Thesis and Dissertation

The purpose of the thesis or dissertation document is to present that knowledge to the scholarly community in a clear, concise, and professional manner that is appropriate to the discipline. Students enrolled in degree programs in which they will complete a thesis or dissertation are expected to plan, execute, and report on a research project or creative endeavor that creates, analyzes, assesses, or otherwise advances knowledge in the discipline of study.


Important Deadlines for Thesis/Dissertation Defense

Fall 2023Week of October 30th, 2023
Spring 2024Week of March 25th, 2024
Summer 2024Week of June 17, 2024

Submission Deadlines for Thesis/Dissertation Manuscripts

Submission of a defended final draft of the thesis or dissertation is due in the Graduate School by no later than the dates listed below. Your final draft will be reviewed by the Graduate School readers, and additional changes may be necessary before the completed copy is approved. Completed theses/dissertations must be turned in on or before the completed thesis deadline. Late submissions will NOT be accepted.

TermFinal (Post Defense) Deadline
Completed (post-Grad School Review) Deadline
Fall 2023November 13, 2023December 8, 2023
Spring 2024April 8, 2024May 3, 2024
Summer 2024July 8, 2024August 2, 2024

*A "Completed Thesis" includes the final, edited copy ready for publication, with all required forms submitted.

Thesis/Dissertation Process

Approval of Thesis Committee and Prospectus

  1. Work with your program director and faculty to determine a committee of graduate faculty. The committee chair must be a "Full Member" of the graduate faculty from the home program. Additional committee members may have "Affiliate Member" status.
  2. Prepare and present your thesis/dissertation idea via a prospectus or summary. The individual program determines the style and length of your prospectus. Consult with your advisor for more information.
  3. Acquire IRB/IACUC/IBC approval (if needed) for research involving humans, animals, or biohazardous materials. You may NOT collect any data until you complete the appropriate training and receive the necessary approval from the Office of Research Protections, so it is important to allow sufficient time for this approval to be secured. Your committee membership form and prospectus must indicate the date on which you applied for IRB approval, and attach the IRB letter if approved. If approval is pending, you must submit an attestation verifying that data collection will not occur until IRB approval is finalized.
  4. Electronically submit your prospectus (or summary), the signed thesis/dissertation committee form, and a copy of your IRB/IACUC/IBC approval letter or attestation (where applicable) as a single, attached PDF file to the Graduate School at Make sure to copy (cc) all committee members on the email. All committee member names MUST be listed on the committee form. Signatures on the form may be electronic or a scanned copy of "wet" signatures. You will not be cleared to register for thesis/dissertation hours (5999, 6999, or 7999) until these items are submitted and approved. If you need to change a committee member later, do not forget to inform the Graduate School by submitting a Committee Change Form.

Completing Your Research

  1. Once you have received notification that your prospectus is approved, you may submit a Special Course Form to request registration in thesis or dissertation hours. 
  2. Begin and/or continue gathering and analyzing your data.
  3. Attend workshops if you need assistance with document layout in MS Word or with particular data analysis strategies. Your advisor can help you identify these workshops.
  4. Determine what publication style you need to use and also review the Graduate School's Thesis/Dissertation Handbook. Your program may require you to use a style that is also used in a journal in your field. In such cases, please provide publication guidelines when you submit your thesis to the Graduate School. If your program/advisor does not have a particular style required of you, we recommend using APA.
  5. Format the manuscript per the Thesis/Dissertation Handbook, with input on organization and format from your committee. Also refer to your disciplinary style guide (e.g., APA, MLA). 
  6. Make sure that your front matter adheres to Graduate School guidelines. 

Defend the Thesis/Dissertation - Scheduling and Notification of Defense

You must defend your research. Because the "final" (post-defense), and "completed" (post-Grad School review) thesis/dissertation manuscripts must be submitted to the Graduate School by the established deadlines, the defense should be scheduled to allow time to make final, post-defense corrections to the manuscript before submitting it for Graduate School review.

The defense should be scheduled and held no later than six weeks before commencement in the semester you will be graduating.

  • Fall 2023 Defense Deadline: Week of October 30th
  • Spring 2024 Defense Deadline: Week of March 25th
  1. At least two weeks before the defense, you should submit a close-to-final draft of the entire manuscript to all committee members. The draft should be complete and in acceptable format.
  2. Within one week, the committee should return the draft to the committee chair with written criticisms and statement of conditional approval. In some cases the committee will meet directly with you as a group or individually to go over comments with you.
  3. If the committee recommends substantial changes, the chair will typically meet with you to decide on the best plan of action.
  4. The Committee Chair sends an email invitation for the defense, with the abstract included, to the following people: faculty members interested in the topic (minimally all faculty in the department), the Department Chair, the Program Coordinator/Director, the Dean of the college, the Dean of the Graduate School, and other graduate students in the department or program. This notification should be sent at least four working days before the defense.

Please see section 2.1 of the Graduate Thesis and Dissertation Handbook for further details and requirements for the thesis/dissertation defense process.

Graduate School Review and Approval of Thesis/Dissertation Manuscripts

Once you have successfully defended, you will work with the Graduate School to complete this process.

  1. When all committee-requested corrections are made after the defense, your Committee Chair must send an email to, copying you and all committee members, along with the department chairperson, by the "final" (post-defense) deadline, and include:
    1. An electronic copy (PDF format) of the full, post-defense corrected manuscript
    2. Written verification that the thesis/dissertation was approved by all committee members
    3. Indication of what style guide was used for the manuscript (e.g. APA 7th Ed., or if journal guidelines were used, a copy of (or link to) the editorial guidelines must be included)
  2. The Graduate School thesis/dissertation reader reads the document, and notes any corrections to be made. The Graduate School will return the "marked" copy along with a feedback form listing the required corrections.
    1. At this time, you will also receive two forms which you are required to return along with your corrected manuscript. These are:
      1. A signed Release Form (electronically signed and emailed to, authorizing the Library and the University to share your document through the online library (NC Docks).
      2. A completed Indexing Form (emailed to
  3. Once any required corrections have been made, return the corrected manuscript, the signed Release form, and the Indexing form to the Graduate School (email to by the "Completed" (post-Grad School review) deadline. If you have made all corrections and there are no further changes needed, you will be told that you are "cleared for binding."
    1. NOTE: If all corrections have not been made, you will be provided with information on what needs further correction.
  4. A final approved ("cleared for binding") manuscript, the signed Release Form, and completed Indexing Form are required for your degree to be conferred.


Thesis & Dissertation Handbook

The Graduate Thesis and Dissertation Handbook contains the School of Graduate Studies' policies, expectations, and requirements for developing and submitting thesis/dissertation manuscripts. Follow the Handbook carefully to ensure a successful approval process.

Preparation Info Sessions

The Graduate School will hold workshops each semester on the thesis and dissertation preparation process. All students and mentors are welcome. We strongly recommend that you participate in one of these sessions! Contact Stefanie Heinrich, ( or for information or questions.

Spring 2024 Thesis & Dissertation Formatting Workshop 

Feb. 27th at 6:00pm on Zoom 

Register Here