Internships, Independent Study, and Thesis Work

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Both MA programs provide opportunities for students to pursue independent research and professional applications for graduate work in English. After consultation with MA Program Directors, students may choose to substitute an independent study, an internship, and/or thesis research for conventional elective courses. When deciding to undertake one of the following alternative courses, students should keep in mind that independent work requires extra effort, time, and self-discipline. Consult with your MA Program Director as you decide whether one of the following options is for you.

Internships (ENG 509).
For many MA students, internships can serve as ideal alternative courses and can even lead to full-time positions. Current internships introduce students to careers in community college teaching; publishing, writing and editing; translation; and other humanities-based professions. Please note that students must have completed at least six courses in their programs before pursuing an internship. Community college teaching requires students to be nearly finished with their degrees. Note, too, depending on the nature of the work, internships usually require successful completion of relevant course work. For example, a student wishing to do an internship in publishing should have completed several of the following classes: ENG “490 Writing for Magazines,” ENG 497 “Writing the Literature of Fact,” ENG 496 “Editing,” and/or relevant “Topics” courses. For the internship in community college teaching, you will need requisite classes in “Teaching Writing,” “Teaching Literature,” and the like. If you are interested in taking an internship, you should contact your program director at least one quarter before you plan to do the internship.

Prospective interns should also keep in mind that because internships require ten to fifteen hours of work per week at the job site during the internship period, those people with full-time jobs or other responsibilities during normal business hours will likely have only limited internship opportunities. You can get a list of internship opportunities from the internship directors (Professor Goffman for the community college teaching internships, or Professor Anton for all other interships), but you must first consult with your program director about your eligibility before you speak to the internship directors.

Independent Study (ENG 500).
The Independent Study fulfills elective credit in both Master’s programs. This option allows students to undertake intensive and advanced study of a topic, which culminates in a major research paper or project. The Independent Study should not be used to fill requirements in the MA programs except in special circumstances to be approved by the Program Directors. Instead, students should pursue an Independent Study to focus more intensively on an idea or a skill previously developed in their regular coursework. Some recent MA in English Independent Study topics include women and courtly love in medieval English romances, psychoanalytic theory, and gender and power in selected Shakespeare plays. An Independent Study may also serve as a gateway to the writing of an MA Thesis: as preparation for taking Thesis Research (ENG 501) students may generate, in consultation with a faculty advisor, an extensive annotated bibliography and prospectus for a thesis. Students interested in undertaking an Independent Study must first discuss their plans with an MA Program Director and with the prospective supervising professor, under whose general areas of expertise the intended topic falls. Approval of an Independent Study requires completion of a short proposal detailing the scope and objectives of proposed research and describing the written work that the study will produce.

Thesis Research (ENG 501).

Please read the university’s Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations and the English Department’s Thesis Option page before beginning your thesis work.

Thesis Research involves research and writing of a substantial (40-50 pp.), original contribution to a particular area of scholarly inquiry. The thesis option is intended for those students who, near the end of their coursework, possess particular expertise in an area of literary, rhetorical, or composition-related study or in a creative writing project, and who demonstrate exceptional ability at independent research and writing. Ideally, a thesis will develop from a research paper or project completed for a graduate course. Students must assemble a Thesis Committee comprising one faculty director and one second reader.

Thesis projects typically take two or more academic terms to complete, and students in the MA programs may substitute four credit hours of Thesis Research for one elective. Further work on the thesis may be supported by taking “Candidacy Continuation” (ENG 502), which involves only a nominal registration fee and allows students to continue using the library and other university resources. Note that students electing to count thesis hours toward their MA degrees must complete the thesis in order to graduate. Writing a thesis does not exempt a student from taking the MA Exam. To discuss this option, see your Program Director.

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