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Teaching and Funding Opportunities

Writing Program Pedagogy Convocation during 2022

Based on individual student interests and departmental needs, graduate students may fulfill their assistantship each year through teaching, tutoring, or working in an administration role. Graduate instructors may teach courses in the Introductory Composition Program, Professional Writing Program, or serve as a teaching assistant for faculty. Graduate students working in the Writing Lab work approximately 20 hours a week tutoring, facilitating workshops, and engaging in various professional development activities. Administration roles in writing program administration may involve supporting our current instructors, working in programmatic assessment, or curriculum development.  

Introductory Composition 

Our primary first-year composition course, English 108 meets five times a week for instruction days and group conferencing where students receive additional writing support. ENGL 106 is also offered as an online course (106Y) that graduate instructors may have an opportunity to teach throughout the program.  

Because English 106 is a four-credit course, graduate instructors teaching English 106 teach just one course a semester. Our program has a long history of mentoring new graduate student instructors in a formal practicum course (English 505) where they receive ongoing guidance as new teachers. Purdue's formal practicum dates to the early 1960s, demonstrating the Department of English's long support of quality college writing instruction. 

Professional Writing 

Purdue has taught professional writing courses since the 1920s and has had an undergraduate major since 1985. 
Graduate instructors may have the opportunity to teach (in person and online) business writing, technical writing, writing for health professions, multimedia writing, and occasionally a course in the undergraduate major. New instructors also enroll in a formal practicum during their first semester of teaching in the Professional Writing Program.  

Writing Lab 

One of the oldest writing centers in the nation, the writing lab's services include one-on-one tutorials, instructor consultations, writing workshops, writing help via email, ESL conversation groups, and the online writing lab (the OWL). Most tutoring occurs in one-to-one sessions, the goal of which is to help students become better writers, not merely to improve individual texts. Tutors sometimes also participate in events across campus promoting the Lab, cross-campus engagement opportunities, and occasionally develop OWL content.  

Administrative Appointments 
Some graduate instructors have technology appointments for work in support of distance learning efforts, the Online Writing Lab (Purdue OWL), and teaching in networked computer classrooms. 
Graduate instructors are also eligible for positions in writing program administration and teacher preparation. advanced graduate instructors can serve as assistants to the directors of first-year composition, professional writing, and the graduate program in rhetoric & composition.  

Graduate Student Funding

Students accepted to the graduate program will also receive an offer of a graduate assistantship. This graduate instructorship provides a stipend for nine months, health insurance, and a remission of tuition (including summer school) and most fees (check with the English Graduate Program Office) for the amount of the stipend, as they change each year.

A few fellowships provide tax-free stipends for twelve months and remission of tuition and most fees.

The Purdue Graduate School also maintains a list of financial information.

PhD Scholarships

The Rhetoric & Composition program and the English Department offer two scholarships for PhD students working on their dissertations. The annual deadline for applications for both of these awards is March 1.

Professor Patricia Sullivan Scholarship in Rhetoric & Composition

This scholarship was established by Harriet M. Crews (MA '88, English) and Sandra K. Biggs in honor of Professor Patricia Sullivan.

Deadline: March 24

Amounts: $1,500

Criteria for Eligibility: Through the generosity of Harriet Crews (an alumna of Purdue's Rhetoric & Composition program) and her partner, Sandra Biggs, the Department of English is able to offer the Sullivan Scholarship to support dissertation work. To be eligible, you must be a current Rhetoric & Composition PhD student. Preference will be given to students who are serving as Teaching or Research Assistants in the department and who are ABD.

To Apply: Email a one-page PDF statement to Professor Patricia Sullivan ( with a description of your dissertation nd a statement about how the money could help your progress to degree. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Thomas Rickert (

Professor Janice Lauer Dissertation Award in Rhetoric & Composition

This scholarship honors Professor Janice Lauer, one of the founders of Purdue's Rhetoric & Composition doctor program in 1980. She directed and taught in the program for 23 years before retiring and is recognized as a foundational scholar in the field.

Deadline: March 24

Amount: $1,500

Criteria for Eligibility: The Lauer Dissertation Award currently offers $1,500 to recognize an ABD PhD student in Rhetoric & Composition whose dissertation project is judged as excellent by alumni of the program. Current students working in any research area in R/C may apply.

To Apply: Email your prospectus to Dr. Thomas Rickert ( If your project has changed significantly since your prospectus defense, you may update your prospectus accordingly.