The following is a general outline for preparing a thesis or dissertation for approval by the student’s department and The Graduate School
- Plan a schedule for the research and writing of the thesis or dissertation with the chair of the supervisory committee.
- Consult this handbook and the thesis and dissertation editor with questions about style guide selection, the use of illustrations, the use of copyrighted materials, and other aspects of manuscript preparation.
- Submit the thesis or dissertation to members of the supervisory committee. The chair must receive a copy at least 3 weeks before the final oral examination. The other members of the committee must receive a copy at least 2 weeks before the oral examination. Some departments require more than 3 weeks; check with your chair. A manuscript (hard copy only) may be submitted to the thesis editor for “preliminary review” at any time before the defense. The manuscript will not be read at this time, but it will be examined for obvious errors in University format. After the defense, manuscripts are accepted for Format Approval only.
- Prior to the defense, prepare one copy of the Supervisory Committee Approval and Final Reading Approval forms (available on The Graduate School website, “Thesis and Dissertations Forms”). Prepare the signature forms by typing in student and faculty full legal names and avoiding use of degrees and titles, such as M.D., Ph.D, Dr., Professor, etc. (see Appendix C for more information).
- Defend the thesis or dissertation at a public oral examination scheduled and announced by the committee. The defense should be scheduled early enough for the student to make any changes requested by the committee and to still submit the departmentally-approved manuscript to the Thesis Office for Format Approval no later than 7 weeks prior to the closing date of the semester (i.e., the last day of final examinations; see the Calendar on The Graduate School website for specific dates), 8 weeks for manuscripts in excess of 200 pages. All graduate students must be registered for at least one course from the time of formal admission through completion of all requirements for the degree they are seeking including the defense, unless granted an official leave of absence.
- Make any changes to the manuscript that the committee may require after the oral defense. Have the signature forms signed in ink by the committee members. By majority vote the members of the supervisory committee certify on the Supervisory Committee Approval form that the thesis or dissertation has been found satisfactory for the degree.
- The committee chair signs the Final Reading Approval form and certifies that the final thesis or dissertation has been read and approved, that all materials are in order, and that the manuscript is ready to submit to The Graduate School. After obtaining signatures of the committee and the chair as final reader, the student submits the manuscript to the department chair or dean of the student’s college or school for approval on the Final Reading Approval form. A manuscript will not be accepted for Format Approval until it has been successfully defended and signatures of a majority of the supervisory committee, the final reader, and the chair of the department have been obtained. (See Appendix C for further details.)
The signature of the dean of The Graduate School is given after the final manuscript is approved by the thesis editor, not before the first submission to the Thesis Office. The signature forms are not included in the published manuscript. They are replaced by the Statement of Approval, which is not signed.
- Submit a single-sided hard copy of the thesis or dissertation that has been publicly defended and approved by the supervisory committee, the final reader, and the chair of the department to the Thesis Office for Format Approval. To be considered for graduation in a particular semester, the defended and committee-approved thesis or dissertation must be submitted 7 weeks prior to the closing date of the semester, 8 weeks for manuscripts in excess of 200 pages. IMPORTANT: The manuscript submitted must adhere to the formatting guidelines in this handbook in order to qualify as meeting the deadline. If manuscripts are submitted after the Format Approval deadline (see the Calendar on The Graduate School website), they will not be considered for graduation in that semester. Manuscripts are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
- After notification by the Thesis Office that the submitted manuscript has been read, meet with the thesis editor regarding any corrections. Discussion of corrections is by appointment only. Once all corrections have been made, a Format Approval is issued.
- After receiving Format Approval, the student will be given instructions for uploading a PDF file to ProQuest/UMI. The final manuscript should be uploaded no later than the Monday before examination week (the final week of the semester; see final submission date listed in the Calendar on The Graduate School website). If the final manuscript is satisfactory, the dean of The Graduate School signs the Final Reading Approval form and a Thesis Release is issued. All processing of the manuscript must be completed by the last day of the semester for graduation in the semester.
If a Thesis Release cannot be issued by the closing date of the semester, the student will need to reapply for graduation for the next semester. The diploma is also dated that semester but the student may obtain a Statement of Completion from the Office of the Registrar.
Statement of Completion
A Statement of Completion may be obtained from the Office of the Registrar after the Thesis Release is issued if the student’s file is complete in the Graduate Records Office and all grades have been recorded for the Application for Admission to Candidacy (for master’s candidates) or the Program of Study (for doctoral candidates). The Statement, which may be used in place of the diploma, shows the month of graduation and the date all the requirements for the degree were completed. Diplomas are mailed to students by the Office of the Registrar approximately 3 months after the closing date of the semester of graduation.