Guide to Preparation of Theses, Project Reports, and Dissertations

The ETD Guide was last revised on October 21, 2013. A PDF version of this guide is also available for download.


This guide has been developed for the use of students of California State University, Los Angeles, in preparing their master’s theses, reports of master’s projects, and doctoral dissertations in final form for presentation to the University. The guide includes information about candidate requirements, style and format regulations, steps for submission of theses and dissertations to the University, and procedures for the approval of theses and dissertations. In addition, sample pages of such elements of the thesis or dissertation as the table of contents, title page, approval pages, etc., are provided in the appendices.

It is strongly recommended that all students and their faculty advisors engaged in preparation of a master’s thesis, master’s project, or doctoral dissertation become thoroughly familiar with the contents of this guide before preparation of the thesis, project report, or dissertation. Students are strongly advised against consulting previously submitted theses concerning style or format requirements since numerous changes are regularly made in the requirements, and few of the previously written theses and dissertations follow all requirements completely. Furthermore, some departments have style and format guidelines for theses and dissertations that complement those given in Chapter 3. For example, some departments use specific style manuals or sets of instructions for footnotes, endnotes, lists of references, and other discipline specific materials. Therefore, it is important for students to check with their respective departments to ascertain their specific requirements. 

NOTE: In all matters, university wide approved policies and procedures shall not be contradicted by those of the individual college and department.

No guide or manual can encompass all possible questions or situations, which might arise in the course of preparing theses. If a question occurs that is not addressed in this guide, this candidate is advised to consult the chairperson of their Committee. The University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator also offers workshops. The workshops are offered each quarter (dates are communicated to department chairs early in the quarter) to assist graduate students in preparing their master’s theses, project reports, and dissertations in conformance with the guidelines articulated in this document.

The effective date of this thesis guide will be the start of the Fall 2013 quarter. All theses submitted to the University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator on or after that date must adhere to these guidelines. Additional information regarding the thesis, project, or dissertation, such as deadlines and workshops, may be found on the Graduate Thesis website.

Chapter 1: Responsibilities, Regulations, and Procedures Governing the Master's Thesis or Project and Doctoral Dissertation

Master’s Thesis and Project Regulations

A thesis or project that is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a graduate program at California State University, Los Angeles, must satisfy the following definitions excerpted from Section 40510, Title 5, of the California Code of Regulations (prior to January 1, 1988, referred to as the California Administrative Code).    

  1. A thesis is the written product of the systematic study of a significant problem. It identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and methods of gathering information, analyzes the data, and offers a conclusion or recommendation. The finished product evidences originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation. Normally, an oral defense of the thesis will be required.    
  2. A project is a significant undertaking appropriate to the fine and applied arts or to professional fields. It evidences originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. It is described and summarized in a written abstract that includes the project’s significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion or recommendation. An oral defense of the project may be required.”    

Initiation, preparation, and approval of graduate theses and project reports shall be governed by the procedures included in this document. Henceforth in this guide, the term “thesis” will refer to master’s theses and project reports, unless specified otherwise. Students, in consultation with their Committees, shall be held responsible for understanding and meeting the standards for theses, projects, and dissertations stated in this Guide and in the university catalog.

Doctoral Dissertation Regulations

Doctor of Education

In accordance with Section 40511 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, CSU Ed.D. programs shall require the completion of a dissertation conforming to the following minimum criteria:

  1. The dissertation shall be the written product of systematic, rigorous research on a significant educational issue and in accordance with a proposal that has been approved pursuant to Articles 7.3.4 and 7.3.5.  The dissertation is expected to contribute to an improvement in public P-12 or community college professional practices or policy, generally or in the context of a particular educational institution.  It shall evidence originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale for the research problem examined.
  2. The dissertation shall identify the research problem and question(s), state the major theoretical perspectives, explain the significance of the undertaking, relate it to the relevant scholarly and professional literature, set forth the appropriate sources for and methods of gathering and analyzing the data, and offer a conclusion or recommendation.  It shall include a written abstract that summarizes the significance of the work, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion or recommendation. 
Doctor of Nursing Practice

CSULA offers a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) through consortium with Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Long Beach. Candidates for the DNP should consult with their program advisors regarding the rules, regulations, and formatting for the dissertation.

Doctor of Philosophy

CSULA offers a Ph.D. in Special Education in a joint program with the University of California, Los Angeles. Candidates for the Ph.D. should follow the rules, regulations, and formatting for the dissertation as indicated by UCLA.


The shared goal of students, faculty, staff, and administrators is to assure quality theses in terms of both content and style, and to have as efficient and fair a thesis or dissertation preparation and acceptance procedure as possible.

Responsibility of Students

Candidates themselves are ultimately responsible for the successful completion of their theses and dissertations, including submission of information and drafts in a timely fashion. Theses and dissertations must evidence originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. The candidates’s responsibility includes not only completing the work of the thesis or dissertation itself in a professionally competent manner, but also knowing and adhering to all university, college, and department requirements related to the master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. It also entails adequate and regular contact, as appropriate, with individual faculty members and Committees.

Responsibility of the Committee Chair

The Committee Chair has the leading role in guiding the student in a thesis or dissertation, from its inception to acceptance by the University, and assumes a special mentoring role to help the student excel.

The Committee Chair assures that theses and dissertations are of high quality and will reflect positively on the department or program. Thus, the Committee Chair is especially alert to assure that the student has the proper preparation in terms of coursework and research skills to pursue the proposed research and scholarship. The Chair also interacts with the student as appropriate, coordinates the efforts of other Committee members, and generally assures that the research and the document itself meet the expected standards of quality. 

Responsibility of Committee Members

Once faculty members agree to serve on a candidate’s Committee, they are responsible for reviewing all submissions by the candidate in a timely fashion and for offering appropriate constructive responses. They are further responsible for meeting with other Committee members to perform duties and assessments as needed. 

Responsibility of Departments    

Departments are responsible for ensuring that procedures exist for establishment and maintenance of thesis and dissertation Committees and for appropriate and adequate guidance of graduate students engaged in preparation of theses or dissertations.    

The department will maintain information on all aspects of style and format required by the department but not explicitly stated in Chapter 3 of this document as university format requirements. Information on department requirements will be readily available in up-to-date written form at a sufficiently detailed level. 

The department, through its chair, shall ensure that all theses and dissertations are properly reviewed by the candidates’ Committees and conform to current guidelines before submission to the University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator and that all required corrections and changes are made before theses are accepted by the University.

NOTE: Throughout this thesis guide, the term “department” refers collectively to a department, a division (in the Charter College of Education), or a school.

Responsibility of Colleges

Colleges have general oversight responsibility to assure that graduate theses and dissertations completed in their departments are of high quality in content and style.

The College Dean or designee, with the consultation of the college’s graduate studies committee, reviews and approves department format and style guidelines and assures that they do not conflict with university format requirements. The College Dean or designee forwards a copy of department guidelines and revisions as they occur, to the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

Responsibility of the Thesis/Dissertation Reviewers

The University Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer assures that each thesis submitted meets approved university format guidelines and assists in the verification that department guidelines have been met. The Reviewer also transmits the final approval to the University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator (UTDC) indicating that the thesis requirement has been satisfied. To accomplish the above functions, the UTDC provides workshops for students and faculty. The Thesis/Dissertation Reviewers and the UTDC do not check a thesis for subject content or research quality. 

Responsibility of the Office of Graduate Studies and Research

The Office of Graduate Studies and Research oversees and implements all policies and procedures governing graduate theses. It also publicizes and disseminates the articulation of these policies and procedures to the campus through such vehicles as the “Thesis Guide.”


Authorship of Theses and Dissertations

It is university policy that one and only one candidate may author a thesis or dissertation. While candidates may collaborate on the research or project portion of their culminating work, each candidate is nonetheless responsible for writing their own thesis or dissertation.


The policy concerning plagiarism is stated in the university catalog:

Plagiarism is a direct violation of intellectual and academic honesty. Although it exists in many forms, all plagiarisms refer to the same act: representing somebody else’s words or ideas as one’s own. The most extreme forms of plagiarism are the use of a paper written by another person or obtained from a commercial source, use of a paper made up of passages copied word for word without acknowledgment. Paraphrasing another author’s idea or quoting even limited portions of her or his text without proper citation is also an act of plagiarism. Even putting someone else’s ideas into one’s own words without acknowledgment.

In none of its forms can plagiarism be tolerated in an academic community. It may constitute grounds for a failing grade, probation, suspension or expulsion.

See the current California State University, Los Angeles, general catalog for further information on plagiarism and student discipline.

Registration in Courses for Thesis or Dissertation Work

Students completing research units and thesis or dissertation units required for graduate degrees must be regularly enrolled during any quarter in which they use university facilities or consult with faculty.

Students who have previously enrolled in all allowable research units and are not enrolled in any other credit-bearing courses or thesis or project units but who will use university facilities or consult with faculty must register in a discipline-specific or UNIV 900 course.

To maintain residence requirements and continuing student registration privileges, graduate students must register in two quarters out of three.


Initiation, Preparation, and Submission

Some departments on this campus allow their graduate students to select either a thesis option or a comprehensive examination option for the master’s degree. Some departments have special eligibility criteria that must be met in order for students to select the thesis option. 

A student who selects the thesis option or whose graduate program requires a thesis, as well as candidates completing the dissertation, must complete the steps described below. The steps are initiated after the student has applied through the department to the college dean for candidacy using the university’s Form GS-10 and has been formally advanced to candidacy. The next steps are as follows:

  • Establish an approved Committee and thesis or dissertation title (Form GS-12).
  • Follow department requirements for enrolling in thesis or dissertation courses.
  • Fulfill registration requirements during thesis/dissertation preparation, submission, in the quarter in which you intend to graduate. Doctoral candidates will follow the deadlines set for their respective programs.
  • Submit an acceptable thesis, project, or dissertation proposal to the appropriate department (for special majors, to their Committee) and fulfill all of their respective requirements.
  • Meet the department, division, or school and college requirements for thesis, project, or dissertation defense.
  • File the signed thesis or dissertation approval page in the department and college offices.
  • Submit the thesis or dissertation to the appropriate Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer following university and department requirements. Students are strongly advised to attend a campus-wide workshop about thesis preparation requirements.

NOTE: The date of submission of the thesis or dissertation will usually determine the quarter that a student graduates, assuming all other graduation requirements are met. If revisions are needed, the revised thesis must be submitted within the allowed period. Otherwise, graduation will be at a later date. The final deadline for submission of the thesis or dissertation approved by the candidate’s Committee and Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer is noon on the Thursday after the week of final exams. Deadline dates can be found at the thesis preparation website. No extensions of the filing deadline will be allowed. 

Creation of the Committee    

The Committee provides guidance to the student in the planning and execution of the thesis or dissertation. The Committee usually consists of a minimum of three full time tenured or tenure-track faculty members from Cal State L.A. Part-time or full-time lecturer faculty members, emeriti faculty members, and off-campus professionals with appropriate training, knowledge, and skills may serve on thesis and dissertation Committees in addition to the minimum number of tenured/tenure-track faculty members from Cal State L.A. Normally, students approach appropriate faculty members to inquire if they would be interested in serving on the Committee or as chair of the Committee. The department chair or the Committee chair may assist the student in finding faculty for the Committee or to replace existing members if they become unable or unwilling to serve. 

Once appointed to a thesis or dissertation Committee, a faculty member is not to be removed from the Committee without their written consent, or in extraordinary situations by decision of the department chairperson and the associate dean of the college. Students should follow departmental guidelines for the establishment of the Committee. After the Committee has been established, a completed Request for Thesis or Project Committee form (GS-12) should be submitted to the college dean for approval.
Proposal Submission

In most departments a thesis or dissertation proposal must be approved before the student may undertake thesis work. Some departments may have additional requirements. Verify the above with the graduate advisor in the specific department, who also can explain the formal thesis or dissertation proposal submission process. Students must be “Advanced to Candidacy” before they may enroll in units for research, thesis, or dissertation.

Research with Human or Animal Subjects

For theses and dissertations that involve research with human or animal subjects, it is necessary to adhere to the established policies regarding the use of such subjects. For research involving either human or animal subjects, approval must be obtained in advance of conducting the research through either the Institutional Review Board (IRB, for human subjects) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC, for animal subjects). 

If, at any time throughout the duration of the research, the faculty affiliated with the IRB or IACUC approval leaves and is no longer employed by Cal State L.A., the candidate must update their approval with IRB or IACUC. Additionally, candidates who conduct research with human or animal subjects at an institution outside of Cal State L.A. may be required to seek additional approval at Cal State L.A.; please contact the Office of Research Development for further instruction.

Information on regulations for research with human and animal subjects is available via the website of the Office of Research Development.

Defense of Thesis or Dissertation

For most departments it is a requirement that a student present an oral defense of the thesis or dissertation before the Committee. The defense may be open to the public and is publicized through distribution of a thesis or dissertation abstract. If required by the department, an abstract must be submitted to the departmental office, or for an interdisciplinary major to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. A print and/or electronic draft of the thesis or dissertation must be provided to each Committee member no later than two weeks before the scheduled oral defense (or later with the consent of the entire Committee). The final draft of the thesis or dissertation is prepared following the defense. The approval page should be signed only after the final draft has been reviewed and approved by the Committee members.

Submission of Completed Theses and Dissertations to the University 

After the Committee has approved the contents of the thesis or dissertation, the candidate prepares a copy of it in finished format, along with hardcopies of the approval page (GS-13 form). The finished copy is again submitted to the Committee for approval, with a sufficient number of copies of the approval page to satisfy university, departmental committee, and personal requirements. If the finished copy satisfies content and university format requirements, in the opinion of the committee, all approval pages are signed by Committee members. Then the finished copy and one signed approval page are presented to the appropriate Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer. 

NOTE: Students should closely review the instructional videos related to the format of the thesis that are available on the Office of Graduate Studies and Research website. Students may also schedule an appointment with the appropriate Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer for a short consultation on format for the thesis.

The Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer reviews the finished copy for acceptability of physical format. If corrections are required, the Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer will return the thesis within two weeks, with directions for corrections to be made, and will discuss these revisions with the candidate. Assuming that all suggested changes are made in the allotted time, the quarter in which the final draft of the thesis is submitted to the University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator is the quarter in which the student will graduate. Currently, the absolute deadline for a corrected, acceptable thesis or dissertation to be received by the University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator is before any courses on the student’s official program expire. The student is responsible for ascertaining this date ahead of time.

The candidate must upload (after approval by the Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer) the finished electronic copy of the thesis to Proquest/UMI, the publisher’s website, by the absolute deadline for the quarter, which is the Thursday after the week of final exams. 

NOTE: Thesis/Dissertation Reviewers are students too. They have scheduled office hours and a designated number of hours that they work each week. Thesis/Dissertation Reviewers are not available on demand or at the last moment to stop work on the theses of other students to handle and process your late submission. Students who wait until late in the term to work with their Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer, or who provide the final approved copy to the Reviewer very near the deadline for the term, may find that their thesis will not be approved for acceptance and uploading to ProQuest/UMI by the deadline for the term. If this should happen, the student will be required to register for the following term and pay appropriate fees in order to submit their thesis and graduate. 

Additional Copies of the Thesis or Dissertation

Some departments require a “departmental” copy of every thesis or dissertation. The candidate must make individual arrangements for providing all other copies (bound or unbound), whether for the department, for Committee members, or for personal use. Bound copies may be ordered through ProQuest/UMI at the time of submission of the thesis or the student may take paper copies of the thesis to any local store that does binding of documents. Inexpensive (e.g. “pressure-type”) binders may prove sufficient for all or some of these copies.

Chapter 2: Requirements for Thesis and Dissertation Preparation and Acceptance

Chapter 2 presents information on requirements related to actual thesis preparation, except format requirements, which are discussed in Chapter 3.

Important Reminders

Formal Registration at the University

As stated in Chapter 1, candidates for graduate degrees at this university must be formally registered as classified graduate students for every quarter in which they conduct work related to their thesis or dissertation, consult with faculty concerning the thesis or dissertation, or in which the thesis or dissertation is submitted.

Regular Consultation with the Committee    

The candidate is advised to consult regularly with the Committee, as well as to follow closely the requirements in this Guide and departmental requirements, in preparing the thesis manuscript. This can prevent extensive rewriting and reformatting.    

Deadline for Submission of Theses and Dissertations

See Chapter 1 for information related to the deadlines for theses and dissertations. No extension of these deadlines is permitted. If a thesis or dissertation is not submitted by the deadline for the quarter, the candidate cannot graduate in that quarter and must register for a succeeding quarter in order to graduate.

The candidate must ascertain early in the quarter in which she or he expects to graduate whether any members of the Committee may have plans or commitments, which would make it difficult to assure adequate time for its reading, approval, and signature, and still meet the quarter’s deadline date. If such a problem arises, the candidate and thesis chair should work together to resolve the problem. The candidate should also view the online thesis videos, and consult with a Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer early in the term.

Preparation Requirements

Candidate’s Name

The candidate shall use in all appropriate parts of the thesis or dissertation (title page, approval page, copyright page, and abstract) the name under which she or he is registered in the University. The name under which the student is registered should be the current legal name of the student.

Approval Page

One signed approval page (GS-13 form) must be submitted to the appropriate Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer. An example of the only acceptable approval page is provided in the Appendices to this Guide. The candidate may not use any other approval page forms that were formerly distributed through departmental offices but shall instead download and complete the approval page as show in the example provided in the Appendices of this Guide or on the Office of Graduate Studies and Research website.

Original signatures (i.e., not photocopies of signatures) of the following Committee members and faculty are required on the Form GS-13 approval page (see Figure B1):

  1. The candidate’s Committee chair
  2. A second member of the candidate’s Committee (and third if required by the department)
  3. The chair of the candidate’s department (both chairs, for students in Theatre, Film and Television)

The department chairperson or college dean may not sign for a Committee member without written approval from the Committee member. If the department chair is also a signing member of the Committee, the department chair must sign twice, once as Committee member and once as department chair. In some colleges, the dean or associate dean may sign instead of a department chair. The three required signatures are the minimum; signatures of additional Committee members may be included. 

Above each Committee member space, the Committee member’s or department chair’s or dean’s name must be typed; the name should be preceded by an honorific (e.g., “Dr.”) or followed by the member’s graduate and/or professional degree(s) (e.g., “Ph.D.”) — not both — and this should be uniform for all names. The candidate is responsible for the accuracy of this information. Signatures may be in black or blue ink.

A simplified version of the GS-13 form will be included in the thesis or dissertation document. Signatures are not required on this version. An example of this page may be found in Appendix E.

Date of Thesis or Dissertation

The date on the title page of a thesis or dissertation should be the month and year in which the document is submitted in anticipated final approved form to the University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator. No day of the month appears in the date on the title page. The date on the approval page should coincide with the month and year on the title page. The date on the copyright page, if one is included, should be the year in which the thesis or dissertation is submitted.

Length of Thesis or Dissertation

 The University prescribes no minimum or maximum length for a thesis or dissertation. The topic chosen by each candidate should be of scope and importance sufficient to qualify for research or performance at the graduate level, must meet the standards specified in Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations as cited in Chapter 1 of this guide, and must be treated adequately and appropriately in the opinion of the candidate’s Committee.

Copyright Releases for Works Used in Preparation of a Thesis or Dissertation

The candidate must obtain written permission from the copyright holder to reproduce or adapt in a thesis or dissertation all or part of a copyrighted table, figure, line drawing, or other material that is a complete unit in itself. Copyright holders, especially publishers, differ on what constitutes “fair use” without copyright and some require permission for use of even short quotations, although generally it is not necessary to obtain permission to use short quotations from a copyrighted source in the thesis unless the thesis or portion of it is published. It is necessary, however, to secure permission if the quotation is extensive. If in doubt, the candidate should contact the copyright holders to determine their requirements.    

Written permission may take from two weeks to several months to secure, therefore the candidate should request permission as soon as it becomes evident that she or he expects to use the copyrighted material. In addition to being acknowledged in the thesis or dissertation, all completed permission forms or letters must be prepared and submitted as a formal appendix of the thesis or dissertation. 

Permissions in a thesis or dissertation should be credited according to instructions provided in the style manual that the candidate’s department requires be used for this purpose. If the style manual lacks such instructions, the candidate may refer to information on permissions in the latest edition of Form and Style by Campbell, Ballou, and Slade. Frequently, a copyright holder will specify the wording to be used in the permission statement.

If permission to reproduce copyrighted material is denied, the material must be removed from the thesis and appropriate modifications made before the thesis can be approved. If requested permissions have not been received at the time the thesis is submitted, the candidate should notify the Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer, so that the thesis will not be accepted until all permissions are received.    

The candidate’s Committee is responsible for advising the candidate concerning the need to secure copyright permissions; however, the ultimate responsibility rests with the author of the thesis or dissertation. The Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer is not responsible for providing advice concerning securement of copyright permissions.

Copyright of the Thesis or Dissertation Itself

The laws of the United States provide protection to authors of original works (e.g., literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and some other intellectual works) through copyright. The protection is available to both unpublished and published works and is secured automatically when the work is created (i.e., fixed in a print copy or non print representation for the first time). Registration of copyright with the Library of Congress makes a public record of the copyright and carries several advantages, but it is not a condition of copyright. 

When a work is published by the copyright owner, it is advisable to place a copyright notice in all publicly distributed copies. The copyright notice makes the published work subject to the requirement of mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress. Candidates considering using notice and registration of copyright should study the U.S. Government’s publication, Copyright Basics, which is available at the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Candidates have an opportunity to file a copyright of the thesis or dissertation via ProQuest/UMI during the submission process. This is optional, and price and other details may vary.

Joint Doctoral Dissertations    

Because of the joint doctoral candidate’s need to fulfill the format requirements of the cooperating doctoral granting institution (e.g., UCLA), California State University accepts dissertations that are prepared according to the cooperating university’s format and according to its prescribed arrangement of elements or parts. Doctoral candidates will file the dissertation on both campuses and the format will include a title page, abstract, and approval page that name both institutions. Candidates will also follow Cal State L.A.’s requirements concerning the original signatures on the approval page.

Chapter 3: Format Requirements

Format requirements for theses and dissertations at California State University, Los Angeles consist of University and individual department guidelines. 

Department Format Requirements

Candidates must consult with their Committees and departments regarding format requirements applicable to their individual theses or dissertations before the writing process begins. Such consultation should continue on a regular basis.

University Format Requirements

The following paragraphs state university format requirements, which all theses and dissertations must follow.

NOTE: All other aspects of format not explicitly specified as university format requirements are the responsibility of the department, which shall maintain such requirements in up-to-date written form at a sufficiently detailed level, and make them readily available.


The left and right margins measure 1.25 inches, and the top and bottom margins measure 1 inch.


The thesis or dissertation will be double spaced, with a 12-point size typeface. A conservative, common, legible typeface (e.g., Times New Roman, Ariel, Courier) must be used. 

Arrangement of the Thesis or Dissertation Parts

Preliminary pages, which precede the main text, shall be arranged in the following order:

  • Title page
  • Copyright page
  • Approval page (without signatures)
  • Acknowledgments (optional; required if funding was received or copyright permissions obtained)
  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables (if any)
  • List of Figures (if any)
  • List of Terms or Definitions (if any)

The approval and title pages follow approved university format. The abstract summarizes the purpose and scope of the study, the principal findings and their significance. The main text is divided into chapters. 
When present, the end matter follows the main text and shall be arranged as follows: 

  • Tables and figures (if, on the advice of the Committee, the candidate opts to place them together outside of the main text)
  • Endnotes (if any)
  • Glossary (if any)
  • List of References
  • Appendices
  • Index (optional)

Each preliminary page, chapter in the main text, list of endnotes, references, and appendices, begins on a new page.

Numbering of Pages

Preliminary pages, except the approval page and title page, are numbered using lower case Roman numerals (ii, iii, iv, etc.). All preliminary pages, except the approval page, are counted in pagination. After the preliminary pages, all other pages of the thesis or dissertation are numbered using standard Arabic numerals and are counted in pagination.

Headings and Subheadings

The candidate shall consult the appropriate style manual as approved or recommended by the department or Committee when creating and formatting headings and subheadings. Regardless of specific style, headings and subheadings of chapters and sections are constructed and presented in a consistent manner within a thesis.


The candidate shall consult the appropriate style manual as approved or recommended by the department or Committee for the placement of notes, endnotes, and footnotes. This style must remain consistent throughout the thesis or dissertation.

Citations and References

The candidate shall consult the appropriate style manual as approved or recommended by the department or Committee when formatting citations and references. This style must remain consistent throughout the thesis or dissertation.

Tables and Figures

Tables are comprised of data, such as statistical information, which are typed in column and row format. Illustrative materials such as graphs, charts, diagrams, plans, maps, and photographs, are referred to as figures. Tables and figures are numbered uniquely, consecutively, and in separate sequences, and conform to department guidelines. The candidate shall consult the appropriate style manual when formatting tables and figures, paying special attention to the placement and style of titles and captions.

Placement of Tables and Figures

Tables and figures are placed as close as possible to the first reference to them in the main text or may be placed in the end matter, either directly following the main text or in appropriate appendices at the end of the thesis or dissertation. Departments will provide specific guidelines about placement.

Chapter 4: Special Instructions for Projects and Project Reports


A master’s project may be presented in any of a variety of appropriate media, including video, audio, digital photographs, computer discs such as CDs and DVDs, web pages, and book-type materials. Please consult the Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer for additional information.

Report of Project

A master’s project submitted to this University must be accompanied by a narrative report in which the student summarizes the project’s objectives, methodology, significance, outcomes, and recommendations. The report is prepared using the same format as that of a thesis, with all appropriate preliminary pages, chapters, end matter, and other parts. An approval page with original signatures must be submitted to the Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer.

The report is submitted separately from accompanying non-print media. 

Number of Copies of the Project Report to Be Submitted    

One electronic copy of the project report document will be uploaded to the ProQuest/UMI website as is done for a thesis.

Music Compositions, Creative Writings, and Manuals 

Music scores, novels, plays, manuals, and other projects may be included within the same electronic document as the reports. The counting and numbering of pages should be continuous throughout the report and project. In addition, if the candidate desires to do so, another set of numbers may also be assigned to the pages of the project itself. This is particularly useful if the project has its own title page, table of contents and other frontis materials. In this case, and if the second set of numbers is used, the report’s table of contents will list only the title of the project and the page number of the project’s title page which is the basic continuous numbering scheme for the entire document.

Non-Print Projects

All non print projects must be submitted in cases, which will protect the media. Both the media and the case that holds the media must be labeled. Labels must be typed and include the following information, which matches the corresponding information in the project report: 

  • Name of candidate
  • Name of project
  • Department in which the candidate is seeking the degree
  • Quarter and year in which the candidate will complete the degree

At the bottom of the report’s table of contents, the following phrase should be typed: 

This report is accompanied by a [name of the medium, e.g., “DVD”], which is housed in the Music and Media Center of the Library.”

One copy is required and must be submitted to the Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer.

Audio Recordings

Audio projects may be submitted on any type of recording material that is in major use at the time the recording is made. Recordings must be of high quality and entirely audible throughout.

Video Recordings

Projects that contain a video component may be submitted on any type of recording material that is in major use at the time the recording is made. Recordings must be of high quality throughout. Television and film projects must be submitted for deposit in the Library and in the department. 


Photographs should be submitted in digital format unless otherwise approved by the University Thesis and Dissertation Coordinator. Contents of each photograph should be described in the report of the project and captions or titles provided. Additionally, a list of the photographs must be included in the report accompanying the project. The list is prepared in the same format used for a list of figures. 

Other Digital Technology 

Computer programs, data, and knowledge bases must be submitted on digital technology that is in major use at the time the project is submitted. Each must be write-protected before submission and include instructions for its use.

NOTE: For all non-print media or projects not explicitly described above, approval concerning format and other requirements must be obtained as early as possible, in writing, from the student’s department and from the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. 


Style Manuals

American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

University of Chicago Press. (2010). The Chicago manual of style. (16th ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Modern Language Association. (2009). MLA handbook for writers of research papers. (7th ed.). New York: The Modern Language Association.

Slade, C. and Perrin, R. (2008). Form and style: Research papers, reports, theses. (13th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Turabian, K.L. (2007). A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations. (7th ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Support Guides

Lovitts, B.E. & Wert, E.L. (2009a). Developing a Quality Dissertation in the Humanities. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Lovitts, B.E. & Wert, E.L. (2009b). Developing a Quality Dissertation in the Sciences. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Lovitts, B.E. & Wert, E.L. (2009c). Developing a Quality Dissertation in the Social Sciences. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.


Graduate Thesis, Project, and Dissertation Guidelines. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Office of Graduate Studies — California State University Los Angeles. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Office of Research Development. (n.d.) Retrieved from

Purdue OWL. (n.d.) Retrieved from 

Style manual and writing guides. (n.d.) Retrieved from


Appendix A: Form GS-12, Request for Thesis or Project Committee and Title


Appendix B: Form GS-13, Approval Page for Master’s Thesis, Project, or Dissertation


Appendix C: Sample Title Pages


Appendix D: Sample Copyright Page


Appendix E: Sample Approval Page


Appendix F: Sample Abstract


Appendix G: Sample Acknowledgments


Appendix H: Sample Table of Contents Page


Appendix I: Sample First Page of Chapter 1