• Synthesis Option

    This packet contains the materials a MALS student in the synthesis option needs to complete all required steps for graduation. Please read all the way through to step 12 as you start the capstone and degree completion process.

    NOTE: This information, updated September 2010, supersedes all previous capstone guidelines. If you are began the MALS program prior to Fall 2008, you may be grandfathered in to the previous capstone policies/procedures if you choose.

    Please contact The Creative Writing Programs at651-523-2047 or send an email if you need more information or assistance.


    What is Synthesis?

    What is the timeline for Synthesis?

    List of Attachments

    Prospectus Guidelines

    Synthesis 1 Registration Form

    Intent to Graduate/Degree Completion Form (please contact the CWP office for this form)

    Synthesis 2 Registration Form

    Capstone Conference Notification Form

    Capstone Title Page Template

    Capstone Writing Guidelines

    What is Synthesis?

    The MALS synthesis (also called capstone) is the most tangible end product of the MALS program. It is a longer work (approximately eighty pages or more) that draws on the skills and knowledge acquired throughout the program. Although most capstones are critical/analytical in nature, they can be a mixture of critical and creative work. In the synthesis focused discussion and research are brought to bear on a subject of the student’s choosing. The synthesis also includes a process essay (see below). The synthesis requires two semesters to complete.

    What is the Timeline for Thesis?


    Step One: Choose a Primary Advisor and Outside Reader

    The MALS synthesis committee consists of a primary advisor and an outside reader. If the primary advisor is not a member of the approved faculty, you must select an approved faculty member as your outside reader. Only the primary advisor works with you during Synthesis 1; s/he serves as a mentor, reads the first draft thoroughly at the end of the semester, and gives you suggestions for revision. The primary advisor works with you again during Synthesis 2: s/he mentors you through the process, reads the final draft, and facilitates your capstone conference. The optional outside reader reads the final draft only and participates in the capstone conference. S/he should have expertise in the topic and should be approved by your primary advisor.

    Approved Primary Advisors, MALS Synthesis Option:

    Barrie Jean Borich
    Kelly Coyle
    Patricia Weaver Francisco
    Deborah Keenan
    Julie Neraas
    Larry Sutin
    Roslye Ultan

    You must register for Synthesis 1 in summer or fall to graduate the following May.

    Suggested deadline: As soon as possible, at least the spring before synthesis registration. Please be aware that faculty members can only sit on a certain number of committees so it is important you confirm with your advisor as soon as possible.

    NOTE: A student can complete graduation requirements at any time; however, there is only one commencement ceremony, in May of each year. The deadlines and dates reflect this spring graduation timeline, but we do realize some students will follow a different pattern of completion.

    Step Two: Turn in a Prospectus and Schedule a Prospectus Meeting

    The Prospectus is a written statement of three-to-five pages describing the scope of your intended synthesis and the way in which it will be pursued. You should discuss briefly the subject matter and theme(s) of the work, the research you have done or plan to do, and the research methodology you’re using. If you wish, you may include a bibliography and/or outline.

    Once you have prepared your prospectus, you should schedule a prospectus meeting with your primary advisor. Please provide him or her with a copy of your prospectus document at least one week prior to the meeting. At the prospectus meeting, you and your primary advisor will discuss the subject, methodology, and process for the synthesis; your advisor may make suggestions for improvement. You and your advisor will also develop a plan of action for the semester. The prospectus document will then be signed by your advisor and placed in your file in the office.

    Use the Prospectus Guidelines in preparing your prospectus. (Attachment 1)

    Suggested Deadline: At time of registration for synthesis.

    NOTE: Students should have a substantial body of work done (50-70 working pages) before registering for synthesis.

    Step Three: Register for Synthesis 1

    Students should have their primary advisor sign the Synthesis 1 Registration Form (Attachment 2) prior to or during the prospectus meeting. At this point, after the prospectus meeting, the student will work only with the primary advisor throughout the semester. It is up to the faculty member and the student to decide how the process should proceed, whether the student submits draft section by section or waits until completion to submit for critique. No more than 5 meetings should be required between student and advisor. Deadline: Same as regular term deadlines as stated on the Official Academic Calendar.

    Step Four: Statement of Intent to Graduate

    Students must submit their Intent to Graduate & Degree Completion Form.

    Deadline: First business day of November.

    Step Five: Turn in a Complete Draft to Your Primary Advisor

    The student completes a first draft of the capstone project during Synthesis 1 and gives it to his/her primary advisor on or before December 1. The draft must be carefully edited and proofread. Any manuscript that contains significant grammatical errors will be returned to the student unread and will need to be revised.

    Deadline: December 1.

    Step Six: Schedule a Meeting with Your Primary Advisor

    You should schedule a meeting with your primary advisor after s/he has had time to read the draft. At this meeting you will discuss the project, and your advisor will identify strengths and weaknesses in the work and will provide suggestions for revision.

    Step Seven: Register for Synthesis 2

    Students can register for Synthesis 2 after receiving a passing grade for Synthesis 1. Students should fill out a Synthesis 2 Registration Form (Attachment 4). The student and primary advisor should work out their process for communication, including meetings if needed, at the beginning of Synthesis 1.

    Deadline: Same as other special registration courses.

    Step Eight: The Process Essay

    The process essay of 10-20 pages is required of all MALS synthesis students. In this essay students reflect upon what they have learned about themselves as thinkers and writers in the process of completing their synthesis projects (e.g., How did the ideas that define the synthesis emerge and change? How did an interdisciplinary approach to your subject affect your project?). You can include reference to texts, coursework, or other influences that helped to guide or shape the project. The process essay allows students to “sum-up” their journey through the program and through the synthesis project and to communicate insights and lessons arrived at can be of benefit to future students. It should be turned into the primary and outside reader at least one week before the capstone conference.

    Step Nine: Turn in Final Draft to Primary Advisor and Outside Reader

    The student turns in a hard copy of the final draft to his/her primary advisor and outside reader by March 1. This draft should address the concerns raised by the primary advisor at the end of Synthesis 1. The draft must be carefully edited and proofread and meet standard MLA guidelines. Any manuscript that contains significant grammatical corrections will be returned to the student unread for revision. The student is responsible for arranging the delivery of the hard copy to the Primary Advisor.

    Deadline: March 1

    Step Ten: The Capstone Conference

    At the end of the synthesis process, MALS students participate in a capstone conference. They must complete and submit a Capstone Conference Notification Form (Attachment 5) at least two weeks prior to the capstone conference. It is the student’s responsibility to coordinate a day and time for the meeting with the office and with his/ her primary advisor and outside reader. The office staff will reserve a conference room or another suitable location on campus after the form has arrived. At the conference, students should be prepared to make a formal presentation (about 15 minutes) about their projects. This could include discussion of their aims, influential texts, instructors or courses, process, turning points, obstacles, etc. After this presentation, both advisors will address the strengths of the synthesis project, may pose questions, and may make suggestions for future revision.

    Deadline: April 15

    Step Eleven: Final Formatted Copies

    Once you have successfully participated in your capstone conference, three final, revised, unbound copies (in correct format) of your synthesis (based on revisions suggested by your primary and secondary advisors) are due in the office. You should format your title page according to the MALS Capstone Title Page Template (Attachment 6). See the MALS Writing Guidelines online.

    Deadline: Two weeks after Capstone Conference.

    Step Twelve: Graduation

    Once all steps have been successfully completed, the student is ready to graduate.

    Hamline University holds one commencement ceremony, in May, each year. Information on graduation will be sent to students closer to the date, including information about the end of the semester party, Commencement, gown ordering, etc. Students who complete their degree in Summer or Fall will have their transcripts updated and a diploma will be ordered in accordance with the Registrar's time line. Summer and Fall grads are welcome to participate in the May graduation ceremony and will be listed in the program.