Current Students

Important Forms

Application for Graduate Assistantship: Students who desire to apply for a graduate assistantship should fill out this application and submit it to the chair of the department chair.

Declaration of Major: File a declaration of major form after completing no fewer than twelve and, preferably, no more than fifteen semester hours, including ENGL 5340 and, ideally, at least one creative writing workshop. At this time you declare your degree plan and establish “candidacy.” The declaration of major is required before you may submit and defend the portfolio, write a thesis, transfer credits from previous graduate work, and substitute courses.

Appointment of Thesis Committee: Due the first day of classes of Thesis I, this form should be accompanied by a "proto-prospectus," a 3 to 4 page summary of the thesis project and the student's plan for its completion. This should also include a working bibliography that reflects the student's ongoing and anticipated reading and research in support of the project. It is submitted to the director of the MFA program.

Thesis Prospectus: Due the last day of classes of Thesis I, this form should be accompanied by the completed prospectus, an 8 to 10 page summary of the thesis project and the student's plan for its completion, as well as the working bibliography as above. It is submitted to the director of the MFA program, the chair of the English department, and the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences for final approval.

Dissertation/Thesis Electronic Route Sheet: Upon successful completion of the defense of the thesis, an electronic route sheet should be initiated by the student. The electronic route sheet requires the approval of the thesis director, the dean of the college, the Newton Gresham Library Director, and the dean of graduate studies. A separate thesis defense form, required by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, must be printed and then signed by the committee members as well as the dean of the college.

Portfolio Declaration: Due the first day of the classes for the semester in which you intend to submit your portfolio, the form establishes your evaluators for the portfolio.

Portfolio Oral Defense Dates: Due by the end of the first week of classes for the semester in which you intend to submit your portfolio, this form establishes the dates, times, and locations for each part of the portfolio.

Portfolio Evaluation Final Report: This form is completed by your evaluators and, with their approval, submitted to the director of the MFA program, the chair of the English department, and the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences for final approval.

Portfolio

The intention of the portfolio is to assure that when you enter post-MFA life, you are equipped with resources that both demonstrate the professional value of your MFA degree and that serve your needs as working writers. We have sought to build into the portfolio process a degree of flexibility, recognizing that not all students who take the MFA will pursue the same professional paths after completion of the degree. While some students may pursue opportunities to teach creative writing—in colleges and universities, in high schools and community centers, in arts programs and prisons, others may choose to work in the publishing industry as editors, designers, or marketers, or as curators of a reading series, reviewers of books, conductors of interviews, or even agents for other authors.

When MFA students have successfully completed at least 24 credit hours within the MFA program at SHSU with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, they may apply to complete and submit their portfolio. The portfolio is designed to allow students to demonstrate their preparedness for a successful professional career in the fields of writing, editing, and publishing.

The portfolio consists of both written and oral components. All students must successfully complete both the written and oral components of Part I (Professional Development), and then may select either the written and oral components of either Part II (The Teaching of Creative Writing) or Part III (The Art & Craft of Creative Writing).

All written components will be evaluated by the MFA faculty as a whole, and all oral components will be evaluated by at least two MFA faculty members. In the end, students will receive a mark of high pass, pass, or fail. Any student who fails any element of the portfolio will be required to successfully complete that element in order to receive credit for the successful completion of the portfolio. All portfolios must be successfully completed before the last day of classes in the semester of the defense. To receive a mark of high pass, a student must receive “Exceeds Expectations” on at least 8 of the 10 elements and may not fail any element.

Students must be enrolled in the program in the semester in which they submit and defend their portfolio.

In advance of the semester in which a student wishes to defend their portfolio, they should request an advisor from among the MFA faculty, and with that advisor, determine which faculty member will be the second evaluator for the oral defense.

Timeline

First Day of the Semester: Submission of Portfolio Declaration Form and Schedule of Oral Defense Dates to the Director of the MFA Program

No later than the Monday of the 10th Week of the Semester: Submission of Written Materials

No later than the Monday of the 12th Week of the Semester: Report of Evaluation of Written Materials

No later than the 13th Week of the Semester: Conduct of Oral Defenses

No later than the Monday of the 14th Week of the Semester: Report of Evaluation of Oral Defense

Thesis

The thesis—a book-length creative work—is the culmination of the MFA degree. It may be a novel or a book of poems, a collection of short stories or essays, or a hybrid work that defies such straight-forward classification. It is accompanied by a critical introduction that situates the work in some historical or theoretical context. During the thesis project, students work closely with their thesis directors to create, shape, and revise the thesis, which is then defended before a committee of three readers, including the director. In Thesis I, students meet on a regular basis with their director to develop and build the project. In Thesis II, students complete revisions on the work and defend the work before their committee.

The Critical Introduction

While the core of your MFA thesis will be a book-length creative work—a collection of short stories, poems, or essays, a novel, a memoir, or other work of creative nonfiction—it will also include a critical introduction of 15 to 25 pages. The critical introduction requires students to place their creative work in some theoretical or historical context. It is not merely a laundry list of influences and books once read, but rather a recognition that writers pursue projects that build upon and contribute to the fields of art and literature, both consciously and unconsciously. While a writer outside the academy may never have to “explain herself,” we believe that in the context of an MFA program, writers should be able to cogently and coherently discuss their own work in these larger contexts. You will work closely with your thesis director to define the parameters of this aspect of the project, and to develop it sufficiently. For examples, see the theses stored in the Department of English office.

Steps and Advice

You can find here a step-by-step guide to the administrative process of writing, submitting, and defending your thesis, including deadlines, and here you can find some advice as you embark on the process.


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