M.A. Thesis Criteria
Creative Writing Concentration
The M.A. concentration in Creative Writing culminates in a thesis—a book-length collection of original fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry with a theoretical or craft essay introduction, developed under the guidance of the student's thesis committee. This creative thesis is required of all students in our Creative Writing Program.
Professional and Technical Communication Concentration
A thesis in the field of Professional and Technical Communication should be between 60 and 100 pages long, include a synthesis of literature within the field related to the chosen research topic, and contribute original research to the field. This original research could take the form of a theoretical discussion, in which various research perspectives are critiqued, or it could be a primary research study, such as a case study, that also situates the student’s work within the field’s literature. The thesis might also be a combination of a theoretical discussion and a primary research study. The thesis topic should be chosen based on current research discussions in the field, as well as in consultation with the thesis advisor.
“Thesis—An attitude or position on a problem taken by a writer or speaker with the purpose of proving or supporting it. The term is also used for the paper written to support the thesis. …” (“Thesis”).
“Thesis/Dissertation—A thesis or dissertation is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author’s research and findings” (“Thesis/Dissertation”).
“We undertake research when we … make an argument in relation to what others have written” (MLA Handbook 3).
“Primary research is the study of a subject through firsthand investigation, such as analyzing a literary or historical text…” (MLA Handbook 3, italics original).
A Literature Thesis is a researched, persuasive argument of at least 60 pages, that analyzes one or more literary and/or cultural texts. This argument may provide a convincing reading or interpretation of each text or use another accepted methodology such as rhetorical analysis, linguistic analysis, or distant reading. A convincing reading surpasses a reading that is merely adequate, plausible, or reasonable. Specific textual references and other evidence support the argument. The thesis demonstrates consistent and effective control over the elements of composition in language appropriate to literary analysis. It is perceptive in its analysis and demonstrates writing that is clear and sophisticated.
“AP English Literature and Composition 2016 Scoring Guidelines.” The College Board, 2016.
MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed., Modern Language Association, 2009.
“Thesis.” A Handbook to Literature, by William Harmon, 12th ed., Longman, 2012, p. 477.
“Thesis/Dissertation.” Graduate Student Handbook, 2017-2018, Tennessee Tech University College of Graduate Studies, 2017, p. 17.
The Graduate Studies Committee approved these criteria on 12/13/2017.