The Master’s Degree Consortium of Writing Studies Specialists needs your help. This summer we are in the process of assembling a comprehensive index of MA and MS programs associated with rhetoric, composition, writing studies, and technical and professional writing. In late June and early July, a small team of volunteers began the first phase of this roster-building initiative by searching 632 web sites for evidence of MA or MS degrees associated with these fields. We found 180 programs with identifiable reference to the fields listed above, by way of emphases, concentrations, options, tracks, certificates, specializations, or spokes.
We realize, however, that our initial look-ups may be incomplete, which is why we are asking for your assistance. Through the end of this month, we invite you to check the roster-in-progress, add to it, and correct contact information for the programs already listed. If a program is missing, please add it. If the wrong person or email address is listed, please change it. Or, if you prefer, email suggestions for changes to email@example.com. In the fall of 2011, building from this comprehensive roster of programs, the consortium will be conducting a survey of these institutions that will inform a number of projects related to visibility, mapping, comparative studies, and outreach. We hope you are willing to contribute in some small way to this second phase (amending the roster) by August 31, 2011. You can help by spending just a few minutes following further instructions posted in Google Docs.
See Peter Vandenberg and Jennifer Clary-Lemon’s article, “Advancing by Degree: Placing the MA in Writing Studies,” in the December 2010 (62.2) issue of College Composition and Communication.
Master’s programs have been absent from writing studies’ scholarship on graduate education, primarily because they are not sites of disciplinary research. The MA, however, should be valued in writing studies for its demographic and curricular diversity, its responsiveness to local conditions, and its intra- and interdisciplinary flexibility.
You may not have given it much thought, but even if your program is focused on writing and rhetoric, your students are most likely being counted in Higher Ed statistical categories as students of literature.
Thanks to a great deal of hard work over several years by Louise Phelps (Syracuse University) and her taskforce, the Department of Education has finally officially recognized "Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies" as a classification code in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). What this means, in short, is that if you arrange with your registrar to change the Classification of Instructional Programs code or CIP code, your graduates will be identified in rhetoric and composition or writing studies in government statistics.
Phelps has pointed out how crucial these data are in underscoring the legitimacy of the field and its graduate programs with administrators and funding agencies. When administrators at your institution survey graduation data, or when you need such data for program review, your graduates will not be lost among those with literature or creative writing degrees. And Rhet/Comp scholars attempting to establish new programs will now be able to point to these new, specific CIP codes to verify for colleagues, deans, and curriculum committees that rhetoric and composition/writing studies is more than a local invention.
How to Make Your Students Count
Contact the head of your institution’s student records office or registrar. Ask him or her to put you in touch with your institution’s IPEDS "keyholder" (the DOE’s official on-campus designate), or more informally, the person who reports graduation data to the government. Explain that you’re aware that as of July 1, 2009, the CIP codes have been revised, and that you want to make sure your students are accurately counted. Provide him or her with a link to the code that most accurately represents your program:
23.13) Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies.
It is in the institution’s best interest to have accurate data. Those who have followed this route so far have received thanks for keeping the reporting data current. Consider sharing your success stories with the Consortium listserv.
If you have a "news" item related to the interests of the Master’s Degree Consortium of Writing Studies Specialists that you would like to see posted at this site, please contact Derek Mueller.