Learning Outcomes

  • Students will possess knowledge and proficiency in communication ethics.
  • Students will possess professional knowledge and intellectual agility within their chosen area of applied communication study.

Requirements for the
Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. in Rhetoric invites students to understand and engage rhetorical and philosophical communication assumptions. The 36 credit curriculum frames a "Rhetoric & Philosophy of . . ." communication program emphasizing a praxis understanding of communication that moves theory into application. After completing a core of theoretical courses, students will develop two major emphases of study in areas of applied communication, explored through rhetoric and the philosophy of communication.

The curriculum is grounded in the mission of the university and the mission of the department, working out Education for the Mind, the Heart, and the Spirit through The Ethical Difference and Walking the Humanities into the Marketplace.

Theoretical Core

The theoretically rigorous core in Rhetoric & the Philosophy of Communication is distinctive because it effectively applies enduring and emerging ideas from the humanities (rhetoric & philosophy) to marketplace problems and practices. Through completing the core curriculum, all graduates of the program will be qualified specialists in Rhetoric & the Philosophy of Communication.

The core includes the following courses:

  • COMM 604 Communication Ethics
  • COMM 609 Rhetorical Theory
  • COMM 611 Rhetoric & Hermeneutics
  • COMM 659 Philosophy of Communication

Applied Emphases

Each area of emphasis consists of two courses beyond the Core. 

Communication Ethics and Crisis in the Public Sphere

  • COMM 614 Rhetoric & Philosophy of Crisis Management
  • COMM 629 Rhetoric, Race, and Religion

Integrated Marketing Communication/ Corporate Communication

  • COMM 605 Rhetoric & Philosophy of Public Relations and Advertising
  • COMM 636 Rhetoric & Philosophy of Integrated Marketing Communication

Rhetoric of Technology/Media Ecology

  • COMM 610 Rhetoric & Philosophy of Cyberspace
  • COMM 628 Rhetoric & Philosophy of Technology

Comprehensive Examination

There are four areas of examination:

  • One area from the Core Curriculum
  • One area addressing the rhetorical and philosophical mission & praxis of the Ph.D. in Rhetoric
  • Two areas addressing the student's selected program emphases

The following elements describe the comprehensive examination process:

  • Students receive comprehensive exam questions at the beginning of the Spring semester
  • Students write exams over a two-day period
  • Faculty evaluate written examinations


In addition to satisfactory completion of all required coursework, students must demonstrate language proficiency by completing either of the following options:

  • Reading knowledge of one language
  • Hermeneutic Phenomenology


Dissertation Director and committee are approved by the Director of the Ph.D. in Rhetoric Program and the Chair of the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies after successful completion of the comprehensive examination.

  1. Dissertation Director assists with construction and approval of a prospectus. Final approval requires signature of the committee members, Chair of the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
  2. Committee ordinarily includes Director, two readers from graduate faculty, and one professional communication practitioner from the marketplace when appropriate. (The involvement of practitioners is distinctive and engaged when appropriate for the study and the candidate.
  3. Candidate defends dissertation in an open meeting, after approval from the Dissertation Director.
  4. Final approval of the degree rests with the Chair of the Department of Communication & Rhetorical Studies and the Dean of the Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University.