUE


The mission of the Teaching of Writing specialization at SIUE is to offer students a thorough, professional grounding in the theory, research methodology, history, and practice of the teaching of writing.

The Teaching of Writing specialization, as one program of study within the Masters of Arts in English, makes a specific contribution to SIUE's Graduate School mission "to provide students with the intellectual ability to understand, create, integrate, and apply sophisticated discipline specific knowledge." This specialization, which originated in 1986, responded to the need for a rhetoric-composition MA program in southern Illinois and the St. Louis metropolitan area. In Fall 2001, the program was updated to better prepare its students for a variety of writing-related careers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Teaching of Writing graduate degrees?

The English Department's Teaching of Writing program consists of two degrees: an MA specialization in the teaching of writing and a post-baccalaureate certificate in the teaching of writing. Students completing either degree will be prepared to teach writing and writing pedagogy as well as conduct research in composition studies. Students can pursue either the MA degree or the post-baccalaureate certificate; they are separate degrees. However, students who earn the certificate and decide to continue on for the MA degree in the teaching of writing specialization will find that all classes taken for the certificate count toward completion of the MA. Neither degree includes requirements necessary for state certification of high school teachers, nor is either degree equivalent to an MFA.

What's the difference in the MA program and the post-baccalaureate certificate program?

The most obvious difference is the number of hours to complete each. The MA degree is the program that most students pursue, since community colleges require applicants to hold an MA degree. For students who wish to pursue a PhD. in rhetoric and composition studies, the MA specialization provides a strong foundation on which to build further study. The MA program requires 30 hours beyond the Bachelor's degree. For students who hold either a BA or BS in English or another discipline and who do not wish to pursue the full MA program--or students who already hold an MA degree in another area of specialization and want to gain credit hours in the teaching of writing--the post-baccalaureate program is available. This program requires 18 graduate credit hours for completion.

What are the requirements of each degree?

You can view the degree requirements on the Program Requirements pages: Masters or Post-Baccalaureate Certificate.

How many students are enrolled in the program currently?

In any given semester approximately twenty students are enrolled in the two degree programs.

I want to teach writing in a community college. How will this program prepare me to reach my goal?

Many students who enroll in the program have the same career goal. Over the past forty years, rhetoric-composition studies has become a growing and vibrant discipline within English studies. As a result of the professionalization of the discipline and the increased importance of writing in community colleges and universities across the country, many schools now advertise for writing teachers with a degree in rhetoric-composition (or teaching of writing). The program at SIUE will give students a well-rounded background in the field: Students take primary courses in pedagogy (teaching), theory, empirical research, and history of rhetoric, along with secondary courses that focus on various aspects of teaching writing and language. While students develop this strong background in the field, the focus of our program, as its name suggests, is on helping students develop as strong teachers. To be a good teacher, we feel that students must know all aspects of the study of writing.

But I want to continue teaching in high school or middle school. Will I be out of place in this program?

Not at all! Typically one third to one half of the students pursuing the MA in the Teaching of Writing are working high school or middle school English teachers. Our faculty value the contribution and dedication of secondary and middle school teachers, and we enjoy working with them. In addition to offering courses during the summer, we also schedule all of our fall and spring graduate courses at night in part to accommodate working professional teachers.

What are graduates doing now?

Many of our graduates continue their careers in middle and secondary schools. Others have gained tenure-track or adjunct positions at community colleges including Southwestern Illinois Community College, Lewis & Clark, St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley, Spoon River College (IL), Reading Area Community College (PA), and others. Some students have gone on to PhD. work at Purdue University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, the University of New Mexico, Texas Tech University, Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of South Carolina, Illinois State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Graduates with SIUE's MA in the Teaching of Writing who have completed their PhDs are currently faculty at the University of Central Florida, the University of Arizona, the University of Southern Mississippi, and elsewhere.

How do I apply for admission?

Please see the Department of English Language & Literature's Applying to the English Graduate Program page for complete details. The Teaching of Writing program, in addition to the standard application materials, requires a 3-5 page paper which explains how the applicant became interested in the field, what the applicant hopes to learn in the program, and how that learning will help the applicant in a career.

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