A military colleague asked me today for advice about doctoral programs in composition and rhetoric. This colleague has a M.A. in English and several years of experience teaching and administrating writing courses, and is thinking about taking early retirement from the military and wondering where to go and what factors to consider. Of course it depends what areas you’re interested in, I said, and noted that it’s generally not a good idea to pursue a PhD without full funding from the institution (ideally with a 1/1 load for the TAship and the opportunity to teach and design a variety of courses) and health insurance, and it’s awfully nice (from my experience) to have a TA union, and so on. But programs themselves? Well, there are published and online guides, I know, but my colleague got me thinking, and so I’m curious as to what the proverbial word on the street might be:
What, in your opinion, are the ten best PhD programs in rhetoric and composition?
Of course, the criteria themselves for ‘best’ are open to debate, and again, it depends on what one’s scholarly interests are. I’d certainly expect to see Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, UT Austin, Michigan State, Carnegie Mellon, and Syracuse at or near the top of a lot of lists, and I’ve got strong feelings about the excellence of other programs as well — Pitt for its unique and compelling cultural studies approach, and UMass and UNH for their deep (and evolving) historical investment in the process approach — so I’ll ask: what do you think? What would your top 10 be, and what would you say their particular areas of excellence are?
Where do you admire?