Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines
By the end of this process, you will have a complete thesis or dissertation manuscript published! Students complete a thesis or dissertation in tandem with their thesis/dissertation advisory committee and the College of Graduate Studies. Use this website to help guide you through the process of completing your manuscript and making your way to graduation.
If you have questions about this process, refer to the University Style Guide above or contact Rachel Lambert, in the College of Graduate Studies, for assistance.
Process for Completion
Your graduate advisor and the College of Graduate Studies want to see you succeed. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to them. Understanding and feeling comfortable with the thesis/dissertation process is crucial in completing it successfully. Note: The timeline of this process is determined by you, the student, and your advisory committee.
Below are the general steps you will follow from beginning the process to graduation:
Select Your Thesis/Dissertation Advisory Committee
Each department has their own rules and regulations for how your advisory committee should be created and/or how your thesis or dissertation will be organized. Some committees will have a chair assigned by the department; others will allow you to choose your own committee chair. Some departments require four committee readers, while others require only two. Speak with your graduate advisor to determine how to begin this process correctly through your department. Your advisory committee members will know how to organize your thesis or dissertation within the regulations of the subject and department.
Complete the Thesis/Dissertation Advisory Committee Form
Once you have your advisory committee formed, you will complete the Advisory Committee Form. This will formally establish your advisory committee with the College of Graduate Studies. If there are changes in your advisory committee, a Change in Advisory Committee Form needs to be completed.
Begin Your Proposal
Now it is time to begin your proposal. The proposal is a written document, determined with your advisory committee, and may include: the topic of your thesis or dissertation, the method you will use to determine your research, etc. Your advisory committee will have the specific departmental knowledge necessary to assist you in writing this proposal properly. Once you have completed this document, you will need to follow the approval process; this may look different for each department.
Write Your Thesis/Dissertation
After you have received approval for your proposal, it is time to begin your research and write your thesis/dissertation. You and your advisory committee will work closely throughout the writing process. Stay in contact with these individuals; ask them any questions or concerns you have about writing your thesis/dissertation to ensure that you understand how your thesis/dissertation should flow within your subject matter and department's preferences. If you are writing a thesis, your advisory committee will know the next steps in your approval process. If you are writing a dissertation, it is time to prepare for your defense.
In Your Last Semester, Complete Your Intent to Graduate Form
The Intent to Graduate Form should be completed during the first two weeks of your last semester before graduation. This will allow the College of Graduate Studies the time it takes to prepare you for graduation. You will not graduate without completing this form. Timing of this form in your specific process may vary. If you are writing a thesis, your next steps in this list will be outlined in the "Approval Page" step below. If you are writing a dissertation, continue your defense preparation.
Complete the Dissertation Defense Announcement Request
The Dissertation Defense Announcement Request will be completed by your advisory committee chair. This form will state when and where your defense will take place. An email will be sent out to the university regarding this announcement. This form must be completed two weeks prior to the student's defense date.
Defend Your Dissertation
Now that you are prepared to defend your dissertation, your announcement will be sent, and your defense will be presented. Who and how many individuals you allow at your defense will be determined by you, your advisory committee, and any regulations in your department policy.
Make Any Necessary Corrections
After a student successfully defends their dissertation, the advisory committee may request simple changes to their dissertation. Once these corrections have been made, it is time to complete the necessary paperwork.
Complete the Approval Page
Having a completed Thesis/Dissertation Approval Page on file means that you, your entire advisory committee, and the program director agree you have successfully completed your thesis/dissertation. Once your thesis has been approved or your dissertation has been successfully defended, you will begin the Approval Page. It will move by email, receiving the necessary signatures required to complete the form. Be sure to enter your program director and advisory committee's names and emails correctly into the form. If they are not correct, your form will not be sent to the next person and will sit incomplete. If this happens, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the accurate information so your form can be corrected. Note: Your advisory committee on file with the College of Graduate Studies must match the individuals on your Approval Page. If these individuals do not match, you will need to complete the Change in Advisory Committee Form.
Submit To ProQuest
The deadline for this step may be found on the Academic Calendar.
ProQuest is the submission and publishing software the university uses for theses and dissertations. Instructions on how to submit your thesis/dissertation to ProQuest along with the submission portal are listed at the top of this page. Email email@example.com with any questions concerning your ProQuest submission. The deadline for a thesis/dissertation submission is located in the College of Graduate Studies Academic Calendar. This is a hard deadline for graduation. Any extensions must be approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Any email requesting an extension must come from your committee chair or program director, and must include the timeline and plan of completion by the requested date. Any extensions at or after commencement will be denied.
Complete the Publishing Agreement
You may have completed a publishing agreement with the ProQuest company when you finalized your submission. However, the College of Graduate Studies has a Publishing Agreement that must also be completed. We cannot publish your thesis/dissertation until we have this form on file.
Complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates
Doctoral Students Only. Each student who completes a dissertation should complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates through the National Science Foundation (NSF). You my learn more about NSF here.
Get Approved by the Editor
Once you submit your thesis/dissertation to ProQuest, the Editor for the College of Graduate Studies completes a review of your submission, looking for any necessary revisions such as a bibliography or formatting edit. After the Editor completes his review, approves of your submission, and the College of Graduate Studies has your complete paperwork file, your thesis/dissertation will be sent for publishing. Any questions about your file and its completion should be directed to Andrea Smith at Andrea.Smith@mtsu.edu.
Graduate a Published Author
Now that you have completed your file and the editor has sent your thesis/dissertation for publishing, you are ready for graduation!
Note: Your DegreeWorks will not update immediately as grades have not been posted.
Below is a quicklink checklist for all Thesis and Dissertation forms, in the order of submission. All forms must be received by the College of Graduate Studies before a degree is awarded.
If you have questions regarding a specific form, refer to the dropdown above. If your question is not answered above, please contact Andrea Smith in the College of Graduate Studies.
- Advisory Committee Form - Click here
- Change in Advisory Committee Form - Click here
- Intent to Graduate - Click here
- Dissertation Defense Announcement (Completed by your Committee Chair) *Doctoral Students Only*
- Approval Page - Click here
- Submit to ProQuest - Click here
- Publishing Agreement - Click here
- Survey of Earned Doctorates - Click here *Doctoral Students Only*
Deadline for Graduation
Theses and Dissertations are submitted for publishing through the ProQuest system. You may find more information regarding your ProQuest submission here or in the University Style Guide at the top of this page. Please keep in mind that theses and dissertations are processed in the order in which they are received. Uploading your ProQuest submission as soon as possible will allow time for any issues or questions that may arise.
Theses and dissertations may be submitted at any time during the semester of graduation up to the deadline. However, there is a hard deadline for ProQuest submissions. Deadlines for each semester may be found on the Academic Calendar. Any extensions must be approved by the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies. Any emails requesting an extension must come from your committee chair or program director, and must include the timeline and plan of completion by the requested date. Any extensions at or after commencement will be denied. Students who submit papers after the deadline will not have their diplomas conferred until the following semester.
Note: If a student has already completed an Intent to Graduate form and needs to delay their graduation for any reason, a Request to Withdraw Intent to Graduate Form may be filed and a new Intent to Graduate Form completed for the semester in which they plan to graduate.