Policies and Timelines Applying to Both M.A. Programs

Application Requirements

Applicants to either of the two master’s programs must submit:

  • Official transcripts of all previous postsecondary work
  • Official transcripts of TOEFL scores (for non-native speakers of English only)
  • A 500-word statement of purpose describing the applicant’s academic areas of interest and career goals
  • An example of written work, typically a 12-25 page academic paper written on a relevant topic
  • Completed Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) application form
  • Application fee
  • Three letters of reference to be independently submitted by the applicant’s referees
  • The general admissions standards established by the GSAS must also be fulfilled for acceptance.

To complete our M.A. programs, including the third-year language requirement, within the typical course of two years, students need to be highly self-motivated and should develop close working relationships with their academic advisors. Students may elect to graduate WITH or WITHOUT writing a Master’s thesis. The Master’s thesis (usually about 80-100 pages long) represents original work of highly polished quality and is significantly more substantive than a research paper. (See also the guidelines issued by the Graduate School for Master’s theses).  Instead of the thesis, students may decide to (re)-submit and defend two significantly revised research papers written in the program, each of which should be at least 30 pages long.

Master’s students planning to graduate WITHOUT THESIS:

2nd Year

  • First week of Fall Semester: Meet with your advisor to discuss graduation plans. 
  • First week of Spring Semester: Meet with your advisor to determine the two research papers, select the three members of the defense committee, agree on submission deadlines and schedule the defense.
  • End of March to Early April: Oral defense.

Master’s students planning to graduate WITH THESIS:

1st Year

  • End of Spring Semester: Approach a primary thesis advisor (who may but does not have to be identical with your academic advisor).

2nd Year

  • Fall and Spring Semesters: Enroll in L75 591 Directed Writing: Thesis.
  • First week of Spring Semester: Confirm a thesis committee of three readers, in conversation with your advisor, and schedule the oral defense.
  • Friday before Spring Break:  Final draft of the thesis is due to the thesis advisor.
  • End of March to early April: Oral defense.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in courses approved for their degree programs. Students with full or partial tuition remission are expected to maintain a significantly higher grade point average.

Students may be dismissed immediately for extreme academic underperformance. Examples of extreme underperformance might be two grades of C or below in one semester or three unfinished courses (I, X or N) in one semester. In all cases, unfinished courses should not remain on the record for longer than one semester. Students who encounter personal situations that contribute to academic underperformance have the option to request a Leave of Absence rather than continue enrollment with poor performance. Most academic difficulties are not of the severity associated with immediate dismissal.

Guidelines for Academic Probation and Dismissal

Academic Dismissal is distinct from withdrawal (initiated by the student), deactivation of a student’s record by a failure to register, and dismissal or other sanctions associated with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GSAS) Academic and Professional Integrity Policy or the University Student Judicial Code. Dismissals are recommended by the degree program and are not final until approved by the Dean of the GSAS.

Except for circumstances justifying immediate dismissal, a student cannot be dismissed on the basis of academic performance without the opportunity to return to good standing during an identified period of probation. The purpose of probation is to: (1) warn the student explicitly of his or her status, (2) provide the student with clear guidelines of the performance that will be necessary to return to good standing, and (3) provide the student with reasonable time to meet these expectations. A student on probation must receive a detailed letter from the director of graduate studies stating the reasons for the probation and identifying the steps necessary for the student to return to good standing by the end of the probation period. A copy of this letter is sent to the Dean of the GSAS. While the purpose of the probationary period is to provide the student with time to improve, the decision of the program at the end of a probationary period could involve short-term or immediate notification of dismissal.