Rhetoric and Public Culture Cluster and Certificate Requirements

The following requirements are in addition to, or further elaborate upon, those requirements outlined in The Graduate School Policy Guide.

The program in Rhetoric and Public Culture offers two tracks for graduate study: a program of study toward a Ph.D. in communication studies, and a cluster and certificate program for students preparing for a degree in another discipline. All classes and other academic events in the program are open to students in both tracks.

Student who wish to pursue a degree in communication studies should review the School of Communication department and program information prior to applying for admission through the Graduate School.


Students from other departments who wish to complete the cluster in Rhetoric and Public Culture should meet each of the following requirements:

  • Contact Professor Robert Hariman, r-hariman2@northwestern.edu, who will serve as or assign the student’s cluster program advisor.
  • Complete three program seminars while in graduate study at Northwestern, to be selected in consultation with the cluster program advisor.
  • Attend periodically some of the scholarly events (lecture, symposia, or conferences) sponsored by the program.


The Certificate in Rhetoric and Public Culture consists of five graduate seminars selected in consultation with and approved by the Cluster Director; students also are expected to attend some of the lectures, reading groups, and other academic events sponsored by the Rhetoric and Public Culture program.  Course selection should adhere to the guidelines provided below.

  • Required Courses for the Certificate:  The five seminars should include the core course in classical theory and four additional courses.  Three of the courses should be from faculty in the Department of Communication Studies, and two may be from affiliate faculty in the RPC Cluster program.  No more than two courses can be counted towards the certificate from the student’s degree program.
  • The core course is Communication Studies 404: Classical Rhetoric and Its Afterlives. This core course provides an introduction to major texts on the art of rhetoric from Greek and Roman antiquity, as well as representative appropriations and commentaries from the early modern period through the contemporary era.  Students are expected to develop hermeneutical strategies for productive use of the historical legacy in respect to contemporary theoretical interests, institutional practices, and research problems.  Assignments emphasize reading the classical texts in translation, using the secondary literature, and integrating the classical tradition into the study of public culture.