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Teaching and Funding Opportunities

Graduate students can fulfill their assistantship each year with a number of teaching and tutoring opportunities. Graduate students working in the Writing Lab work approximately 20 hours a week tutoring, facilitating workshops, and engaging in various professional development activities. Graduate instructors working in ICaP or PW teach either two or three courses over two semesters. During their first year at Purdue, new graduate instructors will teach one section of first year composition each semester and be enrolled in a practicum for new teachers. After the first year of teaching, teaching opportunities broaden to include a variety of teaching experiences.

Introductory Composition
Our introductory composition program, ICaP, was the 2006 winner of CCCC Writing Program Certificate of Excellence. Our primary first-year composition course, English 106, meets five times per week, with one of those meetings in a computer classroom and two of the meetings a small group conference. ENGL 106 is also offered as an online course (106Y) that graduate instructors may teach after their first year. Because English 106 is a four-credit course, graduate instructors teaching English 106 teach just one course a semester. New graduate instructors enroll in a formal practicum (English 505) that works with new teachers in small groups. 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, has had an undergraduate major since 1985, and has taught all service courses in computer classrooms since 1991 (with technical writing a pilot for this in 1988). Its long tradition of professional writing instruction with technology has led it to emphasize teaching writing to professionals in digital communication environments.

Graduate instructors can 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 have a formal practicum during their first semester of teaching.

ESL Writing/Speaking
Purdue's ESL teaching appointments, which serves the University's large and diverse international student enrollment, includes classroom instruction, tutorial instruction, and language test administration. New ESL teachers are prepared through a course in teaching ESL.

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.

Other 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 classrooms.

Graduate instructors are also eligible for positions in writing program administration and teacher preparation. Several advanced graduate instructors serve as assistants to the directors of first-year composition, professional writing, and the graduate program in rhetoric & composition. Advanced graduate instructors may also serve as mentors of new teachers of writing.

Graduate Student Funding

Students accepted to the graduate program will also receive an offer of a graduate instructorship. This graduate instructorship provides a stipend for ten 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 merit fellowships provide tax-free stipends for twelve months and remission of tuition and most fees. Doctoral fellowships for African-American students and other ethnic minorities carry research allowances. Students who are awarded a fellowship are also offered the possibility of teaching, should they choose to teach.

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

PhD Scholarships

The Rhetoric & Composition program & 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 and 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
Amount: $1,500
Criteria for Eligibility: Through the generosity of Harriet Crews (an alumna of Purdue's Rhetoric and 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 and 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: E-mail a one-page PDF statement to Professor Patricia Sullivan ( with a description of your dissertation and 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 and Composition

This scholarship honors Professor Janice Lauer, one of the founders of Purdue's Rhetoric and Composition doctoral program in 1980. She directed and taught in the program for 23 years before retiring, and she 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 and 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.