The master's programs in English at DePaul University may include the writing of a thesis. A thesis should be an original and independent contribution to current scholarship on a particular topic. The length of a thesis may range from 50–100 pages and must include a substantial bibliography. Writing a thesis should not be undertaken lightly; when the project is completed and approved, it will be cataloged and placed in the DePaul University library. It will then become available to scholars worldwide through interlibrary loan. Students sometimes write a thesis to enhance their chances of acceptance into doctoral programs, but most do not require a thesis in the application, preferring considerably shorter writing samples.
Graduate students considering writing a thesis should consult their program directors early in their coursework. Please see the Guidelines on Theses and Dissertations for College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Any MA thesis completed in the program satisfies the capstone portfolio requirement. If a student is writing a thesis, he or she will have access to Digication in order to assemble an ungraded professional portfolio.
Selecting a Topic and a Committee
All substantial research projects begin with extended research, thought, and discussion. The thesis must be planned and written in close consultation with the thesis director. The thesis director must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member with significant experience and expertise in the subject treated by the thesis. The thesis committee must also include a second reader, also a tenured or tenure-track faculty member, whose fields of research and teaching will provide additional resources for the thesis writer and director.
Writing the Thesis Proposal
Before writing the thesis, a student must develop and write a thesis proposal. It is often wise to let a thesis proposal develop from a successful research paper originally written for a graduate course. Students should also consider taking an independent study (ENG 500) under the direction of the proposed thesis director.
The thesis proposal should comprise 6–10 double-spaced pages and must include a working bibliography. It should (a) explain clearly what topic the thesis will engage and why this topic is important, (b) describe briefly the previous scholarly work done on this topic, (c) explain how the thesis will revise or augment this, and (d) present a short, tentative outline indicating its methodologies and scope. Note that the graduate faculty realizes that scholars can't predict precisely the final argument or conclusions of an extended research project at the project's outset. Rather, thesis committees look for a clear explanation of what the writer expects to achieve.
In deciding which thesis proposals will be approved, thesis committee directors and readers will look carefully at the quality of the writing in the proposal. It should be in every respect professional: clear, well organized, persuasive, and properly documented. Permission to pursue the Thesis Option will be granted only to students who submit strong proposals.
When the committee approves the proposal, the student must fill out the Final Project Approval Form and submit copies to the MA Program Director and to the Graduate Division of the Graduate College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Completing the Thesis
After the proposal has been submitted, its writer may enroll for four credit hours of English 501 Thesis Research. Only four credit hours of ENG 501 will count toward the master's degree. They will count as an elective the student's graduate program. Note that the thesis must be completed and approved in order for the ENG 501 credits to count toward the Master's degree.
A student writing a thesis should consult frequently with the director of the thesis committee. The director should offer timely and constructive written and oral commentary as the thesis proceeds, chapter by chapter or section by section. When the thesis director approves a draft of the entire thesis, it should be presented to the second reader.
When the thesis has been approved by a thesis director and second reader, the thesis approval form must be signed and submitted to the Director of the MA in English and the Graduate Division of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Theses may be approved either as Standard or With Distinction