Banner image depicting a view UIUC quad from Foellinger Auditorium in the background, with students walking by. In the foreground, a stack of books by Center for Writing Studies faculty is visible, half propped up vertically by surrounding horizontal stacks. The caption reads "books by core faculty." The Center for Writing Studies logo is visible in the upper left: a large brace bracket that surrounds white text, "center for writing studies."
Why Apply?

We are interdisciplinary. The study of writing thrives where scholars of diverse perspectives meet to inquire and learn together. It thrives at Illinois, where PhD students in five academic programs can earn the Graduate Concentration in Writing Studies. The concentration links expertise in Communication, Education (Curriculum and Policy), English, and Information Sciences to questions about writing and related subjects, among them rhetoric, composition, and literacy. The Center for Writing Studies promotes these links in ways beneficial to graduate students.

We are critical. Our faculty and graduate students study how writing changes. How it has changed over time. How it is changing lives today, and how it might change them tomorrow. How it can do good in the world. And how writing has been—and remains—implicated in the devastation of people, cultures, and environments. Critical conversations begin in graduate seminars: “Rhetoric and the Body” (Dr. Lindsay Rose Russell), “Social Movement Communication” (Dr. Josue David Cisneros), and “Visual Rhetoric” (Dr. Cara Finnegan), for example. They are energized by colloquia and symposia featuring distinguished guests. They are deepened by coursework in gender and ethnic studies departments. And they are sustained in venues such as the university’s Education Justice Project.

We labor and learn together. The university's motto, Labor and Learning, informs our approach to graduate study in Writing Studies.  Competitive fellowships are available to support the labor of research. A strong graduate employees’ union supports the labor of teaching. Writing Studies students routinely teach innovative courses such as Writing Across Media and join curricular research projects such as Writing Across Engineering and Science. Students also take on leadership roles in the Center and at the Writers Workshop.

And together we succeed. Our PhD graduates routinely reach their employment goals, whether in higher education or beyond. For three decades, our alumni have sought and found academic positions in which they have been able to grow as researchers, teachers, and leaders. Our network of alumni sustains our current graduate students: modeling possibilities, answering questions, sharing ideas, opening doors.

Need more information before you apply? Email us to arrange an individual meeting to see what our program can offer YOU!

to join us as a master’s or doctoral student in 2025

How to Apply

The Graduate Concentration in Writing Studies is pursued at the doctoral level. English and Linguistics offer specializations in writing studies at the master’s level.

If you have a master’s degree or equivalent, choose one of five academic programs in which you can earn the Graduate Concentration in Writing Studies along with the program’s PhD:

Apply through the Graduate College’s admission portal. Indicate your interest in earning the Graduate Concentration in Writing Studies.

If you have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent, choose from two programs in which you can specialize in writing studies while completing the program’s master’s degree

Apply through the Graduate College’s admission portal. Indicate your interest in specializing in writing studies.

Want to know more about our amazing alumni? Browse a list of dissertations completed in the past five years and and a selection of alumni books.

Questions? Please contact Peter Mortensen, Director, Center for Writing Studies.

Graduate Application Portal


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