Thesis Project



Research & Writing Studio







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 graduate faculty members in your discipline. See the Graduate Faculty policy in the Graduate School section of the University Catalog for a description of graduate faculty membership and duties.

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.

Topic approval forms that indicate human subjects, live vertebrate subjects, or scientific diving activities will be forwarded to the appropriate offices for review.


  • 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. Manuscripts may be returned by the Graduate School for revision if they do not adhere to format requirements or contain excessive spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors.

Prepare your thesis for optimal viewing as a PDF. If your thesis includes landscape-oriented pages, save your PDF with mixed page orientation.

You may use this Thesis Template (download) as a guide for preparing your document. Because the thesis format requirements have recently changed, do not use a prior thesis from your program as a template.

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












Signature Pages

Hardcopy, single-sided signature pages should be prepared and submitted along with your PDF-format full thesis. These are the only pages you should prepare in hardcopy.

Sample Signature Pages (download)

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.

The committee signature page and library authorization page included in your PDF should not have lines for signatures or scanned signatures—only the typed names.

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, on your binding.


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 contributed to the academic endeavors or research of your thesis. Limit the acknowledgements to a single page.

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. Lists of Tables and Figures should include page numbers.

Supplementary Material

Additional material may be included in appendices or as separate files to be submitted with your PDF. CEDAR can take many file types. Maps, datasets, sound clips, short films, images, and other items can be included. See the CEDAR FAQ for more details.


Format Requirements


Margins should be a minimum of one inch on all sides. Use the same margin dimensions throughout the manuscript, except for indented lengthy quotes.

Page Numbers

Page numbers may be located according to the style commonly used in your discipline, or any standard word processor location. The numbers should appear alone, without any bracketing, dashes, etc. Refer to the chart above for numbering requirements.


Choose a font that is clearly legible on screen as well as in print. Font should be 10- to 12-point type. 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.


Double space the text. Block quotes may be single spaced. Thesis projects in poetry, mathematics, and music may be spaced as appropriate to the discipline.


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


Section headings must correspond to the Table of Contents. Heading font and location on the page should be consistent throughout the thesis. Ensure that headings appear on the same page as the corresponding text (i.e. watch for headings orphaned at the bottom of pages). Do not use a running head.


Style differs considerably among disciplines, and even among different journals in one discipline. Confer with your thesis chair to select the appropriate style for your thesis, and be consistent with this style throughout your manuscript.

References and Citations

Be consistent in citation and reference style throughout the thesis, according to the style manual you are following. 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.

Western Libraries offers online quick guides to the most common citation styles and other helpful information.


Thesis Submission

Create Your CEDAR Account and Submit Research

  • Go to and click “Submit Research” in the sidebar, under Contributors. Follow the instructions to create an account and submit to the WWU Graduate School Collection.
  • Use a permanent email address for your account, not your email address, so that you can keep track of your work after graduation.
  • Upload your complete PDF and any supplementary files you wish to include.

Thesis Approval and Publication

Graduate School staff will communicate with you via CEDAR (you will receive emails) about the status of your thesis and any necessary revisions.

Bring at least one signed hardcopy of your committee signature page and one signed library authorization page to the Graduate School for your submission to be complete. Do not submit your entire thesis in hardcopy.

Once your thesis has been approved, you will be notified through CEDAR. Your thesis will be published and made available right away on CEDAR, as part of the Digital Commons for your discipline, and through Google and Google Scholar.

If you need to delay public posting of your thesis, or keep access to your content permanently limited, email the Graduate School for options.

Important: completion of your degree still requires one hardbound copy of your thesis for archiving in Special Collections. Once your thesis is approved, you will need to pick up your signature pages from the Graduate School and deliver them to Print and Copy Services to order your binding. This order must be placed and paid before your degree can be awarded. Individual departments may have requirements for additional copies; check with your thesis chair or program adviser if you are unsure.


Copyright and Publication

You retain exclusive copyright to your work after it is completed and posted. More information on copyright for all or part(s) of a thesis is available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and Western Libraries.

Your approved thesis will join hundreds of others in Western’s online Graduate School Collection. If you wish to delay the posting of your thesis or permanently restrict it to campus-only viewing, contact the Graduate School for options.


Page Updated 12.06.2018