MA research paper guidelines

Overview of process

When What Resource person

10 to 8 months before the anticipated completion of all MA degree requirements

Students consult informally with a variety of professors in the Department about ideas for a thesis/research paper topic. 

All faculty members
at least 7 months before the anticipated completion of MA degree requirements

Students submit a research proposal to the Graduate Officer containing a working title and a 50-100-word abstract. A potential supervisor must agree and sign this proposal prior to submission. The Graduate Officer will determine supervisory arrangements on the basis of this proposal.

Potential supervisors

Graduate Officer

at least 5 months before the anticipated completion of MA degree requirements

Students prepare a prospectus in consultation with the supervisor and submit it to the Graduate Officer, who will give it to a faculty member to read and assess, and occasionally to a second if a further opinion is required. The Graduate Officer will then inform the student of the results of the assessment, and will allow the student to begin work on the thesis or will suggest an alternate path. The Graduate Officer will also assign two readers for a thesis and one reader for a research paper. The student in consultation with the supervisor and the reader(s) will determine possible submission and/or defence dates. 


Graduate Officer

normally at least 4 months before the anticipated completion of MA degree requirements Prospectus approval required in order to be allowed to continue towards completion of MA.


Graduate Officer

at least 3 weeks before the anticipated completion of MA degree requirements

Submit three unbound hard copies of the thesis or two hard unbound copies of the research paper to the Graduate Officer after the supervisor has agreed to this submission. For thesis students the Graduate Officer will set a date for the oral defence.


Graduate Officer

MA prospectus guidelines

  • Title: A title reflecting the topic and the perspective taken by the student. 
  • Research Question: A description of the research question(s) to be addressed. This need not necessarily be formulated as a question, but it should capture the main issues being taken up in the study. 
  • Objectives: A description of the objectives of the thesis with regard to the research question(s) and its contribution to knowledge (including a succinct and well-defined thesis statement or argument). 
  • Context: A summary of the context surrounding the primary work(s) and/or research question (consisting mainly of a critical review of research and an explanation of how the student’s research fits into previous scholarship). 
  • Methodology: The method(s) to be employed in analyzing the research question according to the direction given by the thesis statement/argument. 
  • Outline: An outline of chapter divisions, with chapter titles and a brief indication of the content of each.
  • Timeline: A timeline for the completion of the thesis. 
  • Works cited: A list of works cited in MLA or APA style. 

The prospectus must be typed, double-spaced, and written according to the MLA Handbook or the APAPublication Manual, and adhere to UW thesis regulations. The MA prospectus should be about 10 (and no more than 12) pages long (including works cited).

MA research paper requirements

  • The Master’s Research Paper is an in-depth study of an approved topic. This research paper may grow out of a formal course, but cannot be an expansion of a paper for which the student has received credit. 
  • The Master’s Research Paper will demonstrate that the student has a thorough knowledge of the subject matter and that she/he is familiar with the major research related to it. 
  • The Master’s Research Paper will be between 30 and 40 pages and written in accordance with the standards for page formatting, notes and works cited as described in the most recent edition of the MLA Handbook / APA Publication Manual
  • The student has to register formally for the Master’s Research paper through the Graduate Studies Office.
  • Both the student's supervisor and a reader evaluate the research paper independently. Normally, the reader should be given a minimum number of four working days to read the 30–40 page Masters Research Paper. 
  • The supervisor and the reader discuss their respective evaluations of the paper and agree on a common grade if possible. The passing grade is 70%. 
  • The supervisor then discusses corrections, criticism and suggestions with the student and submits the grade. The student shall then supply the graduate secretary with a clean revised copy for archival filing. The supervisor is responsible for the incorporation of the corrections.
  • If the passing grade (70%) is not achieved, the student will be asked to resubmit the research paper upon integrating changes requested by the readers. If the research paper is not deemed acceptable even after resubmission, the student may be asked to withdraw from the program. 
  • In case of an irreconcilable disagreement as to the grade, the supervisor and the reader will submit written reports explaining their grades to the Graduate Officer. The Graduate Officer (in exceptional circumstances the Chair) will decide the final grade.