Effective Spring 2022, the Rhetorical Leadership Certificate has suspended admission. 

Leadership is a highly valued, yet always scarce resource in all areas requiring coordinated action: civil society, professional work, profit and non-profit venues, religious and social action contexts. Communication’s Rhetorical Leadership certificate program prepares leaders with humanistic knowledge, skills and attitudes through five graduate courses.

"Rhetorical Leadership and Ethics" covers rhetoric's role in and potential for responsible leadership in multiple arenas; it is informed by the long history of debate over the legitimacy of studying rhetoric as a means of promoting joint action.

"Rhetoric of Constituting Community and Social Controversy" addresses explicitly the rhetorical range available to leaders, whether their main goal is constituting communities or promoting change in ways that the existing decision-making channels cannot accommodate.

"Argumentation in Theory and Practice" integrates argumentative theory and practice in ways that are useful for potential leaders; it involves some performance-based learning that requires students to test their preferred theory alternatives in action.

Effective Spring 2022, the Rhetorical Leadership Certificate has suspended admission. 

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.

Eligibility and Admission

Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree and have a minimum 2.75 cumulative undergraduate grade point average to be admitted to a certificate program.


  • Students wishing to obtain this certificate must declare their intention by applying to the program office or director.
  • All graduate certificate applicants—even those already enrolled in a UWM graduate program—must apply to the Graduate School through the Panthera Admission Application.
  • Graduate degree and previously admitted graduate non-degree students who decide to pursue a certificate program must submit the Panthera application before completing 6 credits in the certificate sequence.
  • Applicants must possess a baccalaureate degree and have a minimum 2.75 cumulative undergraduate grade point average to be admitted into a certificate program.

Credits and Courses

COMMUN 772Rhetorical Leadership and Ethics3
COMMUN 762Argumentation in Theory and Practice3
or COMMUN 872 Rhetorics of Constituting Community and Social Controversy
Select three of the following:9
Introduction to Mediation
Great American Speakers and Issues
Communication and Social Order
Critical Analysis of Communication
Rhetorical Theory
Argumentation in Theory and Practice (if not selected above)
Seminar in Contemporary Public Address
Seminar: Issues in Communication: (Subtitle, with a rhetorical topic)
Public Deliberation
Rhetorics of Constituting Community and Social Controversy (if not selected above)
The Digital Mirror
Rhetoric of Women's Rights in the US
Rhetoric of/and the Internet
Topics in Rhetorical Research: (Subtitled)
Communication Internship (with rhetorical leadership topic directed by a member of the Rhetorical Leadership Committee)
Total Credits15

Additional Requirements

Transfer Credit

No more than 20% of the required credits may be taken at an institution other than UWM. Courses will be considered for transfer into the certificate program only if the applicant can provide ample, acceptable evidence that the course taken is substantially the same as one of the five courses that constitute the certificate program. The Rhetorical Leadership Committee will make such determinations, and its decision is final. These courses are subject to Graduate School transfer policy and must be approved by the director of the certificate program. No transfer credit is allowed for post-graduate students.

Grade Point Average Requirement

A minimum cumulative 3.00 grade point average in certificate courses taken at UWM is required.

Articulation with Degree Programs

  1. Credits and courses required for a certificate may double count toward meeting UWM graduate degree requirements subject to the following restrictions:
    • Degree programs must approve the courses from certificates that can double count toward the degree.
    • All credits taken in completion of certificate requirements may count towards a UWM graduate degree as long as they do not contribute more than 90% of the total credits needed to obtain the degree. (Note: Students in PhD programs must still complete the minimum residency requirements)
    • Certificate courses used toward meeting degree requirements must be completed within the time limit for transfer credit.
  2. Courses completed for a degree may be counted toward a subsequent certificate, subject to all certificate policy requirements.
  3. A course may count toward no more than one certificate and one degree.
  4. Students may not earn a certificate subsequent to a concentration in the same area.

Time Limit

Certificate program time limits shall be established as follows:

  • 18 or fewer credits/Three years from initial enrollment in the certificate sequence.
  • 19 or more credits/Four years from initial enrollment in the certificate sequence.

For certificates that are designed as add-ons to degree programs and are awarded concurrent with the degree, the time limit shall be the same as that of the degree program.

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