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Graduate Portfolio

Guideline for Submission of the Master's Portfolio

The master’s degree at Winthrop University requires the successful completion of a final examination during the student’s final semester of course work. The submission of a portfolio is a prerequisite for taking the oral examination. Portfolio papers will be ranked for assessment purposes only. The portfolio is due no later than the beginning of the Oral Comprehensive Examination; consult each semester's list of important dates for the specific due date.

Format for the Portfolio

The student should use tabbed dividers to separate the portfolio items in a one-inch three-ring binder. (A suitable binder may be available on a loan basis from the Department of English’s office, BANC 250.)


  • Quick checklist:
    • C. V.
    • Cover sheet
    • Reading List
    • Graduate Student Inventory
    • Abstract and British paper
    • Abstract and American paper
    • Abstract and a third critical or creative piece
  • Detailed description of the front matter:
    • Cover sheet: The portfolio begins with the student’s name and contact information (e-mail, phone number, mailing address).
  • Reading List:
    • The overall list must represent at least two national literatures.
    • The student is expected to discuss the Reading List with the Graduate Director before finalizing it.
    • Each three-hour course taken in fulfillment of the master’s degree in English must be represented on the Reading List. The courses on the list should be categorized (American, British, world, other); specific works should be categorized by course number and title (lowest course number to highest).
    • The list must include at least three major works or three groups of shorter works from each course that the student has taken. Discuss with the Graduate Director how material from transfer courses should be represented on the Reading List.
    • At least three of the following types of literary genres must be represented: fiction, poetry, drama, and nonfiction.
    • One selection in the nonfiction category must represent a school of literary criticism/theory.
    • Examples of suitable texts follow:
      • Fiction: Moby Dick would be a major work; three of Melville’s short stories would be a group of shorter works.
      • Poetry: Paradise Lost would be a major work; “Lycidas,” “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity,” and three of Milton’s sonnets would be a group of shorter works.
      • Nonfiction: Walden would be a major work; three of T.S. Eliot’s essays would be a group of shorter works. (The Signifying Monkey is an example of a major work of literary criticism; three journal articles or book chapters would be a group of shorter works.)
      • Drama: Hamlet would be a major work; three one-act plays would be a group of shorter works.
      • For creative writing classes, thesis hours, and other courses, please consult the Graduate Director to determine what would be appropriate selections.
  • Notes on the portfolio pieces:
    • Each should have a preceding conference-style abstract.
    • Essays must be presented and correctly documented according to the 2016 MLA Format.
    • The three pieces must represent at least two predominant critical perspectives, so the third piece may employ the same critical perspective as one of the first two papers. Examples of such perspectives include (but are not limited to) deconstruction, New Historicism, Marxist criticism, and psychological criticism.
    • In lieu of a third critical paper, the student may submit creative work. Examples include (but are not limited to) a short story, a group of poems, a section from a novel, a drama, and a screen play.
    • An appropriate chapter of your Master’s Thesis may meet one of these requirements.


  • The portfolio is due no later than the beginning of the oral comprehensive qualifying examination.
  • Within ten working days, the GD sends the student either written approval of the portfolio or guidelines for revision. The GD must approve the student’s committee, reading list, and portfolio pieces.
  • In the event that revisions are required, the student has five working days to comply with the GD’s written instructions.
  • Once the portfolio is resubmitted, it is approved or declined within five working days. If further revisions are needed, the student has an additional five working days to attempt a successful submission.
  • The GD has the option to inform the student of successful results at the end of the student’s oral examination. In any case, within five working days after the oral examination, the GD tabulates the scores on each “Oral Examination Rating Sheet” and notifies the student in writing of his or her status on the examination: pass with distinction, pass, or fail. In the event of a pass or pass with distinction, the GD also notifies the Graduate Office.
  • In the event of a successful outcome, the student may pick up the original copy of the portfolio at the GD’s office. In the event of failure of the oral exam, the student meets with the GD to discuss his or her options.
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