Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MFA in Writing Thesis Guidelines

NOTE: Students enrolled in the thesis as of Spring Quarter 2012 will follow the revised guidelines detailed HERE

MFA Thesis Guidelines
Revised August 2011

The final three credit hours of the MFA program are devoted to completion of a graduate thesis. Final page count will range from 60 to 100 depending on the student's chosen genre. The thesis may be a collection of poetry, short fiction, or creative nonfiction/personal essays; a novella; or a memoir. Students may also choose to combine genres (for example, a thesis may include both poetry and short fiction); however, all components should be linked thematically. Up to 50% of the thesis may include revisions of pieces that have been workshopped during the program; at least 50% should be new work written while enrolled in the thesis. The final thesis should be publishable work.

Students enrolled in the thesis will log into Blackboard once each week during the quarter and click on the appropriate week’s folder. Some weeks require a journal entry, while others remind students to continue writing with upcoming deadlines in mind.

The thesis is intended to be a time of independent writing for the student. At the beginning of the quarter, a student enrolled in the thesis will complete a journal entry in Blackboard explaining the concept for his or her thesis, along with attachments of any previously workshopped pieces that the student intends to revise for the thesis. The student will then write independently for the first half of the quarter, continuing to log into Blackboard each week to check the weekly folder for journal assignments and due dates.

At midterm, the student will email the Program Director at least 75% of the thesis (the specific due date will be listed in Blackboard). The Director will forward this work to the midterm reader for feedback. The Director will then forward the midterm reader’s comments to the student. The student will spend the remainder of the quarter revising (drawing from the reader’s comments), developing, and completing the thesis.

The completed thesis will be emailed to the Director toward the end of the quarter for final approval (the specific due date will be listed in Blackboard). If the thesis requires revision at this point, the Director may suggest that the student enroll in the Thesis Extension. The cost of the extension is $150, and it gives students an additional quarter to revise and complete the thesis.

Placement of the completed, bound thesis in Butler Library is optional. Students who wish to have the thesis shelved in the library must follow all guidelines for front material and formatting; they also must print two copies of the thesis and deliver it to the library according to specified guidelines (listed below). Students will receive one bound copy of the thesis; the other will be placed in the library.

Students who wish to focus only on creative content will have their final thesis saved electronically in the MFA office.

After final thesis approval from the Director, students who wish to have the thesis placed in Butler Library have additional requirements (including an abstract and an introductory essay, along with other front material) for placement in Lindenwood University's Butler Library. Sample thesis front material is available from the Program Director.

The order of all thesis front material is as follows: * The first page of the thesis is the abstract cover page.
* The second page is the abstract itself, which should briefly summarize the theme and content of the thesis.
* The third page is the thesis title page.
* The fourth page is the committee page, which lists the name and title of the thesis readers.
* Following the committee page, students may choose to include a dedication page and/or an acknowledgement page (optional).
* The next page contains the table of contents for your thesis.
* An introductory essay of approximately 10 pages follows the table of contents. This essay serves as an introduction to the writer and the work contained in the thesis. Literary and life experiences that have shaped his or her development as a writer should be explored, and the work that follows should be introduced. Any literary references should be supported by a Works Cited page at the end of the thesis (MLA format).
* Following the introductory essay, the body of the thesis begins.

Format guidelines: MARGINS: The top and bottom margins are set at one inch. The left margin is set at two inches (the wide left margin is needed for binding purposes). The right margin is set at one inch. Right-justification is not used (text should only be left-aligned).

SPACING: Double spacing is used throughout the project except on the title page and Works Cited page (if a Works Cited is included). On the thesis title page, the title is set two inches from the top of the page, while the name of the author is five and one-half inches from the top.

TYPE FONT: Font size and type should be comparable to Times New Roman 12. The same type font should be used throughout the text.

NUMBERING: The abstract title page and the thesis title page are not numbered. All other thesis front material is numbered bottom center with lower-case Roman numerals. The body of your thesis (creative content) is numbered beginning on its first page with Arabic numerals in the upper right corner of the page.

HELP WITH PAGE NUMBERING FORMAT: See the video linked below for step-by-step instruction.

Final Library Thesis Submission: When a student's final thesis has been approved by the Director, the student will submit an electronic copy of the final formatted thesis to both the Program Director and the Technical Services Librarian (Word document or pdf). The thesis will not be searchable online (so there is no danger of literary journals considering the work already published--you are free to submit any thesis work for publication elsewhere); the electronic copy will simply be kept on file at Butler Library.

Additionally, students will submit two hard copies of the thesis to Butler Library, with the following specifications: The copies should be made on good-quality paper, with four blank pages of paper placed before and after each copy of the thesis; the copies must then be placed in a box with a sheet of colored paper separating each copy. On top, include a cover sheet that contains your name, phone number, address, and email address, so that the Technical Services Librarian can contact you when your bound copy is ready. The library must receive both the electronic and paper copies of the thesis.

One bound hard copy will be returned to the student and one bound hard copy will be cataloged and placed on the shelf at Butler Library.

If you have any questions about the thesis process, please contact the Director.


The first four and a half minutes of this video show the steps for changing the page number format from Roman to Arabic in a single document in Word 2007 (Roman for front material and Arabic for creative content):

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