Resources and tips to successfully complete a thesis concentration

Helpful hints:

  • Choose a topic of interest that can be completed in a timely manner
  • Make sure there are enough primary sources available for your research topic
  • See Thesis Advice from Students (pdf) by former M.A. students Meika Downey and Peighton Young


Once a topic has been selected and at least two committee members (the advisor and the second reader) have been identified, the student must complete a prospectus. Typically around twelve pages in length, a prospectus provides an overview of the thesis. To see samples of what a high quality prospectus looks like, click links to view prospectus sample one (pdf) and prospectus sample two (pdf). It should:

  • briefly describe the topic
  • outline the core questions the student seeks to explore
  • briefly survey some of the historiography on the topic and explain how the thesis will differ from what historians have already said
  • explain the methodology to be used
  • list the most important primary and secondary sources to be used
  • provide a tentative organizational plan for the thesis (how many chapters, and the topic of each chapter).

VCU guidelines:

See VCU’s guidelines for preparation and submission of theses. A student should keep these in mind has he/she works on the thesis.

In addition, VCU regulations require that “any person engaged in graduate study at VCU must enroll each semester in which he/she is engaged in any form of study at VCU that involves use of university facilities, laboratories/studios and/or libraries, or who is supervised by or consults with a faculty member concerning graduate work on a project, work of art, thesis or dissertation.”