The Master's Thesis
Students electing to complete a thesis (or considering it) should familiarize themselves with 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 Department of English 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 M.A. Thesis Seminar, as well as submission instructions once your work is complete.
Departmental guidelines on thesis writing are also described below.
In the spring of their first year, students opting to write a thesis should register for the MA Thesis 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 appropriate faculty members to serve as the thesis advisor and second reader.
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:
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 MA Thesis Seminar in the fall and the Thesis Tutorial in the spring of year two. Students work with their advisor to complete the thesis by the English Department and Graduate School deadlines.
Complete first drafts of the thesis are due to both the advisor and the second reader by the Friday before spring break. By spring break students will also schedule two-hour thesis defense sessions with the advisor and the second reader. A signed Master’s Thesis Reviewers Report Form should be submitted a week before the scheduled defense to the Program Administrator. Those sessions will typically 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, advisors 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 advisor and the program. The deadline for submission of that final draft will usually be the first Friday in April.
Students are expected to abide by the university’s honor code and should review the Graduate School’s policies on Academic Integrity.
While the vast majority of English M.A. students will graduate in May, it is possible to submit a thesis and graduate in either August or December.
Students must submit the finished thesis to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) only after it has been approved and signed by the thesis advisor. The DGS will not read theses that have not been thoroughly and finally corrected, revised, and approved by the thesis advisor.
After you have completed a final revision:
- Submit the thesis and Master’s Thesis Cover Sheet to your advisor for a signature approval.
- Submit the signed Master’s Thesis Cover Sheet and ETD Release Form to the Program Administrator (all these forms are available here). Students should determine the deadline of their thesis based on the month in which they wish to graduate.
- Once you have been notified that the DGS 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 advisor is responsible for proofreading the thesis.
In practice, students have developed a wide range of thesis projects. Here are some ideas, with links to recent theses.
- Freedom Seeking and Self-Making in Twentieth Century Black Women’s Literature
- Adapting The Juice: Performances of Legal Authority through Representations of the O.J. Simpson Trial
- Fairy Tale Bildungsroman: Charlotte Brontë’s Deployment of Fairy Tale Tropes and Narrative Logic in Jane Eyre
- “Stories Can Save Us”: Writing as Therapy In War Literature, Poetry, and Memoir
- No Respecter of ‘Place, Persons, Or Time’: Festivity as Coercive Power in Twelfth Night and The Puritan Widow
- And They Lived Happily Ever After. The End? Postfeminism and the Rebranding of the Disney Princesses
- Cyberspace and the Post-Cyberpunk Decentering of Anthropocentrism
- The Grammar of Ethics in Paradise Lost
- Pleasure, Reading: Literacy, Sexuality and Empowerment in Queer Chicano Narrative
- The Infinite Frontier: Imperialism, Frontierism and Nostalgia in World of Warcraft
- Queer Sexual and Textual Practice: The Postmodernist Poetics of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
Additional topics can be found via the University’s Digitial Georgetown repository.