Creative Writing

BFA Senior Thesis Guidelines

In the final year of coursework (at the time you take CRW 496), creative writing majors compile and revise a finished thesis manuscript of literary merit, overseen by the CRW 496 instructor and then reviewed by the CRW faculty. The manuscript will be a collection of poems, stories, or essays; a single long poem; a long nonfiction narrative; a novella; or a portion of a novel.

The BFA thesis has two sections:

1. The critical preface. The thesis is introduced by a critical preface of 3-5 pages in which the writer discusses his/her literary influences, citing the authors and literary works that have affected the form and content of the student's own work. In the preface, the student must describe what he/she sees as a personal writing aesthetic, both in the thesis and in the student's work overall, attempting to place the work within a historical context. Finally, the student must summarize the important aspects of his/her development as a writer during study in the BFA Program.

2. A revised body of the student's creative work. It is expected that the BFA thesis will be composed of work written and revised throughout the student's study. The thesis should not be viewed as a portfolio of one's entire body of work, but rather as a representative sample of the strongest and most polished writing, as decided by the student and the CRW 496 instructor, taking into consideration feedback from classmates in all workshops. Thesis work should involve intensive revision, along with critical editing decisions and efforts to distinguish the relative literary merits of one's own work.

Senior Thesis Format

The BFA thesis should adhere to professional format and specifications for submitting writing for workshop or publication, typed on standard letter-size paper and carefully proofread for mechanical, spelling, and punctuation errors. General guidelines for length are 15-25 pages in poetry and 6,000-10,000 words (25-45 pages) in prose (presented in the form of chapters, stories, essays, or one long piece). These guidelines represent general parameters only; every thesis must meet with the approval of the CRW 496 instructor and the general faculty review.

Two copies of the BFA thesis must be submitted. One will be returned to the student after instructor review, and one will remain on file in the Department of Creative Writing. Both copies must meet all formatting requirements.

  • The BFA thesis must be typed on standard letter-size white paper (8.5 x 11 inches) and printed with laser quality.
  • The font must be uniform throughout the entire thesis: Times New Roman, 12-point.
  • Fiction and nonfiction must be double-spaced, and poetry must be one-and-a-half-spaced. (Exceptions to this guideline may be made only with the permission of the CRW 496 instructor, for individual poems or excerpts of prose that require unique formatting.)
  • Margins for prose must be one inch all around.
  • On the first page of a story or chapter, the text begins approximately halfway down the page.
  • Pages must be numbered in the top right of the page and should not include the writer's name or the title of the piece. The header must include page number and nothing else.

Pamela Creech
Pamela Creech reads during the Fall 2014 BFA Senior Reading, held November 19 in Kenan Hall.