Students in the free-standing M.A. program take a mixture of seminars and language courses (where needed), usually over two or three semesters, and complete a master's thesis. Formal requirements for the degree can be found here.
A standard program of study looks like this:
First year: All students take MDES G4000 (Theory and Methods) and additional seminars and language courses. The M.A. degree requires twenty-four (24) points of courses taken for a letter grade, or at least five further MESAAS (or advisor-approved) courses at or above the 4000 level in addition to MDES G4000, for a total of six courses.
Students must also satisfy the M.A. language requirement, by passing an examination in a MESAAS language at the intermediate level or higher or by successfully completing a two-term MESAAS language course at the intermediate level or higher with a grade of at least B. Note that elementary-level and intermediate-level language classes, even when taken as part of the preparation for satisfying the language requirement, are not graduate-level (4000 or above) classes and therefore cannot be used to meet the requirement to take twenty-four points of graduate courses.
Some students, especially those who enter the program with advanced language skills, are able to complete the course work for the M.A. degree within two semesters, and complete the Master's thesis over the following summer. A minimum of two residence units (semesters of full-time study) are required for the degree. Part-time students can meet this requirement by accumulating half and quarter residence units. (For more information on residence units, see here).
Second year: Students complete any remaining course work and language qualifications. All students are also required to submit and defend a Master's thesis. The thesis should be approximately 30 to 40 pages in length and typically emerges from a seminar paper. A Master's thesis course, in the form of an independent study, may be taken with the thesis supervisor. The course may count as one of the five seminars necessary for fulfilling the M.A. requirement.
The thesis is to be submitted no later than the twelfth week of the student's third semester and is defended before two faculty readers before the end of the semester in which it has been submitted. Students must submit an application for the oral defense of their Master's thesis one month prior to scheduling the defense. Grades are High Pass, Pass, or Fail. A copy of the thesis is to be deposited in the department.
The Part-Time Free-Standing M.A.: Students registering part-time may take up to four academic years (eight semesters) to complete the degree requirements for the free-standing M.A. degree.
Advising: The Director of Graduate Studies is the advisor for all graduate students upon entering the program. Most students in the free-standing M.A. program go on to choose another faculty member as their advisor, in consultation with the director of graduate studies, often in the course of their first semester and usually by no later than the end of their second. The advisor typically serves as the supervisor of the M.A. thesis.