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Graduate Certificate in Writing and Rhetoric

What is the Certificate Program?

The Program in Writing and Rhetoric, in conjunction with the English Department and the Linguistics Department, offers a course of study that leads to the Advanced Certificate in Teaching Writing. The certificate program, a 15-unit graduate program approved by the State University of New York, is designed to complement graduate work in rhetoric and composition, English, literacy studies, linguistics, or cultural analysis and theory, to name a few examples. The certificate also provides further professional development and mentoring for those already teaching writing at the secondary or college levels.

Learning to teach writing effectively requires study of a variety of fields. Our program draws on theories, research and practices from psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, cognitive psychology, language acquisition research, genre theory, rhetorical theory, media studies and linguistic anthropology.

Teachers who are grounded in this body of theory and research will be better equipped to implement effective teaching strategies or undertake doctoral studies.

Individuals who would benefit from this certificate program include MA and MAT candidates in English who are preparing for a teaching career in high school or community college teaching; PhD candidates in a range of disciplines who would like a broad-based degree program and want to do research in methods of teaching writing; and high school and college teachers seeking advanced training, accreditation, mentoring, or promotion.

 What are the requirements?

The Certificate, which can be completed in two years, consists of five courses, chosen from among the following:

  • WRT 506 / EGL 506 Studies in Literary Theory
  • WRT 509 / EGL 509 Studies in Language and Linguistics
  • WRT 592 / EGL 592 Problems in the Teaching of Writing
  • WRT 612 / EGL 612 Composition Theory
  • WRT 613 / EGL 613 Research in Composition
  • WRT 614 / EGL 614 Topics in Composition and Writing (may be repeated with different topics)
  • WRT 698 / EGL 698 Practicum in Teaching of Writing (for PhD candidates or teachers with an MA degree) or


Up to two courses may be taken from the following list, with enrollment permission from the Linguistics Department:

  • LIN 522 Phonetics
  • LIN 527 Structure of English
  • LIN 530 Introduction to General Linguistics


Note: One course from another university may be applied towards this Certificate with approval from the Director

Note 2: Students may petition to the Director of the Writing Program that a course at Stony Brook other than those above be counted towards the Certificate if the course is determined to contribute to the student’s mastery of writing and language study.

 How do I apply to the Certificate Program?

Admission to the Graduate Certificate Program in Teaching Writing is open to any student enrolled a graduate degree-granting program at Stony Brook University or to free-standing certificate students who have completed their BAs who meet the admissions criteria.

For applicants already admitted to the university, admission involves filling out a brief form. For admission to the free-standing Certificate Program in Teaching Writing, students are required to have earned a bachelor's degree with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4 point scale. The following must be submitted to the Program in Writing and Rhetoric for admission to the Certificate program:

  1. A letter of application stating the purpose of study
  2. A Graduate School application form
  3. An official transcript of undergraduate record culminating in a bachelor's degree and graduate degree transcript if applicable
  4. Two letters of recommendation from teaching supervisors and/or professors

The forms and additional information are available through the Program in Writing and Rhetoric office:

Program in Writing and Rhetoric
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-5340

Faculty and Executive Committee 


Peter H. Khost, Humanities Building 2042

Graduate Program Director  

Shyam Sharma, Humanities Building 2109

Program Assistant

Adam Schultheiss, Humanities Building 2005  (631) 632-7390

Affiliated Faculty
  • Broselow, Ellen. Linguistics. PhD, 1976, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: Phonology, phonetics, second language acquisition.
  • Davidson, Cynthia. Writing and Rhetoric. PhD, 1997, University of Illinois at Chicago: Rhetoric and digital media.
  • Dunn, Patricia. English. PhD, 1991, The University at Albany: Composition and rhetoric, English education, disability studies.
  • Hammond, Eugene. Writing and Rhetoric. PhD, 1977, Yale University: Composition and rhetoric; history of rhetorical theory, Jonathan Swift.
  • Khost, Peter. Writing and Rhetoric. PhD, 2011, CUNY Graduate Center: Rhetoric of literature, cognition and writing, writing transfer theory, autoethnography, empirical research in writing.
  • Lindblom, Kenneth. English. Director of the English Teacher Education Program. PhD, 1996, Syracuse University: English education; theory, history, and practice of composition-rhetoric; discourse pragmatics.
  • Lucenko, Kristina. Writing and Rhetoric. PhD, 2009, University at Buffalo: Women’s writing, feminism, life narrative, service learning.
  • Martinez-Pizarro, Joaquin. English. PhD, 1976, Harvard University: Literary history of the Middle Ages, classical and medieval backgrounds, comparative studies.
  • Pfeiffer, Douglas. English. PhD, 2005, Columbia University: Renaissance humanism, history of literary and rhetorical theory.
  • Sharma, Shyam. Writing and Rhetoric. PhD, 2012, University of Louisville: Writing in the disciplines, English as a second language.
  • Thompson, Roger. Writing and Rhetoric. PhD, 2000, Texas Christian: Rhetorical theory, history of rhetorical theory, writing about war experience, veterans issues, trauma. 

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WRT/EGL 506 Literary Theory: Rhetoric
A survey of rhetoric done largely in two takes: first, as the art of persuasion, and second, as a perspective in literary criticism. The course also examines special topics, for example, is logic gendered? A major goal of the course is to enable students to recognize a rhetorical treatment of a subject matter.

WRT/EGL 509 History and Structure of English
This course is an introduction to the linguistic, grammatical, and stylistic analysis of literary texts, from the Old English period to the late eighteenth century, though some attention is also paid to non-literary texts, especially in non-standard varieties of English.

WRT/EGL 592  Problems in the Teaching of Writing
This course provides an overview of writing pedagogy as applied to tutoring in a Writing Center or an English classroom. 

WRT/EGL 612 Composition Theory 
This course explores the relationship between reading and writing skills, the differences between speech production and writing production, and the relationship between literacy, culture and language policies.

WRT/EGL 613 Research in Composition 
This course provides an introduction to the nature of empirical research in composition studies. Students will survey landmark research studies, learn how to read research reports critically, and conduct a mini-research project in their own classrooms or tutoring situations to analyze underlying causes of students' writing problems.

WRT/EGL 614 Topics In Composition And Writing
Topics vary from semester to semester, may include Classical Rhetoric, Digital Rhetorics, Global Rhetorics, and other specific topics.

WRT/EGL 698 Practicum in Teaching Writing 
This course provides hands-on experience and instruction in the basics of writing pedagogy, including designing writing assignments, sequencing assignments, motivating writing, writing skill development and evaluating writing. Students will also be given a preliminary overview of the major theories driving composition pedagogy.