Become a citizen-scholar-creator


Welcome to the graduate program in communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University! I am delighted to be the director of one of the finest programs in the country, with a unique orientation toward critical, feminist, and queer theory, visual culture, public memory, social movements, and public engagement. Our graduate faculty are internationally recognized as premier scholars in the field. Our graduate students go on to great things, including Ph.D. programs and the professoriate and the professional world of political communication.

Please contact graduate coordinator Rachel Hall at with any questions you may have. 


The communication and rhetorical studies department provides degree candidates with first-rate training in communication research and pedagogy, preparing graduates for competitive careers within academe or for diverse career opportunities outside it. Our curriculum has earned national and international honors based on a proven record of scholarly and pedagogical excellence in rhetoric, critical/cultural studies, and discourse analysis. We maintain a curricular vision of worldmaking education through theoretical, critical, historical, and performative intervention (feminist, queer, critical race, Marxist, post-colonial theories; historiography; critical and analytical methods; engaged scholarship). This curricular vision is interdisciplinary and global in its grasp and reach, with existing research strengths in security studies; social movements; gender, race, and sexuality studies; health, intercultural, organizational, and environmental communication.

Furthermore, CRS is committed to producing citizen-scholars-creators who regard communication as a “doing” in the world. We encourage our scholars to reflexively consider the impact of their scholarship on society at large and to develop and practice scholarship that makes what we study relevant to an enriched and more just public life. This orientation distinguishes our program from others in the discipline and attracts high-quality students interested in the connections among theory, criticism, history, and practice. Our focus is marked by an urgent need for communicative practices that can engage the issues of cultural and political overwhelm, economic volatility, cultural difference, civil rights, and social justice.

CRS is the oldest communication department on campus, dating to its founding in 1910. In fact, the discipline that comprises CRS is foundational to Syracuse University itself, as Rhetoric and Elocution were two of the eight original courses in the curriculum when the University’s first 41 students began their classes in 1871. CRS has thrived for a century, training generations of students to use their minds and voices to stake claims in diverse professional and personal domains as citizens, creatives, advocates, activists, visionaries. The CRS curriculum derives from 2,000-year-old principles of success and continues to innovate on their applications: successful communicators possess sophisticated theoretical knowledge of how communication works; historical knowledge of how communication has worked and not worked in specific times and specific places and specific cultures; and critical aptitude and awareness that enable one to assess situations, audiences, and oneself. With these capacities in place, the invaluable skills our students also acquire, practice, and refine—speaking, writing, critical thinking, argumentation, deliberation, dialogue, meditation—become available for enactment in the world. Ours is a worldmaking pedagogy.

Faculty Accomplishments

The relatively small communication and rhetorical studies faculty has produced at last count 38 books, more than 145 articles in refereed academic journals, and more than 65 book chapters. Our faculty members have national and international reputations as scholars, teachers, and mentors, and our M.A. program is considered by most in the discipline to be the best in the nation.

CRS faculty and graduate students have earned a notably high number of research awards and competitive grants, commensurate in quantity and quality with the most prestigious doctoral-level faculty and graduate students in our field. Faculty honors and awards have been received in the following categories:

  1. Scholarly recognition from the National Communication Association (NCA), our leading professional organization, in the form of multiple book and article awards; multiple former Wallace Memorial and New Investigator Award winners, recognizing early-career scholars teaching and mentorship awards; and distinguished scholar/ship awards. Faculty have also received multiple scholarship and teaching awards at the regional and state level.
  2. Fulbright, NEH, and Humanities Fellowships at University of Malaysia, Punjab University, Syracuse University, Massey University, and Vanderbilt University, and visiting faculty appointments.
  3. Competitive internal and external research grants.
  4. Other distinctions include a Meredith Teaching Professorship; multiple faculty, service, or teaching awards from VPA and the University.

The faculty has also distinguished itself in the prestigious disciplinary organizational positions they have held, including the presidency of the Rhetoric Society of America; National Communication Association Publications Board membership and divisional chairpersons; and book review editorships. Charles E. Morris III, professor and chair of the department, co-founded the journal QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking at the invitation of Michigan State University Press, now beginning its third year of publication. Finally, our faculty features board members on multiple elite journals inside and outside the discipline.

Master's Theses

Below is a snippet of the master theses CRS graduate students have created over the last several years. See the full list. 


  • Branding White Saviorism: The Ethics and Irony of Humanitarian Discourse on Instagram, Elizabeth Smith Cooney-Petro
  • Don’t Let Gwyneth Paltrow Tell You Shit About Life: The Rhetoric of Self-Care, Alternative Medicine, and the Politics of Experience, Christina Deka
  •  “A growing excitement that ‘something was happening”: A Rhetorical History of Gay Liberation and Socialist Feminism in the New American Movement between 1970 and 1980, Chris DiCesare


  • Emb(Rae)cing Awkward: Satire, Ambivalence, and Representation on YouTube, Kiah E. Bennett
  • Unsettling Boundaries: (Pre-)Digital Fat Activism, Fatphobia, and Enclave Ambivalence, Sarah E. Bolden


  • Reading Between the Pictures: Documenting Economic Hardship in a Neoliberal Age, Pamela Ann Barker
  • Immaterial Attachments: Performing iPhone and the Rhetorics of Dematerialization, Codey Ryan Bills


  • Touring Extinction: The Rhetorics of Biodiversity Loss on Display, Terrell Jake Dionne
  • Southerners and the City: Queer Archives, Backward Temporalities, and the Emergence of AIDS, Joe Edward Hatfield


  • Chiraq: One Person's Metaphor is Another's Reality, Jacoby Cochran
  • Redesigning the Use of Electronic Health Records in the Exam Room: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Quinton Dean Fletchall


  • Sights and Spaces of Moving Memory: The Public Memory Work of the Women's Rights National Historical Park, Alia Renee Bellwood
  • Seeing Beyond Play: The Immersive Witness in Video Games, Sarah Beth Evans


  • Constructing a World War II America: The Rhetorical Craftsmanship of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Tiara Kay Foster
  • Conspiracy, Pragmatism and Style: An Analysis of Richard Nixon's Antecedent Anti-Communist Conspiracy Rhetoric, Evan L. Johnson


Resources for current CRS graduate students