Graduate Thesis, Project, and Dissertation Guidelines

Student standing in library stacks, reading a book

These pages provide all the necessary resources for preparing and submitting the master's thesis, report of master's project, or doctoral dissertation to the University. It is strongly recommended that all students and faculty advisors engaged in the preparation of a master's thesis, master's project, or doctoral dissertation become thoroughly familiar with the contents of these guidelines before preparing the document.

The following deadlines apply only to students completing a thesis or project report with a Spring 2023 graduation term, and to all students who are enrolled in UNIV 9000 during Spring 2023.

Please see the Deadlines page for a full description of these and doctoral deadlines and procedures. 


  1. Preliminary Review Deadline Overview: 12:08 time mark
    • Tour of the Thesis Template: 18:03 time mark
  2. Upload to ProQuest Deadline Overview: 47:12 time mark
    • Overview of Publishing Options: 53:51 time mark
  3. Final Draft and GS-13 Deadline Overview: 1:04:34 time mark
  4. Approval Notification Overview: 1:10:43 time mark


Deadline Action

JULY 28, 2023

Priority deadline for preliminary review

AUGUST 4, 2023

Deadline to upload complete draft of thesis/dissertation for official review

AUGUST 11, 2023

Deadline to submit GS-13 form and upload final draft to ProQuest

Candidate will receive notification of acceptance by August 18, 2023.

Steps to Completion

Graduate students who select the thesis or dissertation option for their culminating experience must complete the following steps on the road to graduation. If you are completing a project report, please confirm with your department the steps to completion, especially submission of the final manuscript and paperwork. Not all project reports will be submitted through the Office of Graduate Studies.

1. Apply for graduation.

All graduate students (master's, EdD, and PhD) must apply for graduation by the deadlines stated on the Apply for Your Degree website. Failure to meet the stated deadlines may delay your date of graduation. 

2. Review your thesis/dissertation submission deadlines.

The last day to file your thesis or dissertation is typically the last Friday of the term. The GS-13 Form, the final version of the thesis/dissertation, and any additional documents or media must be submitted by the deadline date.

Deadlines for the current year are posted on our Deadlines page.

3. Review the ETD Format Guide, template, and sample pages. 

Reviewing the ETD (Electronic Thesis and Dissertation) Format guide, template, and sample pages is your first step in preparing your manuscript for submission. They explain all aspects of the submission process. Please read these documents carefully and thoroughly. Your preliminary pages and section headings must match the sample pages.

For additional formatting help and information, including templates and samples, visit the Format Guidelines page.

For additional information about copyright and fair use, visit the Center for Teaching and Learning (CETL) Copyright and Fair Use page or the University of California Copyright page.

4. Attend a Formatting and Submission webinar.

The Graduate Resource Center offers several Thesis Formatting and Submission workshops every Fall Semester, Spring Semester, and Summer Session. These workshops are not mandatory, but are highly recommended because the provide an overview of required deadlines and forms, as well as best-practices for formatting and editing.

Current workshop dates are available on the GRC Workshops page.

5. Meet with a Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer in the Office of Graduate Studies for preliminary format review.

Candidates must meet with a Thesis/Dissertation Reviewer before the Preliminary Review deadline of the term in which they intend to file the thesis or dissertation. The Reviewer is not a member of the thesis or dissertation Committee, but is a member of Graduate Studies staff. Reviewers review the thesis/dissertation only for formatting, not for content. 

6. Upload complete draft of your thesis/dissertation to ProQuest for official review by the Office of Graduate Studies.

After you meet with a Reviewer for the preliminary review in the GRC, you will make the required edits to your manuscript and upload the PDF draft to ProQuest ETD Administrator at least two weeks before the GS-13 deadline. This deadline provides our staff sufficient time to complete all required procedures in order to report your thesis completion to Graduation Office for timely degree conferral. Graduate Studies staff will review your submission via ProQuest and notify you by email of any remaining formatting issues. If further edits to the format are required, you will be able to replace your PDF on ProQuest with an updated version.

When submitting to ProQuest, please keep in mind that the manuscript is not final until you receive an "Accepted" email from our office. Most candidates will submit a Committee-approved manuscript by this deadline, but some candidates still await final feedback from their Committee or are still working on the content of their thesis/dissertation; the complete draft of the thesis/dissertation must nonetheless still be uploaded to ProQuest by this day. As long as you have not yet turned in your GS-13 form, you will still have the opportunity to make changes to your manuscript. The final version of your manuscript uploaded to ProQuest at the time of your "Accepted" email will be the version available in the Cal State LA Library Digital Repository and in any hardcopies that you order from ProQuest.

For detailed information about uploading your manuscript via ProQuest ETD Administrator, download and review the ProQuest ETD Administrator Instructions on the Upload to ProQuest page.

7. Participate in your final defense or presentation, if required.

The defense or equivalent presentation must be held by the end of the semester in which you expect to file the thesis/dissertation. We recommend that candidates communicate with their Committee early in the semester in which they expect to file the thesis/dissertation about possible dates to hold the defense. If possibly, schedule your defense before finals week, so that you will have sufficient time to complete any additional edits as required by your Committee. Take your GS-13 form to the defense, as Committees often sign the GS-13 at that time.

Only your department may require a defense or presentation; the Office of Graduate Studies does not oversee this part of your culminating project.

8. Get your entire Committee to sign the GS-13 Form and submit it to the Office of Graduate Studies on or before the final deadline.

The GS-13 Form is one of the more important forms you will complete during your graduate studies. The GS-13 Form is the final approval for your thesis or dissertation, signed by your Committee and stating that they approve your thesis or dissertation and thus fulfill this requirement for your degree. 

It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to ensure that your GS-13 Form is signed by ALL Committee members and your department chair and submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies on or before the final deadline. 

To download the GS-13 Form, visit the GS-13 Form page.

9. Upload the final version of your manuscript on or before the final deadline.

Let your Committee know that you must finalize your manuscript by the end of the semester, the same day that the GS-13 Form is due. They should give you enough time to make final changes to your manuscript for final upload by this deadline. If needed, Graduate Studies staff may request additional edits to the format after this date.

To revise your upload, log in to ProQuest ETD Administrator. Click the "Revise Submission" button; do not start a new submission. Click on "PDF" in the menu on the left. Click "Revise PDF." Upload your new PDF, and make sure to click through all the screens and click "Submit" at the end. ProQuest will send an automated email to your Reviewer that you have revised your submission.

Candidates will receive notification of acceptance as late as one week after the end of the semester. Reviewers may request changes to your manuscript as late as this date; your are expected to be available to make changes until then.

10. Participate in your Commencement ceremony.

Commencement Ceremonies for each college are held once each year, in May. The Cal State LA Commencement website is a great resource for details about dates, times, locations, tickets, programs, grad fair, and more.