Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines
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 or proxy has final approval authority for each thesis and dissertation.
The dean or proxy 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 or proxy 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 committee chair and committee members. Moreover, the student and committee chair should ensure format concordance with the academic discipline's style. Nonetheless, some uniformity for all theses and dissertations is expected. Please see the University Style Guide above for specific guidelines.
Timeline for Completion
The following flowchart depicts a typical timeline for paper planning and submission
Students must submit the following forms as they move through the paper planning and writing process:
- Advisory Committee Forms
- Intent to Graduate Forms (submitted the semester of graduation)
- Approval Page: follow template in the University Style Guide, making sure you include a blank signature line for the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. This must include all original signatures.
- Thesis / Dissertation Publishing Agreement
- Survey of Earned Doctorates
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.
Formerly, requests for extensions were considered, and there was an official "extension deadline" posted on the calendar. However, there have been so many extension requests that the College of Graduate Studies has decided to simply extend the deadline for all students. All deadlines have been pushed back to grant the students more time. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to request an extension. Extensions will not be granted.
Please keep in mind that theses and dissertations are processed in the order in which they are received. Expected graduates who submit their papers closer to the deadline may experience a delay in their degree approval by the Editor, availability of transcripts and receipt of their diplomas. Students who submit papers after the deadline but before commencement will not have their diplomas conferred until the following term, but they will not have to enroll in additional thesis/dissertation hours for the term in which they graduate.
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.