The final three credit hours of the MFA in Writing Program are devoted to completion of a graduate thesis—a final creative writing project that the student produces independently, with midterm feedback from a requested faculty thesis reader.
Final page count will range from 70 to 100 depending on the student's chosen genre; this page count includes a title page and a required 5-page introductory essay. The final thesis is submitted through Canvas toward the end of the quarter.
The thesis content is flexible to ensure that each student is able to create a final project that best reflects his or her preferred writing style and content. The thesis may be a collection of poetry, short fiction, or creative nonfiction/personal essays; it may be a novella; or it may be an excerpt from a novel or memoir. Students may also choose to combine genres (for example, a thesis may include both poetry and short fiction); however, all components should feel cohesive in some way (thematically, stylistically, reflective of the writer's voice, etc.—overall connections among pieces can be discussed in the intro essay) to ensure a polished final project.
Note: If a student’s chosen thesis genre is scriptwriting, permission must be obtained from the Director at the time of thesis registration. A new script must be written for the thesis, and it cannot exceed 100 pages. The full script written during the on-campus scriptwriting cluster cannot be revised and used as a final thesis project.
Approximately 50% of the thesis may include revisions of pieces that have been workshopped during the MFA program; at least 50% should be new work that has not been workshopped in the program. The final thesis should be publishable work.
Students enrolled in the thesis will log into Canvas several times during the quarter, click on Modules, and click on the appropriate module for instructions and information. Three modules require a journal entry; others remind students to continue writing with upcoming deadlines in mind.
Thesis Progress & Feedback
The thesis is intended to be primarily a time of independent writing for the student. This allows the student to transition from the workshop environment to the post-MFA writing environment. At the beginning of the quarter, a student enrolled in the thesis will complete a video journal entry in Canvas explaining the intended concept for his or her thesis. The student will write independently for the first half of the quarter, periodically logging into Canvas to check the Modules page for journal assignments and thesis due dates.
At midterm, the student will upload a thesis draft in Canvas (draft page count is flexible). The Director will forward this work to the assigned midterm reader for feedback. The midterm reader’s comments will be emailed to the student within one to two weeks. The student will spend the remainder of the quarter revising, developing, and polishing the creative content; the student will also write the 5-page introductory essay during this time.
The completed thesis (a single document including the cover page and the 5-page introductory essay) will be uploaded in Canvas toward the end of the quarter for final approval by the Director of the MFA in Writing Program. The specific due date will be listed in Canvas. The Director will email students one of three possible responses: Approval with no edits required; conditional approval with specific edits required by the end of the quarter; or suggestion to take the Thesis Extension. If the student elects to take the Extension, the cost is $150, and it allows an additional quarter for the student to revise and complete the thesis. Students may enroll in an extension up to three times if needed.
The thesis project must include a 5-page essay introducing the thesis, describing the over-arching theme or connecting voice for your project, and reflecting on the journey you have taken as a writer, culminating in this final writing project. You may reflect on your writing interests and experiences before entering the MFA program as well as your time in the program. You can discuss insights you have gained about writing craft or your own writing process. You may include acknowledgements of people who have been supportive or instructive in your journey as a writer. You may discuss books or writers who have inspired you, and you may include quotes from writers you admire (use MLA format for direct quotes). You may include examples of your own creative writing to illustrate points you make about your growth as a writer. Ideally, the introductory essay should be written at midterm or later in the quarter.
Final Requirements For Thesis Completion
Before a grade can be submitted for the thesis, all students must complete the program survey as the final Journal assignment in Canvas. Completion of Canvas journal entries and adherence to deadlines throughout the quarter will be factored into the final thesis grade.
The final thesis must be uploaded in Canvas by the due date and must be formatted according to the guidelines below:
- The thesis must be uploaded as a single document (at midterm and for final thesis submission). Do not send separate files for individual portions of the thesis.
- The first page of your thesis document should be a title page that lists the overall title for your thesis, your name, and the date of final thesis submission.
- A page number should not appear on the title page (when inserting page numbers, click the box for Different First Page under Design).
- Insert page numbers beginning with page 2; the page number and your last name should be right-aligned at the top of each page.
- After your title page, begin your 5-page introductory essay. After your introductory essay, begin the creative content of your thesis. (Students may include an Acknowledgements page and/or a Table of Contents if desired, but these items are not required.)
- The page count for the final thesis must be between 70 and 100 pages (including cover page and introductory essay). Use a standard font style and size (such as Times New Roman 12pt).
- Double-space the intro essay, and double-space all fiction and essay pieces. Poetry should be single-spaced; print no more than one poem per page.
- Left, right, top, and bottom margins should be set at one inch.
Thesis projects are archived electronically; they are not posted publicly. The student retains all publication rights.