Thesis Course and Requirements

Thesis Course 

During their fourth semester, students enroll in either ENCW 618 (Prose: Final Project Course) or ENCW 619 (Poetry in the Expanded Field: Final Project Course). Intended as a capstone to the MFA experience, students in this course create a thesis that showcases their work while developing skills to articulate their own creative goals and practice. The thesis can be a logical extension/revision of previous work or a new creation, that can be realized within the given time frame.

Students should organize their thesis around a guiding concept, theme, or question found in their creative work or practice. The thesis incorporates several components, which altogether demonstrate some of the many forms and methodologies that writers/makers may use when approaching a question, idea, and curiosity.

As part of this course, students work with their course instructor to develop and submit a thesis proposal to the MFA Program by the date designated in the academic calendar. The proposal should be no more than four pages in length. They should discuss: 1) the central concept that the creative work will address, 2) the traits of genre, form, material, and craft that are most important to the thesis, and 3) some of the artistic/literary works that inform the student’s understanding of the thesis. Additionally, it may address possibilities for the student’s craft talk/installation and final performance. We understand that creative work often shifts in its own making; while the proposal is intended to provide a roadmap, it’s interactive, shifting in response to the journey.

Some questions to consider while drafting the thesis proposal include:

  • What is your thesis’s central concept, theme, or question? (It may be helpful to think about finding a thread that runs through a variety of work made during the course of the program.)
  • How might your specific documents and/or artifacts demonstrate that concept, theme, or question? What excites you about making this work? Why did you choose this form and/or media?
  • How is your thesis in conversation with other makers and artworks (including books, videos, performances, etc.), especially, but not limited to, those you have studied or encountered while in this program? 

The MFA Program Coordinator will collect the thesis proposals and send them to the mentoring and advising faculty for their written responses. These responses are intended to provide feedback or additional considerations while engaging students in a conversation about their work. Once received, the program coordinator will assemble all three short responses into a document to be emailed to the student. Students are welcome to follow up with the faculty directly. In general, we do not require a re-submission of a revised proposal unless told otherwise by the thesis instructor. Ideally, the time between the student submitting the proposal and receiving the feedback will be no longer than two weeks.

Each thesis should include:

1. Manuscript and/or Artifacts

  • This is the thesis document/artifacts submitted to the MFA program. It should be a substantial work or collection of works (e.g., a novel, a collection of stories, poems, images, videos, recordings, or a combination of various media and/or documentation). Specific expectations will be determined in conversation with the thesis course instructor.
  • Submit hardcopy and digital copy. For non-paper media, include links to work-hosted and easily viewable sites (Google Drive, Vimeo, YouTube, etc.). Unless there is a formal reason to format otherwise, content should be double-spaced, 12-pt font with 1” margins.
  • Due: see the academic calendar

2. Annotated Encounter List

  • Students are required to submit a bibliographic list of at least twenty-five works (books, films, visual art, performance, mixed media, etc.) that they’ve engaged with over the course of their time in the MFA program.
  • The annotations should explicitly connect their learning and/or thesis to the referenced work (consider what you learned, borrowed, or responded to).
  • The Encounter List should be formatted according to either MLA or APA guidelines; either format is fine but must be consistent throughout the list. See the MFA Program Guide/Annotated Encounter List on the Stetson Library site for additional guidelines and assistance.
  • Due: see the academic calendar

 3. Afterword

  • The critical afterword articulates the conceptual parameters of a student’s thesis, gesturing toward the central concept, theme, or question.
  • This afterword can be approached as a critical essay and/or artist statement. It has a three-page minimum, no max.
  • Due: see the academic calendar

4. Craft Talk/Installation 

  • The craft talk/installation is an opportunity for students to share their ideas and/or processes with an audience of faculty and peers. The specific format will be determined based on the residency site and in conversation with the cohort. Previous formats include open studios, lectures, teaching demos and virtual meetings. As the format changes depending on the residency location, the talk/installation is an opportunity to consider site-specificity.
  • After the presentations, students and faculty can ask the graduating students about their work.
  • Due: offered at the partial fifth residency

5. Final Performance

  • The final performance celebrates and demonstrates students’ work and is open to the public.
  • As so often demonstrated by guest and faculty performances, students are encouraged to consider all audio-visual-sensory aspects of their performance.
  • Due: offered at the partial fifth residency

Submit a digital and physical copy of your thesis to the MFA Program by the date on the academic calendar. The submission must include the following components: Manuscript/Artifacts, Annotated Encounter List, and Afterword.

Submit digital copies as a PDF with live links to non-paper Artifacts (video, photography, sound, etc.), uploaded and hosted on a separate site. Please ensure these links are accessible and working. (Students may, but are not required to, submit non-paper aspects on a thumb drive or other media; the digital PDF with links covers those pieces.) Submit the digital copy via email to the MFA Director and MFA Program Coordinator.

The physical copy should include all paper/print-based material in the Manuscript/Artifacts, the Afterword, and the Annotated Encounter List. The physical copy must be bound in a stable system (e.g., coil or wire bind, perfect-bound, velo bind). A three-ring binder or clip is NOT an acceptable binding method due to the potential for lost material. Physical copies must be delivered or mailed to the Stetson English Department.

Note: Students retain complete copyright to their creative materials. The electronic and physical copies will be filed in the MFA of the Americas program office (not the Stetson library), for accreditation and assessment purposes only.

For further inquiries, please email the MFA Director or Program Coordinator.

Mailing Address: MFA Program Director, Stetson University, MFA of the Americas, Department, 421 N. Woodland Blvd Unit 8300, DeLand, FL 32723