case western reserve university



Guidelines for the M.A. Thesis in Cognitive Linguistics


While completing a thesis in Cognitive Linguistics, students must be continuously enrolled in COGS 651 in the spring and fall semesters up to and through the oral defense. Students must complete a minimum of 12 credit hours of COGS 651, usually with the same faculty advisor as the instructor of record (although it is possible but not advisable to change thesis advisors during the course of the project).

Any primary faculty member from the Department of Cognitive Science can serve as a thesis supervisor. As a supervisor, the faculty member will be responsible for the following tasks:

  • - evaluating the student's progress each semester by issuing a grade of "S" or "U";
  • - producing a brief written evaluation for the student's file each semester along with a final evaluation of the project and defense;
  • - advising and approving a 1-page abstract of the thesis project, which is to be sent to the MA Program Director, who will archive it in the student's file;
  • - and assisting the student in the constitution of the faculty committee, which consists of the supervisor (as committee chair) and two members of the faculty of the university.

All MA theses should follow these specific guidelines set by the Department of Cognitive Science. A defendable thesis must accomplish the following:

  • - articulate a clear and original project in the area of Cognitive Linguistics, broadly construed;
  • - consist of a sustained argument of approximately 50 double-spaced pages, not including references;
  • - supply a complete reference list and proper in-text citations according to either the citation and style guidelines provided by the journals Cognitive Linguistics or Cognitive Science (though the student may adopt a different citation system, but should do so only under the consultation of the thesis supervisor).

All thesis defenses are public and must be arranged according to the guidelines set out in the Handbook of Graduate Studies and in compliance with the timetable and formal procedures set by the School of Graduate Studies. Thesis defenses typically run two hours.

The Department's own policy on the conduct of thesis defenses is as follows:

  • The thesis supervisor has ultimate and discretionary authority on determining whether a thesis is ready for defense. (This decision can be made without consulting the committee, or it can be made by consulting all or select members of committee.)
  • The supervisor also is free to determine the format of the defense, but should communicate her or his agenda to both the committee and the candidate well in advance of the public defense.
  • It is typical, but not obligatory, that a defense begins with a short presentation by the MA candidate, summarizing the project and its significance.
  • It is typical, but not obligatory, that each member of the committee is allotted time to question the candidate directly. The thesis supervisor determines the order of questioning.
  • Final deliberations of the committee are to occur after the committee has finished questioning the candidate. These deliberations are to be conducted in camera with the candidate outside the room but remaining near by. The supervisor then calls the candidate back into the room to deliver the results.
  • If there are any required revisions, the committee determines the process, which can include vesting the supervisor with complete authority to oversee and assess all revisions (usually the default for minor revisions); or, each committee member can insist on assessing and approving the revisions (usually the default for significant changes).

Instructions for submitting a completed thesis to the Graduate School, click here.

The degree program follows Plan A as described in the Graduate Student Handbook of Case Western Reserve University. Accordingly, it requires 30 credit hours and a written M.A. thesis. Committees to supervise theses consist of three members of the faculty and otherwise conform to the requirements of the School of Graduate Studies.

A canonical interval for completing the program is four semesters, although periods of study longer or shorter can be arranged, and part-time enrollment is possible. The required courses include a two-semester theory sequence, a concurrent two-semester workshop sequence, electives, and 12 credit hours of thesis work.

the standard eligibility criteria for the Integrated Graduate Study Program, prospective students must also follow the standard admission procedures and requirements described above for the M.A. in Cognitive Linguistics.