Guidelines for Thesis and Creative Component (M.A.)
The M.A. degree programs have a research element in addition to the required number of credit hours. These guidelines will help you complete your thesis or creative component.
The M.A. in English (Literature; Literature and the Teaching of Reading), the M.A. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Communication, and the M.A. in TESL/Applied Linguistics have a research element in addition to the required number of credit hours. Because the breadth and depth of graduate studies in the English Department deny a single, narrow definition of a research element, students have considerable leeway in choosing projects that suit their programs of study and also fit their future professional or academic goals. English master's candidates may choose either the creative component or the thesis.
A key factor in determining whether to do the thesis or the creative component will probably be the student's professional goals. Students using the M.A. as a stepping stone to a Ph.D. program, in literature, linguistics, or rhetoric, for example, will probably write a research-based thesis since this is the preference of many graduate schools. On the other hand, students desiring to become teachers, technical writers, editors, or document design specialists might find the creative component better suited to their intellectual interests and professional goals. The final choice should be made after careful reflection as well as consultation with the POS committee.
Thesis work produces one document-the thesis itself. A creative component normally results in two documents-the creative component project and the creative component report.
Audience, distribution, and awards
The audience for the thesis is the POS committee and other interested readers. The audience for the creative component report is also the POS committee. However, the creative component project anticipates an outside audience-whether in business, industry, or academia. It should also be noted that copies of M.A. theses are kept on file in the university library, whereas copies of creative components are not. Copies of creative components are kept in the English Department library. Finally, only theses, not creative components, are eligible for Graduate College Research Excellence Awards.
The form of the thesis is that of an academic essay or scholarly research report. The choice will depend on the nature of the thesis, the desires of the POS committee, and the requirements of the Graduate College. A checklist of Graduate College general requirements for the thesis, along with other important information on thesis writing and submission, is linked into the Graduate College page Electronic Theses/Dissertations (ETDs) at ISU. For example, a thesis reporting empirical research might be close in form to an article appearing in Research in the Teaching of English. A thesis of a speculative nature might more resemble an article in PMLA.
The form of the creative component project itself will depend upon the nature of the project. A packet of course materials, for instance, will take on quite a different form from a comprehensive grant proposal written to a government agency.
The creative component report will normally include some rationale for the project, a discussion of methods or procedures, and an explanation of what the student learned from the project. If appropriate, the report might include a literature review, an analysis of why the student did what he or she did, or even a self-evaluation.
Your thesis or creative component should comprise original work you completed while receiving credit for English 599 or 699. A thesis may draw upon research you previously conducted in a class, but the final product should be a significant expansion of that research. Your creative component might draw from your experience in previous classes, but it should not be simply a revision of your earlier course work. For example, a literature thesis may contain work you began or produced in a graduate literature course, but the thesis should reflect significant development of that earlier work.
Procedures for each option
To complete the research-based thesis, you will need to do the following:
To complete the creative component, you will need to do the following: