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Thesis Overview

The capstone of your Master of Arts program is your thesis, an independent research project written with the support and supervision of your director and committee. The typical length for a thesis is 50-75 pages, plus notes, and it is expected that your finished project will be a thoroughly researched, highly polished and professional presentation of an original argument that situates itself in the critical discussion of your topic. Your thesis will be evaluated based on the MA program's thesis rubric.

For most students, the thesis project begins with their reading list, which they design to help them focus on the periods, questions, and topics that they wish to explore. Towards the beginning of spring semester of your first year, you should identify your reading list committee as well as your thesis director and committee members (including a member outside of the department). Often, these two committees will be composed of the same faculty members. Guidelines for forming a thesis committee are set by Academic Affairs.

The intense period of thesis writing begins in fall semester of your second year. This semester, you will take the classroom version of Thesis Research in which you will:

  • Complete a thesis proposal that outlines your central questions, identifies your primary texts and methodologies, suggests an organizational outline, and lays out deadlines. It should also include a working annotated bibliography.

  • Complete several drafts of an initial chapter of your thesis

  • Present a conference-paper version of that chapter at our annual TIPS (theses-in-progress) Symposium in December.

Working closely with your advisor and your committee, you will complete your thesis during spring semester. To complete your thesis and graduate in a timely manner, you must:

  • Meet all interim deadlines agreed upon by you and your committee.

  • Submit a complete draft of the thesis by the middle of March.

  • Submit required revisions by the beginning of April.

  • Defend your thesis by the third week of April.

The Thesis Defense

  • Schedule your exam for at least one week before the graduation deadline.

  • Your defense will begin with a 15-20 minute public presentation of your work.

  • After your presentation, the audience will be invited to ask questions.

  • Then your committee will ask the audience to leave; they will continue to question you, mainly about your thesis but you may also be asked to connect the thesis to your other coursework.

  • The thesis examination generally takes two hours.

After a successful thesis defense you will need to:

•    Ask your committee to fill out the report of final examination form.

•    Ask each committee member to complete an evaluation of your thesis based on the Thesis Rubric and turn it in to the MA Director.

•    File your Report of Final Examination form with the program administrator and upload your thesis to ProQuest.


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Department of English - 3353

Master of Arts in English

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Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 766-6452

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