MA Portfolio Option

Near the end of their coursework, students who do not choose the thesis option must submit a portfolio of work to the MA examination committee, which consists of the director of the MA program and two other English faculty members. All three read the full portfolio. To pass, the candidate must receive the approval of a majority of the committee members.

Students take the first step toward preparing to submit a portfolio by meeting with the director of the MA program early in the semester they plan to graduate to discuss the portfolio. Students must present the director with a draft of the portfolio's introductory statement by early October (fall graduation) or early March (spring graduation). The director may suggest changes either before or after approving the statement. Once the director approves the statement, the student must provide the program assistant with three copies of the full portfolio.

The work in the portfolio should demonstrate the student's knowledge of literature as a broad historical and theoretical inquiry. Students submit approximately 50 pages (12,500 words) of their best work, along with a self-reflective introductory statement of five to seven pages. The body of the portfolio should contain revised versions of papers originally produced for classes. The papers must be revised for a broader audience that is not familiar with the original framework of the class. The introduction should provide an account of your trajectory in the program and the literary-critical or methodological skills you have gained in your time at Iowa. It should explain the contents of the portfolio, contextualize each paper, and give a brief overview of the writing. Students are expected to describe the research methods used in assembling their portfolios and the critical practices that ground their work.

Timeline

Spring graduation:

  1. Submit written description of thesis or portfolio choice, prior to the start of the spring semester.
  2. Meet with the MA Director before or by February 15th.
  3. Submit your Application for Degree to the Office of the Registrar by late February (check Graduate College Deadlines for exact date).
  4. Submit your portfolio introduction to the MA Director by the first week of March.
  5. Submit your full portfolio to your MA Committee by April 1st.

Fall graduation:

  1. Submit written description of thesis or portfolio choice, prior to the start of the fall semester.
  2. Meet with the MA Director before or by September 15th.
  3. Submit your Application for Degree to the Office of the Registrar by mid-October (check Graduate College Deadlines for exact date).
  4. Submit your portfolio introduction to the MA Director by the first week of October.
  5. Submit your completed portfolio to your MA Committee by November 1st.