A thesis committee consists of at least three Graduate Faculty members, with one member serving as primary advisor and committee chair. See the policy on Graduate Faculty for descriptions of the three faculty types and their duties. Departments may have additional criteria for determining who can serve what role on a thesis committee.
The Thesis Topic Approval form should be completed as early in the graduate program as possible given department timelines and requirements.
Please note: if a thesis committee includes an Affiliate Graduate Faculty member (a volunteer not employed by Western), that person will not be able to sign the topic approval esign form. They should email firstname.lastname@example.org with a statement agreeing to participate on the committee. The email should come from their professional email address and include a CV or enough information in the signature to determine whether the individual meets the criteria for Affiliate member.
Human or Live Vertebrate Subjects
Using humans or live vertebrates as research subjects requires prior approval separate from thesis topic approval. Please see Research Compliance 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.
Register for Thesis
- Have a complete Thesis Topic Approval form on file.
- Get a registration override from the Graduate School every quarter you take thesis credit.
Track Thesis Registration
- Check the number of required and/or allowed thesis credits for your program.
- Make sure that your 690 registration over multiple quarters adds up to the total you need. If the maximum allowed is 12, you can take 4 + 4 + 4, but not 4 + 4 + 5 (for example).
Thesis grades are reported as incomplete (K) each quarter, until the final thesis is submitted and approved. Faculty should not submit thesis grades at the end of the quarter like grades for other courses.
After the thesis defense, the faculty advisor should report the grade for the thesis on the Degree Recommendation form.
If you take more credits of 690 than are allowed in the catalog requirements for your program, those credits will not be assigned a grade. They will remain K on your transcript.
Writing a graduate-level thesis is one of the most challenging things you may ever have to do. Even with support from your advisor, the monumental task of writing your thesis can be overwhelming. Why go at it alone when you don't have to?
If you sign up for a thesis partner, you will be matched up with a Graduate Research-Writing Assistant who will aid you along in the process, meeting with you to discuss your thesis progress whenever you're stuck. For more information and to sign up, visit the RWS Thesis Partner page.
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.
Because the final thesis will be viewed primarily online, prepare your PDF document for optimal viewing on a screen. If your thesis includes landscape-oriented pages, save the PDF with mixed page orientation.
|Order||Page Name||Required?||Page Number|
|1||Committee Signature Page||yes||no visible number|
|2||Library Authorization Page||yes||no visible number|
|3||Title Page||yes||no visible number|
|5||Acknowledgements||no||v, if applicable|
|6||Table of Contents||yes||v or vi|
|7||List of Figures and Tables||yes, if applicable||continue in Roman numerals|
|8||Text||yes||Arabic numerals, beginning with 2 on the second page. No visible number on the first page of text.|
|9||Bibliography/References/Works Cited||yes||Arabic numerals|
|11||Curriculum Vita||no||Arabic numerals|
During the disruption in operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, hardcopy signature pages are not required. The degree recommendation esign form will serve as approval of the final thesis by all committee members.
The thesis PDF should still contain a signature page with typed names (no scanned signatures), and a library authorization with the student's typed name and the date of submission.
Library Authorization Page
Choose the library authorization appropriate for your document type (thesis or field project) and the access level you have chosen. See the sections below on "Templates" and "Embargos and Limiting Access" if needed.
Make sure that your title matches exactly on both pages where it appears, the Committee Signature Page and the Title Page. If your title is long, you may wish to check current cover printing capabilities at Haggard Hall Print and Copy Services to make sure it can be printed on your bound copies.
Format according to the style manual for your discipline.
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.
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.
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 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 Defenses and Submission
Coronavirus Interim Oral Defense Guidance
Graduate students defending during pandemic-related campus closures should consult with their committee chairs to arrange a defense format. Acceptable options include videoconferencing with tools such as Skype or Zoom. Check the Western Coronavirus Information page for current guidance on holding in person meetings. Public or department-wide presentations are not required by the Graduate School.
Students who do not have access to the necessary technology to hold a video defense should contact ATUS to request equipment loan.
Defense Notification Requirements
- 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 of your thesis to the Graduate School one week before your defense date
The Graduate School will announce your oral defense to Graduate Faculty Governance Council. If a Graduate Faculty Governance Council member volunteers to observe your defense, you will need to include that person in your video conference. We will ask you to provide a copy of your draft for the representative to review.
Create Your CEDAR Account and Submit Research
- Go to http://cedar.wwu.edu 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 @wwu.edu 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.
Pandemic Interim Process: due to coronavirus-related campus closures, you do not need to submit a hardcopy signature page. Follow all manuscript guidelines for preparing your PDF, and submit that PDF to CEDAR. Instructions for ordering your archival hard copy will be provided with your CEDAR approval notification.
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.
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 place a thesis order with Print and Copy Services using the Thesis Order Request Form. 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.
Instructions for placing your order with Print and Copy Services will be included in your thesis approval letter.
Occasionally a graduate student may need to delay the posting of their thesis to CEDAR, or limit the audience to Western students and faculty. There are two options to choose from.
An embargo delays the public release of the thesis document while the author or faculty researcher pursues publication or copyright of the work in the thesis. At the end of the embargo period, the thesis is posted.
To request an embargo, email Megan.Spiegel@wwu.edu with details. An embargo can be requested for six months or one year, and may be renewed if necessary.
If you might want to renew your embargo, set a reminder on your calendar around the time the embargo is set to expire. Let the Graduate School know if you need to renew.
Campus Only Access
Limiting access to the Western community is a good option for those wishing to preserve First North American Serial Rights (publication rights). A current WWU login is required to view the thesis, and the limited access status does not expire like an embargo does.
To choose this option, use the limited access library authorization form instead of the standard one, and make a note in CEDAR when you upload your thesis. Library authorization forms are available in the Templates section above, and on Canvas.