Portfolio Option

The portfolio option for completing the master’s degree requires 42 credit hours:

  • 9 hours of core courses
  • 15 hours of concentration courses
  • 6 hours of cognate courses
  • 12 hours of additional electives

At the end of the program, students who choose the portfolio will compile a web-based portfolio of their best work written during their time in the program, with the expectation that some or all of the materials will be revised and polished after the course for which they were originally submitted.

Core courses (9 hours) introduce students to research methods and theories that serve as the foundation for graduate-level writing studies.  All students must take RHET 7300 Research Methods and RHET 7311 Rhetorical Theory, which are three credit hours each.

Students may choose one of the following courses to complete their core requirements: RHET 7310 Composition Theory, RHET 7312 Language Theory, or RHET 7313 Theory of Technical Communication.

Concentration courses (15 hours) make up a student’s main specialization in the MA program.  We offer three formal concentrations: technical writing, nonfiction writing, and editing.  Students who want to focus on rhetoric, the teaching of writing, or other specialized areas may pick and choose combinations of courses for their concentration that make sense for their career goals, as long as these choices have been approved by the graduate coordinator.

Students who choose the thesis option should choose concentration courses that will prepare them for the type of thesis they want to write at the end of the program.  If you want to complete a thesis that focuses on writing video games or software documentation, for example, but have taken no courses in that area, your thesis proposal will not be accepted. Likewise, if you propose an editing project or extended piece of nonfiction as your thesis, but have not taken appropriate concentration coursework, your proposal will not be accepted.

Cognate Courses (6 hours) require students to enroll in two classes from a different area of writing — or a different discipline entirely — from the area they have chosen as their main specialty.  Students can satisfy this requirement three ways:

  • Choose two courses from a different concentration in the MA program.
  • Choose two courses from a different graduate degree program at UALR.  These courses must be taken at the 5000-level or above; be sure to check whether the course you want take has prerequisites and is open to students from other departments. Some popular choices for cognate hours include courses in English, mass communication, speech communication, management, psychology, education, learning systems technology, and graphic design.
  • Use internship or independent study credits to fulfill this requirement.

Additional electives (12 hours) will be negotiated between the student, his or her portfolio mentor, and the graduate coordinator.  These electives can be used to deepen the student’s concentration expertise or develop a second area of expertise within the Rhetoric and Writing Department’s courses.

Students who are unsure whether to choose the thesis option or the portfolio option may choose to take RHET 7390, submitting and defending a thesis proposal as part of that class.  Students who do not wish to complete a thesis after taking RHET 7390 may opt for the portfolio option instead, and RHET 7390 will count as one of their additional electives. (RHET 7391, however, may not be used for portfolio option credit.)

Portfolio option students should begin the process of forming their portfolio committees when the student has completed 30 hours of graduate coursework. Students should start by scheduling a meeting with their portfolio mentors and the graduate coordinator, either together or separately — these professors will guide portfolio option students through the process of choosing content, designing, and defending the final portfolio.

Graduation Requirements

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on an approved program of study as outlined above
  • Successful completion and oral defense of online portfolio