MA Thesis Option

Timeline for Preparing and Submitting an MA Thesis

English Department

University of Central Arkansas

Fall 2016

This timeline is for English graduate students preparing a master’s thesis. It combines department and Graduate School requirements. Students working on a thesis need to consult UCA’s “Thesis and Dissertation Preparation Guide” as well as the “Dissertation/Thesis Submission Checklist,” both of which are available on the Graduate School’s webpage:

1. Before completing 15 hours of coursework and before finalizing a thesis committee, file a notice of intent to write a thesis with the department chair. (An email will suffice; beginning in Spring 2017, use the Graduate School’s form.)

2. As soon as the thesis committee has been assembled, submit the “Thesis Committee Selection Form.” (Link to form provided below. Requires signatures.) The third reader should, if possible, be a graduate faculty member from outside of the English department. If all efforts to secure a third reader from another department fail, the student may ask another English faculty member to serve.

3. Circulate a research proposal/prospectus to committee members. (Roughly 6-8 pages.) The proposal must be submitted to all members of the thesis committee. The proposal should communicate the thesis topic, specify the primary texts to be analyzed and selected secondary sources, identify a tentative thesis statement/argument, situate the argument among current scholarly arguments/debates, outline the theoretical framework/critical approach to be used if applicable, and give readers an idea of the writer’s plan for organizing the thesis.

4. Schedule a formal presentation of the research proposal to the entire thesis committee. This presentation should last approximately 30-40 minutes. It should focus on discussion of the proposal, and the committee should communicate any necessary changes or revisions that need to be made in order to yield a successful thesis.

Fall Deadlines:

Submit the proposal to the committee by October 15.

Secure approval of the proposal by November 15.

Spring Deadlines:

Submit the proposal to the committee by March 15.

Secure approval of the proposal by April 15.

*The formal presentation needs to be scheduled sometime before the deadline for securing approval.

5. Secure at least a 2/3 majority vote of approval of the proposal from the thesis committee by the appropriate deadline listed above. In the even that the vote of approval in not unanimous, the student is allowed to replace the single committee member who has rejected the proposal before proceeding with the thesis.

From the “Thesis and Dissertation Preparation Guide”:
When the student has selected a topic, a formal proposal is prepared and must be approved by the thesis or dissertation committee. The proposal details the student’s proposed research and provides the opportunity for the review and feedback from the committee. The committee may require revisions prior to approval.  Following approval, the student has reasonable confidence that the committee will approve the theses or dissertation if it is carried through competently according to the proposal.  Copies of the approved proposal are to be distributed to the department chair for the department file, the major professor, and the student.  Any modifications to the proposal require the approval of the student’s committee. (6)

6. File a copy of the approved thesis with the department chair.

7. Schedule defense of the thesis, keeping in mind the following timeline:

• 5 weeks prior to graduation: preliminary draft of the thesis is due to the graduate school (MarkLager is the contact for submitting it.) The Graduate School will want to see that it’s almost finished and the formatting is mostly in order, etc.
• 2 weeks prior to graduation final copies of the thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School in hard copy.

The defense needs to be scheduled early enough in the semester to allow the student time to make any final changes required by the committee.  Signatures of the committee members are required. (Directions for creating the form for signatures are outlined in the “Theses and Dissertation Preparation Guide.”)

Throughout this process, students should be aware of the following:
A. Writing Quality: The quality of the student’s writing will be taken into account for approval of the proposal. Students whose writing is not considered by their committee to be up to graduate-level
standards may be barred from pursuing the thesis option for the MA degree.

B. Continuous Enrollment: Students must remain enrolled in a minimum of one credit hour (thesis research hours) each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer) while working on the thesis.