Thesis and Dissertation Information

All graduate students who are doing a formal thesis or dissertation must follow PSU policies regarding committee appointments, defense procedures, formatting requirements, and submission procedures.

These pages are intended to guide students through these various processes.  Please review them carefully and feel free to contact us with questions at or 503-725-8410, Option 2. You can also contact the processor in the Graduate School who is working with a specific file:

Brenda Fugate, or (503) 725-5230 - master's students with PSU ID numbers ending 00-49
Andrea Haack, or (503) 725-8460 - master's students with PSU ID numbers ending 50-99
Dissertation Format Editor, - all doctoral students

Committee Appointments

The timing for the appointment of master’s and doctoral committees is quite different.  Doctoral committees are appointed early in the process, shortly before the proposal defense. Master’s committees are appointed much later, approximately one term before the final defense.

A student’s thesis or dissertation committee is appointed with the GO-16M or GO-16D form. The GO-16 forms provide full information about eligibility requirements for faculty serving on committees.

For doctoral students, the GO-16D should be submitted to the Graduate School a minimum of six weeks before the anticipated date of the proposal defense. For master’s students, the GO-16M submission deadlines are based on the intended term of graduation (view the deadlines).

If an already appointed committee needs to be revised, contact the Graduate School for assistance.

Defense Procedures and Deadlines

PSU policies regarding thesis and dissertation defenses apply to:

  • A master’s student’s final defense
  • A doctoral student’s proposal defense (sometimes called a prospectus or colloquium) and final defense 

Students must deliver a final draft of their document to their entire committee no fewer than 14 days before the defense date.

A defense may only be scheduled during the regular academic terms; for summer, this is the eight-week Summer Session. View final defense deadlines for the current academic year. A final defense after these deadlines will result in graduation in a subsequent term.

A thesis or dissertation defense must take place in a meeting with the student and the entire, appointed committee. While it is expected that all members should be physically present, remote participation is permitted under specific conditions. It is incumbent on students and faculty to know that the committee has actually been approved by the Graduate School and who the appointed members are before any proposal or final defense is held. If there are questions about whether a committee has been approved or who the appointed members are, contact the Graduate School.

Formatting Requirements

All theses and dissertations must meet Graduate School formatting requirements. We encourage students to review the formatting requirements early in the thesis or dissertation process; it is much easier to properly format the document to these specifications from the beginning as opposed to changing all the formatting when preparing for submission. 

Submission Procedures and Deadlines

Graduate students completing a thesis or dissertation must submit the final version of their document to the Graduate School. The final version is the document that has been approved by each of your committee members after all required post-defense edits have been made. The final version must also conform to the Graduate School's formatting requirements.  

Students often need to make formatting revisions after initial submission of their final thesis or dissertation to the Graduate School. If you have met the Thesis/Dissertation Submission deadline for your intended term of graduation, but need to make additional formatting revisions, you can still graduate in that term provided you submit the required revisions by the individualized deadline provided by the Graduate School during your format review. 

All theses and dissertations are submitted electronically to the Graduate School. For electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) submissions, PSU uses the ProQuest ETD Administrator. Students will need to create an account through this system to submit their ETDs. We have created submission instructions for using the ProQuest ETD Administrator that guide you through the steps of creating an account and submitting your ETD.

ETD submission deadlines for the current academic year are available here. A submission after these deadlines will result in graduation in a subsequent term.

There are two paper forms that students are required to submit to accompany their ETDs. Neither of these forms have specific due dates, but you should aim to submit them to the Graduate School at approximately the same time you submit your ETD through the ProQuest ETD Administrator. You cannot be certified for graduation without submitting these completed forms to the Graduate School: 

  • The Thesis Signature Page (for master's students) and Dissertation Signature Page (for doctoral students) are used for your committee to formally approve the final, post-defense copy of your ETD.
  • The ETD Access Form is used to grant the PSU Library the non-exclusive right to make your ETD available through the Digital Repository.

PhD students must also complete the online Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). (EdD students do not complete the Survey.) Please register and complete the survey via the survey page on the SED website. The registration process will ensure that you fill out the correct survey based on the graduation month and year you provide during the registration process. When you register for the survey, an email will be sent to you that will allow you to access the survey. Once you have completed the survey, a confirmation email will be sent to the Graduate School. View the student brochure, or explore the SED website for more detailed information.

The Graduate School will contact you after we have performed the initial format review of your ETD. Any required formatting revisions must be completed (and resubmitted through the ProQuest ETD Administrator) before you can be certified for graduation.

Once you have graduated, no further changes can be made to your ETD. You were graduated in part because this document was approved by your committee and the Graduate School. Your ETD therefore becomes part of your academic record and cannot be changed after graduation, even to correct typos.

Doctoral students only: Please note that you cannot participate in the Spring PSU Commencement ceremony unless you have been certified for graduation by the Graduate School. Again, we will be in touch.