MA Thesis / Comp Exam Requirements


This is an opportunity for students to demonstrate the knowledge they have acquired in the program. Students must compose thoughtful and deep essays that reflect their ability to synthesize and apply the material they have learnt in their seminars to concrete situations. The exam is a take-home and is submitted electronically to the department coordinator.

Students are given two weeks to complete their exam which is given in week 12 of the semester.  They must pass both essays to pass the exam. They are expected to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach to their answers and demonstrate

  1. a general mastery of the material;
  2. apply theory to specific content;
  3. provide concrete examples with appropriate sources; and
  4. provide a thorough, substantive and focused discussion in your answers.


They are graded on three more writing categories:

  1. organization,
  2. presentation and
  3. integration of the material.


The exam consists of two 12-15 page essays each. Students must quote and cite their sources which should include a range of texts (books, monographs and peer-reviewed articles). The specific questions vary, but in general, they consist of the following:

  1. This first question asks them to look at three scholarly frameworks dealing with the Chicana/o and Latina/o experience in the USA.
  2. The second question asks them to solve a problem dealing with social justice and inequities in a specific area. Students have to provide an expert’s perspective on the problem, describe the role of the researcher and his/her subjects, and provide evidence for their discussion.



Students opting for a thesis must seek authorization from their advisor, form a thesis committee composed of three members, and have at least a B+ (3.45) average in their 500-level courses.  CLS 5990 is required of all students authorized to submit a thesis. Students who have made one attempt at the comprehensive examinations may change to the thesis option with advisor approval. Students who have taken CLS 5990 units may change to the comprehensive examination option with advisor approval.

If you are interested in writing a thesis, please talk to the MA advisor and/or relevant member(s) of the MA faculty before you begin writing a proposal. Remember, writing a thesis requires department approval which is not guaranteed.