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Thesis Writers' F.A.Q.
How do I enroll in thesis hours?
In order to enroll in thesis hours, you must complete a Graduate Irregular Enrollment Form, which you will find at the Division of Academic Affairs' Website:
You will need to complete this form in its entirety. If you are writing a thesis for the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing or for the Master of Arts program in English with a major in Creative Writing, your Course Prefix and Course Number will be CSDY 5990. If you are writing a thesis for the Master of Arts program in English with any major other than Creative Writing, your Course Prefix and Course Number will be ENG 5990. You will also need to indicate the number of credit-hours in which you are enrolling.
You will need to respond, in complete sentences, to the three questions that follow the course information section of this form. The following responses are standard and serviceable:
1. Describe the work to be completed. The student will draft and revise his (or her) master's thesis. [If you will be defending your thesis during the semester for which you are enrolling: The student will complete and orally defend his (or her) master's thesis.]
2. Describe the evaluation process for the assignment of grade. The student will be evaluated on the basis of her (or his) ongoing writing and revision of his (or her) master's thesis. [If you will be defending your thesis during the semester for which you are enrolling: The student will be evaluated based on her (or his) successful completion and oral defense of her (or his) master's thesis.]
3. Explain why this course needs to be taken by the student as an irregular enrollment. Thesis hours are available only through irregular enrollment.
You will need to sign this form, as will both the member of your thesis committee who will serve as instructor of record for your thesis hours (this individual may but need not be the chairperson of your thesis committee) and the chairperson of your thesis committee. If the chairperson of your thesis committee will also serve as instructor of record for your thesis hours, as is usually the case, the committee chairperson should sign this form twice, as instructor and as chairperson. The department chairperson does not need to sign this form if you are enrolling in thesis hours (the department chairperson's signature is required, however, when a student is using an Irregular Enrollment Form to enroll in individual study or internship hours).
You should deliver the completed and signed Graduate Irregular Enrollment Form to the Liberal Arts Dean's Office (LAR 104) in order to obtain the signature of the Dean, Associate Dean, or Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. After obtaining this signature, you should take the form to the Graduate College Office (NUC 404) to obtain the signature of the Dean of the Jackson College of Graduate Studies or his proxy. After that, you should take the form to the Office of Enrollment Services (NUC 124), where you will be enrolled in your requested thesis hours. If this form has not been processed by the third week after the semester begins, a letter from the instructor of record must accompany the form explaining why it is being submitted late.
How many thesis hours do I need to take?
If you are seeking the Master of Arts degree in English with a major in Creative Writing, you must complete at least four credit-hours of thesis. You need not take all four hours during the same semester.
If you are seeking the Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, you must complete six credit-hours of thesis. You need not take all six hours during the same semester.
Students seeking the Master of Arts degree in English with any major other than Creative Writing must complete at least one credit-hour of thesis.
Once a student has begun enrolling in thesis hours, he or she must enroll in at least one credit-hour of thesis each fall and spring semester until he or she successfully defends the thesis. If a thesis-writer fails to enroll in thesis hours for one or more semesters after having enrolled in thesis hours for the first time but before defending his or her thesis, the thesis-writer will be required, under Graduate College policy, to enroll in one thesis hour for each fall or spring semester since first enrolling in thesis hours in which he or she has failed to enroll in a thesis hour. Thesis writers are not required to enroll in thesis hours during the summer term.
No student may count more than six thesis hours toward her or his degree program.
Students pursuing the Master of Arts degree must complete and defend their theses within two semesters after the time at which they complete all of the other required coursework for their degrees. This requirement does not apply to students pursuing the Master of Fine Arts degree. Students may complete and defend their theses prior to the completion of the other required coursework for their degrees.
Who may serve on my thesis committee?
Department of English policy requires that students recruit at least three faculty members to serve on their thesis committees.
All of the student's committee members must be members of the university's Graduate Faculty. At least two of the members of the committee must be full (permanent) members of the Graduate Faculty; one committee member may be an associate (temporary) member of the Graduate Faculty.
At least two members of the thesis committee must be full-time faculty members. One of the three committee members may, if appropriate, be a part-time (adjunct) faculty member, provided that he or she is a member of the university's Graduate Faculty.
At least two members of the thesis committee must hold their primary appointments in the Department of English. One of the three committee members may hold his or her primary appointment in another department, provided that he or she is a member of the university's Graduate Faculty. It is expected that a committee member chosen from outside of the Department of English will have academic expertise directly relevant to the subject of the student's thesis.
A thesis-writer may ask a fourth faculty member to serve on his or her committee, if he or she believes that it would be appropriate to do so, provided that all of the conditions described above have been met and that the fourth faculty member is also a member of the university's Graduate Faculty.
The chairperson of the thesis committee must be a full-time faculty member who holds his or her primary appointment in the Department of English and is a full (permanent) member of the university's Graduate Faculty. Faculty members from other departments, associate (temporary) members of the university's Graduate Faculty, and part-time (adjunct) faculty members may not chair thesis committees.
When constituting the thesis committee, the student must carefully establish with his or her committee members the method by which he or she will present the thesis draft to the committee for evaluation.
Students must formally notify the Jackson College of Graduate Studies of the composition of their thesis committees using the following form:
Each member of the thesis committee must sign this form, which should be submitted as soon as the student has formed his or her committee. Thesis-writers should use the same form to notify the Graduate College of any changes in the composition of their thesis committees.
How long must my thesis be?
The faculty of Creative Writing have established the following minimum length requirements for theses for the Master of Arts degree in English with a major in Creative Writing.
Students writing theses for the Master of Arts degree in English with a major in Composition and Rhetoric, Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), Traditional Studies, or Twentieth- and Twenty-first Century Studies should consult with their thesis committees regarding the appropriate length for their theses.
Genre: Minimum word/page-length requirement*
- Novel: 55,000 words
- Young-adult novel: 40,000 words
- Creative nonfiction: 40,000 words
- Short story collection: 40,000 words
- Play (3 one-acts or one play): 85 pages
- Screenplay: 90 pages
- Teleplay: 90 pages (apportionment among separate titles to be worked out by writer and committee)
- Graphic narrative script: 35,000 words
- Video game narrative: 50,000 words
- Poetry collection: 70 pages
*Font types and sizes and page formats must be approved by the chairperson of the thesis committee. These minimum length requirements do not include introductions, abstracts, or any scholarly or critical apparatus not directly part of the creative presentation.
What will occur at my thesis defense?
The thesis defense consists of a one-hour oral examination, conducted by the members of the student's thesis committee. When the student's committee has determined that the thesis is ready to be defended, the chairperson of the thesis committee will work closely with the student to schedule a defense at a time convenient for the student and for all of his or her thesis committee members.
Thesis defenses must take place no later than Friday of the second-to-last week of classes for the fall or spring semester. In the Department of English, thesis defenses are scheduled during the summer term only under exceptional circumstances; although thesis writers generally are not required to enroll in thesis hours during the summer term, any student who will defend his or her thesis during the summer must be enrolled in at least one thesis hour for during that summer term.
Graduate College policy requires that a representative of the Graduate College attend each thesis defense. The Graduate College requires at least two weeks' notice to schedule a representative for a thesis defense; the student's thesis committee chairperson should therefore notify the Graduate College as soon as a date has been set for the defense, using the thesis defense scheduling form, in order to arrange for a Graduate College representative to attend the defense. The thesis defense scheduling form is available online at following Website:
Thesis writers are required to complete, in addition to an abstract of thesis, a thesis summary document, which is to be provided to the Graduate College representative who attends the thesis defense. If possible, this document should be sent in electronic form to the Graduate College representative prior to the defense.
Students pursuing the Master of Arts in English with any major except for Creative Writing should include the following elements in their thesis summary documents:
- Statement of the Problem or Issue (one paragraph)
- Brief Summary of the Literature (one or two paragraphs)
- Thesis Statement (one or two sentences)
- Statement of the Research Methodology (one sentence)
- Brief Summary of Findings (one paragraph)
- Confirmation, Modification, or Denial of Thesis (one sentence)
- Statement of the Significance of the Findings (one or two paragraphs)
- Suggestions for Future Research (one or two sentences; optional)
Students pursuing the Master of Arts in English with a major in Creative Writing or the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing should include the following elements in their thesis summary documents:
- Description of the Form or Genre of the Creative Project (one paragraph)
- Brief Summary of Relevant Creative Work by Other Artists in the Genre of the Creative Project (one or two paragraphs)
- Statement of the Objectives of the Creative Project (one or two sentences)
- Identification of Major Creative, Conceptual, or Technical Challenges Posed by the Creative Project (one or two paragraphs)
- Description of Strategies Employed to Meet the Major Creative, Conceptual, or Technical Challenges Posed by the Creative Project (one or two paragraphs)
- Statement of the Significance of the Creative Project and of Its Implications for the Field (one or two paragraphs)
How should I format my thesis?
You should work closely with the chairperson of your thesis committee to insure that your thesis is formatted properly.
The following basic guidelines apply to all thesis:
(1) The final copies of the thesis that you submit to the Max Chambers Library must be printed on white paper of at least 25% cotton content.
(2) Your thesis should have one-inch margins at the top, bottom, and right-hand side of each page and a one-and-a-half-inch margin on the left-hand side of each page. The wider left-hand margin will prevent the text from being obscured when your thesis is bound.
(3) Each thesis writer must submit three copies of his or her thesis to the Max Chambers Library for binding. One bound copy will be placed in the library's circulating collection, one bound copy will be placed in the University Archives' non-circulating collection, and one bound copy will be placed in the Department of English's library, which is located in LAR 221. Each thesis writer will also be required to file his or her thesis electronically through ProQuest-UMI Microfilm. Thesis writers may submit additional copies of the thesis to the library for binding for their personal use.
(4) Thesis writers need not bring the three complete copies of the final draft on white paper of at least 25% cotton content to the thesis defense, but they must bring to the defense four copies of the signature page and one copy of the title page and of the abstract of thesis on white paper of at least 25% cotton content. These pages will be signed by the members of the thesis committee at the defense, if the student defends his or her thesis successfully, and the thesis writer will insert three of these sets of signed pages into the copies of the final draft of the thesis that he or she will submit to the Max Chambers Library. At the time of the defense the thesis writer will submit the fourth set of front pages (title and signature page), together with a copy of the abstract on paper of at least 25% cotton content, to the Department of English, to be forwarded to the Jackson College of Graduate Studies for filing.
(5) The thesis writer should follow the instructions of his or her thesis committee regarding other documents, including copies of the thesis manuscript, that he or she will be expected to bring to the thesis defense.
Detailed instructions concerning the defense and submission of graduate theses are available at following Websites, which you should review carefully:
For Further Information . . .
The current edition of the university's Graduate Catalog provides detailed information for thesis writers, and thesis writers should review this information carefully. The Graduate Catalog is available in electronic format at the following Website:
For further information, please consult your thesis committee chairperson, the department chairperson (Dr. J. David Macey - email@example.com), or the program advisor for your graduate program:
M.A., 20th- and 21st-Century Studies - Dr. Kurt Hochenauer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
M.A., Composition and Rhetoric - Dr. Matthew Hollrah (email@example.com)
M.A., Creative Writing - Dr. Steve Garrison (firstname.lastname@example.org)
M.A., Traditional Studies - Dr. Amy Carrell (email@example.com)
M.A., Teaching English as a Second Language - Dr. John Hitz (firstname.lastname@example.org)