Thesis / Dissertation Guidelines

Graduating Students Celebrating

BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Students are required to use Microsoft Word unless otherwise approved by you department.

If you will be creating your thesis, dissertation, or creative work in Microsoft Word, please be sure you have the latest version.

All students enrolled full-time or part-time in a degree granting program at SF State (i.e., matriculating students) are eligible for a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 Education for Students.

REVIEW FORMATTING GUIDELINES AND INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO

go to arrow  Template Guides:

go to arrow  Instructional Video/Slides
go to arrow  Thesis Dissertation, Written Creative Work and Music Composition Checklist
go to arrow  Microsoft Word accessibility / Adobe Accessibility

ATTEND A FORMATTING & SUBMISSION Q&A SESSION

Graduate student working on their Thesis / Dissertation / Written Creative Work are welcome to attend one of two Q&A session offered by the Division of Graduate Studies on:

The workshop will give you an opportunity to ask questions about the process for submitting your work as well as the formatting guidelines.

RSVP to obtain a Zoom invitation. You must review the instructional video and formatting guidelines prior to attending the Q&A Session.

Note: The Thesis/Dissertation and Creative Work templates include instructions related to making your document accessible in Microsoft Word. For further guidance, consult the relevant Microsoft Office documentation for accessibility. Students using the Latex template provided by their department can consult the Adobe Accessibility guide.

While writing your Thesis/Dissertation/Written Creative Work make sure to keep Microsoft Word accessibility / Adobe Accessibility in mind.

  1. Before submitting, run the Accessibility Checker / Adobe Accessibility and make sure to clear all errors.
  2. Email your Thesis/Dissertation/Written Creative Work draft to your Graduate Program Specialist.
    1. If revisions are required, we will return the thesis by email along with feedback regarding required changes. Once changes are addressed, email the latest draft to your Graduate Program Specialist.
    2. When approved, Graduate Studies will notify students by email to proceed with Final Format check instructions.
  1. Student must title the Thesis/ Dissertation/ Written Creative Work as: Full Name_ Student ID_Dept_Thesis/Dissert_WCW.
  2. Make sure the Certification of Approval page on your Thesis/ Dissertation/ Written Creative Work do not have signatures.
  3. Run the Word Accessibility Checker / Adobe Accessibility and make sure that all errors are cleared (including feedback given during the preliminary format check).
  4. Email the final Thesis/Dissertation/Written Creative Work draft to your Graduate Program Specialist.
    1. If revisions are required, we will return the thesis by email along with feedback regarding required changes. Once changes are addressed, email the latest draft to your Graduate Program Specialist.
    2. When approved, your Graduate Program Specialist will notify students by email to proceed with Certification of Approval and Submission instructions.

You can use our Powerform to route the Certificate of Approval for your committee to sign through DocuSign. To begin the process follow these steps:

  1. You will need your committee’s name and email address. SFSU email address preferred.
    Note: You can use an outside email address for none SFSU faculty/staff. However, it must be a professional email address not a personal email address. Example of acceptable email address: @ucsd, @calacademy. Personal email addresses are not be acceptable: @gmail, @yahoo, etc. go to arrow
  2. Once you enter the required information click on “Begin Signing” to be directed to the Certificate of Approval form. You will need complete the requested information, then click “Finish”. go to arrow
    Your committee members will receive an email requesting their signatures. Once it is complete, you will receive a copy of the form.
  3. The signed document will need to be uploaded as a separate document during the final submission process.
  4. To begin routing: Certificate of Approval Powerform Routing

Note: Considering an Embargo? IF you would like to delay the publication of your Thesis, Dissertation, Written Creative Work or Music Composition, make sure to discuss the timeline of release with your Committee Chair prior to final submission.

  1. Once the final version of your thesis has been cleared for submission, you will see a new “To Do List” item titled “Submit Scholarly Work.” Click on “Details” to access the link and submit your work
  2. You will need upload your final and accessible Thesis/ Dissertation/ Written Creative Work (Word Document) as well as the signed Certification of Approval.

Thesis, Dissertation, or Written Creative Work submitted without approval from a Graduate Program Specialist will be rejected.

Q: What will the Division of Graduate Studies look for when conducting the preliminary and final format check?

A: We will be reviewing that all guidelines included in the template are followed, that standard size and font is used, and the work has 1-inch margins all round. Most importantly, we will be reviewing for accessibility. We want to see that all titles and subtitles are using built in headings, that all tables, figures, and images have alternative text and that page breaks are used throughout your work eliminating unnecessary blank spaces.

For Adobe users, we will also review that the reading order on your document has been corrected.

Q: Does my thesis need to be completed for a Preliminary Format check?

A: No, your thesis does not need to be completed for the preliminary check. To be able to conduct the preliminary format check, we will need all preliminary pages (title page through lists of appendices) as well as only a few pages of your thesis content. We want to make sure that you are on the right track and make sure we address any issues before your thesis is complete.

However, the final format check requires a completed and accessible version of your work.

Q: If I already have Microsoft on my computer, do you recommend downloading the universities Microsoft 365?

A: No, if you have a recent version of Microsoft and you have access to the Accessibility Checker you should be okay.

Q: Are students required to use a legal name on their thesis?

A: Students can use their legal name or their preferred name. However, we required that your name is formatted in the same way throughout your thesis.

Q: Is there a specific way in which the student name needs to be entered?

A: You can enter your name in the format you prefer:

  • First Name, Middle Name, Last Name
  • First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name
  • First Name, Last Name

However, we require that your name is formatted in the same sequence throughout your thesis.

Q: Is there a required font type or font size?

A: We require students to use 10 to 12 font sizes. Standard proportional fonts such as Times New Roman or Ariel are also required.

Q: Where can I find a guide to building a Table of Contents, List of Tables and/or List of figures?

A: For detailed instruction on building a Table of Contents you can visit: Microsoft Support-Insert Table to Contents

For detailed instruction on building a list of tables and/or figures you can visit: Microsoft Support – Insert tale of figures

Also visit How to number chapters, appendixes, and pages in documents that contain both chapter and appendix headings in Word

Q: Is there a maximum amount of tables I can include in my thesis?

A: The Division of Graduate Studies does not require or restrict the number of tables, figures, or images in the student’s work. The format check will only review that each table, figure and/or image is properly formatted and contains alternative text.

Q: Is using Hyperlinks throughout our work required?

A: If you need to include a link within the content of your thesis, we recommend that you use a hyperlink rather than including the entire address. However, it is not a requirement. In addition, this is not applicable for your Work Cited. Please make sure to follow the academic style recommended by your discipline (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.).

Q: What needs to be completed by the May/December/August deadline?

A: All requirements need to be completed by the final deadline; this includes your thesis. The final deadline is the last day in which you can submit your final, approved, and accessible thesis to the library.

Please make sure to plan ahead and submit your work for final format check at least a week before this deadline to prevent graduation delays. (If you are unable to meet the deadline, you will need to apply and graduate in the next semester).

Q: I have submitted my work to my Committee Chair, do I also need to submit it to the Division of Graduate Studies?

A: Yes, your committee will approve the content of your thesis as well as academic style recommended by your discipline (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). We will be reviewing overall formatting and accessibility. Upon completion of your preliminary and final format check you will be given access to the online thesis submission to the library. Without preliminary checks, you will not be able to submit your work. In addition, any works submitted without approval from the Division of Graduate Studies will be rejected from the library.