Thesis Overview

Writing a thesis represents an opportunity for great intellectual growth, while showing a student’s independence and depth of understanding. All students considering doctoral study are encouraged to complete a thesis, to ensure an appropriate writing sample and to show their capacity for sustained independent research. For students in the Thesis Concentration of the M.A., a thesis is required; for students in the Licensure Concentration of the M.A., a thesis is optional, and does not replace the Capstone Portfolio and Presentation. In either concentration, the thesis courses (ENG 6010 or both ENG 6020 and ENG 6030) do contribute to the required total number of credit hours in the degree. Students in the M.A.T. may not count a thesis towards their degree, though one may be undertaken with the understanding that those credits will not apply toward graduation.

All students in the Thesis Concentration will write a six-credit thesis (ENG 6020 and ENG 6030); Licensure Concentration students who choose to write a thesis must meet the following qualifications:

  • The student must complete at least 21 graduate hours without incurring a grade of C or more than two Bs.
  • The student must either identify a topic of scholarly significance and interest, one that can be supported by extended investigation (six-credit thesis), or earn a grade of A in a course research paper to be revised through extended investigation (three-credit thesis).
  • The student must obtain the encouragement of one or more professors to pursue this topic in a thesis; for a three-credit thesis this must include the approval of the professor in whose course the paper was originally submitted.  This professor will agree to become the advisor for the three-credit thesis, a revised and expanded research paper.
  • The student must demonstrate the ability to work independently, to sustain interest in a topic, and to produce successful research projects for graduate courses.

The guidelines for completion of the thesis are sufficiently distinct that students should see these descriptions of the details:

Students are also encouraged to see the thesis guidelines from the School of Graduate Studies; note particularly the links to the forms.

Note that all thesis courses (ENG 6010, ENG 6020, and ENG 6030) must be repeated until their final product is successfully completed. That is, ENG 6020 will be repeated every Fall or Spring semester until the Prospectus has been accepted, and ENG 6010 and ENG 6030 will be repeated every Fall or Spring semester until the thesis has been defended.


Because a thesis is a program-level assignment that will be kept on file by the Graduate School and because for Thesis Concentration students it takes the place of the Capstone Presentation and Portfolio, the Program Director has a responsibility to be involved in the thesis process for all students, and the Program Director must attend every Thesis Defense. The typical venue for the thesis defense is the office of the Director of the Graduate Program, Dial 121. The Director may participate in the discussion, but will be involved in the subsequent assessment process only if she or he happens to be the advisor, second reader, or a committee member. At the request of the student or advisor, the defense may be held in a different venue, such as the Audio Visual Theater (Dial 123), that includes more space or projection technology.