Six Credit Thesis

ENG 6020 AND ENG 6030

A graduate student often discovers a research topic that he or she would like to investigate deeply and at great length, even though this topic has not been the basis of a course research paper in the program.  For that student, there is the six-credit thesis option that replaces two three-credit courses. All students in the Thesis Concentration of the M. A. in English Education must complete the six-credit thesis.

All students in the Thesis Concentration of the M.A. must write a six-credit thesis. Licensure-Concentration candidates who pursue an optional six-credit thesis must have

  • completed at least 21 graduate hours without incurring a grade of C or more than two Bs
  • identified a topic of scholarly significance and interest, one that can be supported by extended investigation;
  • obtained the encouragement of one or more professors to pursue this topic in a thesis;
  • demonstrated the ability to work independently, to sustain interest in a topic, and to produce successful research projects for graduate courses.

The graduate student will discuss the idea for a thesis with a professor who might become the thesis advisor.  Once the student secures a professor’s consent to advise the thesis, that advisor, in consultation with the program Director, will help the student to identify two other professors who will complete the thesis committee.  The student will submit to these three faculty members an initial topic abstract –a summary in a paragraph or two that announces the topic to be addressed in the thesis.  This abstract will be accompanied by a preliminary, brief bibliography demonstrating the student’s knowledge of research that supports his/her topic.  Upon approval of the abstract by the thesis committee,  the advisor will submit the Thesis Advisor Form 1, (available at the Graduate School's website) to the Dean of the Graduate School. The student will then complete and return the Thesis Committee Form to the program director.

This paperwork should be completed the semester before the student plans to register for the first course in the six-credit thesis option.


Annotated Bibliography and Prospectus (first 3 credits )


The thesis advisor will establish a schedule throughout the semester for the student to report his/her findings, either in writing or orally; these scheduled sessions will permit advisors to make suggestions and assist the student to direct research more fruitfully.  The result of this review of literature is an annotated bibliography and prospectus which will be submitted no later than a week before the end of the semester, on a date established by the thesis advisor from the beginning of the course.

Course Product:

The Annotated Bibliography and Prospectus

  • Annotated Bibliography: The student will perform a “review of literature,” that is, he/she will read relevant primary and secondary material that results in an Annotated Bibliography of at least 30 relevant primary and secondary sources, in MLA or other appropriate disciplinary format.  The student may have read many more than thirty items, but those items that comprise the Annotated Bibliography become the basis for the Prospectus.

  •   Prospectus : The Prospectus is an essay of around 1,500 words that presents a
    • Summary of the thesis topic, and possible sub-topics, and their significance within the field (how will the thesis fill a gap in scholarship, function  within a theoretical framework, answer a question, or add to a body of existing knowledge?). The summary indicates how the student’s study can be limited to a to manageable, thesis-length scope.
    • Description of the research processes and strategies the student has used thus far.
    • Tentative argumentative thesis that is supported by the research documented in the Annotated Bibliography.
    • Tentative outline of the paper.

    (A good prospectus lays the foundation for the first chapter or introduction to the thesis.)

Format for Submission

  • Title Page: proposed title, student name, thesis committee members, date.

  • Annotated Bibliography, at least 30 items presented with correct MLA Documentation or  other appropriate disciplinary format.

  • Prospectus, c. 1,500 word essay.

These documents may be submitted electronically (if the advisor and committee members so approve) or in triplicate, one set for the advisor and each committee member.


After reading and conferring about the Annotated Bibliography and the Prospectus, the thesis committee will decide upon and assign a grade of T to indicate satisfactory progress towards completion of the six-credit thesis option. The committee will also complete and submit Form 3: Preliminary Oral Examination.


Writing the Thesis (second 3 credits)


The thesis advisor will establish a schedule throughout the semester for the student to submit drafts and/or portions of drafts for review.  These scheduled sessions will permit the advisor to make suggestions for revision and/or additional research, and to consult with other committee members.  The final draft of the thesis is due at least three weeks before the end of the semester, on a date established by the thesis advisor from the beginning of the course.

Course Product:

The Thesis (between approximately 40 to 60 pages)

  • Content

    • The Introduction to the topic situates it within a review of previous, relevant literature (or explains the process that revealed the lack thereof).  The Introduction may announce how the thesis will fill in a gap in scholarship, function within a theoretical framework, answer a question, or add to a body of existing knowledge.  The Introduction concludes with the student’s claim on the topic.
    • The Body of the thesis presents the main findings about the topic, possibly presented as answers to the research questions.  
    • The Conclusion makes recommendations based on these findings, and if appropriate, suggestions for future investigation.  
    • The Works Cited pages contain at least 20 relevant, high-quality primary and secondary sources, documented in conformity to The MLA Handbook or other style appropriate to the discipline.
  • Format
    • Title Page
    • Abstract of the thesis: focused topic and most important findings (one page/single spaced)
    • Acknowledgments (if the student wishes to do so)
    • Table of Contents (titles of chapters or divisions)
    • The Thesis
    • Works Cited

The student must submit all documents to the advisor and to each committee member.

Defense and Assessment

Once the student has approval from the advisor and committee to do so, the student and the committee should arrange with the Program Director a mutually acceptable time to meet for a thesis defense. The venue for the thesis defense is the office of the Director of the Graduate Program (or another location on request), who may participate in the discussion, but will be involved in the subsequent assessment process only if she or he happens to be the advisor or a committee member. During the defense, the student will make a brief presentation introducing the thesis project, and for the remaining time (no more than an hour total), the student will respond to questions from the advisor and committee. After the defense, the advisor and committee will confer to decide and assign a grade for the thesis, and complete Form 4: Final Defense.

Note that the School of Graduate Studies and Research has fairly complicated guidelines for submitted theses, available here. Issues that have arisen in the past have included the quality of paper and the use of a binding offset. Note also that student and advisor are advised to retain photocopies of all thesis forms when sent to the Graduate School.

In addition to the copy of the thesis presented to the Graduate School, candidates are requested to provide a copy of the final version to be collected in the Graduate Director's office.