GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
MA IN ENGLISH WITH A CONCENTRATION IN FOLKLORE STUDIES DEGREE
CAPSTONE: THESIS OR PROJECT GUIDELINES
Every MA in English with a concentration in Folklore Studies degree culminates in either a thesis or a project based on original fieldwork or other type of research (e.g. archival, library, etc.). The thesis or project must show evidence of original ideas within a scholarly framework. A student’s research committee evaluates each of these based on the same expectation of quality.
To find information about George Mason University’s graduate policies, please visit: https://catalog.gmu.edu/policies/academic/graduate-policies/ - ap-6-1
To find information about the course/credit requirements for the MA in English with a concentration in Folklore Studies, please visit: https://folklore.gmu.edu/programs/la-ma-engl-flks/requirements
Master’s degree time limit:
Master's degree students have six (6) years from the time of first enrollment as a degree-seeking student in the program to complete their degrees. International students attending in F-1 or J-1 status also have more restrictive time limits; contact the Office of International Programs and Services for information. Students who are given permission to re-enroll following an absence from Mason may not count the six-year time limit as beginning on the date of re-enrollment. Students who will not meet published time limits because of compelling circumstances beyond their control may request an exception to this policy by petitioning their dean for a single extension of one calendar year prior to the expiration of their time limit. Students seeking an extension due to a parental leave of absence (PLoA) are referred to AP.6.4.5. If any extension is granted, the total time limit for completion of the degree will not exceed seven (7) years. Failure to meet the time limits or to secure approval of an exception to this policy through the process described in AP.6.6.2 shall be considered a failure to make satisfactory academic progress and result in termination from the program under AP.6.6.2.
Thesis or Project Committee
Students should work with the Director of the Folklore Program (or designee) to form a committee composed of at least three members.
Thesis and Project Credits
Candidate selecting the thesis option shall obtain written permission from their Folklore Program research committee chair and register for a minimum of 3 credits of FOLK 799, Thesis. A candidate selecting the project option shall follow the same procedure and register for a minimum of 3 credits of FOLK 790, Project. Upon completion of coursework, Master's students must maintain continuous enrollment in 790/799, excluding summers, each semester until the thesis is complete and has been successfully submitted to the library. Students who are completing their thesis in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of 799 in the summer. Graduation candidates who miss the library deadline for thesis submission but do submit successfully before the next semester begins do not have to register for 799 in the next semester.
Assigning grades (for committee chair only)
The committee chair is the instructor of record for the student’s individualized section of FOLK 799/790 and must upload a grade at the end of each semester. The chair must not submit a final grade of S (satisfactory, or “pass”) until every member of the committee has formally approved the thesis or project!
Grade options for FOLK 799/790 are limited to:
Thesis and Project Guidelines
A thesis, usually 60-100 pages, is a substantial paper presenting independent research that makes a contribution to the current body of knowledge in a scholarly field. The author may conduct an original investigation or develop an original interpretation of existing research and/or literature. A thesis adheres to a standard format, generally including five basic chapters or divisions: an introduction and statement of the problem, a review of the literature pertinent to the problem, an explanation of the materials and methods used to solve the problem, a discussion of results, and a conclusion. A formal bibliography of references cited in the thesis is also required. Theses are made publicly available through the library.
A project is more flexible, but just as rigorous and includes the following options:
All projects must include a written component, usually a 20-30 page paper that explains the project and situates it within a scholarly framework. Your paper should be a coherent presentation and discussion of your project. Some things to consider are (not necessarily in this order): a brief description of the project, an explanation of its lines of inquiry, an overview of the goals and objectives of the project, a description and reflection on research methods, engagement with the relevant scholarly literature, and a reflection on the project’s strengths and weaknesses.
Length & Scope: The length and scope of a project should be proportional to 3 credits of graduate work, but the specific requirements are ultimately at the discretion of the committee.
Submission: All project deliverables must be submitted in a format (hard or electronic version text (nature of project determines format); CD, DVD, thumbdrive, or permanent URL for other deliverables) suitable for easy review and long-term storage.
Research proposal: the research proposal is a 3-4-page document submitted to a student’s research committee PRIOR to conducting research. The proposal should be approved by the entire committee prior to students’ beginning research.
Proposal Elements: All thesis/project proposals include the following elements:
Steps Toward Completing Thesis/Project:
Students should work with their committee to determine the timeline for their individual thesis/projects. Below is a list of steps to be completed with suggested timeline.
 If planning to research for a thesis, visit https://oria.gmu.edu/topics/human-subjects/ for information about Mason’s policies and requirements for conducting research with human subjects.
Summer research and graduation: GMU folklore faculty are on 9-month contracts. Summers are typically devoted to their research and other non-teaching/advising professional obligations. Students should expect advising, review of drafts of theses and projects, and graduation to take place during the regular academic year unless they have made special arrangements with their committee members.
Submitting Thesis or Project
Formatting: All theses must conform to the guidelines of University Dissertation & Thesis Services. Theses must be submitted for the Format Review. Note that format review deadline date is several days before the final deadline. Please visit the website for information about your semester of graduation.
Submitting a Thesis or Project
In accordance with published guidelines, the candidate must apply for graduation through Patriotweb no later than the date published by the University Registrar: https://registrar.gmu.edu/students/graduation/timelines/. All candidates must be registered for a minimum of three one credit hours of graduate work during the actual term of graduation. Each candidate should check with the Folklore Program and the Graduate School at least two terms before anticipated graduation to verify that all requirements will or have been met. Students should not plan to graduate in the summer unless they have received confirmation that committee members will be available during that time (many faculty have nine- month contracts and are not available during summer term).