Comprehensive Examinations and Capstone for the M.A. Degree

Students may elect to write a thesis or take a comprehensive examination in one of the seven M.A. areas of study.

Comprehensive Examinations

M.A. Exam Schedule Fall 2022-Fall 2025
Description Fall 2022 Spring 2023 Fall 2023 Spring 2024 Fall 2024 Spring 2025 Fall 2025
Reading lists available July 29 January 3 July 21 January 5 July 26 January 3 July 25
Applications for all exams due August 31 January 20 September 1 January 19 August 30 January 17 September 5
Exam Committee administers exam September 30 March 3 October 6 March 1 October 4 February 28 October 3
Director announces results to students October 31 March 27 October 27 March 29 October 25 March 28 October 24

Students write essay responses to questions in a take home format. These exam periods would be, usually, the first weekend in October and a weekend in late February/early March. Reading lists are emailed to the graduate student list-serve with the application two months before the exam. The list of texts changes with each offering of the exam. Below, students will also find statement of expectations for each exam area. See the Graduate Student Handbook, section 3.5, for more information on the M.A. exam process.

Statements of Expectations

  • Literature, Film, and Culture
  • Education in English Language Arts
  • Writing and Rhetoric
  • Literature and Rhetoric/Writing

M.A. Capstone: Fulfilling Your Comprehensive Exam Requirement

The M.A. capstone serves as the comprehensive exam requirement for the degree. This option is specifically mandated for students pursuing the online/hybrid General Studies in English degree.

Upon completing a minimum of 18 hours of coursework, students should reach out to a faculty member, preferably someone they've already collaborated with on a research project. The capstone project typically entails revising and expanding an existing paper into a well-crafted piece of academic writing with the potential for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Students in the master's area of Writing and Rhetoric may opt to create a creative work or works along with a reflective component. For candidates in the teaching profession, there's the option to develop a pedagogical project, also including a reflection component.

Following completion, the department will evaluate whether the project meets the criteria to be accepted as a capstone. It's important to note that due to faculty availability, the opportunity to pursue a capstone project may not be guaranteed for all students. Students who are unable to secure a faculty director must consider the comprehensive exam option.