College of Arts and Sciences

English M.A. Exit Options

Christivel Zulu, English Graduate Student.

The exit options represent the final and arguably most important part of your degree. They comprise the final 6 s.h. you will take as a student in the program, and they demand all the skills you have learned in your coursework. They represent a tremendous opportunity and challenge to focus, specialize, and develop substantial scholarly expertise in a particular topic. The exit option can take three forms: Applied Project; Directed Readings; or Thesis.

In consultation with your director, you will need to write and file a proposal before you can register for hours in the exit-option you have chosen. This document will define your topic, timeline, expectations, and more. Samples can be found in the Appendix in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Applied Project

The Applied Project is often tied to a professional situation. Past students have produced varied projects including: creating a comprehensive writing style manual for a business; reviewing, redesigning and implementing new assessment practices in a high school; creating a website devoted to the history of animation; working with digital media or film to produce a research-content project. The applied project includes a research-based content part with a paper of 25-30 pages, with a reading list of at least 20 secondary sources and it may also include an annotated bibliography.

Directed Readings

The Directed Readings is organized for broad reading rather than in-depth scholarly writing, and instead of producing and defending a large written argument, this option culminates in an oral and written examination by your committee that establishes your expertise in your area. The content of the directed readings and the parameters of the exam are developed in consultation with your committee.


The thesis is a sustained work of scholarly research and argument on a specific topic. Typically, thesis projects are between 40-60 pages, often divided into two or three chapters. Especially for those considering further graduate work, the thesis grounds your scholarly identity in a document that can serve as a writing sample, mainly for academic jobs.

Tralynn Pullen.
Kristin Sheppard.