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EIU Master of Arts in English

Thesis Procedures


In earning your MA degree in English, you have the option of writing a master's thesis or of completing a master's exam. Please refer to the Important Dates page.

Form a thesis committee

While you are completing coursework for the degree, get to know the graduate faculty, especially their research interests and pedagogical style. By the end of your first year of study, you will want to approach one professor who may serve as your Thesis Director. She or he may guide you in approaching two other professors who could serve as your two Thesis Readers.

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.

Write a thesis prospectus

Work with your Thesis Director and two Readers in order to write a thesis prospectus following the guidelines posted under each of the four concentrations:

Submit your prospectus by the deadline

The deadline is typically the third week of October. The Graduate Studies Committee will read and review all prospectuses by the end of the Fall semester using these rubrics: Creative Writing, Literary Studies, Professional Writing and Composition/Rhetoric. The Graduate Coordinator will work with the student and the Thesis Director to address any concerns of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Enroll in English 5950 (Thesis Writing)

Those students whose prospectuses are approved will be registered by the Graduate Coordinator for English 5950 (Thesis Writing) for the following semester, usually the last Spring semester for the two-year program. 

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.

Advertise and prepare your oral 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 and can be posted on Facebook). 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 (15 minutes), followed by questions from the Thesis Director,  Thesis Committee, and other attendees. 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

Related Pages

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