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The Master's Thesis Option

The MA Thesis is an option for students with an interest in exploring in detail and depth a particular research topic. While the MA Thesis is not required for students pursuing a doctoral degree, it may be a desirable option in some cases. Students approved for the Thesis option must demonstrate the intellectual rigor, advanced writing skills, and efficient planning abilities necessary to complete an MA Thesis.

Any well-qualified student (normally defined as one who has not received any final course grade lower than A- and who has completed 9-15 hours of course work) may officially request to write a thesis.

A program of study is planned for each candidate in consultation with a thesis director and/or second reader. The director and second reader make up the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures MA thesis committee. The director and second reader should have established a record of publication and/or scholarship in the field of the thesis. The director shall be a full-time member of the faculty of the University. The definition of faculty shall include professional staff who hold secondary faculty appointments within the department or faculty with joint appointments in the MA student's unit. Faculty who have retired or resigned from the University may continue to chair committees of students whose work began under their direction prior to their retirement or departure from the University. Individuals who do not meet the above stated definition given for faculty status may co-chair the thesis committee provided that the other co-chair meets the definition for faculty status, or may serve as second readers.

The student must first seek an MA thesis director in the appropriate field/language (i.e. French/Spanish/Applied Linguistics) who is willing to direct the thesis. Together, the thesis director and student will create a proposal. The thesis proposal must be approximately one page of single-spaced text in length. The potential director and student will act in collaboration to select a second reader for the thesis. The second reader preferably shall be selected from the UD campus.

The Thesis Proposal and Thesis Proposal Notification Form must be sent to the appropriate GSC representative, who will circulate the proposal to the appropriate faculty in their language section for input and feedback, before submitting it to the Director of Graduate Studies. The student may register for thesis credit contingent upon project approval by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Once a student is registered, the director suggests a schedule of meetings during the first semester (See Thesis to MA Checklist for suggested schedule). In these tutorial sessions, the readings selected are discussed and an outline for the paper is established. Advice may be solicited from the second reader. At the end of the first semester, the student writes a report on progress made and outlines a schedule for completion of the work remaining in the second semester. A copy of the report is submitted to the thesis director, the second reader, and the Director of Graduate Studies. The thesis director will assign the student a grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

The director arranges the meetings for the second semester in which the drafts of the thesis are examined and revised. Advice may be solicited from the second reader, who reads the draft.

An MA thesis may be substituted for two courses (6 credits) in the MA-LLC or MA- LLCP programs.

The thesis may be written in either the target language or in English; however, the one-page abstract required by the Graduate School must be written in English. The thesis must follow the guidelines of the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (for theses written in the field of Literature) or the American Psychological Association Publication Manual (for theses written in the field of Second Language Acquisition.) For further information regarding the thesis writing process, see the Thesis Manual.

The text of theses written in the field of Literature (excluding endnotes and bibliography) must be at least 60 pages in length. Note: No length requirements apply to theses written in the field of Applied Linguistics.

A thesis defense is not required. However, the student may be questioned about his/her thesis during the MA Oral Comprehensive Examination.

The thesis director, second reader, and student should have the latest version of the regulations concerning theses and dissertations issued by the Office of Graduate Studies. All University regulations regarding format, deadlines, etc. must be followed. Please see the Thesis Dissertation Policies.

The thesis director gives the student an "S" or a "U" for the research portion of the project (first 3 credits) which takes place during the first semester. Upon completion of the thesis, a grade is given. The grade covers the two semesters of work (six credits) and replaces the "S" or "U" given in the first semester. The second reader is not required to sign off on the thesis or to approve the final grade for the project.

A bound hard copy of all completed theses must be delivered to the Graduate Secretary to be deposited in the Department's archives.

Study Abroad
Transfer Credits

Graduate Studies will accept up to nine credits of graduate-level work in which the student received a grade of at least a B- in the following categories:

Transfer credits in the major field earned at another university.

Transfer credits earned while participating in the exchange programs in Caen, Granada and future sites. Students will be permitted to earn up to six credits for one semester or nine credits for one year towards their MA at Delaware. Please note: Students who have already received the maximum nine hours of transfer credits allowable under University policy may not receive credit for course work done on departmental exchange programs. Regulations governing credit transfer for Departmental exchange programs are as follows:

  1. The credits will be awarded as transfer credits if possible; in this case, the courses for which credit is sought must be approved by the Chair of the student's language faculty. Normally, literature and literary theory courses offered in the target language will qualify for transfer. Once the student has identified the course(s) in which he/she would like to enroll, the student should immediately petition his/her language faculty Chair for approval of the course(s) for which credit is desired. The language faculty Chair will respond in writing as quickly as possible, sending a copy of the approval letter to the Director of Graduate Studies. Proper documentation in the form of a transcript from the international institution will normally be required in order to get approval for the credit transfer.
  2. In the absence of a course transcript, credits may also be awarded by examination, but only if prior approval has been granted according to the process outlined above. It is recommended that the examination consist of an oral interview conducted by the language faculty Chair who will ask the student to provide as evidence of course work the course syllabus or program, papers submitted, examinations taken, and a letter from the course professor certifying that the student has done at least good quality (i.e. B) work in the course. The language faculty Chair must then submit a recommendation to the Director of Graduate Studies who will give final approval if it is warranted.
  3. All courses will transfer pass/fail.
  4. Transfer credit will be awarded only for approved courses taken abroad; "life experiences," no matter how rich, do not qualify. Courses that require neither exams nor written papers are not eligible for credit transfer. Nor will independent studies conducted by University of Delaware faculty be approved unless the faculty member is in residence at the international site.

Intramural Credit Transfer

University regulations permit students to transfer up to nine credits from Continuing Education (CEND) to the Graduate School. These courses transfer with grades.

Leave of Absence

Students who wish to take a leave of absence before they have completed their requirements for the MA degree must put their request in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies, who, if it is approved by the Department, will forward it for the approval of the Graduate Studies Office (with a copy to the Chair of Graduate Studies, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures). During the period of the leave, they do not have library borrowing privileges. No sustaining fee is required. Students should be aware of the fact that the 5 year deadline for completing requirements for the degree is strictly enforced; a leave of absence slows progress towards degree completion and should be requested only in extraordinary circumstances.

Guidelines for Course Selection

Funded graduate students are expected to enrol only in graduate-level courses that count towards the MA-LLC or MA-LLCP degree program that they are pursuing in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. If a graduate student wishes to take a course unrelated to his/her field or take a course at the undergraduate level, either for credit or as a listener, s/he must submit a written request to the director of DLLC's Director of Graduate Studies, which must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. 

All courses must be chosen with the approval of the advisor and should represent as broad a perspective on the major literature as possible (i.e. students should avoid taking too many courses in one literary period). While graduate students are allowed by the University to take up to 12 credits a semester, the Department considers 9 graduate credits to be a reasonable course load for students working as TAs, RAs, or in the Media Center. A student wishing to take 12 graduate credits in a semester must request the approval of his/her advisor.

One course = three credits. Funded students must average at least 5 courses per year over the two year grant period. (FREN 533  French for Reading Knowledge, does not count towards these minima). Semesters spent on the exchange programs are not considered to be part of the funding period.

Graduate seminars (courses numbered 875) in the student's major language are obligatory each semester for all full-time students. Unlike 600-level courses which admit advanced undergraduates, these courses are open only to graduate students. A waiver of this requirement may be granted under the following circumstances:

  1. An identical course has been taken at the undergraduate or graduate level (this would apply, for example, to narrowly defined subject matter, such as single-author courses)
  2. There is a direct conflict with another required course for which there is no allowable substitute, and which the student will not have the opportunity to take in a subsequent semester
  3. In the case of double majors or major-minors: two 875 courses are offered at the same hour
  4. Double majors or major-minors in the LLC Program or in the LLCP Program have completed their course requirements in the literature in question.

Students should put their request in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will consult with the professor teaching the 875 course before granting (or denying) the waiver.

Students are discouraged from requesting independent study courses. However, in exceptional circumstances in which an independent study seems appropriate, students may request permission to take such a course. Their request must be put in writing and addressed to the Department Chair. They should indicate why they need to take the independent study course, who will supervise it, and what the topic is.

Teaching Assistants who enter the program in September must take Principles of Teaching Foreign Languages (LLCU 623) in their first semester, unless the student has taken an identical course as an undergraduate. Students who enter in mid-year must take the course the following September. Only those students who are enrolled in or have previously taken LLCU 623 will be allowed to teach.(Exception: students who have taken LLCU 621 and have participated in orientation may also teach).All recipients of a Graduate Assistantship (TAship, RAship, etc.) are required to take LLCU 623. If a student has completed course work judged equivalent to LLCU 622, 623 or 624 and can provide documentation (e.g. teaching portfolio, syllabi, teaching certificate), substitutions within the field of FL Pedagogy may be accepted.

Students receiving financial aid from the Department must take at least 50% of their course credits in the Department each semester.

Credits earned in FREN 533 (French for Reading Knowledge) may not be counted towards completion of the 30, 36, or 42-credit (depending upon option selected) MA degree in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Students may not take for graduate credit a course that has already been taken for undergraduate credit. (Example: if you've taken GRMN 422 "Age of Goethe" you may not take GRMN 622 "Age of Goethe.")

Students in the MA- LLCP (Masters in Languages, Literatures, Cultures, and Pedagogy) program or those in the MA-LLC (Masters in Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) program with a single major have a 30-credit requirement for the MA. Students on stipend (i.e., those with teaching or other responsibilities within the Department) are advised to plan their coursework in consultation with their advisors, so that they need take only two courses in their final semester, to allow themselves time to prepare for the MA Comprehensive Examination. Students pursuing the major-minor option of the MA-LLC degree or MA- LLCP will have to take three courses per semester for each of the four semesters in order to finish on time.

Students who wish to change their program in any way (MA- LLCP to MA-LLC or vice versa, the addition or substitution of a minor, etc.) must address their request in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Deadlines for Advanced Degree Application

While preparing for the comprehensive examinations, the student should be cognizant of the following deadlines: the deadline for degree application is September 15 for December degree conferralFebruary 15 for May degree conferral, and May 15 for August degree conferral. The application, attainable from Katie Gwaltney (103 Jastak-Burgess Hall) or from the Office of Graduate Studies, 234 Hullihen Hall, needs to be returned to the Graduate Studies Office following payment of the application fee (Master's fee is approximately $35) and the attainment of proper departmental signatures. The administrator for Graduate Student Academic Affairs does not sign the application until all degree requirements have been met. It is important to remember that if a student does not meet the application deadline for his/her desired graduation date, the graduation date will be changed to the next term. In this event, the student is not required to reapply or pay another application fee.


All students are assigned to an academic advisor in their major field(s) when they enter the program. MA-LLC students with a double major or a major and minor combination in French/ Italian/ Spanish will have two advisors. MA-LLCP students on certification track should also seek advisement from the Foreign Language Education Program Coordinator (currently Professor Alalou). 

The principal duties of the advisors are to explain program options to their advisees, to discuss the possibility of writing a master's thesis, to present the opportunities for studying abroad via the University's exchange programs, to help the students to obtain all the transfer credits to which they are entitled, and to inform their advisees about course load and course selection regulations in order to develop the soundest program possible for the student.

Advisees should not hesitate to contact their advisor(s) concerning questions, comments, or suggestions they may have in reference to their program of study. 

If a student wishes reassignment to another advisor, the request must be submitted in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Library Research

The University's Morris Library offers the following research services for Graduate Students:

DelCat Discovery

An online service which provides quick reference to books, journals, audiovisual media, and other resource materials shelved in the Library, available online, or available at libraries worldwide through Interlibrary Loan. There are some links to licensed materials that are only available to current University of Delaware students: use your UDelNet ID and password when prompted to access these online resources.

Modern Language Association International Bibliography

This bibliography is useful for finding both books and articles relevant to the subject of your research. If you are logging in from off-campus, use your UDelNet ID and password when prompted. 2-Factor authentication is now required when accessing UD addresses remotely. For help searching the MLA International Bibliography, contact the librarian for your discipline.

MLA Citation Style

Should a question arise concerning the format of a research paper or the manner in which a work should be cited, consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. These manuals are available at the Reference Desk or may be purchased in most local and online book stores. See also the Library's Citing Your Sources: MLA guide, the UD Writing Center's Resources and, the MLA's own Frequently Asked Questions about MLA Style. More information can be found on the MLA web site.

Study Carrels

Graduate students seeking quiet solitary study may apply for a study carrel in Morris Library:

  1. Proceed to the second floor Administrative Office located in Morris Library (831-2231).
  2. Applications are available: two to three pages in length; the applications require student information and the signature of either the Chair of the student's particular Department or the student's advisor.
  3. The completed application needs to be returned to the Administrative Office and requires a week to process.
  4. The student also needs to provide a deposit for the key to the carrel. Upon receipt of the key at the end of the semester, the deposit will be refunded.

Research Guides

Librarians maintain research guides by subject to help students find library resources relevant to their areas of study.

Return Policy

The library will loan books to University graduate students for 60 days. Visit the University of Delaware Information for Graduate Students page for more information.

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  • Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
  • Jastak-Burgess Hall
  • University of Delaware
  • 30 East Main St.
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-2591