Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Professional Communication


Williams, Sean D.

Committee Member

Hilligoss , Susan

Committee Member

Vorvoreanu , Mihaela


This case study examined the form and function of student profiles published on five university websites. This emergent form of the profile stems from antecedents in journalism, biography, and art, while adapting to a new rhetorical situation: the marketization of university discourse. Through this theoretical framework, universities market their products and services to their consumer, the student, and stories of current students realize and reveal a shift in discursive practices that changes the way we view universities. A genre analysis of 15 profiles demonstrates how their visual patterns and obligatory move structure create a cohesive narrative and two characters. They strategically show features of a successful student fitting with the institutional values and sketch an outline of the institutional identity. As a result, the student profiles work to promote the university. In the context of the marketization of discourse, universities rely on the selectivity of the profile to appeal to prospective students as they select the best fit for their college experience.