2023-2024 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog 
    Apr 16, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog

English BA, (Professional Writing and Rhetoric Track)

English Major

College of Arts and Sciences
Degree BA, English
Department Chair Patrick Hamilton, PhD


W. Scott Blanchard, Professor Emeritus of English, BA Middlebury College; PhD Columbia University

Patrick A. Danner, Assistant Professor of English, MA, BA Rutgers University; PhD University of Louisville

Kathleen Downes, Visiting Assistant Professor of English; B.A. Florida State University; M.A. University of New Orleans

Patrick L. Hamilton, Associate Professor of English, BA Portland State University; MA University of Arkansas; PhD University of Colorado

Rebecca Steinberger, Professor of English, BA Wilkes College; MA University of Scranton; PhD Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The English curriculum emphasizes the development of critical reading and writing skills as an essential preparation for professional life or graduate school. Students in English most often seek careers in writing, editing, web design, journalism, law, or teaching at the high school or college level. The English major gives students the ability to adapt to different job markets and career changes. In addition to its focus on improving writing and analytical skills, the program ensures a familiarity with different critical approaches to literature and an understanding of different literary forms, movements, and periods.

The English major provides students with a firm background in English and American literature, in addition to courses in a variety of areas of interest to the faculty. The major has a large number of free electives and allows students to specialize in pre-law, obtain secondary education certification, or minor in an area of interest. The major also provides excellent preparation for those planning to go on to graduate school.

General Requirements

Incoming first-year students seeking admission to the university as English majors must meet the general and specific admissions requirements of the university as stated in this catalog. When the student does not fully meet those requirements, a personal interview is required. Continuation as an English major requires that the student maintain a minimum 2.0 or “C” average, both in the major and in the overall grade point average.

After transfer credits are applied, transfer students must complete all of the remaining English requirements as listed in the sequence of required courses in this catalog.


To receive a recommendation for graduate school or law school, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 or “B” average, both in the major and in the overall grade point average.

Professional Writing and Rhetoric Track

For information contact Patrick Danner, PhD

The Professional Writing and Rhetoric Track emphasizes the development of effective rhetorical, writing, and composing practices as essential preparation for professional life or graduate school. Majors focusing on Professional Writing and Rhetoric are prepared to seek careers in a range of disciplines in for-profit and non-profit sectors: business, healthcare, advocacy, publishing, marketing, research, editing, education, law, and more. In addition to its focus on improving writing, analytical, and persuasive skills, the Professional Writing and Rhetoric Track develops a familiarity with the theoretical and practical approaches to writing that span professional and academic contexts.

Note: Students in this track within the English major cannot also receive a Writing minor.

Program Goals and Outcomes

The Professional Writing and Rhetoric track helps its majors to:

  1. Demonstrate critical, rhetorical reading skills that will allow students to approach primary and secondary sources thoughtfully, independently, and with attention to detail.
  2. Develop writing and research skills that will make students competitive on the job market and prepare them for professional life or graduate school.
  3. Apply effective rhetorical principles and tools in digital and multimodal spaces.
  4. Recognize the effective use of the English language and writing, including the common structures and practices that underlie them.
  5. Apply oral presentation and collaboration skills that allow students to perform effectively and ethically in front of others and within teams.

The Professional Writing and Rhetoric track goals are realized in the following student learning outcomes:

Goal 1 Outcomes:

  1. Students will evaluate texts’ meaning within their specific context(s) and rhetorical composition.
  2. Students will formulate academic arguments about a text or texts.

Goal 2 Outcomes:

  1. Students will establish a focus (i.e., a thesis) that is well-defined, relevant, sophisticated, and original.
  2. Students will develop complex, evidence-based ideas that are relevant to and support the focus/thesis.
  3. Students will utilize sources critically and correctly.

Goal 3 Outcomes:

  1. Students will identify appropriate digital resources and tools for their immediate purpose.
  2. Students will evaluate the affordances of digital tools and modes with regard to their immediate purpose and potential future work.

Goal 4 Outcomes:

  1. Students will recognize the basic features of historical and structural linguistics as they bear upon English.
  2. Students will differentiate the various uses of language and rhetorical modes with regard to effects upon different audiences.
  3. Students will evaluate their own and others’ composing practices and the theoretical foundations that provide explanation for them.

Goal 5 Outcomes:

  1. Students will apply appropriate rhetorical tools with regard to their purpose and audience(s).
  2. Students will apply various collaboration modes for maximum effectiveness.
  3. Students will invent clear, consistent, and compelling messages to various audiences.

Students in the English major’s Professional Writing and Rhetoric Track must complete the following requirements in addition to fulfilling the University Core Curriculum Requirements. A sample plan of study may be found here  . The total number of credits, including University Core Curriculum Requirements and Electives, required for graduation with the English major’s writing track is 121:

Digital Composing (3 credits)

Select one course from the following:

Internship (6 credits)

Theory or Thesis (3 credits)

Select one course from the following: