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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 (although one is not required). Please refer to the Important Dates page for information related to thesis completion. Scroll down to see the final steps towards graduation!

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 following these procedures by the deadline

The deadline is typically the 10th week of the Fall Semester (the third week of October) preceding the Spring term in which you plan to write and defend your thesis. Alternatively, the deadline is typically the 10th week of the Spring Semester (the third week of March) preceding the Summer or Fall terms in which you plan to write and defend your thesis. The Graduate Studies Committee will file your prospectus once it has been formally been approved by your committee and submitted through appropriate process. For information about the process and templates for requesting to be enrolled in ENG 5950 see this guide

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 after the above process has been completed.  This usually occurs the last Spring semester for a student completing a traditional 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


Final Steps Towards Graduation

Graduating this semester? Congratulations, but first...


Please follow these procedures for advertising, defending, and binding your master's thesis. 


1) Apply to graduate. If you haven't applied to graduate, you must do so by the university deadline.


2) Schedule your oral thesis defense. Confer with all three of your thesis committee members to schedule a defense date, remembering that it may be very difficult to schedule a defense after Finals week. Ask Jean Toothman ( whether the English Conference Room is available on the chosen date.


3) Send to the Grad Coordinator a pdf of your thesis defense flyer, which must include your name, thesis title, date and place of defense (3732 Coleman Hall, English Conference Room). Post flyers in the third floor of Coleman Hall.


4) Conduct a wonderful thesis defense, which lasts for approximately one hour total (including a 15-minute opening statement by you). Carefully review procedures for the oral thesis defense (see above).


5) Follow all instructions for formatting and filing your thesis

  • Beginning Fall 2019, all Theses will be Deposited Online through The Keep.  The candidate will submit a digital copy of the completed thesis to Booth Library’s Online Repository: The Keep. Submission guidelines can be found at Students and faculty committee members may also find this informational guide useful.

  • Upload Fee. The candidate must pay a one-time submission fee to cover the cost of processing and maintaining a digital copy of the thesis. Additional bound copies may be purchased from 
  • Thesis Deposit Certificate. Booth Library will notify the Graduate School once the thesis submission is approved; the candidate will receive an email confirmation that the Graduate School received the submission.
  • Thesis Maintenance and Reproduction Approval or Thesis Withholding Request. As part of the online submission process, the candidate agrees give the University a royalty-free license to maintain the thesis as part of its Booth Library collection. The candidate’s electronic approval gives the University Library permission to lend the thesis to a reputable college or university for the purpose of copying it for inclusion in that institution’s library or research holdings. The candidate may choose to not permit distribution of the thesis at this time. If this option is selected, the candidate may select an embargo period, which permits the library to withhold access to the thesis for a designated period not to exceed two years. After the designated period, the Library has permission to make the thesis available to other scholars via print and technology methods. *Note: Those submitting a Creative Writing Thesis are highly encouraged to request an embargo period.
  • Thesis Committee Notification. The candidate will identify thesis committee members during the online submission process. An electronic notification will then be sent to the thesis director regarding the online submission. The thesis director in consultation with the other committee members will indicate approval of thesis completion.
  • Formatting Guidelines for Final Digital Deposit.  Some general formatting guidelinese are provided below but please see the Graduate School's Thesis Manual for more detailed information.

    • Font. A minimum font size of 10 points is required. Standard fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Courier are recommended.

    • Margins. Margins for typed text must be one-and-one-half inches on the left and one inch on the remaining sides. 

    • Spacing. Standard double spacing is required for the entire document including the References section. Exceptions include materials appearing in tables, figures, or appendices.

    • Photographs/Images/Graphics. Quality digital photographs/images/graphics are required.

    • Tables and Figures. Tables and figures must be within the specified page margins. Table headings are normally placed on the top of the table. Figure captions are typically placed at the bottom of the figure. Both tables and figures must be legible.

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