English Department

Handbook for Graduate Students in English


At least two semesters before you expect to graduate:

  • Choose a thesis topic and thesis director.
  • Begin registering for thesis (ENG 699).
  • Fill out a Thesis Approval Form.

During your next-to-last semester:

  • Apply for graduation (the form is available from Jane Dugan ).

By the beginning of the semester in which you wish to graduate:

Your first and second readers should have read a completed draft. After the first and second readers have reviewed and commented on a complete draft, you will revise the thesis based on their comments. You will then, with the readers' assent, schedule your Master's Examination. The date for the examination normally should be no later than 30 days before the end of the semester in which you expect to graduate.

At least two weeks before the Master's Examination:

Present a tentative final draft of the thesis, with an abstract, to your three readers.

No later than 30 days before the end of the semester in which you expect to graduate:

  • Take the Master's Examination.
  • If you wish to graduate in fall 2006, you should take the examination by November 14, 2006.
  • If you wish to graduate in spring 2007, you should take the examination by April 8, 2007.
  • If you wish to graduate in summer 2007, you should take the examination by July 8, 2007.


  • Give your readers at least a week to read each draft--longer if the end of the semester is near.
  • Make sure your readers have your current address, e-mail, and telephone number.
  • Do not surprise your readers with a draft; talk to them beforehand to make sure they will be able to read the material soon.
  • Faculty are not always available for consultation during the summer or during breaks. Plan ahead with your committee!
  • A thesis committee is a group of faculty who are eager to guide you through a process of intellectual or creative exploration. (They are not merely three people who are there to sign a form.)
  • When the Master's Thesis and the Master's Examination are evaluated, particular attention is paid to how well the student has fulfilled the "Outcomes" listed under "Requirements for the M.A. Degree" in the Handbook for Graduate Studies in English .

Bear in mind that our Master of Arts program aims to develop in its graduates:

  1. The skills to interpret texts of all kinds and to defend their interpretations effectively;
  2. Excellent facility in written and spoken language;
  3. A thorough awareness of at least one particular field within the study of writing, literature, theory, cultural studies, linguistics, or pedagogy;
  4. The capacity to produce scholarly, critical, or creative written work in the genres and of the quality that could lead to publication in reputable venues.