Faculty member chats with student in an officeThesis Overview

The Creative Writing MFA requires a total of 36 credit hours, which includes a creative thesis. Your completed thesis should be of substantial length and accomplished quality, usually a collection of short stories, poetry, or creative nonfiction essays (100-250 pages of prose or 45-80 pages of poetry). You must also include, in your thesis, your Reading List (in MLA format). The work you produce in your workshops will most likely form the basis of your thesis; however, you will need to produce more writing than you write for workshops.

Preparations for the thesis usually begin the spring semester of your first year or one calendar year before the completion of the thesis. Overview of the process:

  • Create a proposal
  • Secure thesis director
  • Secure thesis advisory committee (with thesis director’s/adviser’s help)
  • Register for thesis hours
  • Review UCF College of Graduate Studies resources and requirements
  • Write your thesis
  • File Intent to Graduate and review format requirements
  • Submit for format review(s)
  • Defend your thesis
  • Make any necessary formatting and content changes
  • Submit final file

You must meet the thesis requirements of both the MFA Program and the UCF College of Graduate Studies.


Create a Proposal

Your thesis should be in the genre in which you originally applied to the program. If you wish to switch genres for your thesis, you must have

  • completed at least one workshop in that genre;
  • have the written support from the faculty member who taught that workshop; and
  • discuss, in a face-to-face meeting, your intentions with the MFA Program Director.

Before asking a faculty member to direct your thesis, you should prepare a formal thesis proposal. Your proposal should include the following:

  • A working title
  • A two-to-three page description of your project
  • A sample of work in your chosen genre: a minimum of 15 pages of polished prose pieces or a minimum of 10 pages of polished poetry
  • A draft of your reading list
  • A timetable for completion
  • If applicable, a tentative table of contents. (This table of contents is for guidance and shape only. We understand that creative writing is a fluid process. You are not bound by the initial outline. However, should you substantively change your project from a collection of short stories to a novel, from fiction to poetry, etc., you must resubmit a proposal.)

Secure Thesis Director

Your thesis director must be a member of the Creative Writing MFA faculty approved by the College of Graduate Studies. Ideally, your thesis director will be someone with whom you have studied, worked, and want to continue working. However, because you may not have had the opportunity to take a course with all faculty members in your genre, it’s quite possible your director will be a faculty member you’ve not worked with, but whose work you admire. There is no guarantee that a member of the MFA faculty will agree to direct your thesis.

Once you have your proposal prepared and you have decided which faculty member you would like to ask first, email the faculty member, asking to arrange a meeting to discuss the possibility of directing your thesis. Attach your proposal. Do not ask another faculty member to direct your thesis unless your first choice needs to decline.

If you have difficulty securing a thesis director, contact the Creative Writing MFA Program Director.


Secure Thesis Advisory Committee

After you have secured a thesis director, you and your director will mutually agree upon two other readers who will make up your thesis committee. Your thesis director and thesis committee members may request revisions to your proposal. The thesis proposal must be approved by your thesis director and your two additional readers (thesis committee). You must complete a Thesis Advisory Committee form and submit this form to the MFA Graduate Program Assistant, Ethan Watford.

If you plan to have two professors co-direct your thesis, both must be MFA faculty members. The third expert is not required to be a member of the English faculty. All members of your committee must be faculty approved to teach graduate courses and to serve on graduate thesis committees. It is not necessary to have more than three committee members (including your director). You will work closely with your director. The other committee members are asked to read your thesis two weeks prior to your thesis defense.

The Thesis Committee Approval (TAC) form must be received and approved before you can register for thesis hours. Your thesis committee must be reviewed and approved by the College of Arts and Humanities Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies. Please allow a minimum of two weeks for processing.

Changes to your thesis committee: If the composition of your thesis committee changes, you must submit a new Thesis Committee Approval Form to MFA Graduate Program Assistant. Please notify all committee members of any changes made to the composition of your committee.


Register for Thesis Hours

To register for thesis hours, you must complete a Restricted Registration form and submit the form to the MFA Graduate Program Assistant. Review the requirements for thesis enrollment requirements and full-time enrollment requirements in the UCF College of Studies Catalog.


Review UCF College of Graduate Studies Resources/Requirements

UCF College of Graduate Studies provides a Thesis and Dissertation site with several resources students in thesis hours. Please register for the Webcourse and register on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Site.

  • Thesis and Dissertation Webcourse
  • Thesis and Dissertation Service Site
  • Thesis and Dissertation FAQs Site

Write Your Thesis

If you wish your thesis to be independent of the work you produce in workshops (e.g. a novel or memoir rather than a collection), please be advised that you will need the approval of your thesis director and probably need more than 2 years in the program. Completing a novel or a full-length memoir will require a great deal of independent writing, concentrated time, and more revisions. Additionally, if you propose to produce a thesis longer than the maximum page requirements, you must have the approval of your thesis director and your committee members. We are aware that thesis content and length may change during the writing and revision process, but if, during the process, you make significant changes in your thesis (length or content), you must have the approval of your thesis director, and you must notify your committee members.

You cannot propose, write, revise, and defend your thesis in a single semester.

Thesis Length and Content: Your completed thesis should be of substantial length and accomplished quality, usually a collection of short stories, poetry, or creative nonfiction essays (100-250 pages of prose or 45-80 pages of poetry). You must also include, in your thesis, your Reading List (in MLA format). The work you produce in your workshops will, most likely, form the basis of your thesis; however, you will need to produce more writing than you write for workshops. Therefore, you must plan carefully and work in concert with your thesis director.

Reading List: In consultation with your thesis director, you must generate a list of at least 50 books. These should be books you’ve read that have influenced your writing in some way. You should begin preparing your Reading List at the end of your first semester in the MFA in Creative Writing program. Thereafter, you should consult with your thesis director on a regular basis to discuss your progress and the development of your Reading List. This list will reflect the scope and depth of your study of literature. Your Reading List may include but should not be limited to work assigned in your classes, and should be in MLA format.

You, as a writer, are to be well acquainted with the work of your contemporaries since these writers form the literary currents of the time. Your list should be drawn from a variety of genres and periods in order to indicate the diversity of your reading. However, the works on the list may favor your chosen genre. This list will be distributed to your committee with your thesis and will be part of your defense. This list must, by the time you distribute your thesis to your committee, be in MLA format and included at the end of your thesis. Every thesis defense in the Creative Writing MFA Program includes a discussion of your approved Reading List, and you should be prepared to answer questions about the relation of the readings to your thesis.


File Intent to Graduate and Prepare for Format Review

The semester prior to your thesis defense, you should file and Intent to Graduate by the deadline. If you fail to file your Intent to Graduate by the deadline listed on the UCF Academic Calendar, you will not be able to participate in the Commencement Ceremony.

At the beginning of your defense semester, you must register with UCF College of Graduate Studies Thesis and Dissertation Services. You must follow the timeline and adhere to the deadlines listed. The TD Service page is also where you will complete the Thesis Approval Form prior to your defense.

When ready, you should submit your thesis for Format Review so that you can make any required changes.


Defend Your Thesis

Scheduling Your Defense: Your defense must be scheduled no less than six weeks prior to its occurrence. To schedule your defense, establish a mutually convenient date and time for you and your committee. After conferring with the committee members, you will need to contact the Graduate Program Assistant in order to reserve a room. Notify your committee and the MFA Program Director of the place, date and time.

Summer: While it is permitted to defend a thesis in the summer, many faculty members are not available for extensive thesis work from April 1 to September 1. Faculty who do not teach in the summer, and therefore are not under contract during the summer, are not permitted to direct a thesis during the summer.

Thesis Defense Announcement: You must prepare a thesis defense announcement, have the announcement approved by your director, and send via email to the MFA Graduate Admissions Specialist at least three weeks prior to your defense.

Thesis Distribution: No later than two weeks before your defense, submit four copies of the final draft of your thesis: one for your director, one for each committee member, and one for the MFA Program Director. These copies will be shared with other faculty members who may wish to attend the defense.

Thesis Approval Form: Your Thesis Approval Form must be completed online through the ETD system. Be sure to complete the form online at least 3 days prior to your defense in order for it to process. You will be asked to determine a Release Option. Our general recommendation is to choose the 5-year option. Once Approval Form is processed, you should print it out. You must bring the Form to your defense. If you successfully defend your thesis, this form will be signed by all members of your thesis committee at the end of the defense.

You are responsible for securing the additional signatures in person. The MFA Program Director must sign, the Department Chair, the Dean in the College of Arts and Humanities, and finally, you deliver the Thesis Approval Form to the UCF College of Graduate Studies.

Thesis Defense:  The thesis defense generally lasts one hour. Your committee members will attend as well as any other interested members of the general public. Your director will discuss with you the defense procedure. Usually, the defense begins with you reading a selection from your thesis. Then your director and committee members ask questions about your thesis, reading list, writing process, and your development in the program. After the question/discussion period, you will be asked to leave them room, so that the committee can deliberate and vote on passing for failing your thesis. Once the committtee has voted, you will be invited back into the room. The committee will discuss any changes required to your thesis prior to your final submission to the UCF College of Graduate Studies ETD Site.

Heed the advice of your thesis director. If your director recommends that you hold your defense until a later date, it is highly recommended that you do so. An unsuccessful defense in which you do not secure the signatures from your committee members means that you will not graduate from the MFA in Creative Writing Program.


Make Necessary Format and Content Changes

If your committee members require changes to your thesis or the College of Graduate Studies requires formatting changes, complete those well ahead of the final deadline to submit.


Submit Your Final File

Submit the final version of your thesis through the ETD system on the UCF College of Graduate Studies site.

For additional questions, contact the Graduate Admissions Specialist in the Department of English.