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MFA in Writing Thesis Guidelines

Course Description

The Graduate Thesis class (IMF 58999) is required for the final three credit hours of the MFA in Writing program. Students receive instructor feedback and guidance during the term as they produce a 50-page final creative project in their chosen genre(s).


The MFA Thesis class provides a structured schedule for MFA students to create a final creative writing project as the culmination of their work in our program. Students receive feedback from the Thesis class instructor on portions of their thesis in alternating weeks during the term, as they write independently with concrete deadlines for thesis sections, revising and polishing their work to create a publishable final project.

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. The thesis may be a collection of poetry, short fiction, or creative nonfiction/personal essays; it may be a single contained piece, such as a short novella; or it may be an excerpt from a longer work, such as a novel or memoir. Students may also choose to include multiple genres (for example, a thesis may include both poetry and short fiction); however, all components should feel cohesive in some way (thematically, stylistically, etc.) to ensure a polished final project. For students who have formally declared an emphasis in fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry, their thesis content must focus primarily on the emphasis genre.

When enrolling in the Thesis class, note that two sections of the Thesis class will be offered each term with two different faculty members, so that students may choose the instructor they feel best suits their preferred writing genre. However, all instructors who teach the Thesis class—Tony D'Souza, Kali VanBaale, Eve Jones, and Nicole McInnes—are well-versed in multiple genres and writing styles, and these four instructors will provide thoughtful, useful feedback on all student thesis projects.

The Thesis class structure allows for individualized feedback and continuous support for students to complete a polished, publishable final project in 8 weeks. Students should choose a thesis concept that can reasonably be completed within the 8-week term. Final thesis projects are approved based on a clear demonstration of creative and polished writing skills and publishable quality of work, along with following all aspects of the thesis guidelines (front matter, page length, format, content requirements).

Final Thesis Requirements

The final 50-page thesis includes five pages of front matter and 45 pages of creative work. The thesis should be exactly 50 pages, as it is an important exercise in self-editing, conciseness, and clarity to meet specific page length requirements.

Front matter includes:

  • the cover page, which includes the overall thesis title, the student's name, and the completion date (1 page)
  • table of contents (1 page)
  • the introduction--this intro page can include a brief discussion of the overall theme of the work, and/or personal background and influences as a writer, and/or a summary of the larger work if the thesis is an excerpt, and/or acknowledgments of family/friends/instructors who were influential in the student's growth as a writer and a person (1 page, double-spaced)
  • a revisions documentation page summarizing the revisions and edits made to work that was previously written before the thesis class (1 page, double-spaced)
  • a process description page summarizing the writing process for the newly written work in the thesis (1 page, double-spaced)

Creative content requirements:

At least 15 pages of the final thesis must be entirely new work that is written during the thesis term. The new 15 pages can be one piece, or several pieces, or a section of a longer work. Students must summarize their writing process for these new pages on their process description page. Up to 30 pages of the thesis can be revisions of work that was written previously, as long as revisions/edits are worked on during the term and are documented on the revisions page in the front matter.

As the creative content can be no longer than 45 pages, students in the Thesis class should focus on the quality of the pages they produce, revising and polishing their writing to ensure it is strong, publishable work when submitted at the end of the term.

Format Guidelines

The final thesis must be uploaded in Canvas by the due date and must be formatted according to the guidelines below:

  • The final thesis must be uploaded as a single document. 
  • Include five front matter pages as detailed above.
  • Include page numbers throughout the document.
  • Use a standard font size and style (such as Times New Roman 12pt or Arial 11pt).
  • Do NOT include photographs or other design elements.
  • The page count for the final thesis must be exactly 50 pages.
  • Double-space the introduction page, 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. Students should read the Thesis FAQs included in the Thesis class in Canvas and should contact the instructor throughout the term with any questions.


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Lindenwood University
209 S. Kingshighway
St. Charles, MO 63301