Doctor of Philosophy in Technical Communication & Rhetoric

Texas Tech University's online Doctor of Philosophy in Technical Communication and Rhetoric (TCR) students will learn and practice the methodologies for conducting research in technical communication and rhetoric, as well as gain experience creating online and one-page documents using visual and written communication. The program provides a broad approach to technical communication, offering classes in areas such as editing, design, rhetorical theory, online documentation, publications management, and usability testing.

Purpose of Degree Program

The Ph.D. qualifies people to conduct independent research by various methods and thus to contribute to knowledge. The Ph.D. is usually a qualification for a professorial position in a university. The aims of the study are broad knowledge of the literature on technical communication and rhetoric, specialized knowledge of some aspect of technical communication or rhetoric as reflected in the dissertation research, and ability to conduct ongoing independent research using one or more methods.

The Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric (TCR) is designed for students with an interest in rhetoric, writing, technical communication, and composition. The degree in TCR requires 45 hours of graduate work in rhetoric and technical communication beyond the bachelor's degree. An additional 15 hours may be used for a minor in a related field. Credits earned on a master's degree count toward these totals. This degree prepares students for positions in a wide range of college and university writing programs. This degree program requires courses in qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The program emphasizes five broad areas of scholarship in its scholarship, coursework, and initiatives:

  1. Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology,
  2. Technical Communication,
  3. Rhetorics of Science and Healthcare,
  4. Technology, Culture, and Rhetoric
  5. Visual Rhetoric, New Media, and User-Centered Design

Use these guidelines to determine requirements and to monitor your progress through the program. Contact the Director of Graduate Studies in TCR or your advisory committee when you have questions. Students seeking the Ph.D. at Texas Tech University must also follow the guidelines in the Catalog of the Graduate School.

Program Overview

  • 60 credit hours
  • Coursework is completed primarily online. Students must meet synchronously online once each week. The remainder of the coursework is completed asynchronously. In addition to coursework, students must attend an annual two-week workshop in Lubbock, Texas.
  • Students are required to enroll in one course each semester.
  • Semester-based courses align with the Academic Calendar of Texas Tech University. The graduate program reviews applications ONLY once a year for Fall admission. The deadline for ALL materials is December 15th.

Areas of Emphasis

The Technical Communication and Rhetoric program at Texas Tech houses two graduate academic degrees, the Master of Arts in Technical Communication and the Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric. Within this program, we specialize in the following five areas at the doctoral and master's levels in our admissions, scholarship, coursework, and initiatives:

  • Rhetoric, Composition, and Technology. The art, history, and theory of persuasion, argumentation, and expression and how such activities are applied and taught.
  • Technical Communication. Theory, history, practice, teaching, and management of workplace communication, including the genres of reports, manuals, and proposals, and the skills of document design, style, and editing in a variety of media.
  • Rhetorics of Science and Healthcare. Consideration of discourse and communication within scientific, technical, and medical fields.
  • Technology, Culture, and Rhetoric. History, theory, and analysis of tools, techniques, and various cultural factors (feminism, ethics, intercultural analysis) in the production and reception of discourse.
  • Visual Rhetoric, New Media, and User-Centered Design. Analysis, theory, and production of non- or extra-textual aspects of communication and discourse.

We also emphasize research methods in our Ph.D. program and have the most rigorous methods requirement of any doctoral program in the discipline.

Application Process

1. Apply to Texas Tech University's Graduate School.

  • Complete the Graduate Admissions Application.
    • $60 initial application fee or $50 for each subsequent application (including changes of entry date, add/change program requests, or readmission requests).
    • International students must also submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score to the Graduate School. Scores must be less than two years old at the time of application.
  • Submit official and current scores on the verbal and quantitative reasoning portions of the Graduate Records Exam. Texas Tech's GRE code is 6827 and the Department Code is 2599 (English).

2. Apply to the Technical Communication and Rhetoric graduate program by submitting the following materials to the Director of Graduate Studies in TCR by December 15th (both onsite and online programs). The graduate program ONLY reviews applicants once a year, for Fall admission. This is the deadline for ALL materials.

  • Complete application form for a Graduate Degree Program
  • Current resume/vitae
  • Statement of interest in graduate study and career goals
  • Writing sample
  • Three letters of reference
  • Distance Learning Agreement

3. Apply for financial aid and/or scholarships.

  • Financial aid is distributed based on full-time enrollment and several other eligibility requirements. Your enrolled hours as of the 12th day of class in the fall and spring semesters determines your enrollment status for the semester, and financial aid is disbursed accordingly. Attending less than full-time could mean a reduction in aid.

4. Check your admissions status. Texas Tech University will notify you of your admissions status by updating the Applications tab in your Raiderlink.

Program Requirements

Prerequisite: Master's Degree

In addition to the coursework, you must attend an annual two-week workshop, take a qualifying exam, and write a dissertation.

Coursework can be completed in two to three years. After coursework is complete, a qualifying exam will be administered. Upon passing this exam, you will write a dissertation, which usually takes between one and three years to complete.

Required Courses (12 credit hours)

  • Pedagogy (3-6 credit hours)
  • Research (3 credit hours)
  • History and Theory (3-6 credit hours)
  • Foundations (3 credit hours)

TCR Specialization Courses (24 credit hours)

  • Includes at least five theory courses
  • Includes at least two courses that emphasize the application of theory

Interdisciplinary TCR Electives (9 credit hours)

  • Course options to complete this requirement vary.

Minor (15 credit hours)

  • The minor is optional but offers an opportunity to enhance your ability to do dissertation research or teach a variety of classes. Students who do not choose a minor complete all 60 credit hours of coursework in technical communication and rhetoric.

Research Methods (9 credit hours)

  • Research methods courses enhance a student's ability to complete and evaluate research.


Upon completing the PhD-TCR curriculum successfully, students should be able to do the following:

  • Employ appropriate research methodologies to produce scholarship that extends knowledge in the disciplines of technical communication and rhetoric.
  • Analyze technical communication situations and documents from a variety of theoretical and rhetorical perspectives.
  • Participate effectively in appropriate scholarly and professional organizations.
  • Prepare scholarship for presentation and publication.


Students' success in meeting the outcomes stated above will be measured through:

  • Annual review by a committee of graduate faculty assembled by the candidate and the Director of Graduate Studies in Technical Communication and Rhetoric
  • A qualification examination and a dissertation, both to be evaluated by a committee of graduate faculty assembled by the candidate and the Director of Graduate Studies in Technical Communication and Rhetoric.
Program taught in:
Texas Tech University Worldwide eLearning

See 65 more programs offered by Texas Tech University Worldwide eLearning »

Last updated January 30, 2019
This course is Online
Start Date
Sept. 2019
60 hours
By locations
By date
Start Date
Sept. 2019
End Date
Application deadline

Sept. 2019

Application deadline
End Date