Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Technical Communication (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities


Robert R Johnson


Technical communication certificates are offered by many colleges and universities as an alternative to a full undergraduate or graduate degree in the field. Despite certificates’ increasing popularity in recent years, however, surprisingly little commentary exists about them within the scholarly literature. In this work, I describe a survey of certificate and baccalaureate programs that I performed in 2008 in order to develop basic, descriptive data on programs’ age, size, and graduation rates; departmental location; curricular requirements; online offerings; and instructor status and qualifications. In performing this research, I apply recent insights from neosophistic rhetorical theory and feminist critiques of science to both articulate, and model, a feminist-sophistic methodology. I also suggest in this work that technical communication certificates can be theorized as a particularly sophistic credential for a particularly sophistic field, and I discuss the implications of neosophistic theory for certificate program design and administration.