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Portfolio Guidelines


Portfolio Options

The student should choose one of the following formats for the portfolio:

  • Critical Portfolio. Two substantially revised critical essays originally produced in graduate coursework. Each revised essay should be approximately twenty pages in length.
  • Creative Portfolio. A substantially revised body of creative work consisting of content originally produced in at least two graduate courses. The creative work may consist of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenwriting, or digital media. The creative work should total approximately thirty-five to forty pages.
  • Combination Portfolio. A substantially revised critical essay of approximately twenty pages, along with approximately fifteen to twenty pages of substantially revised creative work, which may include fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screenwriting, or digital media. The contents of the portfolio must come from work submitted during graduate coursework.

Revision of Portfolio Materials

Revised critical work should incorporate the following elements as deemed appropriate by the advising faculty member:

  • Writing. Student significantly improves upon structure and style.
  • Research. Student expands engagement with secondary research.
  • History. Student deepens the historical context.
  • Theory. Student develops the theoretical context.
  • Contribution to the discipline. Student provides an expanded sense of how the paper intervenes in its field.
  • Other suggestions from the advising faculty member.

Revised creative work should incorporate the following as deemed appropriate by the advising faculty member:

  • Style. Student revises syntax, diction, and grammar for rhetorical effect; sentences should do what they mean.
  • Structure. Student revises the form to create a sense of tightness and alignment  with the other layers of craft, including sentence style, imagery, tension, etc.
  • Elements of genre. Student revises scenes, dialogue, characterization, figurative language, imagery, etc., with an eye toward precision and detail.
  • Tension. Student strengthens conflict through the modification of pacing; this aspect, too, aligns with other layers of craft, including structure, style, imagery, etc.
  • Insight. Student develops overall themes of the piece in order to illuminate the human condition.
  • Other suggestions from the advising faculty member.

Portfolio Contents

The Portfolio must contain the following:

  • A table of contents.
  • A five- to six-page reflective introduction. In this introduction, the student should provide an account of his or her growth as a reader, writer, and scholar since beginning the M.A. program. The student should describe his or her trajectory within the program, as well as the critical, creative, or methodological skills gained along the way. It should describe the contents of the portfolio, explaining the revisions made and how they broadened the student’s knowledge of the subject matter or craft.
  • The revised work.
  • Original versions of the work submitted for class (not included in overall page count).
  • A curriculum vitae or resume (in consultation with portfolio advisor, student should tailor document to a specific post-degree goal—for example, publication of creative work, professional writing, teaching, publishing, or further graduate study).

Purely creative portfolios must contain the following additional materials:

  • A two-page statement including a one-sentence biographical statement, a one-paragraph biographical statement, and a statement of publication objectives for work included in the portfolio.
  • A one-page sample cover letter suitable for active submission.