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PhD in Technical Communication & Rhetoric (TCR)

The TCR faculty at USU define technical communication as communication that facilitates action in the world. Facilitating action requires that communication be effective and persuasiveor intentionally rhetorical. Within this expanse (effective and persuasive communication that facilitates action in the world), our doctoral program in Technical Communication and Rhetoric (TCR) equips students to pursue a wide range of research interests: e.g., recent students have studied environmental rhetoric and climate change communication, technical communication in the Global South, and accessible design in writing programs.

Our PhD program is known for addressing issues of social justice, community engagement, diversity, and service learning—issues that can be explored with partners from a variety of fields and backgrounds. For example, a student coming to us from a marketing and public relations background may study professional communication in terms of online fundraising strategies of humanitarian organizations; a student with a degree in biology may focus on the rhetoric of science and ways that dominant narratives obscure and delegitimize the knowledge of disenfranchised groups; and a student coming from rhetoric and philosophy may develop theories for better enacting social justice in professional communication. If this kind of work appeals to you, we invite you to join us: Bring your experience and expertise, your culture and connections, your questions and your open mind. 


Beth Shirley reviewing research notes in Morocco
Research Opportunities

The TCR faculty welcomes opportunities to include students in our research, especially early in students' doctoral careers when they are still crafting their own research agendas. Recently, several PhD students have co-authored publications with faculty in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Business and Technical CommunicationProgrammatic Perspectives, Present Tense, and the Journal of Technical Writing and Communication. Our students have conducted fieldwork in India, Morocco, and the US and presented their work at conferences in Spain, Ireland, and India, as well as the US. We welcome students drawn to this type of work to join us in pursuing research opportunities that shape the direction of the technical communication field.

TCR Faculty Members
Award-Winning Faculty

The TCR faculty includes winners of prestigious national awards, experienced journal editors, and leaders in their fields. They are experts in areas such as rhetorical theory, genre theory, online education, technology, editing, social justice, and qualitative methods. Specific faculty interests include topics such as the effects of technologies on ethical behaviors and social justice; intersections of professional communication and democratic workspaces like cooperatives, collectives, and nonprofits; technical communication in humanitarian organizations; emergent technologies and human agency in gaming culture; and rhetorics of silence and spaces. Learn more about our faculty members.

Merrill Cazier Library
Industry-Standard Tools

Our PhD students benefit from USU's well-equipped, up-to-date facilities. The Merrill-Cazier Library houses the latest in information technology and serves as the intellectual center of campus. Within the English Department, there is a two-lab learning suite with industry-standard software; desktop, laptop, and tablet computers; smartboard technology; and other digital tools and equipment for use by our students, instructors, and researchers. The teaching lab offers a state-of-the-art environment for instruction, while the open lab is available to facilitate the production of communication using text, graphics, sound, and still and moving images.