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Comp/Rhet PhD without Master's in the field?


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Hey all,

I've been reading through the information on the forum over the past month or two, and found all of your insights incredibly helpful as I begin the process of researching and applying to graduate programs in composition and rhetoric. I've found that many comp/rhet programs require a master's degree before one is admitted to a PhD program, and those that don't seem to highly value those with a Master's Degree. I have a Master's degree, but am unsure it does me any good. Let me explain:

I graduated in 2014 with a BA in English and History, then immediatly began an intensive, 14-month Master's Degree in English Education, graduating in August 2015. My plan has always been to spend 3-4 years teaching at the secondary level before entering a doctoral program, as my primary area of interest is the difference between writing pedagogy at the secondary and university levels (there is a longer version, of course, but I digress). The only difference between my 14-month Master's degree and a traditional two year Master's degree was that it was accelerated--I still conducted research and wrote a thesis, and took all the classes you would expect one to take for a Master's Degree in English Education. However, I'm worried that the accelerated nature of the degree makes it have less meaning/weight with admissions committees. I'm also worried that it will mean nothing if I am to pursue a PhD in comp/rhet because it was not a Master's degree in English.

So, my main question/concern: Do PhD programs in Comp/Rhet look specifically for Master's degrees in English and/or Comp/Rhet? Or, would a program such as, say, Michigan or Syracuse admit a student to their PhD program with a Master's degree in a different, but (somewhat?) related field?   

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I know people in C/R with MAs in Literature, Education, History, Classics, English, and Physics, along with MFAs in creative writing and theater (my own MA is in Comp/Rhet, which is the most common). I can't tell you if Syracuse would be ok with that (I believe they would), but Michigan's program is actually in the Department of English and English Ed, so I don't see the problem there. Mostly, it comes down to how you frame your experience relative to the work you want to do.

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