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MA Capstone Writing Project

In the fall semester of their second year, MA student will enroll in the Capstone Seminar, with the goal of converting an existing graduate class paper into a 7000-8500-word essay (including notes, but not including works cited/bibliography), revised for (potential) submission to a specific academic journal. 

In transforming a course paper into a prospective article, MA students are required to review journals in the field, choose one, and adapt their work to its specific editorial norms.

The Capstone is prepared under the supervision of the Director of Placement and Professional Development (DPPD).


To register for the Capstone, students must have successfully completed at least 2 graduate English courses and maintained satisfactory academic progress.

Students register for the Capstone by the semester add/drop deadline in with the respective semester's CRN for ENGL 5998 - MASTER'S CAPSTONE. Students who are not registered for any credited coursework before the semester in which they register for the Capstone must also register for ENGL 0935 – CAPSTONE PREP.

NOTE: Students unable to take the fall Capstone course may be allowed to complete the Capstone assignment as an independent tutorial with the DPPD during the spring or summer semester. Please contact the DGS for more information.


The Capstone must be developed from an existing seminar paper that the student has written during his/her graduate English coursework at Fordham.

If students are taking the Capstone as an independent tutorial in the spring, they should contact the DPPD before the first day of the spring semester to discuss their plans for developing one of their seminar papers. No later than the second week of the spring semester, students must submit to the DPPD (or the arranged Capstone mentor) a copy of the original paper, as well as a 250-word outline explaining the plans for development.

On or before the MA Capstone deadline, students submit the following materials directly to the DPPD:

  • Original Seminar Paper
  • Capstone Essay (7000-8500 words)
  • One-page Cover Memo (explaining the development of the paper into the Capstone)
  • Cover Letter* (for submitting the Capstone to an academic journal)

*For a sample of this genre, please see Academic Publishing: Advice for Graduate Students. Note: This document is password protected. Please call the Graduate Administrator at 718-817-4029 for the password. Actual submission of the Capstone essay to an academic journal is not required.


There are three official grades for the Capstone: High Pass (distinguished work of the highest caliber), Pass (satisfactory work), and Fail. Students will be notified of the outcome of their Capstone no later than two weeks after the final day of the semester of submission.

There is also a departmental grade of Low Pass—which indicates marginally passable work (not suitable for PhD program admission). Low Pass is officially recorded as a Pass, and therefore allows for a student to receive the degree.

MA students who fail the Capstone should meet with the DGS to discuss the option of resubmission in the subsequent semester. The Capstone may only be resubmitted once.