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 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.



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 contributed 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 in print. 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

Beginning Winter 2015, master’s thesis submission and approval will be handled through CEDAR. This will allow more streamlined communication and processing between students, the Graduate School, and Western Libraries.

CEDAR will also provide greater exposure and findability of thesis work. Authors will receive monthly usage statistics for their work, even after they leave Western.

Create Your CEDAR Account and Submit Research

  1. Navigate to and click “Submit Research” in the sidebar, under Contributors.
  2. Scroll to the end of the list of links to find WWU Masters Thesis Collection. (Do not use the link for your specific discipline.)
  3. Log in or create your account. Once your account is created, you may need to start over at the Submit Research link.
  4. After clicking WWU Masters Thesis Collection under Submit Research, enter your information in the fields provided – title, degree type, committee information, abstract, etc.
  5. Choose a Creative Commons license if you wish; this is not required.
  6. You may submit additional files that will be displayed on your thesis page. These might include data sets, maps, multimedia, etc. that cannot be incorporated into your PDF file. Check the box if you would like to add additional files – you will do this on the next screen, after submitting the main thesis PDF.
  7. Attach your thesis PDF and submit. It might take a few minutes for large files to upload.

Thesis Approval and Publication

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

You will still need to 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. Once this is received, the Dean can begin to review your thesis. Do not submit your entire thesis in hardcopy.

Once the Dean has 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.

Important: completion of your degree still requires one hardbound copy of your thesis for 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

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 05.10.2017