writing a thesis

M.A. and M.S. students who select the thesis option complete 30 semester hours of coursework and register for 6 thesis credit hours.  The department expects a Masters thesis to demonstrate original research, sophisticated analysis, and writing of considerable depth and complexity.  Theses written in the English department generally fall under the third category of the five types of theses recognized by the Graduate School: interpretive, analytical, critical, or a combination of the above as agreed upon by the advisor, the student, and the second reader.  The production of the thesis typically takes up to a year, and involves:  1) writing a proposal, which must be approved by the advisor, the department Chair, and the Graduate School; and 2) writing multiple drafts of the thesis itself, which the student revises after consulting with the advisor and second reader until it is deemed finished by the student and the committee (advisor and second reader).  Completed theses are usually anywhere from 50 to 100 pages long.


Applicants for the thesis must be matriculated students who have completed fifteen credit hours with a 3.0 average. Applicants in the M.A. program must also have completed the language requirement.  If the applicant's record is not filed in the English Office, the applicant should request that the Registrar's office send a transcript to the Chairperson or Graduate Director.


Students should choose their specific topic for research in consultation with the member of the English Graduate Faculty who has agreed to serve as their thesis advisor.  Students should then make a formal request for the advisor by filing an Assignment of Thesis Advisor form. The Chairperson and Graduate Coordinator must approve this request. 


Advisor and student consult and suggest three possible second readers for a thesis.  Once a faculty member has agreed to take on this role, the Graduate Coordinator will inform the student, who then should send the second reader a brief email to establish contact and provide a copy of the thesis proposal.


Once students submit the Assignment of Thesis Advisor form, they will then be contacted via email when they have permission to register.  Banner will not accept any thesis registration without this permission.  There is a 5-day window before the permission expires.

If a student has registered for three credits, s/he will need to ask for the additional three credits the following semester.

The six credits are awarded after the thesis has been submitted and approved.  Because of the several steps required for final approval of the thesis, it is highly unusual for a candidate to complete a thesis in one semester.  A student who does not complete a thesis in the semester that s/he has registered for it will receive a grade of I.  This grade will turn into an F unless the advisor continues to file "I extension forms," but the F will disappear once the thesis is approved. 


The thesis should be written on a topic related to the student's main area of academic interest, and s/he should have had course work specifically related to that topic.


Unless the thesis advisor suggests other arrangements, students should consult the advisor regularly and submit material chapter by chapter for comments and suggestions.  While students are only required to contact the second reader when s/he is first assigned to the committee, they are strongly urged to submit the completed first draft to the reader for comments and suggestions well before the formal submission ten weeks prior to the end of the semester in which they intend to graduate.  Students are responsible for knowing all dates and deadlines.


Students should follow the practices described and illustrated in the SCSU School of Graduate Studies website. For complete details of manuscript form, the student should consult the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook.


Follow the practices detailed in the SCSU School of Graduate Studies Thesis Proposal Guidelines. If you have difficulty in applying the guidelines outlined in the Graduate Studies brochure on page five, you may wish to consult the following English Department suggestions.  You and your advisor must agree that you have met the Graduate School's five requirements.

To fulfill requirements a and b

A specific description of the topic being studied, including a statement of its relationship to existing studies of the same author, genre, style, historical period, etc.  If, for example, you propose an unprecedented critical reading of an author's works or wish to concentrate on a relatively neglected topic or work or if you decide to re-examine previously unresolved issues, you should note such a direction.

To fulfill requirements c and e

A complete bibliography of primary readings and an annotated bibiography of secondary readings that suggests the critical orientation and general relevance of the work to the thesis topic.

To fulfill requirement d

Describe what critical approach or approaches you will use (e.g. historical, structuralist, post-structuralist, Freudian, Marxist, feminist, reader-response, close textual analysis, etc.) including a statement describing why this approach is appropriate.


Follow the procedure detailed in the SCSU School of Graduate Studies "Thesis Proposal Guidelines," remembering that the thesis proposal must be completed and accepted by the Graduate School by the end of the semester in which the student registers for ENG 590.


Faculty readers will be guided in their evaluation of
theses by the following considerations:  The topic must be substantial and clearly defined, and the outline and development of material should demonstrate logical thinking.  The thesis must represent careful analysis of primary materials and appropriate synthesis of secondary materials.  The final manuscript must be consistent with the principles enunciated in the Graduate Studies' Thesis Guidelines and the MLA Handbook.  A grade of commendation will be awarded when both readers and the chairperson agree that the scholarship and writing are of unusual merit. The criteria for the evaluation of creative writing theses is detailed in a separate statement.


An original and one copy of the completed thesis should be given to the thesis advisor, who will submit the copy to the second reader. When the advisor and the second reader have both approved the thesis, they will indicate their approval on the signature page of the original completed thesis.  Since the advisor or the second reader may require minor or major revisions before approving the thesis, students must include adequate time for potential revisions in their thesis calendars (see below). Neither reader will sign the signature page until final revisions and retyping, if necessary, have been satisfactorily completed.  If a grade of commendation is to be awarded, the thesis advisor appends to the signature page a brief citation signed also by the second reader and the chairperson.


Consult the Graduate Catalog for all dates and deadlines.