The Master's Thesis

Students electing to complete a thesis--or considering it--should familiarize themselves with the both this page and Graduate School's website, and thus be aware that the approval and submission of a thesis is a multi-step process involving both the English Department and the Graduate School.

All institutional policies, procedures, and academic forms involving thesis submission are available on the Graduate School's page "Dissertation and Thesis Information."

Below you will find a detailed breakdown of the preparation entailed in beginning serious work on your thesis, including the Thesis Research seminar, as well as submission instructions once your work is complete. 

Departmental guidelines on thesis writing are also described below.

PREPARING TO WRITE THE THESIS 

In the spring of their first year, students opting to write a thesis should register for the Thesis Research Seminar to be taken the following fall. By the end of their first year, thesis writers must identify a general topic or focus for their project. They must then identify an appropriate faculty member to serve as the thesis mentor.

Thesis writers must inform the Director of Graduate Studies about these decisions by the end of the first year. They should plan to devote the summer between the two years to serious preparatory work for the the project.

Before you Begin Writing:

WRITING THE THESIS 

The program expects theses to reflect original research, analysis, and writing of considerable depth and complexity appropriate to Master's level work, and as such the thesis should fall between 55 and 85 pages in length.
 
Thesis writers will produce the project over the course of year two. The thesis will take up the bulk of the work of the Thesis Research Seminar in the fall and the Directed Study in the spring of year two. Students work with their mentor to complete the thesis by the English Department and Graduate School deadlines.

In consultation with the mentor and the instructor of the Thesis Research Seminar, thesis writers should also identify and meet with an appropriate second reader by the end of the fall of the second year.

Complete first drafts of the thesis are due to both the mentor and the second reader by the Friday before spring break. By spring break students will also schedule two-hour thesis defense sessions with the mentor and the second reader. Those sessions will take place between the Monday after spring break and the last Friday in March. More information about the thesis defense will be distributed to students, mentors and second readers over the weeks leading up to spring break.

The outcome of the thesis defense will determine how much additional work the student will need to do before submitting the final version of the thesis project for approval by the mentor and the program. The deadline for submission of that final draft will usually be Friday following the second full week in April.

Students are expected to abide by the university's honor code and should review the Graduate School's policies on Academic Integrity.

SUBMITTING THE THESIS

While the vast majority of English MA students will graduate in May, it is possible to submit a thesis and graduate any month of the year except for June.

Students must submit the finished thesis to the Academic Coordinator only after it has been approved and signed by the thesis mentor. The Director of Graduate Studies will not read theses that have not been thoroughly and finally corrected, revised, and approved by the thesis mentor.

After you have completed a final revision:

  1. Submit the thesis and Master’s Thesis Cover Sheet to your mentor for a signature approval.

  2. Attach the Master’s Thesis Cover Sheet, the Thesis Abstract Form, and the ETD Release Form to the approved thesis (all these forms are available here). Submit a hard copy, fastened with a binder clip (not stapled or bound) to the Academic Coordinator one week before the Graduate School's deadline. Students should determine the deadline of their thesis based on the month in which they wish to graduate. 

  3. The Academic Coordinator will give the thesis to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval. Once you have been notified that the Director has approved your thesis, follow the Graduate School's procedure for official submission. Please keep in mind that it is necessary to submit your thesis for review in advance of the listed deadline.

The Graduate School meticulously reviews all submitted thesis projects. Students must pay careful attention to grammar, punctuation, spelling, and margins, or the Graduate School will not accept their theses. The final version of the thesis must be proofread carefully in order to pass the Graduate School’s review. Neither the Director of Graduate Studies nor the thesis mentor is responsible for proofreading the thesis.