You must follow set procedures in completing your thesis or dissertation. These procedures are designed to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as it can for you. You must be aware of this process when beginning your thesis or dissertation in order to plan your time properly. Always work with your committee through each step.

Getting Started

It is never too early to begin planning your thesis or dissertation. You might want to be thinking about your project from the moment that you begin your graduate program.  Keep in mind that you must register for thesis or dissertation credit for any semester in which you receive assistance from any member of your committee.

Consult with Major Professor

You should meet with your major professor, who will serve as the chair of your committee, to start the process of getting the committee in place and formalizing your research project.

Develop Tentative Proposal

You should be thinking about your project as soon as you begin your program. As you approach the point in your program where you start your thesis or dissertation, you will develop a tentative proposal prior to a discussion of your project with your major professor. You should have an idea of what you want to do, when you want to do it, where you want to do it, and how you will do it.  Doctoral students submit proposal approval forms under the guidance of their major professors (dissertation chairs).

Select Committee

When you and your major professor agree that you have a project that both meets the needs of the degree and is feasible, you should form your committee. Procedures for this vary from program to program. You should have an idea of the committee composition you would feel comfortable with, but you need to discuss this with your major professor. Faculty members are limited in the number of thesis or dissertation committees they can chair and upon which they can serve. Your major professor may be aware of other factors that would make the selection of an individual inappropriate for your project. You need to consult your major professor for this and most other decisions pertaining to your research project.

STOP! Make sure that all members of your committee are members of the graduate faculty.  Submit signed thesis and dissertation committee appointment forms at least three semesters in advance of your planned graduation date.  More details found below.

The Graduate Faculty List shows those with full or temporary status.

  • A thesis committee must have a minimum of three members, with the major professor and at least one additional professor drawn from the department in which the student is majoring. One member of the committee can be from a department outside the student’s area of specialization. All members of the committee must be members of the VSU graduate faculty or be approved by the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Research
  • The dissertation committee will be composed of three to five members and should be named no earlier than the semester in which the Comprehensive Examinations are scheduled to be taken. All of the committee members must be members of the VSU graduate faculty, or have been approved by the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Research. One member must be a member of the faculty in the student’s departmental major; this person should serve as the chair of the committee. One member of the committee can be from a department outside the College of Education for SLPD and EDD students, or College of Humanities and Social Sciences for DPA students, supporting the core courses. One member of the committee can be from a department within the College of Education or College of Humanities and Social Sciences, but outside the student’s department of specialization. For SLPD and EDD students, one member must be a member of the VSU research faculty.

Submit Thesis/Dissertation Committee Form to the Graduate School

Once you have determined the composition of your committee and the individual members have agreed to serve on the committee, you must obtain their signatures on the Thesis Appointment Committee form or the Dissertation Committee Appointment form (consult your doctoral program handbook for forms) and submit that form to the Graduate School, which retains the right of final approval of your committee (remember, all committee members must have graduate faculty status). Please submit the completed form at least three semesters in advance of the semester in which you graduate.

Again, there are different forms for master’s theses and doctoral dissertation committees. Doctoral students should use forms from their handbooks and resource pages (see below). 

Prepare Draft of Proposal

At this point, you will prepare a formal proposal for your committee to approve. Check with your committee chair to determine what style or form to use for the proposal. When submitting your formal proposal and, indeed, when submitting any element of your project, you must make sure that the document is formatted properly, typed, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and well organized. Your committee is there to assist your intellectual growth, and to serve as basic proof readers and assist with editing your work as needed.

The purpose of the proposal is to offer your committee evidence of the significance and rationale of the proposed study, the philosophical or theoretical knowledge base within which the topic is developed, the methodology or procedures to be employed, and the anticipated implications of the findings or conclusions. The proposal is an indication of the student’s readiness to conduct the research (Georgia State University, 1989).

Obtain Approval of Proposal

Your committee must approve your proposal prior to your beginning formal work on your project. Committee members may suggest or require that changes be made to your proposal prior to their approval. It is possible that you may get conflicting requirements from different members of your committee. If this happens, it is your responsibility to try to clarify and work out the differences. If this cannot be done, you should go to your committee chair and follow his or her advice. Your chair will serve as a mediator on your behalf with the committee. As part of the proposal process, remember to obtain IRB or IACUC approval for any research that involves human or live animal subjects BEFORE beginning the actual project (see Research Ethics).

Begin Formal Work on Your Project

You are now ready to work with your committee on your project. If you have taken care with each of the steps listed above, your formal work should proceed with relative smoothness.

Working With Your Committee

Your committee’s cooperation is essential for the successful completion of your research project, and obtaining that cooperation can at times seem difficult and frustrating. Keep in mind that you are working with a number of busy people, and that your project is just one of many things that they have on their minds. You must give the members of your committee adequate time to read and review your work. Check with the various members of your committee to see if there are any time conflicts of which you need to be aware. Try to plan your own schedule so that you have work to do while your committee is reviewing a given chapter. You might be revising Chapter 1, for example, while your committee is reading Chapter 2. The committee needs to be involved in the review of all completed work. The committee members will establish a procedure that you should follow, and it may vary from person to person. It is your responsibility to determine the role each member of your committee wishes to play and adjust your plans accordingly. Should one or more of your committee members need to be replaced, submit another committee appointment form – mark the box “Change.”

In consultation with your committee, the chair will determine when the document is ready to be defended. Before the defense is scheduled, all committee members should have read the document, have had opportunities for input, and should have indicated that the document is ready for final action. Keeping your committee fully engaged in the final revision process will avoid excessive re-writing after the defense. Your committee chair is your key advisor on your project. Work very closely with this individual.

Register for Thesis/Dissertation Credit

You must register for thesis or dissertation credit once any member of your committee actually begins working with you on your research project, and you must be registered for the appropriate credit during any semester in which your committee is providing assistance to you. Your committee will not consider your formal proposal unless you have registered for thesis or dissertation credit. Students must be registered for thesis or dissertation hours the semester they graduate.

Apply for Graduation at Least 2 Semesters in Advance of the Semester of Graduation

Application for Graduation - Print and complete, or pick up packet from the Registrar's Office. Submit completed apps to Registrar's Office.

The Defense

Your committee chair will inform you when the committee members consider your project ready for a defense. The defense should be scheduled around mid-term of the semester in which you expect to graduate. Your committee chair must notify the Graduate School of the date, location, and time of your defense at least 2 weeks in advance (an email will suffice). Notification must include your name, your degree program, the title of your project, and a short description of the project. A copy of your abstract may be included for this purpose. The defense is usually an oral discussion/ presentation of your project and, with some programs, is open to the academic community and invited guests.  Doctoral students have particular "Notification of Defense" forms to submit to the Graduate School – consult your program’s guide.

 Submission of the Thesis or Dissertation

 Definition of "approved final draft" of the thesis or dissertation - that which has been defended, corrected, and undergone a final review by the members of your committee and is ready to submit to the Graduate School. Steps to submit include:

  • The committee chair must notify the dean of the Graduate School that the student has successfully defended the thesis or dissertation by memo or email.
  • E-mail the final, defended version of the thesis or dissertation as a PDF to by the published deadline. Only the document - please e-mail questions separately.
  • Documents received after the published deadline will be considered late.  Students will not graduate until the next term.
  • Formatting must adhere to requirements set forth by the Graduate School.
  • Include the one signed signature page in the PDF document (the page signed by all committee members in black or blue ink – do not date when signing).
  • EDD, SLPD, & DPA STUDENTS must also submit their programs’ signed Final Approval of Dissertation forms.  Forward the original form to the Graduate School.
  • Include contact information (name, phone numbers, and VSU e-mail address).
  • From this point, any edits will be made through VSU e-mail correspondence. Do not make further changes unless directed by the Reviewer to do so.
  • The Graduate School’s review can take up to 3 to 4 weeks, possibly longer, depending on the number of theses and dissertations received any given semester and holidays.  The goal will be to complete the review process as quickly as possible.
  • AFTER the review, arrangements will be made to forward the signed signature page to the student.
  • AFTER the review, students are required to submit to VSU’s online repository – V-text. Click on the following link to complete the online permission form and upload the approved thesis or dissertation.  Go to:

 Remember: Students no longer have to submit copies to be bound – this is now voluntary.  If one chooses to order bound copies, students must: 

  • print/provide as many signature pages as copies to be bound for the graduate dean’s signature;
  • complete the Library’s Binding Fee Form and pay the binding fee ($20/copy);
  • print copies of approved version to be bound; print each copy on one sided on regular copying paper (or the same paper used for signature pages).
  • insert signed signature pages behind copyright page; and
  • deliver to Odum Library (4th floor) - instructions are on the binding fee form.
  • keep in mind that each official (bound) copy must have an original signature page.
  • two bound copies are required for the library. Additional copies may be required by your department or by your committee.

Thesis Committee Appointment Form (PDF format)

Library Binding Fee Form (PDF format)  Effective summer 2016 - binding is voluntary!!

V-Text Form (the link for submitting an electronic copy of approved thesis or dissertation to Odum Library Archives - submit after the final review is completed)

More information on how to get your dissertation or thesis bound through the library can be found on the Library's Thesis & Dissertation Binding Page.