Student Portfolio & Graduate Research

Undergraduate students create a portfolio to prepare for graduation. 

Your portfolio will be one of the most important projects you do during your undergraduate career. In it, you will collect and evaluate your writing expertise, which you can use when applying to jobs or graduate programs. 

Not only is your portfolio an academic project, but one that will help you in your post graduate pursuits. 

Graduate students will complete a graduate research paper

Undergraduate Portfolio 

In the last semester of your English major, you’ll enroll in ENG 490 – Portfolio. This course is a graded, 1-credit class in which you’ll demonstrate how your English course work and projects meet the department’s goals.

The key to success in your portfolio all comes down to this: between your first semester and your last, save all your English papers, projects, and other documents that relate to the department goals. 

It’ll be very difficult for you to create a portfolio if you don’t keep track of your work throughout your education.

You can find sample portfolios in the English Department. Just ask a professor, and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Portfolio Requirements

Your portfolio should include the following sections:

  • a table of contents
  • an introductory statement that describes your interest in studying English and how you’ve met the department goals
  • abstracts explaining each goal coursework
  • documents that support the introductory statement and abstracts, two of which must be a substantial research project
  • a resume

Introductory Statement Guidelines

In your introductory statement, you must:

  • accurately and purposefully introduce the portfolio documents
  • name specific texts, courses, eras, authors, and concepts with accuracy and authority
  • provide helpful cues (e.g. introduction, conclusion, foreshadowing, summaries, transitions, other markers) for readers
  • name and address all 6 department goals
  • offer evidence that it’s been carefully reviewed, scrupulously proofread, and edited for correctness and clarity
  • appropriately manage tone and style

Department Goals

For a strong portfolio, you should aim to have at least 2 papers, projects, or other documents to support each department goal. 

  1. Reading Experience: Students will demonstrate the breadth of their reading experience, which includes both texts from different genres and texts representing a range of cultural and individual identities
  2. Writing Experience: Students will demonstrate that they have written in different modes for different audiences and purposes
  3. Language and Discourse: Students will demonstrate an understanding of language and discourse. Avenues to such knowledge include study in the history of the language, formal grammar, rhetoric, and linguistics.
  4. Theoretical Perspectives: Students will demonstrate that they understand the significant theoretical “lenses” in their field of study such as literary theory, pedagogical theory and approaches, and theories of language acquisition
  5. Historical or Cultural Context: Students will demonstrate an understanding of how texts are historically and culturally situated and how these texts are part of the scope, sequence and framework in their field of study
  6. Future Directions: Students will demonstrate an understanding of how their education contributes to their lives and careers outside the classroom. One aim of our program is to develop well-rounded graduates with interests not only in their fields of study, but also in the social and ethical issues of our changing world.

Graduate Research Paper 

All graduate students must fulfill the graduate research requirement by choosing to either:

  • Take ENG 601 or 614, and write a master’s thesis
  • Take the non-thesis option, which requires 5 more credit hours of coursework

If you are enrolled in the graduate program through an agreement with an international partner institution, you may be required to select the non-thesis option.

Once you decide which research paper you want to write, you’ll meet with Dr. Elizabeth Zold to declare which option you want to pursue.

Thesis Option

You can write your scholarly thesis on a literary, linguistic, or Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) topic, or a creative thesis with a scholarly introduction.

If you intend on writing a master’s thesis, you need to do the following:

  1. Secure a director
  2. Find a prospectus and 2 thesis readers
  3. Have the prospectus and 2 readers approved by the director
  4. Email the Prospectus Submission & Thesis Committee Form (PDF) to Dr. Zold at between your first and second academic years—you won’t be able to register for ENG 699 until this form has been filed 

After you’ve written and revised your thesis while consulting your director and readers, you must defend your thesis (PDF) and complete the bindery process (PDF) at least 1 month before your anticipated graduation date.

Contact the English Department
Department of English
Minné 304

Office Hours

Monday–Friday: 8:30am-4pm

Ann-Marie Dunbar
Department Chair, Professor


Email Ann-Marie Dunbar
Claudia Richard
Office Manager


Email Claudia Richard