Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines

Thesis and Dissertation Manual

Online Paper Submission

The mission of the MTSU College of Graduate Studies is to enhance the scholarly experience of all graduate students and to help them achieve their academic goals, while maintaining academic standards. To this latter end, one of the roles of the College of Graduate Studies is to evaluate the scholarly content of theses and dissertations that are submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduate degrees awarded by MTSU. This is an important function of the Graduate College; thus, the dean of the College of Graduate Studies has final approval authority for each thesis and dissertation.

The dean may suggest some changes to enhance the overall academic quality of a thesis or dissertation. Normally, these suggestions are not mandatory (except for the correction of typographical, grammatical and other errors); the final decision is left to the student and major professor. In the event that a thesis or dissertation does not meet the academic standards expected of MTSU graduate students, the dean will notify the student and major professor so they may discuss the changes that are required.

Primary academic responsibility and authority rests with the faculty, particularly the major professor and any other reader. Moreover, the student and major professor should ensure format concordance with the academic discipline's style. Nonetheless, some uniformity for all theses and dissertations is expected. Please see the Thesis and Dissertation Manual for specific guidelines.

Timeline for Completion

The following flowchart depicts a typical timeline for paper planning and submission deadlines: 

paper flowchart

Students must submit the following forms as they move through the paper planning and writing process:


Theses and dissertations may be submitted anytime during the semester of graduation up to the deadline. Deadlines may be found for each semester at the Academic Calendar page of this site.

The associate dean may allow an extension when circumstances warrant. The student's Committee Chair should submit an extension request via email to as soon as it becomes apparent that the student requires one.

Extension deadlines are two weeks after the original deadline.

Defense of Dissertation

Upon submission of the completed dissertation, the doctoral candidate who has successfully completed all requirements for the degree will be scheduled by the chair of his/her dissertation committee, in consultation with the other committee members, to defend the dissertation.

The College of Graduate Studies must be notified at least two weeks prior to the defense in order to announce the dissertation title, date, time, and location of the defense. The Committee Chair can notify the College of Graduate Studies via this Defense Announcement Request Form.

The defense is open to all members of the University community who wish to attend and will be announced via email and social media.

The dissertation defense is administered by the dissertation committee according to program guidelines. Successful defense of the dissertation must be attested to in writing by all members of the dissertation committee; this is typically done by all members signing the Approval Page directly after the defense.