The Center for Writing Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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The atrium of the English Building

Graduate Resources

The Center offers numerous resources to graduate students. In addition to the Colloquium Series, graduate students can benefit from the Center library, conference fellowships, and informal reading groups. The Center also offers an extensive collection of resources for taking the Special Field exam and writing the dissertation. See below for more information on these resources.


Advice for Graduate Students

Chip Bruce, Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, has developed several webpages of resources for graduate students. See, especially, his pages on general advice, financial support, doing research, and research writing.

Several helpful books are available through the University Library, including Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day by Joan Bolker, Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success by Laura Belcher, and Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century: How to Build an Academic Career in the Humanities by Gregory M. Colon Semenza.

Center Library

The Center library offers an extensive collection of books, journals, dissertations, videotapes, and CD-ROMs available for checkout. You can view the library holdings here or browse them at the CWS office, room 288 English Building. Materials can be checked out through the CWS Assistant Directors.

Online Library Resources for Rhetorical Studies

The Communications library maintains a list of online resources in rhetorical studies. It includes links to full-text versions of the Sage Handbook of Rhetorical Studies, Sage ebooks on Communication and History, and the Concepts in Communication Studies wiki created by Ned O'Gorman's summer grad seminar students in 2012.

Conferences and Conference Fellowships

A list of conferences in writing, rhetoric, communication, writing programs and centers, English studies, education, applied linguistics, popular culture, and digital humanities can be found at our Selected Conferences page.

Conference fellowships ($125.00 per year) are available for graduate students affiliated with the Center for Writing Studies. To be considered, writing studies applicants must meet the following criteria:  1. The student must be registered during the academic year the grant is received and in good academic standing. 2. The student must be invited as a participant to the conference and must supply evidence to support that fact. 3. CWS graduate students are eligible for one conference fellowship per academic year. Download the application form.

There are also a number of opportunities to apply for external funding, including Gender and Women's Studies, the Department of English, and the President's Research in Diversity Travel Award Program.


Please refer to our Dissertation Writing Resources.

Employment Resources

The Graduate College's Career Services office offers workshops, CV reviews, and advising for students interested in the academic and nonacademic job market. In the English Department, graduate students can work intensively with the Director of Job Placement to draft and revise their materials and participate in mock interviews.

The CWPA Mentoring Blog contains articles on articulating your WPA philosophy and identity during interviews and campus visits, and it also gives more general advice about the job search.

MLA provides resources on interviews, campus visits, job talks, and teaching demonstrations.

9 Interviews is a Perkle Production and Brandy Parris / Spencer Schaffner collaborative project. It provides a hilarious take on MLA interviews and is creatively designed by one of our own faculty members.

Inside Higher Education and The Chronicle of Higher Education offer a number of resources and articles for job seekers. See, especially, the job-search articles by rhetoric and composition scholar Cheryl E. Ball.

Karen L. Kelsky, Ph.D., creator of "The Professor Is In," has a number of free resources and words of wisdom for the academic job seeker, including topics like writing a CV, interviewing, writing a cover letter, creating a teaching portfolio, and negotiating job offers.

Reading and Working Groups

Center students often form reading groups for a wide variety of purposes: individual classes, intrest in learning more about a topic (such as social justice), special field exam preparation, dissertation writing, or through the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (IPRH). See our Reading and Working Groups page for more information.

Special Field Exam

Graduate students enrolled in the Department of English are required to pass a Special Field Examination, which is comparable to the preliminary oral exams required by other departments across campus. The Special Field examination is designed to probe students' knowledge in one or more areas within the larger field of Writing Studies. See our Special Field Exam Resources for more information.

Stage II

If you enter the Writing Studies program as a Masters student, you'll have to apply to Stage II after taking 8 courses. This commonly occurs in your third or fourth semester in the program. During your third semester, you will get a letter asking you to apply to Stage II. If you will be completing your 8 classes during that third semester, you can apply that semester or defer until your fourth semester. If you choose to defer, you will have to talk to the Graduate Advisor of the English department to get special permission.

Applying to Stage II can feel scary, and it is a necessary step in order to stay in the program, but the process is routine. You will have to submit your CV, a statement of intent, and two letters of recommendation. Ask two professors you've taken classes with to write your letters. You should also ask them to look over your CV and statement and give you some feedback.

Writing Studies Partnership with UIC

In order to register for courses at UIC, UIUC students need to submit a request form. This form is different from the Intercampus Registration form available online (if the form you end up with asks for the signature of a Dean, you have the wrong form). The English Graduate Studies office may have the form. Otherwise, the Office of Admissions and Records should have it.

Once you’ve submitted the form, it takes 4-6 weeks for your registration to show up  on the UIC professor’s class list. In your Enterprise records online, the course will show up as CIC 390.

After the semester ends, you must submit a petition (Graduate Student Petition Form) to the Graduate College to have the credit and grade for your UIC course show up on your UIUC transcript as something other than CIC 390 with a grade of DFR.

The petition requires:

  1. A brief justification for transferring the UIC credit to your UIUC graduate program.
  2. An official UIC transcript showing your grade; request a UIC transcript.

As long as you have the official transcript sent to a UIUC department (having it sent to Amy Rumsey is best), the transcript should be free. After filling out the form, select “pay by check” and print the form. Write a note indicating that the transcript is going to UIUC and fax it to the number indicated.

  1. Signatures and statements of approval from the English Graduate Studies director and your advisor (you might also want to have the director of the Center for Writing Studies sign for good measure).

Several weeks after you submit the petition, you should get an email confirming that the Graduate College received the petition. The transfer credit should show up on your records within 4-6 weeks. The credit will not replace the CIC 390, which will remain with its DFR grade, but will appear as a separate line in a section labeled as transfer credit.