In the final semester, each student will submit a final project based upon original research, writing, and/or production. The student should choose the topic based upon his or her research interests in consultation with a faculty adviser.

There are many possible projects a student can pursue as part of their graduate study within the English and Media Studies Program. These include a traditional Master’s thesis, a comprehensive exam based on a reading list, a website, a podcast, a documentary film, a digital edition of a text, a lesson plan unit for teaching, a scholarly article, a “big data” project, a curated exhibit, among many others.


Students should contact faculty they wish to work with early in their studies but no later than the penultimate semester of their studies. Together with their faculty adviser, MA candidates will create a capstone rubric that outlines the requirements for their project. The signed, final rubric should be submitted to the graduate committee for approval before the student’s final semester begins.

Capstone Requirements

Regardless of their medium, all Capstone projects should address the following specific elements. All projects must:

  • Be situated within a scholarly or artistic context. How the project relates to previous scholarship or ongoing academic debates should be clearly articulated. The student needs to demonstrate their familiarity with these debates in the project’s introduction and through their bibliography.
  • Have a clearly articulated methodology. Students should explain how and why they picked primary and secondary sources and what the parameters of their analysis are. In short, the student wants to explain how the project was created and why it matters. This methodology will be related to the project’s theoretical basis.
  • Acknowledge and articulate a theoretical basis. While not all projects will be heavily engaged with theory, all projects—whether one knows it or not—have a theoretical basis. The student must, at a minimum, demonstrate that they are self-conscious about the theories with which they are engaging, amplifying and/or refuting to make their argument.
  • Make a persuasive argument supported by reasons and evidence.
  • Answer the “so what?” question. That is, explain why the reader/viewer/listener should care about the argument being made. What are the project’s larger implications for scholarship, writing, journalism, education and/or media?
  • Include a full scholarly apparatus, such as source citation and a complete bibliography. Either the MLA or Chicago style are acceptable citation formats.

Additional Requirements

Any additional requirements unique to the student’s project should be agreed upon with the faculty adviser as necessary.