The thesis is optional for M.A. candidates and accounts for 6 of the 33 credit hours required for the M.A.
Students should thoughtfully weigh the advantages and disadvantages
of writing a thesis based on their personal circumstances, disposition,
and career plans. Writing a thesis requires the management of a
large research project and the ability to work independently and
with self-discipline. Your decision to work on a particular area
or author will likely influence the direction of your academic
work after you achieve the M.A. For those who are not planning
to pursue a doctorate, the intellectual exercise of investigating
an idea as thoroughly as possible, of writing intently over two
semesters, and of practicing genuine scholarship is an excellent
test of your ability to analyze a subject, read closely, and follow
through with integrity and commitment. Certainly, the thesis option
is not for everyone, and some students feel writing a thesis can
be intellectually cumbersome, delay entrance into teaching or other
occupations, involve additional credit-hour fees beyond the 6-hour
requirement, or even become an obstacle to timely admission into
a doctoral program. Should you wish to pursue the thesis option,
it is a good idea to discuss the thesis option with the Director of Graduate Studies
as early as possible in your M.A. career.
for Those Considering the Thesis Option include the following:
programs typically ask for no more than a 20-page writing sample. Will
your efforts be better directed toward dedicated revision of
a seminar paper?
you already have a solid start on a seminar paper, with a decent
working thesis, and an indication from a faculty member that
the topic would, in fact, make a good thesis?
thesis must be completed by early March in order for readers
to have time to read it, for the writer to make revisions, and
to meet the April deposit deadline. Do you have the discipline
and time to meet these deadlines?
will you get out of doing a thesis? Have you discussed
this with a potential thesis director? Are your goals realistic
or based on misconceptions about the thesis process?
writing the thesis slow you down? Will you be able to write
a thesis without having to add another semester or year onto
your program? What would be the financial implications
of extending your time in the program?
you have enough time to study properly for the M.A. examination
if you take on a thesis as well?
you do not achieve a passing thesis by the deadline are you willing
to extend your time in the program for another semester or two
in order to finish?
there at least two faculty members who can materially assist
you with the thesis? That is, two whose area the topic
falls into? Have you spoken with both about your ideas?
decide to write a thesis should consult the JMU Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Guide for
guidelines and a description of the process:
general overview of The Graduate School's policies concerning theses includes the following steps. Consult the forms section
of these pages for the forms listed below and The Graduate School for each semester’s
the program requirements for guidelines for registering for thesis
credits. Download and submit the registration form for ENG 700.
a graduate faculty member to serve as committee chair. This should
be a faculty member whose specialization aligns with the thesis topic.
the remaining members of the committee with guidance from the
the Committee Approval form to The Graduate School.
the project using MLA Style.
an appointment with The Graduate School to review the format of the project.
necessary formatting changes.
in final copies of the work and approval sheets to The Graduate School.
boxed copies to the library and to the Director of Graduate Studies.
The JMU Graduate Catalog for more information about the Thesis Requirements,
Thesis Committees, Thesis Continuance, and Thesis Grading.
Registration for Thesis Credits and Thesis Grading
A grade of IP (in progress) will be posted for the thesis until it has been completed and approved by the thesis committee. If students have completed the maximum number of hours (six hours) allowed by the program for the thesis but have still not completed the work, they must register for at least one hour of Thesis Continuance each semester while they are completing their writing. A grade of NC (no credit) will be entered for continuance hours. After the thesis is completed and delivered to the College of Graduate and Outreach Programs for final processing, the Registrar’s Office will be notified to enter a final grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory.