Frequently Asked Questions
I am considering applying to Rhetoric. Are my research interests suitable for this graduate program?The Department of Rhetoric graduate program provides professional training in academic research and teaching, culminating in the PhD degree. We do not offer a MA program. Our faculty represents a diverse range of scholarly expertise dedicated to the discipline of rhetoric, which is theoretically informed and interdisciplinary in practice, focused on discourse analysis, broadly conceived. We welcome students of all disciplinary knowledge and methodological training, including those with portfolios in the arts; however, we rank highly those applicants whose records of academic and related achievement demonstrate potential for success as scholar-teachers at the PhD level. We prefer students who at the time of application are able to 1) identify a general area of inquiry and, if possible, a specific research object or objects, and 2) explain why this study would best be done in the Department of Rhetoric at Berkeley, and not in a more traditional disciplinary or departmental academic unit at Berkeley, or another institution. The Department recognizes that for the graduate student, the educational and financial benefits of teaching eventually are offset by its time demands. Students therefore are encouraged to actively seek out and apply for university and outside sources of financial aid, especially for the semesters immediately following the qualifying exam.
Who can answer my questions about the application and the admissions process, financial support, etc.?Please contact Isabel Seneca, the Graduate Student Affairs Officer for the Department of Rhetoric, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who can answer my questions about academics?You may contact Professor James Porter, who is Faculty Head Graduate Student Adviser for the Department of Rhetoric, at email@example.com
How can I contact Rhetoric faculty members?The profiles, research interests, and contact information of our faculty are available on this website. We invite you to study their biographies and descriptions of current research, and to contact by email those whose interests are closest to yours, should you have specific questions.
Can I visit a graduate seminar? Visits to classes are at the discretion of the instructor; prospective guests may contact a professor directly about the possibility of visiting his or her course. Our course schedule is posted on the department website, and is available through the U.C. Berkeley campus’s online schedule of classes.
Can I speak with current students in the program? The profiles and research interests of our current graduate students are posted on our department website, along with their contact information.
Does the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley offer a MA program?No, the Rhetoric Department does not offer a MA program.
Is a MA degree required as a prerequisite to the Rhetoric PhD program?No, only a BA or its equivalent is required. The Department of Rhetoric admits many students with merely the BA degree. Others may have a MFA or a MA, in addition to the BA. Rhetoric graduate students begin their studies at the same point, regardless of prior graduate experience.
I have a MA or similar degree. Can it be credited toward completion of Rhetoric’s PhD program?No, it cannot. The Rhetoric PhD program advances students to candidacy for the PhD degree through a course of study designed to prepare them to write a dissertation in Rhetoric. Other MA degree programs, even ones in rhetoric departments, cannot replicate this unique preparation.
Does Rhetoric support a dual JD/PhD program, with Berkeley Law?Students at Berkeley Law can undertake a concurrent JD with various kinds of Masters degrees, but not a concurrent JD/PHD unless it is with JSP.
Are there Designated Emphasis available?Rhetoric PhDs typically participate in the following DE programs: Critical Theory, Film Studies, Women, Gender & Sexuality, Folklore, and Early Modern Studies.
Is there a foreign language requirement?
Candidates for the PhD are required to demonstrate competence in two foreign languages by the end of Year 3. Competence in at least one foreign language is advised for new applicants to the program.
Do you encourage students to take courses in departments outside of the Rhetoric Department?Seminar experiences outside of the department are essential to the Rhetoric doctoral program at Berkeley. While the first year is largely devoted to Rhetoric program requirements in Ancient and Contemporary Rhetoric (200 and 205) and a four other seminars in Rhetoric, the rest of a student’s coursework is carefully selected from an array of courses offered on the Berkeley campus.
Can I pursue a doctorate while living outside of the San Francisco Bay Area? Because students take courses on campus for the first three years and teach regularly in the program, it is not possible to pursue our doctoral program on a commuter basis. In the summers and in the fourth or fifth years, students whose research requires national or international travel are certainly allowed to relocate for an appropriate period of time.