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Preparing & Filing Your Thesis or Dissertation

Filing your dissertation or thesis is the last step in the process leading to the awarding of your degree. The final copy of your thesis or dissertation, which is ultimately deposited in the University Library, becomes a permanent and official public record.

Filing Deadlines

Check the calendar for deadlines for submission of the master's thesis or the doctoral dissertation with the committees in charge and with Graduate Studies. The deadline for filing with your committee is a recommended deadline to allow time for making revisions. The deadline for submission to Graduate Studies is firm. You are responsible for observing the filing dates and for preparing the thesis or dissertation in the proper form.


You must make an appointment or arrangements to file remotely with the Senior Academic Advisor in order to file your thesis or dissertation. To find your assigned Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies, go to the Graduate Programs page, click on your program, and then click on "People."  You will find their name and contact information there.

You are responsible for observing the filing dates and for submitting the thesis/dissertation electronically prior to your appointment.  You must have committee approval (title page signed off by committee) before submitting your thesis/dissertation electronically.

The appointment will last roughly 15 minutes and is your opportunity to submit all filing paperwork and ask any questions you might have.  If you have completed all requirements, your Senior Academic Advisorwill give you a degree conferral letter (indicating you’ve completed the degree) and will ring the office bell, announcing your completion!  For information on diplomas, please see below.

Filing Remotely

If you are no longer in Davis or unable to attend a filing appointment in person, you can arrange to file remotely.  Contact your assigned Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies to request to file remotely.  You will still need to submit your original signed title page and required paperwork.  Required paperwork can be dropped off to Graduate Studies or mailed.  All filing deadlines still apply.  Please note, any exit seminars or final exams must be arranged with your program directly.  

Candidate Degree Completion Lists


Formatting Instructions

It is your responsibility to ensure that your thesis or dissertation conforms to the following requirements for submission.  Please read the requirements carefully.

  • File format
  • Your thesis/dissertation must be submitted via the ETD website as a single PDF file. No file compression, password protection, or digital signature are allowed.
  • Title/Signature Page
  • Graduate Studies does not supply the title/signature pages. You must prepare your title/signature pages in accordance with the sample provided.

    You will need to produce two different title/signature pages:

    1. A title/signature page which will include a signature line above each committee members typed name. The signature page is to be signed by all members of your committee when they have approved the thesis or dissertation. All committee members must sign the same page and only original signatures will be accepted.
    2. A title page with the typed names of your thesis/dissertation committee without signatures. This will be the first page of the electronic thesis/dissertation PDF file which you will submit via the ETD website.  This second format is required to prevent the publication of the signatures of your committee members.

    Make an appointment with your Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies to submit the signature page and required forms (see degree completion lists above). To find your assigned Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies, go to the Graduate Programs page and click on your program, then click on "People."  You will find their name and contact information there.

  • Abstracts
  • Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations are required to include an abstract. If your abstract appears in the introductory pages of your thesis/dissertation manuscript, it must follow the same format as the rest of your thesis/dissertation (1 inch margin on all sides, double-spaced, consecutive page numbering, etc.).

    A separate abstract is submitted to ProQuest Information and Learning (PQIL) during the electronic submission process and must be formatted following the guidelines on the ETD website. It is important to write an abstract that gives a clear description of the content and major divisions of the thesis/dissertation, since PQIL will publish the abstract exactly as submitted.

    Students completing their requirements under doctoral Plan A should provide copies of the abstract for use by the dissertation committee during the examination.

  • Style and Format
  • You should be guided on matters of style by the chair and members of your thesis/dissertation committee. Graduate Studies is not concerned with the form of the bibliography, appendix, footnotes, etc. as long as they are done in some acceptable, consistent and recognized manner approved by your committee.

    There are many valuable references available to assist students in preparing and writing research papers and theses. Listed below are references that have been suggested by students and faculty.

    MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations, by Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achtert: The Modern Language Association of America, 7th. Ed., 2009.

    The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White: 50th anniversary ed., 2008.

    The Chicago Manual of Style, University of Chicago Press, 17th. ed., 2010.

  • Margins
  • Every page of the dissertation or thesis must have a one inch (1") margin on all sides (top, bottom, left and right).  However, the page number may appear outside of these margins.

    Please Note: These specifications also apply to all figures, charts, graphs, illustrations and appendices.

  • Spacing
  • Double spacing should be used in typing the thesis or dissertation, except in those places where conventional usage calls for single spacing – for example: footnotes, indented quotations, tables, and the bibliography.
  • Pagination
  • The preliminary pages, including the title page are numbered with small Roman Numerals which are centered at the bottom of the page. Begin numbering the preliminaries in lower case Roman Numerals with the title page which is always "i".

    The text and all other pages of the thesis or dissertation, including charts, figures, caption pages, maps, and appendices are all numbered consecutively starting with Arabic "1". These page numbers should also be centered at the bottom of the page. (In most cases, this will start with the Introduction or Chapter 1.) Do not start renumbering pages at any point in the body of your thesis or dissertation.

    With the exception of the copyright page (which should not be numbered or counted in the numbering sequence), every page must be numbered consecutively and there must be no blank pages.

  • Typeface/Font
  • Consistency is essential. The same font size and style must be used throughout. Use a font size between 10 and 13 points.

    Any font style is acceptable, however you must make sure all your fonts are embedded fonts. See the instructions for embedded fonts on the ETD website.

  • Paper
  • Your thesis/dissertation must be submitted electronically; therefore, the Office of Graduate Studies does not require you to provide a printed copy of your manuscript. However, members of your committee and/or your graduate program may require that you provide them with a paper copy.  Consult with your graduate program and thesis/dissertation committee regarding printed copy requirements.
  • Overall appearance
  • You are responsible for the appearance of your manuscript in PDF. It will appear and may be downloaded exactly as you submit it.  

  • Tables, Graphs, and Captions
  • Charts and tables may be placed horizontally or vertically, but in either case must fit within the required margins. It may be necessary to use a reducing copier in order to achieve this. If necessary, wide tables, charts, and figures can be placed sideways. Figures may be embedded in the text or take up a full page. Each figure or table must be numbered consecutively (do not renumber each chapter unless you include chapter numbers, e.g., Fig.1.1, Fig. 2.1, etc.) and should have a caption.

    NOTE: If your figures or charts are placed horizontally on the page (i.e. in “Landscape” orientation), your page number must still appear in the same place as all other page numbers (centered at the bottom of the page in “Portrait” orientation). Pagination must be consistent throughout the document.

  • Photographs, Illustrations, and Maps
  • Plates, figures, illustrations, maps and photographic reproductions must be clear and distinct. Pagination must be consistent.
  • Oversized Material
  • Consult the ETD website guidelines for uploading supplemental files with your manuscript.
  • Using Previously Published Material
  • If approved by the thesis or dissertation committee, reports of research undertaken during graduate study at UC Davis which have been published may be accepted in printed form as all or part of the master's thesis or doctoral dissertation. If you are not the sole or first author of the published material submitted, the use of co-authored materials must be approved by the department or graduate group concerned.

    The pages of the published material must meet the same formatting guidelines. Each chapter may have an abstract of its own. There must be a general abstract covering the entire dissertation.
  • Obtaining Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials
  • Since the submission of your thesis or dissertation to the University Library and/or its being made available by PQIL may constitute a form of publication, you may have to obtain permission to use (or quote) copyrighted material, such as that in most journal articles or books. It is the author (i.e. you) who is responsible in the matter of copyrighted materials. The agreement, which you submit to PQIL, specifically absolves them of any such responsibility.

    If you quote extensively from a particular author, especially in fields such as fiction, drama, criticism, or poetry, or if copyrighted maps, charts, statistical tables, or similar materials have been reproduced, you must write the copyright owner(s), describe the use which you are making of the materials, and request permission to use it in the dissertation or thesis.

    For your protection, a statement listing such materials should be included in the acknowledgements of the dissertation or thesis. The statement should inform the reader (1) that permission has been granted for their use, and (2) the source of the permission.

How to Submit Electronically (ETD)

UC Davis requires all theses and dissertations to be submitted electronically via the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) website.  Start by creating an ETD account on the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) website. Log on to your account to submit your manuscript and view/revise an existing submission.

Some Basic Tips for Preparing to Submit:

  1. IMPORTANT FIRST STEP: You must have committee approval (the title page signed off by your committee) before submitting your thesis or dissertation electronically.
  2. Ensure that your thesis or dissertation meets all of the formatting requirements listed above.
  3. Review all instructions for submitting your thesis/dissertation on the ETD website.
  4. Discuss whether you wish to embargo with your major professor to decide if your dissertation should be embargoed or not, and if so, for how long.  The submission form requires an answer to that question. Both you and your thesis/dissertation chair must sign this form, even if you are not electing to embargo your work.  More information on the embargo options below.
  5. Discuss whether you wish to copyright your thesis or dissertation with your major professor.  You will need to indicate whether you wish to copyright or not and pay a fee if you choose to copyright.  More information on copyright below.

If you have questions or concerns about electronic submission or formatting guidelines, contact the Graduate Studies Senior Academic Advisor responsible for your program.

ProQuest Information and Learning (PQIL)

As a master’s or doctoral candidate, you will be asked to complete a publishing agreement with PQIL. You will also be given the option to apply for copyright, but it is not required. If you would like to copyright your dissertation, please see the copyright and publication option on the ETD website.

Public Access and Embargo 

As the University of California is a public university, our scholarly activity is subsidized by the tax paying public.  Thus, our scholarly efforts must be available to the public.  After filing, your dissertation or thesis becomes a public document, one that may be searchable on the web (this will soon be the case). If your dissertation or thesis contains material that you will want to publish elsewhere before it is released to the public, you can request an embargo for a limited period of time (typically six months, one year, or two years).  You should consult with your major professor or other mentors on this question.

For additional information, view the University of California Open Access Policies page.  

Copyright and Publication

The copyright law of the United States is quite complex. The information contained in this section is only a general guide – more detailed information can be found through the University Library's Copyright Page.

Whether or not you copyright your thesis or dissertation, you retain the right to publish all or any part of it by any means at any time, except for reproduction from a negative microfilm as described in the agreement with PQIL. Should you decide to copyright your thesis or dissertation, you must include a separate unnumbered copyright page after the title page. By adding this copyright notice, which should be included in all copies you distribute, you have copyrighted your thesis or dissertation. At this point you have several options:

You may have the copyright registered for you by PQIL. Along with the UMI Doctoral Dissertation Agreement, you will need to submit a fee to cover the copyright cost.

You may register the copyright yourself by submitting to the Registrar of Copyrights the appropriate application form, a filing fee and one or two copies of the work. In order to have full protection against infringement, this should be done as soon as possible. Information and forms can be obtained from the Registrar of Copyrights, Library of Congress, Washington D.C. 20559.

You may choose to copyright your thesis or dissertation by adding the copyright notice, submitting a copy to the Registrar of Copyrights, but not registering it. (Federal copyright law requires that copies of all works published with notices of copyright be deposited with the Library of Congress, even if the copyright is not registered). However, to protect your rights in a copyright dispute and in order to be compensated for damages caused by infringement, your copyright must be registered.


When you file your thesis or dissertation, you will receive a Degree Conferral Letter that states you have completed all the requirements for your degree and which will provide the official conferral date of your degree. This letter may be given to your employer for proof of degree until the Registrar's Office issues an official transcript or diploma. You must complete a form to request your transcript or diploma. Official transcripts normally are available two months after the official degree conferral date, diplomas normally are available four months after this date.  See below for distribution dates.

Graduation Term | Diploma Distribution Date

Summer | Late December

Fall Quarter | Late April

Winter Quarter | Late July

Spring Quarter | Late October