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Thesis Procedures


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Each graduate student writing a thesis shall do so under the supervision of a Thesis Committee consisting of three members of the graduate faculty. One of them shall be the Thesis Director; the other two shall be Readers.

The graduate student must provide the Graduate Studies Committee a prospectus for the thesis and a list of the Thesis Committee members. The submitted prospectus must be signed by the proposed Thesis Director and Readers to acknowledge their approval of the prospectus and agreement to serve on the Thesis Committee. The prospectus must be approved and the Thesis Committee appointed before the end of the semester prior to the one in which the student is registered for English 5950. Because prospectuses are not routinely approved, they are due six weeks before the end of the semester in order to facilitate the Graduate Studies Committee's possible requests for revision. The student may present the prospectus to the Graduate Studies Committee no earlier than the successful completion of nine credits. Once the prospectus has been approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, the MA candidate registers for English 5950 and begins work on the thesis.

Note: The MA candidate must register for English 5950 when he or she begins writing the thesis. If the thesis is not complete by the end of the semester, the student will receive a "DC" (Deferred Credit) and continue work on the thesis until its completion. The candidate registers for English 5950 only once.

The Thesis Director shall guide the graduate student in preparing the prospectus and securing its approval from the Thesis Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee, supervise the writing of the thesis, preside over the Thesis Defense, and, at the end of the process, certify to the Graduate Studies Committee that the finished thesis has the approval of the Thesis Committee.

  • For Fall registration in English 5950, the prospectus is due Friday of the ninth week of the Spring Semester.
  • For Spring registration in English 5950, the prospectus is due Friday of the ninth week of the Fall Semester.
  • For Summer registration in English 5950, the prospectus is due Friday of the ninth week of the Spring Semester.
  • Note: For students planning to write during the summer, a statement of intent to do so is due to the Graduate Coordinator the last Friday of October.

Submit a thesis prospectus to the Graduate Coordinator.

Information on Prospectuses in Areas of Study

             Prospectus in Literary Studies

             Prospectus in Rhetoric and Composition

             Prospectus for an Applied Professional Writing Thesis

             Prospectus for a Creative Thesis

The Thesis Defense

The MA candidate schedules an oral defense of the thesis upon its completion. The defense examines the candidate's ability to speak cogently about the thesis and place it in contexts other than those indicated in the document itself. It also allows faculty and other members of the community to question the candidate on the subject matter of the thesis.

The Thesis Director and the Thesis Committee attend the defense, with the Thesis Director presiding over it. The defense is open to all members of the English Department as well as the public. Thesis Directors should advise candidates on some appropriate method of advertisement (normally, flyers are posted on the third floor of Coleman Hall). The MA candidate is responsible for scheduling the date, time, and location of the defense so that all members of the Thesis Committee may attend and so that the defense takes place before the last day to file for graduation.

Note: Faculty are often not available during the summer. Students who wish to defend during the summer should check with faculty and make the appropriate arrangements.

The defense will include an oral presentation by the MA candidate, followed by questions from the Thesis Director and Thesis Committee. Thesis defenses will last approximately one hour, after which the candidate and audience members will leave the room to allow the Thesis Director and Thesis Committee to deliberate. Candidates receive either a pass or a fail for the defense. Passing candidates may be required to make revisions to the thesis; therefore, it is advisable to schedule defenses in a timely manner. Failing candidates may, after consultation with the Thesis Director, schedule a second defense. On failing a second time, the student shall not be allowed to continue in the graduate program without the express permission of the Graduate Studies Committee after full review of his or her qualifications and progress.

Information on Thesis Procedures from the Graduate School

Graduate School Forms Related to Thesis Processes