This post is intended to help guide those MA students who have begun thinking about their MA Essay.
Unless you’ve chosen to write a Master’s Thesis (this is “track A” in the Marquette MA Program, and you’ll know if you’re on it), you will need to fulfill the requirements for the MA Essay.
Requirements for the Essay — The MA essay should be roughly 35 pages long, and it must be from an elective class that you’ve taken at Marquette. It does not have to be an elective from your specific area of study, however. So, if you’re focussing in Scripture, you may well turn in a paper from one of your Systematic Theology classes.
Readers for Your Essay — Your MA essay will have two readers. The first reader, your primary reader, will be the professor for whom you wrote the paper. The second reader will be appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies, after your primary reader has affirmed that your essay fits the requirements. If you have a paper in mind, your first step should be contacting the professor for whom you wrote the paper, and let them know of your desire to use it for your MA Essay. Ask if they have any suggestions as to how you might expand it in terms of quality and size.
After your readers have spent some time with your essay, they will have a conversation about its strengths and weaknesses, after which they will each fill out the forms that you will give them. These forms can be found here.
Choosing a Paper for Your Essay — While it is possible for you to choose from any essay that you’ve written for an elective class, it may be a good idea to choose an essay that is related to your own research area. First, you may be able to recycle this essay in various ways. For example, 35 pages is way to long for one presentation, but you might be able to present part of your essay at a professional conference. If you’re really talented you might even be able to get two presentations out of your one paper. Or, you might consider using all or part of this essay as your writing sample for doctoral programs. You might even try submitting it to a journal. The second reason why you would consider choosing an essay in your area is purely practical. If you’re working in an area with which you’re more familiar, then you’re less likely to have trouble in finding material to fill out your essay; you are more familiar with your specific field, so you will likely be more adept at navigating its resources.