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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 your thesis or dissertation in the proper form.

Exit Appointment or Remote File

You must make an appointment or arrangements to file remotely with your 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"  to find their name and contact information.

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 10-15 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 Advisor will 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.
 

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 - no appointment time needed.  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.  

Required Filing Paperwork

  • One title page with original signatures in ink (thesis and dissertation). Faculty names must be typed beneath the signature line.
  • One copy of your abstract (thesis and dissertation)
  • Copyright/Embargo Agreement (thesis and dissertation)
    • You must sign on the Student's Signature line in the Embargo section
    • Embargo section must be signed by Major Professor even if you select "No Embargo"
    • Copyright section should be signed only if you register your thesis/dissertation through ProQuest ($50 fee charged during upload)
  • Graduate Program Exit Information Form (thesis and dissertation) – Graduate Coordinator signature is required
  • Graduate Studies Exit Survey (dissertation only) – this is an online survey
    • Proof of completion is required - supply four digit code or screenshot of final screen
  • National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates (dissertation only) - this is an online survey
    • Proof of completion of is required - provide certificate at end of survey after clicking 'Finish'
  • Report of Final Exam (doctoral students in Plan A or Plan C candidacy programs, no form required for Plan B) - signed by dissertation committee chair after final exam/defense
  • Designated Emphasis Report (doctoral students who completed a DE) - current DE Chair signature required

Candidate Degree Completion Checklists

Samples & Templates

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. Aspects of the thesis or dissertation not listed here (content of material, order of preliminary pages, table of contents, etc.) should be approved by your thesis or dissertation committee, and are not reviewed by Graduate Studies.

  • 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
  • You must prepare your title/signature pages in accordance with the sample provided.

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

    1. 1.  Title/signature page including a signature line above each committee members typed name. This title 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 'wet' signatures will be accepted. If your committee members are not local, you will need to arrange mailing.
    2.  
    3. 2.  Title page with the typed names of your thesis/dissertation committee with blank signature lines. This will be the first page of the electronic thesis/dissertation PDF file you will submit via the ETD website.  This second format is required to prevent the publication of the signatures of your committee members.
    4.  

    The signed title/signature page must be submitted to your Senior Academic Advisor by making appointment, bringing it to the Graduate Studies office, or mailing.  Other forms can be submitted at your appointment, emailed, or mailed.  To find your Senior Academic Advisor in Graduate Studies, go to the Graduate Programs page, click on your program, then scroll down to "People" to find your SAA's name and contact information.

  • Abstracts
  • Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations must include an abstract. Your abstract must follow the same format as the rest of your thesis/dissertation (1 inch margin on all sides, double-spaced, consecutive page numbering, roman numeral or arabic pagination, 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 to their 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 a 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. Here are references 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. 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 certain places on the title page, and those places where conventional usage calls for single spacing – footnotes, indented quotations, tables, and the bibliography.
  • Pagination
  • The preliminary pages, including the title page are numbered with lower case Roman Numerals centered at the bottom of the page. Begin numbering the preliminaries in lower case Roman Numerals with the title page as "i".

    The body 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 numerals. 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 renumber pages at any point in the body of your thesis or dissertation.

    With the exception of a 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
  • Any font style is acceptable, as long as the font  size and style are used consistently throughout. Use a font size between 10 and 13 points. All your fonts must be embedded fonts - see the instructions for embedded fonts on the ETD website.

  • Paper
  • Your thesis/dissertation must be submitted electronically.  Graduate Studies does not require a printed copy, but members of your committee and/or your graduate program may require a hard-copy.  Consult with your graduate program and thesis/dissertation committee regarding printed copies.
  • 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 and have a caption. Do not renumber each chapter unless you include chapter numbers, e.g., Fig.1.1, Fig. 2.1, etc.

    NOTE: If your figures or charts are placed horizontally on the page and the page is in "landscape" orientation, your page number will be centered, on the right hand side, and sideways - as if you turned a "portrait" oriented page 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

  • 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
  • Published reports of research undertaken during graduate study at UC Davis, having been approved by the thesis or dissertation committee, 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 materials must be approved by the department or graduate group.

    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 need to obtain permission to use (or quote) copyrighted material, such as permissions in most journal articles or books. It is the author (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 in 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. 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 register your 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 register for copyright, but it is not required. If you would like to register copyright, 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. 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 Registration

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.

Your thesis or dissertation is automatically copyrighted when it is written (put in a "fixed form"). Publishing through ProQuest provides an independently verified date of record.  When you submit your thesis/dissertation on ProQuest ETD, you will be asked whether you want them to register for copyright on your behalf. Registering for copyright allows you to receive statutory damages and attorney fees. Authors without copyright registration can claim only actual damages and no attorney fees.

You have two options for registering copyright, you can choose to allow ProQuest to register copyright on your behalf ($55 fee paid at the time of your ETD upload) or register the copyright yourself, at anytime, through submission of forms on copyright.gov ($35 if done online, $65 if done on paper).

Should you decide to register your copyright, you must include a separate unnumbered copyright page after the title page.  Graduate Studies asks that those not registering for copyright do not include this page. Whether or not you register the copyright for 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. Previously published materials, now available in the public domain, are not eligible for copyright.

Conferral Letters, Transcripts, and Diplomas

Following your filing appointment, you will receive a sealed degree conferral letter, signed by the Dean of Graduate Studies, which states you have completed all the degree requirements and will be conferred the degree on (your graduation date).  Students filing remotely will receive a PDF copy emailed from their Senior Academic Advisor.  Many employers and agencies accept conferral letters as proof of completion.  Contact your Senior Academic Advisor if the letter is not sufficient to your needs. 

Official transcripts, with degree awarded date listed, are available from the Office of the Registrar two months after the official degree conferral date. 

Graduate diplomas are mailed by the diploma distribution dates listed below - usually four months from the official degree conferral date. Graduate students must submit the address for their diploma to be mailed by submitting the Diploma Mailing Form to the Office of the University Registrar (address listed on the form). Diplomas will not be mailed until the Office of the University Registrar receives a diploma mailing address.  Forms must be dropped off in person or mailed as only original 'wet' student signatures are accepted.  One copy of the diploma is available at no additional cost to Graduate Students via First Class Mail within or outside the U.S.  

If mailing is previously requested, updates to the diploma mailing address may be requested using the Diploma Mailing Form and must be received by the Office of the University Registrar at least three months prior to the corresponding diploma distribution date listed below.  Additional information about diplomas including name changes, diploma holds, and replacing lost or damaged diplomas can be found on the Office of the Registrar page HERE

Graduation Term | Diploma Distribution Date

Summer | Late December

Fall Quarter | Late April

Winter Quarter | Late July

Spring Quarter | Late October