5. Thesis Track
The Thesis Track is appropriate for students who are
interested in researching, organizing, and writing a sustained
argument on a topic of interest within the field of literature. This
track is strongly recommended for students who hope to pursue a PhD
after the completion of their MA.
Students who elect the thesis track must complete 27 credit
hours of coursework in the program (including the required core
courses), after which they will begin the process of writing the
thesis. (See "Thesis
and Dissertation Information" on the Graduate School webpage for
helpful tips regarding thesis preparation.
The thesis is a document of at least 50 pages that typically
consists of 5 chapters: an introduction, chapters 2-4, and a
conclusion. In the thesis, students make an original contribution to
their field while demonstrating the ability to maintain a sustained
argument, incorporating current research, and exhibiting critical analysis.
5.2 Thesis Committee
The thesis committee consists of the Graduate Program
Director and three professors. Students will ask a faculty member
whose area of expertise aligns with the student's research interest to
serve as the Chair of the thesis committee; the chair will work with
the student to assemble the full thesis committee. (All committee
members must hold full graduate faculty qualifications/status in the
Graduate School.) By the time they have completed 18 credits of
coursework, students should consult with the committee chair to
receive approval of topic and begin writing the prospectus.
5.3 Prospectus Guidelines
In the prospectus students clarify their topic and present
the idea formally both to the committee chair and to the program
director. The prospectus must reveal an argument that is thorough,
succinct, concise, and coherent, demonstrating critical engagement
with current scholarly conversations in literary studies. Students
will revise the prospectus based on comments from the committee before
submission to the graduate program director.
The prospectus will follow all Modern Languages Association
(MLA) conventions. It should be approximately 4-6 pages, plus a
working bibliography. It must:
· Describe a focused topic
· State a provisional
· Provide literary review, i.e., collect and evaluate other
people's work on the topic
· Discuss how your work will contribute
to existing scholarship on the topic
Once the committee chair and the program director have
reviewed the prospectus, they may approve it, decline to approve it
and direct the student to consider other topics, or suggest revisions
and read it again before making a final decision. Their decision in
any case should be given in writing.
Only after successful completion of the prospectus may
students register for thesis credit, ENG 695.
5.4 ENG 695: Master’s Thesis
After approval of the prospectus students register for one
to six credits of Master’s Thesis hours (ENG 695) over two consecutive
semesters. Students should be careful to register for 695 under their
committee chair's name. Additionally, students may register for any
combination of 695 credits - 695 is offered in one-, two-, and
three-credit versions to complete the necessary number of credits.
At the end of the second semester, students must
successfully defend the thesis project. Should students require more
than 6 credits to complete the thesis project, they must register for
ENG 696 credit until the project is complete.
5.5 Writing the Thesis
In consultation with their committee chair, students should
design a schedule that will allow them to defend their thesis at the
completion of six thesis credits. After drafting each chapter of the
thesis, the student will receive feedback from the committee chair and
make necessary revisions. The completed thesis should follow the
formatting requirements outlined in the University Guidelines for
Preparation of Theses and Dissertations. Students can find the
required formatting for the thesis outlined on the Thesis and
Dissertation Information page on the Graduate School webpage under Student Resources.
The committee chair will read drafts of the student's thesis and
will indicate when the thesis draft is ready for students to share
with the full thesis committee. Typically, the timeline for the
revision of the thesis is as follows:
· Four weeks prior to planned defense date: committee
receives draft and provides comments and requests for revision to the
· Three weeks prior to planned defense date:
committee chair shares these comments with students.
· Two weeks
prior to planned defense date: students share their revised thesis
Once revisions have been completed, students are ready for
the thesis defense. In the event that revision requests are so
substantive that the student cannot complete them in the typical time
frame, the student may need to delay the planned defense date.
5.6 Thesis Defense
The Graduate School sets thesis defense deadlines each
semester. The Graduate Program Director shares the dates with
students and thesis committees. The thesis defense must be scheduled
by the third week of the semester in which students wish to defend.
The defense may not take place during the last three weeks of the semester.
The revised draft of the thesis must be submitted to the
committee at least two weeks prior to the defense date, at which time
the Graduate Program Director will provide a thesis defense
announcement to the English Department and to the Graduate School. All
English Department faculty and graduate students are invited to attend
the defense. Interested faculty may read the thesis and participate
in the discussion; graduate students may observe the defense. Students
begin the defense with a brief statement (approximately 10 minutes)
sharing how they arrived at their topic, what they found in their
research, and where they hope to go with the work they've completed in
After the defense, the committee chair asks the student (and
any student observers) to leave the room for 15 minutes so that the
committee may deliberate. After 15 minutes, the student is invited
back into the exam room and the committee chair communicates the
results: Pass, Pass with Distinction, Pass with Revisions, or Fail. In
the case of a Pass with Revisions, the committee will require further
revisions to the thesis; if so, students will have 30 days to revise
and resubmit the thesis for final determination.
If the committee votes not to accept the thesis, students
have the option of shifting to the Examination Track, which requires
taking six additional credit hours of coursework and passing the
5.7 Depositing the Thesis
Once the thesis is finally approved, students must submit
the Committee Signature page, which they must submit to the Graduate
School for Graduate Dean’s signature. Students must deposit the
thesis to ScholarWorks@GVSU, the university's electronic repository
for scholarship. Students must then formally apply to graduate via
myBanner. (After logging into myBanner, select Student, then Student
Records, and Apply to Graduate.)