What follows is information about the master’s thesis and candidacy for the Master of Fine Arts degree. In their second year of study, students perform the revision necessary to turn two years' of writing into a coherent, complete, and polished thesis: a collection of essays, poems, or short stories; a novel, a memoir, or other work of creative nonfiction. In the fall semester, the thesis director may be considered an informal advisor, providing students with general guidance and helping them to create deadlines and a plan for revision. In addition to the thesis, students must complete the requisite coursework to be advanced to candidacy for the M.F.A. degree, they must meet all deadlines, and submit their final thesis to ProQuest to participate in commencement ceremonies.
You must include preface materials (a cover and copyright page) in the final version of your ProQuest thesis submission. For your reference, please download sample preface materials below.
The overall scope of the thesis will be arranged between the student and the thesis director, but minimum page limits have been set at 36 pages for poetry (80 maximum) and 70 pages for fiction and creative nonfiction (100 maximum).
Director and Second Reader
The Second Reader will give one serious reading of the manuscript prior to the final oral exam, either through one meeting with the student or by marking the text and giving it to the student before the orals. The Second Reader will also be present for and participate (either in person, via Skype or conference call) in the oral exam along with the Thesis Advisor. The Second Reader can be any faculty member in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, the English Department or any visiting writer with whom a student has taken a course.
During the spring semester of the second year, each MFA candidate is required to pursue a tutorial course of study under the direction of an assigned faculty writer in the student’s genre. Students meet with their advising professor several times during the semester to confer on the following aspects of the thesis: final revision and editing of individual pieces to be included in the manuscript, selection and arrangement of material, and coherence of the work as a whole. English 400 is a non-unit bearing course. Through this tutorial, the student performs the revision necessary to turn two years' worth of writing into a coherent, complete, and polished book-length thesis.
Petition for Candidacy
In order for the M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing to be granted, students are required to fill out a Petition for Candidacy form and submit their thesis to ProQuest. The Petition for Candidacy Form must be turned in to the Coordinator no later than Monday, May 2, 2016. The coordinator will submit the completed candidacy form and a copy of the academic evaluation to the registrar once as student has satisfactorily uploaded their thesis to ProQuest.
*Note: diplomas are sent to the permanent address on record with the Office of the Registrar. Please be sure this is accurate with their office.
Please see below to download Petition for Candidacy Form.
Your oral defense must be scheduled with your thesis director and second reader no later than the last week of February 2016. Please reach out to both your thesis director and your second reader to schedule your oral defense in May 2016. Send the finalized date to the coordinator.
The thesis defense explicitly ties the coursework required for the M.F.A. degree to the work of the thesis. It is designed to
1) assess your knowledge of contemporary literature and your particular genre as you have been studying those disciplines at Saint Mary’s
2) allow you to articulate relationships between your own work and its literary contexts
It is the student's responsibility to provide their thesis director and second reader with a final version of their thesis at least one week prior to their scheduled oral defense.
Please see below for sample oral defense questions.
The program requires one (1) hard copy signature page for our records. Student is responsible to create and format the signature page (sample attached below) and must procure original signatures from their Thesis Director and Second Reader at the scheduled oral defense. Immediately following their oral defense the student should drop off the signed signature page to the Coordinator who will obtain the remaining signatures.
Please see below for sample preface materials, including signature page.
Degree Processing Fee
This $120 fee covers your degree processing and regalia and is due no later than Friday, April 15, 2016. All students, regardless of whether or not they plan to participate in commencement ceremonies, must pay this fee to have their degree processed. Please make checks or money orders payable to "Saint Mary's College of CA" and delivered to the Business office in Filippi Hall (across from the Registrar's Office).