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Preparing a Thesis
The faculty of the department strongly urge students who intend to apply to doctoral programs to write a thesis. The English Department requires that the thesis be between 50 and 70 pages in length.
Other students should take the MA examination, unless they have an original research idea they would like to pursue.
Students who wish to take English 691: Thesis as their exit requirement must adhere to the procedure below and abide by all stated deadlines.
• Students must notify the Graduate Coordinator at least one quarter before they intend to submit a prospectus.
• In the same quarter, the Graduate Coordinator will assist the students in finding two appropriate readers for the proposed topic.
• Students must submit a copy of the prospectus to the two readers no later than the third week of a quarter to give them time to
evaluate it and offer suggestions for revision. Readers should return the prospectus to students by the end of the fifth week of the
• By the end of the same quarter, students should submit a final copy of the prospectus to the two readers and the Graduate
Coordinator. The two readers also sign the Prospectus Deadlines sheet and give it to the Graduate Coordinator. The Graduate
Coordinator will inform students if their prospectus has been approved. If either reader does not approve the final version of
the prospectus, students must then take English 690: Comprehensive Examination.
• Students must submit the final version of the thesis to the two readers no later than the third week of the quarter before they wish to
graduate. The prospectus and the final copy of the thesis may not be submitted in the same quarter.
• Before the end of the same quarter, the Graduate Coordinator will arrange for the students to orally present the thesis unless they
have already presented it at a conference or have a letter of acceptance from a conference.
• Students must deposit a copy of their thesis with the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. Specific instructions on the format
of the thesis are available from the Walter W. Stiern Library. Complete details are available at the following address:
• Note: students enroll for English 691 only once. In subsequent quarters they should enroll in English 700 to maintain current
enrollment and their library privileges.
Contents of Prospectus
The prospectus must contain the following sections:
• Prospectus Coversheet
Follow the link above for a printable copy.
• Statement of purpose
Good research begins with a good idea. State the purpose clearly and concisely. If the purpose is vague, the thesis will be vague
• Review of literature
Research never begins in a vacuum, but with the work of others. You start where others have left off. Review the relevant
research thoroughly; the readers of the prospectus should realize that you are very familiar with the area of investigation.
Develop the review because it will become a very important section of the thesis.
• Relevance to the field
How is the project original? What will it add to the body of knowledge in the field? Are your findings substantial enough to
present at a conference? If not, you should probably not pursue this particular topic.
This is your plan for investigating the topic of the research.
This section is directly related to your review of literature. Include all items that you mention in the review of literature.