Master's Project

Each student in the Master's Program must submit an MA Qualifying Paper (also known as the MA Project). The following guidelines are intended to serve as a general outline of procedures to be followed as students prepare their papers; more specific questions will arise which should be discussed with the thesis director (see below).


Students planning to write an MA Qualifying Paper should find a Director for the project any time in the academic year before the thesis is to be written. For instance, a student writing a thesis in the spring of the second year should find a Director for the project in the spring of the first year.

At the start of the semester in which the student plans on submitting the MA project, the student must file for graduation with the Graduate College.


Students need to enroll in English 597 to write their papers, but they should begin planning and discussing their projects earlier. Prior to registration in ENGL 597, students should complete an Independent Study/Research form, signed by their project supervisor, and attach a 100-150-word summary of their project. If the required amount of credits for the Master's Degree has been met (32), students can register for zero (0) hours.

The Director and Reader

The MA Qualifying Paper has a Director and a second reader. The Director is a professor, usually in the English department, for whom the student has completed work related to the thesis, or with whom the student has worked previously in some capacity. The second reader should be a professor in the English department or in any other department in the university. The thesis Director and the reader review drafts of the paper and complete a Master's Project: Certificate of Approval Form once they are satisfied that the paper has been completed in a satisfactory manner.

Content and Style

The Critical Qualifying Paper should be 25-35 pages in length, following the directions for format and annotation set forth in the MLA Style Manual, The Chicago Manual of Style (14th edition), or the APA Style Manual, as the Director of the paper determines. For the purposes of archiving, papers should not be stapled or bound, rather using a folder, metal binder clip or paper clip.

NOTE: Students are not required to follow the UIC Thesis Manual, which offers the requirements for a doctoral dissertation, not a MA Qualifying Paper.

The paper should represent work done at the graduate level. It may be a revised version of one written for a 400 or 500-level course or may have originated in an independent study.

The Critical Qualifying Paper should demonstrate:
  • Thorough knowledge of the text(s) selected for analysis.

  • Ability to draw sound and theoretically-informed conclusions from critical analysis and scholarly research.

  • Knowledge of relevant critical and theoretical works, if applicable.

  • Knowledge and use of relevant scholarly tools where appropriate (including manuscript sources, standard editions, letters, biographies, and bibliographies).

  • Good writing and scholarly form appropriate to the subject matter.

The Creative Qualifying Paper:
  • Students in the Program for Writers submit a substantial collection of the student's work, such as a volume of poems, a novella, a portion of a novel, or a collection of stories. A miscellaneous volume, containing, for example, poems, critical essays, and short stories, is also acceptable and the nature of the project will dictate the length of the manuscript (prose manuscripts usually run 50-75 pages; poetry manuscripts usually run 25-50).


Those students planning to graduate should have their approved paper accompanied by a completed MA Certificate of Approval form to the Office of Graduate Studies at least one (1) weeks before the end of the semester in which they plan to graduate.

The program code for MA students in the English Department is: 20FS0311MA.


Digital and hard copies of the MA Projects & signed MA Certificate of Approval form are due to the student's UIC Box/the English Department's Office of Graduate Studies (UH 2002) no later than two weeks before the end of the semester.

Relevant deadlines are available on our website on our Deadlines page.


Students are given a grade of "S" or "satisfactory" after having completed English 597. If the project is not complete, they are given a grade of "DFR" or "deferred" the student must complete work to receive the satisfactory grade and their degree.


Students who are on track with their project and intend to graduate need to file online with the Graduate College.