Becoming a member of the English Department Capstone Program in Research means becoming a part of a small, intensely committed group of teachers and students all working toward achieving excellence in the related disciplines of reading, understanding, and writing about texts. Capstone courses and the program at large place a premium on discussion, on sustained elaboration of ideas inside and outside the classroom, on conceiving of projects in complex and engaging ways, on learning to do research, and on presenting the fruits of that research in expressive, lucid prose.
Participation in English signals sustained, outstanding achievement in the undergraduate major. In addition, Capstone students may be eligible to graduate with honors. To achieve a degree with honors, a student must successfully complete the Capstone thesis, courses, and maintain a 3.5 major GPA and a 3.4 cumulative GPA.
Admission to the Program
Applications for the 2022/2023 academic year will be accepted on Friday, October 28, 2022 and Friday, February 24, 2023. Students may apply as early as their sophomore year though the majority of students generally apply during winter term of their sophomore year or fall term of their junior year. Students must be declared English majors to apply to the Capstone Program.
Though the program occasionally accepts a few late applicants (i.e. students applying in the winter term of their junior year), admission is more difficult to achieve if you apply late. Your chances for success in the program are greatest if, before the first term of your senior year, you have taken at least one theory course (English 390 or 490) and begun thinking about a possible focus for your thesis. The application consists of a cover sheet; a transcript; an 800-word statement of purpose; and a writing sample.
Students interested in discussing their application can contact Professor Adela Pinch, Director, English Capstone Program in Research.
Click here to download the Checklist for English Majors completing the Capstone Program in Research.
Students in the Capstone Program in Research must complete the general major requirements, in addition to:
- A literary theory course, English 390 or 490. It is recommended that the theory course be completed in the junior year.
- One research methods seminar (English 397). It is recommended that this course be completed in the winter term of the junior year.
Prior to fall and winter registration, you will be contacted by the Curriculum Coordinator with Capstone seminar information and registration instructions.
- Capstone students write a thesis of approximately forty to sixty pages during the senior year -- a project that is designed to be the single most important, most meaningful piece of work students undertake as English majors. Students write most of their thesis in two required courses: 495-Capstone Colloquium: Drafting the Thesis (taken fall term of senior year) and 496-Capstone Colloquium: Completing the Thesis (taken winter term of senior year). Students are guided throughout much of their senior year by a faculty adviser chosen early in that year.
- The completed thesis is due mid-March of the senior year.
- In early May, Capstone students will participate in a Capstone Symposium, at which students make brief presentations of their theses to interested faculty, friends, and family.
- The English Department has an archive of past theses, which can be browsed in the Undergraduate Lounge (3200 Angell Hall). You may also view past honors thesis titles (and electronic theses starting in 2000) on the department website at the English Department Research Thesis Archive Catalog.
Capstone students are encouraged to study abroad for a term, when that study is academically feasible and seems likely to contribute to the success of a student's project. Those intending to study abroad should inform the Capstone Program in Research Director of their plans as early as possible, so that the curricula for junior and senior years may be carefully planned.
The Wagner Awards
The Wagner Academic Excellence Prize is given to a student in recognition of their overall excellence in the Capstone Program, weighing a variety of factors in combination, such as performance in the workshops, grade point averages, thesis quality and rankings, and community involvement.
The John Wagner/Ralph Williams Award for Outstanding Thesis is given to the student whose final thesis has been deemed the outstanding thesis for the year. This annual award is decided by the Capstone Committee and includes a cash prize.
The Wagner awards are announced at the year-end Capstone Symposium.
The Wagner Bursaries
Each year the Wagner fund awards two or three grants to help English Capstone students acquire the materials or experience they need to complete particularly ambitious projects. Awards come from a limited pool of approximately $250 and may be used to help support trips to archives or other sites related to students' work; apply early. They may also be used to buy books or other materials not easily available but necessary to a given project. Applicants must first discuss their applications with the Director of the program.
Capstone Program in Creative Writing
For more information on the Capstone Program in Creative Writing, please click here.
Students wishing to apply to the Capstone Program in Creative Writing, should contact Cody Walker.
The Quinn Awards
The Quinn Academic Excellence Prize recognizes the creative writing capstone student with an accomplished thesis, a clear engagement in the literary life (using the resources available at UM), an exceptional GPA, and a strong sense of involvement in the process.
The Quinn Creative-Writing Thesis Prize is given to the creative writing capstone student whose final thesis has generated the most excitement among the readers and previous workshop leaders. This annual award is decided by an Capstone Committee and includes a cash prize. The Quinn awards are announced at the year-end Capstone Symposium.