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Opportunities

Learn about how we foster graduate education and professional development outside the classroom for students in the rhetoric and scientific & technical communication (RSTC) MA and PhD programs. Please see News & Events for the schedule of upcoming departmental events.

Research

Parlor: Current Research in Writing Studies

Once per month during the school year, graduate students and faculty gather to present and discuss in-progress research. Presenters share work for dissertation chapters, conference papers, and articles that are being prepared for publication. Some sessions feature research teams that discuss multiple dimensions of an ongoing project.

Participation in Conferences

We strongly encourage students to present research papers at academic conferences such as the Association for Business Communication conference, the Association for Teachers of Technical Writing conference, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication conference, and the Rhetoric Society of America conference and summer institute. We support these efforts with annual, noncompetitive opportunities to request conference travel funding.

Research Support

MA and PhD students have opportunities to request financial support from the department to help defray some research costs (available funding is communicated at the beginning of each academic year). Students may request support to issue incentives to human subjects, travel to research sites, and more. Learn more about funding opportunities for research.

The graduate studies office helps students identify and pursue additional research opportunities including a range of research fellowships, the Dissertation Proposal Development Program, CLA Research Services, and Digital Arts Sciences and Humanities (DASH) Services.

Professional and Career Development

RSTC Professional Development Series

Each month during the academic year, we host professional development sessions on topics responsive to MA and PhD students’ professional and career development needs. 

Recent sessions have included:

  • Connecting with Industry for Research and Teaching
  • Navigating the Job Search
  • Developing Your Writing Practice & Getting Published
  • Exploring and Preparing for Diverse Careers
  • PhDs in Industry 
  • Q&A with RSTC Alumni

Students also benefit from a range of professional and career development services available from the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) and the Graduate School:

Technical Communication Advisory Board (TCAB)

The Technical Communication Advisory Board is a group of business leaders who provide pathways to experiential learning opportunities for students and who work to address the “industry-academia” gap. MA and PhD students benefit from networking and mentoring relationships, opportunities to connect with industry professionals for research and teaching, and a webinar series.

Pedagogical Training

Writing pedagogies is a critical component of the MA and PhD curricula. All students take a year-one course sequence of WRIT 5531: Introduction to Writing Theory and Pedagogies (3 cr. in fall term) and WRIT 5532: Practicum in Writing Pedagogies (1 cr. in spring term). At the start of each academic year, students also participate in a week of training sessions tailored to the courses they will teach that year. 

The Advanced Writing Program offers a fall orientation and a spring symposium each year, in addition to teaching groups that meet throughout the year. These initiatives support instructors teaching WRIT 3562W Technical and Professional Writing as well as other 3xxx-level courses in the undergraduate program. 

Both the First Year Writing (FYW) Program and the Advanced Writing Program provide ongoing pedagogical training and support for graduate instructors. Recent programming has included:

  • Pedagogy and Praxis: hosted by FYW as a space for instructors across the Department of Writing Studies to share and discuss questions, ideas, and practices in writing instruction.
  • A year-long series of diversity, equity, and inclusion pedagogy workshops with Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington. 
  • Advanced Writing Program symposia.

Students are also encouraged to pursue training opportunities from Writing Across the Curriculum’s Teaching With Writing Program and Writing-Enriched Curriculum Program and from the Center for Educational Innovation (CEI). 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Programming

We recognize that equity, diversity, and inclusion must be addressed on individual and group levels. We actively seek to engage in creating socially just learning and working environments and opportunities. 

Recent programming has included:

  • Department-wide shared reading and discussion of How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. 
  • Office of Equity and Diversity workshops: Open to all members of the department, these workshops can be applied to the Equity and Diversity Certificate Program.
  • Open Space Events: Launched in spring 2021, these events are open to all members of the Department of Writing Studies and seek to improve our individual and collective capacity to support diversity, equity, and inclusion.  
  • Department-wide retreat in May 2021. 

Read our equity and diversity statement.

Department Life

Governance

Students in the MA and PhD programs enjoy a range of opportunities to participate in departmental and university governance:

  • RSTC Advisory Committee: A voting body that makes recommendations to the faculty on graduate education policies for the MA and PhD programs. Two students serve as elected representatives each academic year. 
  • Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) Advisory Committee: Two elected graduate student representatives meet privately with the DGS to advise on and review policies, practices, and other issues of concern to MA and PhD students. 
  • Council of Graduate Students (COGS): The University of Minnesota’s Recognized Student Governance Association representing, advocating for, and facilitating communications among Twin Cities graduate students. Writing Studies elects voting COGS General Assembly members to represent the MA and PhD programs. 
  • Our students have also served on departmental, collegiate, and other committees including the First-Year Writing Committee and the College of Liberal Arts’ Graduate Education and Advisory Committee.

RSTC Community Meetings

Students, faculty, and program staff gather approximately once per semester to create an open forum to discuss changes to the programs, new opportunities, and address students’ concerns. 

RSTC Conversations

Students and members of the graduate faculty come together to participate in informal conversations and build community. Participants share and reflect on research, teaching, academic life, and wellbeing.