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Master’s Thesis

  • An option for Literary History and Rhetoric & Composition concentrations.
  • Mandatory for Creative Writing. (Creative Thesis guidelines are available from the Director of Creative Writing).

A non-creative Master’s Thesis requires a minimum of 50 pages of scholarly or critical writing and is expected to show originality, rigor of argument, and thoroughness of research and documentation. The Master’s Thesis should, however, include more extensive research than the Master’s Essay, particularly more detailed analysis of the theoretical approach being used, a wider and deeper survey of research and scholarship, and a more thorough contextualization of the central argument.

The Master’s Thesis committee is constituted of a director and two readers. One reader may be from outside of the department. The student should ask a graduate faculty member to serve as thesis director no later than Fall semester of the second year. At that time, the student and director may discuss possible readers, who should be selected and asked to serve. Sometime in the Fall semester the student should give a thesis prospectus of about 10 pages to the committee, and as soon as possible the committee should approve this proposal or ask for revisions.

Creative Writing students should request that a Creative Writing faculty member serve as their thesis committee chair early in the Fall semester of the second year. Once a professor agrees to direct the thesis, the Director of Creative Writing should be notified and two additional readers chosen. It is expected that the thesis committee will include a second professor of Creative Writing: a writer in the student’s genre if possible. The third member of the thesis committee may be either a Creative Writing professor or a professor from Literature or Rhetoric & Composition. Specific deadlines for thesis drafts should be set with the director no later than the second week of the spring semester.

To receive thesis credit, the student must enroll in English 6950 during the final semester of his or her second year. The student must consult with the committee to schedule a date for the defense, to take place at least one month before the last day of classes of the semester of graduation: exact deadlines for thesis defenses are available each year on the Graduate College website. A final draft of the thesis must be in the committee’s hands at least two weeks before the defense. If the student passes the defense, the committee may or may not ask for a few final revisions before the student submits the thesis to the college. (The deadline is in mid-April.)

Once you know the defense date, download and fill out the “Arrangement for Oral Defense” form; make copies, give one to the Director of Graduate Studies, and send the original to the college. Failure to do this at least two weeks before the defense may result in its cancellation. Also, download, fill out, and bring to the defense the “Report of Oral Defense” form. The committee members must indicate on this form whether they found the defense satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

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