United States PhD in Professional Writing Programs

PhD in Professional Writing Programs Overview

PhD in Professional Writing​ Programs are designed for graduate students who aspire to teach at the collegiate level, or seek advancement within a current position. Doctoral level programs in professional writing generally combine coursework in the mechanics of writing with elements of corporate, industry and public information communications through traditional print, online and social media.

Professional Writing Doctorate Degree Program Information

The focus of PhD programs in Professional Writing is generally on teaching students workplace-related writing such as grants, reports, articles, policy statements, manuals and related materials.  While a master's degree provides technical writing skills as well as the opportunity for hands-on work, the PhD program has this same emphasis but may also prepare students for postsecondary teaching jobs.

Doctorate degrees in Professional Writing tend to have a strong project-oriented emphasis, and typically take 5-6 years, full-time (3-4 years beyond the master's). Admission to a PhD program usually involves all the same requirements of the master’s degree plus professional experience, and submission of a portfolio. A dissertation is commonly required along with coursework and research. Always check with the university you are considering attending to verify their procedures.

Choosing a PhD Program in Professional Writing: Campus or Online?

GradSchools.com has easy to use search tools to make selecting a PhD program straightforward. If you are looking to study on-campus, initiate a location search to find graduate schools by city, state, or even country. If earning your professional writing degree online is more feasible, use this criterion to browse. Every search will yield results, such as: Doctorate in Composition and Rhetoric, or PhD in Rhetorical and Professional Communication.

Potential PhD Curriculum: Professional Writing, Rhetoric and Composition

Some Professional Writing PhD Programs focus on professional writing theory, pedagogy and qualitative research to prepare students to connect the various political, social, and cultural aspects of communication. Many PhD level programs in Professional Writing involve the study of rhetoric, study of effective speaking and writing, and the art of persuasion. As a an academic discipline this teaches students to perceive how language is at work orally and in writing, as well as to become proficient in applying the resources of language in their own speaking and writing.

PhD programs in Rhetoric and Composition allow students to gain a comprehensive understanding of rhetoric and writing studies, including histories, pedagogies, research strategies, technologies, and administration.

In some programs, students may be encouraged to research the influences of digital and multi-media writing along with more traditional attention to rhetorical history, research methodologies, and composition pedagogies. 

Potential Careers For PhD Professional Writing Graduates

Graduates holding a PhD in Professional Writing may be prepared for a variety of potential writing careers in technical and professional spheres, including academic, corporate, and nonprofit settings.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, despite a rather slow employment growth rate, experienced writers could find work in public relations departments, freelance for newspapers, magazines, and journal-publishers or write novels.[i] Furthermore, job opportunities for experienced writers with technical skills are expected to be good due to the growing reliance on technologically sophisticated products and increasingly complex medical and scientific information needed.[ii]

If you aspire to a teaching position, the employment outlook for Communications or English Literature teachers is favorable; a 10% growth in employment is predicted between 2014 and 2024[iii]

Ready To Pursue a PhD in Professional Writing?

If you are looking to advance your professional and technical writing skills, earning a PhD may lead to new academic or industry career options or even potential advancement in a current role. Why not use the search tools on GradSchools.com to find the degree that aligns with your goals!


Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/writers-and-authors.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/media-and-communication/technical-writers.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm

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