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PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric

Frequently Asked Questions about the TTU Online Ph.D. in TCR

The following FAQ is designed to answer questions that applicants may have about the TTU Online Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric.  Further information is available from the Associate Chair and Acting Director of Graduate Studies for TCR, Dr. Amy Koerber.

  1. What are the dates of the two-week May Seminar?
  2. What does the degree emphasize?
  3. What are the admissions requirements? Are they different from those of the onsite doctoral students?
  4. Is it possible to enter the PhD program without an MA in English?
  5. What does the program cost?
  6. How long will the program take?
  7. How many hours will I take after I finish my coursework?
  8. Do I get course credit for attending the May workshop?
  9. Can the library provide access to materials that are not available online?
  10. What is the deadline for applications?
  11. What do I do after I've been accepted into the program?
  12. Who are the faculty?  What is their expertise?
  13. Who has graduated from TTU with a doctorate?  What are their dissertation topics?
  14. How are the online courses delivered?
  15. What are the program's residency requirements?
  16. What are the course requirements?
  17. What financial support is available?
  18. Can I receive travel funds to go to conferences and conduct research?
  19. Where do I get information about distance ed. logistics?
  20. Can I take a course in Lubbock or move there to complete my degree?
  21. What courses do you offer?
  22. What courses are being taught or are scheduled to be taught online in the coming semesters?

What are the dates of the two-week May Seminar?

Workshop attendance is mandatory (pdf memo for your employer)

 What does the degree emphasize?

As with our onsite Ph.D., this program can be tailored to your own studies.  The Texas Tech TCR program is very strong in technology, production, rhetorical theory, rhetorical analysis, rhetoric of science, visual rhetoric, gender studies, and research methods -- and these strengths intersect with what we traditionally think of as studies in Composition, Technical Communication, and Rhetoric. You can read more details about these areas on our Emphasis page.

What are the admissions requirements? Are they different from those of the onsite doctoral students?

The online doctorate has the same admissions requirements as the onsite Ph.D.  The diploma and transcripts will indicate simply "Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric." Our philosophy is that our online programs should differ ONLY in the delivery means, not in standards and quality.

All online program applicants need to sign and return our distance learning agreement, which indicates that you understand our technology and time requirements. In addition to the onsite PhD application requirements, the online program requires a letter of commitment from your employer, since virtually everyone we plan to admit into the program will be doing their studies and research while working for someone else. This letter of commitment from your employer explicitly acknowledging that class and May workshop attendance is obligatory. This letter must be signed and on company letterhead. Your employer should indicate in this letter that they a) support your efforts to complete the program, b) acknowledge the program will require you to attend online classes one or two weekday evenings during normal semesters, and also to attend mandatory two-week seminars in May of each year, an c) agree to give you the time and space needed to attend classes, seminars, or any other required TCR activities. The idea, of course, is that you and your employer need to be on the same page regarding this lengthy endeavor.

All other application requirements are identical to the on-campus doctoral program.

Is it possible to enter the PhD program without an MA in English?

No. We have no bias against masters degrees from other areas (in fact, we believe it makes the program stronger). If you come into the program from a near field, we will probably be able to credit you for 8-10 courses from the master's degree. If you're coming to us from a discipline that is further afield, that number drops to 5 in many cases, thereby requiring you to take more coursework.

 What does the program cost?

For FY 2015-16:

Texas residents. Since Texas Tech is a state university, Texas residents will receive reduced tuition rates. Typical in-state, one-course doctoral students will pay approximately $1500 for a course.

Non-residents. Typical out-of-state doctoral students will spend approximately $2500 per class, depending on how many classes they take per semester.

May workshop. The fee to attend May Seminar is approximately $1500 and does not include housing or tuition. This fee is subject to change depending on the number of students attending and market costs. The fee will cover the keynote speakers' fees and travel expenses, catered lunches, special event dinners, faculty honorariums, and administrative costs for the entire two weeks.

The May Seminar fee typically posts in April and appears as "TTU Online Orientation Fee" on your bill. Tuition will be billed separately and will include some onsite fees such as Rec Center, Student Union, and Transport (bus) fees to cover your use of these resources for the two weeks you're in Lubbock.

Lodging during May Seminar is available at Staybridge Suites at a reduced conference rate; however, students are not required to stay at the hotel. You may make other local arrangements, but we strongly recommend that students stay together to build camaraderie and support within the cohorts. Staybridge is also within walking distance of campus and most of our activities.

You will receive your May Seminar registration form and information packet in February. Please direct any questions to the May Seminar coordinator, Dr. Chris Christofides.

Note: Attendance at your first five May Workshops is mandatory.

The most recent tuition schedule can be found at the Student Business Services' Tuition and Fees Estimate Grids.

How long will the program take?

Depending on how much relevant graduate work you transfer to Texas Tech (and historically, we have found that students bring 6-9 courses), you can be finished with coursework in 2-3 years. In order to accommodate the needs of the online doctoral group, we plan to offer more classes in the summertime, so even if you only take 1 course per long semester, you have the possibility of taking 2 or 3 courses during the summer. We will require all online doctoral students to attend an intensive 2-week session held each May on the Texas Tech campus; this experience gives you daily exposure to ongoing scholarship, as well as steady communication with faculty advisors as you begin to craft (and eventually finish) your dissertation.

After you are finished with coursework, you will take a qualifying exam, usually in the semester after completing coursework. After completing this exam, you will write a dissertation. The typical post-coursework phase of a doctorate takes between 1 and 3 years for our onsite students, depending on the nature of their research.

How many hours will I take after I finish my coursework?

When you have completed your last course and are preparing for qualifying exams, you will enroll at a level of 3 hours of ENGL 8000 in the long semesters and maintain continuous enrollment via 3 hours of ENGL 8000 in the long summer. You'll also have to register for 3 hours of ENGL 8000 in the semester of graduation. The number of ENGL 8000 hours required for graduation is at least 12.

Do I get course credit for attending the May workshop?

Yes and no. The 2 weeks you're here are treated not as a course, but a workshop/seminar. The daily lab/course activities feed directly into a course that's on Texas Tech's books for the summer. Of course, when you sign up for this summer course, you will have completed 80-90% of its activities and requirements during the 2-week workshop. In this respect, the answer is yes, you're getting most of a course knocked out in about 2 weeks. What you'll do is take the course for credit, along with another course during the 10-week summer session.

After you're finished with coursework, you will come to Lubbock, but will not have to take any summer-long courses. For this reason, we treat the workshop as something distinct and separate from coursework.

Can the library provide access to materials that are not available online?

In addition to online resources, the library will mail books to you, photocopy materials, and look for books and articles to your specifications.

What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline is January 5 for applicants who intend to start in summer of fall semester, and August 1 for applicants who intend to start in spring semester.  If you are admitted, you may begin coursework in the following summer or fall. Based on several years of data, we are confident in saying that this program is among the most competitive in the country. Persuasive and convincing admissions materials are going to be critical in the application process. Your letters of recommendation, writing sample, and personal statement will be filed in the department. In addition to these departmental components of the application, you will also need to file a Graduate School application (GRE scores, transcripts, and application fee) at www.gradschool.ttu.edu/.

Please send all materials electronically via e-mail attachment to the graduate advisor in TCR: (english.tc@ttu.edu). Your recommenders may send email or attachment letters to these same email addresses or paper letters to

Director of Graduate Studies, TCR
Department of English
Box 43091
Lubbock, TX 79409-3091

Who are the faculty? What is their expertise?

The Texas Tech TCR program has 16 tenure-track faculty members. Our faculty has diverse interests, from technology and discourse to ethics in communication, from the rhetoric of science to visual rhetoric, from research methods to teaching methods. Our strategy is to provide deep coverage for core disciplinary issues (writing, style, editing, manuals, reports, rhetorical analysis, rhetorical history) and to offer progressive specialties with at least two faculty members' expertise (rhetoric of science, discourse analysis, industry relations, usability testing, visual rhetoric, cultural criticism, feminist studies). Brief faculty bios and cv's can be found at /english/tcr/faculty.php.

How are the online courses delivered?

We use several modes of instruction and interaction in delivering our online courses. We use Moodle for asynchronous discussions, reading responses, group work, and so on. We use Skype, GoToMeeting, or something similar for synchronous meetings (usually once a week in long semesters and twice a week in the summers). We are increasingly employing webcams to facilitate office hour conferencing and are planning on purchasing a dedicated server to assist in delivering streaming video of realtime discussions, taped presentations, etc.

What are the program's doctoral residency requirements?

The online program does not require the student to have a conventional period of residency, as is the custom with many other degrees. We work in the world of ideas, of readings and exchange of ideas. We encourage and develop a context of scholarship and of research through a variety of high-tech means, from web-cam meetings with committee members to frequent textual postings of research topics. A key requirement of participation in the program is attendance in a 2-week May Workshop every year. [View the official residency requirements.]

What financial support is available?

The department has a variety of internal scholarships. The department also has historical success at providing doctoral students with university-wide fellowships. Some students in the program also use student loans to finance part or all of their doctoral education. To be eligible for federal financial aid, you must enroll in at least four credits per semester. Some banks offer private student loans that are available to students enrolled in less than four credits.

Can I receive travel funds to go to conferences and conduct research?

Yes. Although it varies from one year to the next, the department usually able to offer $200-$300 to grad students who travel to conferences to present papers. The TTU graduate school typically provides matching funds, so the total amount each grad student can receive is $400-$600.


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Military & Veterans Programs site

Bernice Flett is the administrator in charge of Hazelwood.

Can I take graduate classes in Lubbock or move to the on-campus program if I want?

Absolutely. You can move to Lubbock any time during your degree with no additional applications or requirements. And yes, you're free to take any Lubbock courses you want--whether for the degree requirements, a minor, electives, or research methods.