Thesis Project



Thesis Guidelines PDF
Thesis Submission Flowchart
Currently Scheduled Defenses








Committee and Topic Approval

Your thesis committee and topic must be approved by the Graduate School before you begin your research and writing.

The Thesis Topic Approval form includes a description of your project and formally establishes your committee.

A thesis committee consists of at least three members. The chair and second reader must be Graduate Faculty members in your program.

Human and Live Vertebrate Subjects

Using humans or live vertebrates as research subjects requires prior approval separate from thesis topic approval. Please see the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs  for more information.


  • Have a complete Thesis Topic Approval on file
  • Get overrides from your department and the Graduate School each quarter
  • Use the correct CRN to register on Web4U


Total thesis credits must add up in some sequence to the total number of 690 credits on your approved plan of study. Thesis credits in excess of those on the plan of study may impact financial aid eligibility.

Oral Defense

  • Schedule your defense with your department
  • Submit an Oral Defense Schedule form at least two weeks prior to your defense
  • If requested, submit a draft to the Graduate School one week before your defense date


The Graduate School will announce your oral defense to Graduate Council and request a representative to observe. We will let you know whether to expect a Graduate Council member to attend, and will ask you to provide a copy of your draft for the representative to review. If you have a public presentation, we will announce it on the university-wide events calendar.

Manuscript Guidelines

The guidelines outlined here define minimum standards and point out common problems. Responsibility for final review of the thesis manuscript prior to submission rests with the committee.

Required Pages and Sequence



Page Name


Page Number


Committee Signature Page


No visible number


Library Authorization Page


No visible number


Title Page


No visible number








v, if applicable


Table of Contents


v or vi


List of Figures and Tables

Yes, if applicable

Continue in Roman numerals




Arabic numerals, starting with “2” on second page. No page number on first page of text.


Bibliography/Reference/ Works Cited











Format your front matter according to the Sample Pages provided.

Signature Pages

You will need two versions of the Committee Signature Page and Library Authorization Page – with signature lines for the hardcopy and without signature lines for the PDF.

Before you ask your committee members to sign, be sure there is no page number on your signature page. The Graduate School cannot accept signature pages with numbering or other marks.

Title Page

Check your title length for the cover of your hardbound thesis. Copy Services cannot imprint a title that has more than four lines, or three lines with one line of underlining. Each line can be no more than 50 spaces, including punctuation and spacing. Scientific names will be underlined, not italicized.


Format according to the style manual for your discipline.

Acknowledgements (optional)

The language used in the acknowledgement should be consistent with that used in acknowledgements in journal articles in your field. You may use this page to acknowledge those who contribute to the academic endeavors or research of your thesis.

Table of Contents

The first three preliminary pages do not appear in your Table of Contents. The first item to appear should be your Abstract.

Do not include the Table of Contents page in the Table of Contents, but do include the Lists of Tables and Figures.


Format Requirements


Captions should be in the same font as that used in the text. Locate captions according to the publication style you are using.


Use the same font throughout the manuscript. You may bold, italicize or underline words where appropriate. Italicized type may not be used for the entire body of the text.
Choose a font that is clearly legible on screen as well as printed. Font should be 10- to 12-point type. Double space the text, although indented quotes may be single spaced.


Section headings must correspond to the Table of Contents. Heading font and location on the page should be consistent throughout the thesis.
Do not use a running head.


Top, bottom, and right margins should be a minimum of one inch. The left margin should be a minimum of one and one-quarter inch to allow space for binding. Use the same margin dimensions throughout the manuscript, except for indented lengthy quotes. Page numbers should not intrude into the margin spaces.

Page Numbers

Page numbers may be located at the top center, upper right, or bottom center of the page. The numbers should appear alone, without any bracketing, dashes, etc. Refer to the chart above for numbering requirements.

References and Citations

There must be a reference for every citation in the text. The spelling of the author’s name and the publication year must match between the text and reference entry. Multiple citations between parentheses must be in either chronological or alphabetical order. Be consistent in citation and reference style throughout the thesis, according to the style manual you are following.


Style differs considerably among disciplines, and even among different journals in one discipline. Please confer with your thesis chair and select the appropriate style for your thesis. Be consistent with this style throughout your manuscript.
Western Libraries offers online quick guides to the most common citation styles and other helpful information.

Thesis Submission

Thesis Submission Flowchart                                                                                 

Current Deadlines


  • Submit your full thesis to the Graduate School in PDF format, via email, download link, or in person on portable media
  • Submit your committee signature page(s) and library authorization page in hardcopy with inked signatures
  • Complete the Digital Thesis Submission and Authorization form


Graduate School staff will review your thesis and may ask you to make changes to comply with format requirements. The complete thesis will be submitted to the dean for review and signature.

Some departments require as many original signature pages as the number of copies you are expected to have bound. Once the thesis is approved, the dean will sign as many original signature pages as you submit.

Your approved PDF will be sent to the Library and Copy Services.

Copying and Binding

  • One hardbound copy is required for Special Collections. Your PDF becomes the circulation copy.
  • It is customary to provide a hardbound copy to the chair of your committee. Some programs require additional bound copies. Check for specific requirements.
  • Costs for copying, binding and lettering must be paid at the time you place or order.
  • Deliver or send a copy of the order form to the Graduate School to verify that the required hardbound copy has been ordered.


Copyright and Publication

Information on copyright for all or part(s) of a thesis is available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Your approved thesis will join hundreds of others in Western’s online Master’s Thesis Collection. If you wish to delay the posting of your thesis to this collection while you seek publication of your work, you may request a six month embargo by emailing


Page Updated 06.27.2014