Capstone Project

The MA Capstone project is a Graduate-level piece of critical inquiry that contributes to an established area in English language and/or literary studies. The MA Capstone can take various forms or platforms to be determined in collaboration by the student, his or her faculty adviser, and the DGS. These forms and platforms may include an article-length (approximately 5000-7500 words) critical essay based on a traditional seminar paper, revised in collaboration with the student’s faculty advisor; a pedagogy portfolio with a critical component; a digital project with a critical component; a personal essay or literary ethnography with a critical component; or a translation or edition with a critical component. 

Completion of the MA Capstone Project does not involve any additional registration beyond the 30 credits of course work.  An independent study to revise an existing paper cannot be used as one of the 10 required classes for the MA.

Committee: The committee consists of a Director, a Reader, and a representative of the Graduate Office (the Director of Graduate Studies or a member of the Graduate Committee).  In many cases involving a paper revision, the Director will be the professor for whom the paper was written and the Reader will be a professor in the same field of study. In all cases, the Director and Reader oversee the Capstone project; the representative of the Graduate Office reads only the final version of the project.

Timing: Full-time MA students should begin the process of choosing a project and finding a Director and Reader, preferably in their third and no later than the beginning of their fourth semester of study. Part-time students should consult the DGS about the timing of the Capstone Project.  The student must sign up for the Capstone Project no later than the second week of the semester in which the student plans to complete and defend the project.

Students should defend the Capstone Project sometime in the first ten weeks of their final semester in the MA program. Students work with their Directors to schedule the defense and must submit the project to their committee members at least two weeks before the defense. Students should contact the Graduate Office to reserve a room for the defense at least 6 weeks prior to the proposed date. At that time, the student should inform the Graduate Office of the date, time, and committee members of the Capstone Project.

Defense:  The one-hour defense of the Capstone Project begins with the student giving a brief presentation of the project, focusing on the work completed for the Capstone. In the cases of revised papers, this includes a focus on the revision process. The presentation is followed by an open discussion of the paper by the committee members and the student.

At the conclusion of the discussion, the committee assigns to the Writing Project one of three grades: "High Pass," a recognition of truly exemplary work requiring agreement of all committee members; "Pass," a judgment by at least two committee members that the paper fulfills the main goals of the Writing Project; and "Fail," a judgment by at least two committee members that the paper does not fulfill those goals. Students who receive a "High Pass" or "Pass" will make final revisions at the discretion of the Director; the final revision must be submitted to the Director no later than the end of the semester. Students who receive the grade of "Fail" may resubmit a revised paper in a subsequent semester. A second "Fail" will disqualify the student from receiving the MA.