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MA Essay Procedures and Requirements

REEI and the University Graduate School have strict guidelines for the submission, defense, and acceptance of the MA Essay. Students must comply with the following guidelines and timeline when preparing to defend the Essay. A timeline for student requirements follows. Click here for a list of Essays defended to date.

Graduate Student Guidelines:

The REEI MA Essay is normally written in the spring of the second year of graduate study while the student is enrolled in the R601 REEI Seminar course. It may be based on a previous seminar paper completed in a disciplinary course. The R601 course provides the student an opportunity for guidance in revising a seminar paper and expanding its focus to meet the requirements for the MA Essay. Students are advised to take in their first year of study at least one seminar course in which an extended research paper is required.


  • The essay should not exceed 13,000 words (excluding footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, and tabular material).
  • It must be double spaced and have 1" margins.
  • It must be interdisciplinary in scope.
  • For further style guidelines, please refer to a standard style manual, such as "The Chicago Manual of Style", Turabian, Kate L., "A Manual for Writers", the Modern Language Association (MLA) Style Sheet, or the American Psychological Association (APA) Style Sheet, and consult your advisor.
  • It must use sources in the language of concentration as a defining element. The sources cannot be mere embellishment but must form part of the foundation on which the argument of the essay rests.

Are you collecting original data from non-public primary sources or interviewing people as a part of your research?

All university community members conducting original data collection using non-public primary sources must have their data collection plans reviewed by the International Review Board (IRB) through the Office of Research Administration. Non-public resources include data gathered through interviews, focus groups, ethnographic observation, and surveys. Meta-analysis of other people's data may be subject to review. Data collection that does not require IRB approval is all data in the public domain (economic reports and statistics, the national census, voting telling from the Central Election Commissions) and all data generated by coding publicly available information such as twitter, Facebook, blogs, newspapers, reports, public statements by politicians, films and literature, and other similar primary sources. All students planning to collect original data should review the regulations at the research administration website and check with the office to find out if their project requires IRB approval. This approval can take up to three months so that you should begin it early in your research process.

Student Responsibilities:

At the beginning of the semester in which the essay will be written:

  • Select a faculty advisor. The advisor can be the R601 instructor, the instructor of the seminar course during which research was begun, or another member of the REEI faculty qualified to supervise work on the topic.
  • Select two additional faculty members to read the paper and administer the master's essay defense. These two additional faculty members should represent disciplines or research approaches different from one another and from that of the essay advisor.
(Students who encounter difficulty assembling a committee should ask the director or advisor for assistance as early as possible.)

At least two months prior to intended graduation:

Fill out an application for an advanced degree form in the University Graduate School. The form will then be forwarded to the Advisor.

One month prior to intended defense date:

  • The student must submit in writing to the REEI advisor and secretary the following information:
    • Title of essay (including necessary punctuation and diacritical marks)
    • Abstract of essay (not to exceed one page)
    • Names of committee chair and committee members
    • Intended date of defense
    • Intended date of graduation
    • Any subsequent changes to this information must be immediately reported to the REEI advisor and secretary.
  • After receiving the above information, the director will give final approval of committee membership.
  • Student should forward copies of the essay to all committee members for comments as early as possible.
  • Student should confirm that committee members are familiar with the essay defense guidelines; deliver a copy of the guidelines to committee members who need it.
  • Incorporate suggested revisions. Resubmit paper to the committee if significant changes are required. If difficulties are encountered in resolving conflicts in revisions suggested by the three committee members, discuss the matter with the director.

When ready to defend:

  • Determine several possible days and times for the defense that will be convenient for all committee members (1 ½ hours should be scheduled, to allow ample time for discussion and evaluation). Do this as early as possible!
  • Communicate possible dates and times to the REEI secretary at least fifteen days in advance of the defense. The secretary will reserve a room for the defense. The committee chair may prefer to reserve a room in his or her home department. If this is done, the REEI secretary must be notified.
  • The advisor will prepare a defense cover sheet for the student's essay to be signed by all three committee members and the director after the essay is accepted. The advisor will forward this paperwork to the chair.

After successful completion of the oral defense:

Provide the REEI advisor a final copy of the essay, electronically or in print, unmarked and unbound. The title page should have the following format:

(toward top-center of page)

(toward bottom center of page)
In Partial Fulfillment for the Requirements of the Master of Arts Degree, (or enter which dual degree is appropriate: Master of Arts and Master of Business Administration, Master of Arts and Master of Library Science, Master of Arts and Master of Information Science, or Master of Arts and Master of Public Affairs)
Russian and East European Institute, (or enter which dual degree department is appropriate: and Kelley School of Business, School of Library and Information Science, or School of Public and Environmental Affairs)
Indiana University
Month and Year
Student name

Students will be notified once the director has confirmed completion of degree requirements. The REEI advisor will prepare graduation paperwork.