M.A. Thesis

A thesis, ENG/LIN 599 (a minimum of six hours), is required, culminating in an oral examination on the completed work. Students prepare the master's thesis under the supervision of the chair of the Master of Arts (M.A.) thesis committee.

In order to enroll for thesis hours, students must complete and submit the independent study form, and obtain the signature of the thesis committee chair. The student will then be cleared to register. No student will be allowed to register for thesis hours who does not have an approved plan of study (iPOS). See the graduate coordinator for details and a line number.

The M.A. thesis examines a well-focused question or problem through an informed context that is critical, theoretical and/or historical. In choosing a thesis topic, defining its scope, and determining its method, students should be guided by the expectation of the English department that the length of the thesis will be between 35 and 60 pages, exclusive of endnotes and bibliography. The committee will judge the thesis by the standards appropriate to a fully finished piece of critical or scholarly work in English.

The ideal germinating point for the thesis is a paper that comes out of a course, written for a professor with whom the student is comfortable and who agrees to direct an extended version of that study. Once the topic and committee are established, the student should decide upon a timetable that is both realistic for him or her and acceptable to the chair. The experience of students and faculty members is that completion of the thesis, from initial identification of the topic and attendant research through the final draft, is in most cases a project that needs more than one semester for its completion, regardless of the number of thesis hours taken during that semester. In other words, for most people it makes more sense to stretch the project over two semesters rather than to expect to begin and finish in one semester.

Students are required to show their work at regular intervals to all members of their committee. Committee members may decline such active participation, but this should not be assumed until each committee member has been consulted. Failure to follow this procedure, with reasonable amount of time for reading and comments, may result in rejection of the thesis.

The complete thesis must be submitted for initial format approval to the Graduate College at least 10 working days prior to the defense. An additional two weeks must be allowed for the thesis committee chair to judge that the thesis is ready for format approval. It is quite helpful to check out a copy of a thesis from Hayden Library for examples of what is outlined in the format manual, a Graduate College publication on format matters which each student should obtain. In addition, each year the Graduate College schedules helpful workshops on thesis and dissertation preparation, and the department encourages attendance.

Students may find it helpful to attend other oral defenses before their own is scheduled. Defenses are announced via e-mail in the Department of English, posted on the department website and on the fifth floor bulletin board of the language and literature building. It is the obligation of the candidate to observe Graduate College deadlines for both format approval and defense.

Please be advised that you must reserve a room for your oral defense BEFORE scheduling a defense through your MyASU. The Graduate College defense scheduling system does not automatically schedule rooms.  Once you know the date and time of your defense, contact  Sheila Luna or Christopher Floyd to schedule a room for your defense.  Room scheduling can sometimes take up to three days, so please allow ample time. Also, please note whether you require any special room features.  You will insert your already reserved room into the defense scheduling system along with the date, time, title, etc. Defenses must be scheduled with the Graduate College through your MyASU homepage (defense schedule tab) at least ten working days before the defense date.  All milestones such as iPOS, exams must be completed before a defense can be scheduled.

Oral defenses of theses and dissertations are announced in the English Department. A student preparing for his/her defense should send an e-mail to Sheila Luna, which will include student name, thesis/dissertation title, date, time, room, committee chair, committee members, and a brief abstract. The abstract should be in the body of the e-mail, not as an attachment.

It is English department policy that defenses must be scheduled only in the fall and spring semesters; summer defenses are being allowed only in cases of unusual hardship.

M.A. Thesis Committee: The M.A. thesis committee consists of three members on the graduate faculty, ordinarily specialists in the area of the thesis, who should be selected as early as possible during a student's residence in a program. Once the chair is selected, the student should confer with him or her about other suitable members of the committee. Petitioning to have committee members from outside the department's graduate faculty will be handled by the department chair in consultation with the director of graduate studies. The plan of study is the student's official notification to the Graduate College of the committee membership.