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Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

Application and Admissions

Thinking man

Prospective students must apply to both the Clemson University Graduate School and the RCID program director. Admission to the program will take place in the fall semester only. Here's the latest RCID Handbook.

We urge all prospective students to apply early in October and November for entrance into the Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design program since the openings for next year’s cohort are competitive. The deadline for applications is January 15. After that date, we cannot be responsible for any applications.

The application, in some cases, may include an initial telephone or Zoom call if applicants have questions for the Director.

The director of RCID will first examine and study all applications with supporting documents and will work closely with the applicants. When applications are complete and in satisfactory condition, the director will consult with the RCID Advisory Committee on each applicant.

After consultation with the Advisory Committee, the Director will make offers of acceptance to the program with or without a Graduate Teaching Assistantship. There will be two offers with a Graduate Teaching Assistantship: an offer on the first tier and immediately made, and an offer on the second tier subject to availability of an Assistantship. Students not accepted will be notified by the Graduate School and the director as each determination has been made.

The Clemson University Graduate School and, therefore, the RCID program have agreed to the Council of Graduate Schools' policy that the deadline to accept the offer is April 15.

Graduate School

All students must submit their applications to the Clemson Graduate School admissions office. Applications should be made online:

A complete admission application includes the application form, the application fee payment to the Clemson University Graduate School, as well as the letter of application, transcripts and, three letters of recommendation. It is solely the responsibility of the applicant to make sure the application fee is paid and all material arrives on time and in good form. Timing is everything if the applicant wishes to be considered for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship. No action will be taken until the application is complete.

Caveat: Writers of letters of recommendation should know a student's work well. The applicant should inform letter writers that they must not only fill out the form (with its request for numerical rankings) but also must write a developed, separate letter of recommendation that is sent directly to the application portal. An applicant should provide the URL to the RCID website so that the writers can base their judgments on the description of the program. An applicant should make clear to the letter writers that the director and Advisory Committee are interested in the abilities of the applicant to conduct research. If applicants wish to have more than three letters written and sent, they may do so.

RCID Program Requirements

All prospective students are encouraged to contact the director, Dr. David Blakesley, starting in September-November, by email:, to introduce themselves and to ask questions or mention any concerns they might have. Applicants may request a telephone or Zoom call after the initial email communications if they have further questions.

The RCID program has its own requirements: To be admitted to the PhD program in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design, students must first meet the following basic requirements:

All applicants must have a Master's degree that qualifies them for doctoral-level research. Applicants seeking a residential teaching assistantship must have a Master's degree in English, Rhetoric and Writing, Communication, or other related fields. To qualify for a teaching assistantship in the English department, students with a Master's degree in another field of study, such as history, philosophy, languages, or the sciences, may apply to the program with the understanding that they may be required to successfully complete graduate-level courses in professional communication or other areas before full admission to the PhD program.

Students must have earned a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in previous graduate work. The student must submit all transcripts of his or her previous graduate and undergraduate work.

It is solely the responsibility of the applicant to monitor the sent and arrived letters, transcripts, etc., to the Clemson University Graduate Admissions Office. Part-time students, who most likely take one or even two seminars a semester in residence or online, may apply. However, an application from a part-time student should make a case with compelling evidence and arguments about the high probability of completing the degree in a timely manner. RCID is a four-year program for students who take a full 9-credit-hour course load per semester.

Additionally, students must submit these items directly in the Graduate School Admissions Portal:

An updated Curriculum Vita, including information, if any, about their teaching assignments in English or other academic departments as well as industry.

A writing sample or portfolio of previous graduate work, including their thesis or their writing samples and digital projects (if stand-alone digital projects, then insert the links for viewing into the personal statement). The works submitted must be the result of research.

A personal statement addressing interests and intentions in pursuing the PhD in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design. In responding, the student should directly address most or all of these questions in detail:

  • Why are you interested in Clemson University?
  • Why the RCID program? In other words, why do you feel you are a good fit for our program and our program for you?
  • What research topics are you interested in pursuing for a dissertation?
  • Why are these topics important to you?
  • Why are these topics important to the field you want to enter?
  • Which RCID faculty members would you like to work with on this project? (It may be helpful to review the RCID affiliated faculty.) We expect that the research project and mentors will likely change while pursuing the degree.
  • Please tell us whatever else you would like us to know about your research agenda.
  • For what professional purpose do you want this degree? To teach in academia, to work in industry, or both?

For further information contact:

David Blakesley
Interim Director, RCID
616 Strode Tower
Clemson, SC, 29634-0523
Cell: 765-409-2649

International Students

If an applicant is an international student, the application for admission should be completed by January 15. The RCID program is especially interested in international students. We have accepted students from China, Turkey, Ghana, Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan, and of course, we welcome Fulbright students. Online application can be made at:

Because of the strong communication component of the PhD, non-native speakers of English should earn a high TOEFL score. Applicants who have a concern about their TOEFL score are urged to contact the RCID director before initiating an application. The official score – and all materials – must arrive at Clemson on time.

International students seeking Graduate Teaching Assistantships, whose native language is not English and whose secondary education (and beyond) was not taught fully in English, are required to pass the SPEAK test of proficiency in spoken English. Specialists in English as a Second Language administer this test at Clemson University after the students have arrived. Prospective international Teaching Assistants will also undergo an interview during which faculty members in the RCID program will evaluate their proficiency in spoken English.

Issuance of Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) or the DS-2019 Form (Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status will normally be completed no later than June 1 for registration in the fall semester. (DS-2019 has replaced the previous IAP-66 Form).

These dates apply to international applicants from abroad; international students who are residents of the United States should adhere to the same dates as American citizens.

The deadline means that every required item supporting the application (completed application form, application fee, transcripts from each post-secondary school attended, letters of recommendation, test scores and financial certificate) must be on file with the Graduate School by these dates. Ideally, the actual application should have been on file at least four weeks in advance of these dates. Thus, if an applicant is an international applicant living outside the United States, he or she should complete the required standardized tests at least three months before the January 15 deadline. The longer a student waits to apply, the fewer Graduate Teaching Assistants remain available, if any.


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