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MA French Studies Handbook: Prospectus

To begin thesis work, you should complete a thesis prospectus, with signatures of approval from the advisory committee chair and graduate coordinator. Basically, the prospectus is an overview and defense of the thesis project. The prospectus proposes, outlines, justifies, and surveys the project, and includes a working bibliography.

You should consult with your advisors and examiners before you begin the project. See the Graduate Coordinator as soon as you have a likely topic and an idea of who you wish to have as thesis advisor and readers. Once the prospectus has been signed by the thesis chair, thesis readers, and Graduate Coordinator, you may begin work on the thesis with your thesis chair. (You may not enroll for thesis credit hours without an approved prospectus.) The prospectus needs to be given to the department secretary for filing and for copying as an example for other graduate students.

The prospectus is an essay of about three to five single-spaced pages plus bibliography. (In rough draft form when you are working with your advisor it can be double-spaced, but in final form for submission it should be single-spaced.) It can be written in English or French. A tentative map of your expected journey to the thesis, the prospectus is an expository statement which defines your thesis topic, justifies it in the context of the current scholarship in the field, and surveys the lines of inquiry or argument you propose to follow. A word about each of these three purposes:

Proposal: The most important purpose of the prospectus is to define a manageable research problem. The more sharply defined your topic, the more likely your early work with both library and faculty resources will be productive. Of course the nature of your thesis may change as you do the research; this is to be expected. But you should begin, at least, with a clear topic or problem; your examining committee will not approve a vague proposal.

Justification: Although your command over secondary literature will grow as you do the research, your prospectus ought to demonstrate some preliminary knowledge of scholarship in the field. Both the discursive essay and the bibliography should show that you have thought about the question: What relation does my proposed study bear to the present scholarship in the field?

Conclusion: This need only be a brief statement.

Bibliography: You can see examples of previously filed prospectuses from the Department Graduate Secretary. The prospectus and bibliography should follow MLA style. Note: it is wise to begin typing this bibliography in MLA format right from the beginning as you will be using an expanded version of it in your thesis.

French Studies Masters Thesis Prospectus

This page represents the format you should follow while preparing your prospectus on your word processor. On the first page, the heading, your name, the date, and the title will appear. That information should be followed by your proposal, which is approximately 2-3 single-spaced pages in length. The justification, which is about 1 page long, follows the proposal. You should end with a short conclusion and a bibliography. On the last page of your prospectus, following your conclusion, you should create the format for the appropriate signatures of approval. Examples of prospectuses are available from the department secretary.




Proposed Chapter or Section Titles:






PROPOSAL: approximately 2-3 single-spaced pages in length

JUSTIFICATION: approximately 1 page

CONCLUSION: approximately 1 page


Chair / Date

Reader 1 / Date

Reader 2 / Date

Graduate Coordinator / Date