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Thesis Option

A thesis is optional for all concentrations (except the MAeD).

The thesis counts for 6 of the 33 degree hours. The thesis should serve as a capstone experience for the program and should result from original thinking about material introduced in the coursework undertaken during the student’s program of study. Students are expected to initiate this process and ensure that it is completed.

Choosing a Committee

You will write your MA Thesis with the guidance of a faculty committee composed of a director and one other graduate faculty member in English Studies (chosen in consultation with the Graduate Program Director). One non-English Studies graduate faculty member may be added if a particular thesis topic warrants their inclusion.

Thesis Proposal Process

  • Second Semester of First Year: Discuss a possible thesis with a faculty member who might serve as director. The director should be a faculty member with whom you have taken coursework and who has expertise in your area of interest. In consultation with your director, reach out to other English Studies faculty and set up a meeting to share your ideas and ask if they are able to serve on your committee.
  • First Semester of Second Year: When the topic is well enough defined (which means formulating a clear argumentative approach as well as a general topic to investigate), you will prepare a formal proposal (see instructions below). This proposal should be written in light of close collaboration with and feedback from your thesis committee. You must submit your committee approved thesis proposal to the GPD for approval. It is recommended that you complete your thesis proposal in the semester prior to writing your thesis; it should be no later than the first day of the semester during which you plan to write your thesis.
  • Also note that you have to write and submit a “Thesis Abstract Form” to the Graduate School for approval by the date specified by the Graduate School before you can begin your project. This happens in the semester prior to writing your thesis.

MA Thesis Proposal Requirements

The MA Thesis Proposal in English Studies should be 2500-3000 words and include the following:

  • a working title for the project
  • the current state of scholarship on your topic
  • the methodology or approach you will use
  • the contribution you plan on making to the field
  • a chapter outline
  • a working bibliography
  • a calendar delineating when each chapter will be delivered to each member of the committee.

The calendar is meant to coordinate everyone’s workload, and it is binding. It may be amended but only with the approval of all committee members.

Proposals are kept on file by the Graduate Program Director. Please provide them with an electronic copy of the proposal materials.

Graduate School Thesis Abstract Approval Form

Once your project has been approved by the GPD, you must submit the Thesis Abstract Approval Form to the Graduate School for approval.

The form can be found at the Graduate School's Thesis and Disquisition Information and Resources page. The date for turning this form into the Graduate School is also listed on this page.

Writing & Submitting the MA Thesis

Composing the MA thesis should also be a collaborative process. You should expect to share drafts in a timely manner to receive feedback, as well as integrate feedback and revise drafts of chapters, well in advance of the Graduate School’s submission due date. The calendar included in the proposal is binding, and should be amended only in consultation with your committee. Revision is an important part of this process, and it takes time. Turning work in early is the best way to assure graduation at the desired time.

The appropriate length of a graduate thesis in English is 60-80 pages. The Graduate School page also offers links to the WCU Thesis Guide: 8th Edition Master’s Thesis Guide, as well as a style guide, formatting checklist, defense approval form, and more. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with these guidelines prior to submitting your MA thesis.

Theses are published electronically and can be accessed through Hunter Library. Begin at the library website; go to the “articles/databases” tab. Choose “By Database Name (A-Z List)” link. From there select the “W’s” and find the Western Carolina University Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD). This comprehensive website is searchable by name, keyword, or discipline. Students typically give the thesis director a hardcopy of the thesis.

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