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MA Capstone Process

MA Capstone Abstracts Archive

See the  MA Capstone Abstracts Archive for previous capstone research topics in each MA concentration

Developing the Proposal

Review the MA Graduation Timeline for steps you need to complete to progress toward your degree.

Students should start considering possible capstone topics by the beginning of their third semester (or after having completed 15 hours of graduate courses). Review your concentration goals and guidelines as you consider possible topics and goals for your capstone. Capstone projects often evolve from previous coursework. Your professors, advisors, and fellow students represent good resources to draw upon as you define your project. You are responsible for proposing a topic to a member of the graduate faculty and asking him or her to serve as your capstone advisor. Upon request, the Director of Graduate Programs (DGP) will assist you in identifying a capstone project advisor. 

In consultation with your capstone project advisor, develop a brief description of the project, its rationale, and a preliminary bibliography of resources. Submit this description together with an ENG 676 Capstone Proposal Form to the DGP the semester prior to graduation, in order to be registered for ENG 676. This form must be signed by the capstone project advisor and the DGP.

Note: If ENG 676 is your only requirement in your final semester because you've already completed all other degree requirements, and you rely on federal loans to help cover the cost of tuition, you may be eligible for a full-time/part-time waiver. Please contact Dr. Penrose for more information. 

Download ENG 676 Capstone Proposal Form

MA Capstone Abstracts Archive

Researching and Writing

Meet with your capstone advisor in the first week of the semester (or sooner) to plan your work. The two of you will need to develop a timeline for completing your project, including deadlines for the submission of draft(s) and revisions. Please note that faculty usually need a week or two to comment on a substantial draft or revision and to work it into their schedule, so be sure to allow plenty of turnaround time as you map out the various stages of your research and writing. Many advisors will expect to see a full draft 4-6 weeks in advance of the final deadline to allow time for revision and additional research if needed. The final document, approved by your advisor, must be submitted by the last day of class.

Formatting the Written Project

Projects can take many forms. Those that take the form of an academic essay should have a title page and an abstract of 250-300 words.

Depending on length, the essay could/should have a table of contents, a brief intro followed by section (or chapter) division, a brief conclusion, notes, and works cited. Lengths of essays will vary but will typically be 30-50 pages, including notes and bibliography.

Projects that take other forms, such as screenplays, documentary films, curricular units, anthologies, electronic texts, and other options, should also include a title page and brief abstract as well as a short (5-10 pages) written narrative describing the project and its objectives.

The project's title page should include the following entries (all centered on the page):

  1. the title,
  2. the phrase, "by [student's name],"
  3. the statement: "A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in English at North Carolina State University,"
  4. a line for the capstone advisor's signature and a line for the Director of Graduate Programs,
  5. the date.

The abstract should be 250-300 words. Important: An abstract is not an introduction. It is a stand-alone summary that quickly describes the purpose and focus of the project, the methods used or approach taken, and the major observations and conclusions you came to.

Format for Title Page and Abstract.pdf

Format for Title Page and Abstract.doc (MSWord file)

Sample MA Capstone Abstracts

Submitting the Finished Project

Submit the following to the Graduate Services Coordinator by the last day of classes in order to participate in the Capstone Symposium:

1. An electronic copy of the full document, including an unsigned title page and abstract, emailed to the Graduate Services Coordinator at

2. A signed title page, signed only by you and your capstone advisor. You may scan and email this along with your full document, or you may submit a hard copy.

NOTE: We have updated the process of submitting your capstone project so please read the above information carefully. Also, we've added the option of permitting your work to be used as an example for future students. If you permit us to share your project, please sign and submit the Release Form with your full document. You'll find this form in the Format for Title Page and Abstract link above. Please also note that you may sign the Release Form with a digital signature in Adobe Reader so that you can email it along with your full document to Or you may submit a hard copy.

Presenting at the Graduate Symposium

All students will present their capstone projects in a series of Graduate Symposia scheduled during the final exam period.  Students will offer 15-20 minute presentations during which they will summarize for members of the graduate faculty and other students the intellectual and/or creative merits of their capstone essays or projects.  A brief (5-10 minutes) question and answer period will follow each presentation.

Note: You must have fulfilled your foreign language requirement before you can participate in the capstone symposium and receive a passing grade in ENG 676. The DGP submits your grade for ENG 676 after your capstone advisor approves your written project and you've completed your capstone presentation.