Thesis Work

Note: Please also refer to the following pages:


Students must bring to fruition an in-depth work that includes a creative work and an artist’s statement / poetics paper. Minimally, in order to complete your MFA, you must complete a creative work and an artist’s statement. The artist’s statement accounts for why you have undertaken the creative project you have pursued and your understanding of it in relationship to larger fields of creative endeavor. The artist’s statement can take the form of an extended poetics paper. As this is a creative writing & poetics degree, you can concentrate most of your work on either creative or poetics projects, providing your work shows accomplishment in the alternative area. In some cases the creative work and artist’s statement / poetics piece may be combined. Students may elect to engage multi-media or performance venues in pursuing their thesis work.

Timing Your Thesis Work

At the end of their first year, students will need to delineate the thesis they propose to undertake and to provide an approximate sense of the proportion of the thesis they will devote in relationship to their artist’s statement / poetics. Minimally, all students must devote at least ten per cent of their thesis to an artist’s statement / poetics piece and at least ten percent to a creative work. You will be asked to describe your thesis project on a Second Year Transition Form, which includes thesis advisor requests, due the third week in May.

For Spring Quarter graduation, your finished thesis is due to your first and second reader on the date specified in the Thesis Timeline (usually early in the first week of May). Any exceptions to this deadline must be agreed upon by your thesis advisor, who may need to adjust feedback deadlines accordingly.

Method of Instruction

Students will work with a MFA thesis advisor and a second reader whose expertise aligns with the student’s thesis plan. The student and the faculty member will meet as necessary to discuss and evaluate the student’s ongoing progress.

In the first quarter of the three-quarter sequence of thesis credits, the faculty advisor and the degree candidate will work to create a three-quarter plan for the pursuit of their thesis, which will delineate the work the student plans to undertake. In subsequent quarters, students will carry through on this plan and / or modify it as the work itself necessitates. Students must complete a creative work in the following areas—poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and / or cross genre.

Thesis Requirements (credit/no credit)

  1. An accomplished creative work of an appropriate length with respect to the project undertaken and time dedicated to its completion.
  2. An artist’s statement / poetics paper that demonstrates a breadth and depth of theoretical, critical, and literary knowledge. Poetics papers can vary greatly in terms of time devoted to these depending on whether the student wishes to place a greater or lesser emphasis on this part of their thesis. Sometimes a poetics paper can serve as an artist’s statement; other times it will not. (In this thesis requirement you must show knowledge of your creative work in relationship to a larger field of endeavor.)
  3. An oral presentation of your thesis in the Spring Festival is not required but is highly recommended.

Page Stipulations

There are no fixed page stipulations for a master’s thesis, but a thesis represents a substantial in-depth work undertaken by you. If you have questions about length, you should take these up with your thesis director. In general prose theses should be between 75-200 pages, maximum. Poetry theses are between 48 and 75 pages.

Electronic Thesis Filing

To graduate with your MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics students are required to submit their thesis through the UW Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD) Administrator Site. Documents will be published by ProQuest/UMI Dissertation Publishing and made available on an open access basis through UW Libraries ResearchWorks Service. If you do not wish to make your thesis immediately available, you may elect the option of delaying publication temporarily.

It is your responsibility as a student and author to be familiar with copyright, publishing, and open access. When you submit your electronic thesis for review and publication, you will be required to read and accept two separate publishing agreements and then be prompted to decide whether to publish your work right away or to delay its release. More information on thesis requirements, including a PowerPoint presentation: Thesis Information Session, is available on the UW Graduate School’s Thesis / Dissertation website.