Graduate Studies

Master's Thesis and Project Formatting

Learn how to organize your thesis or project effectively with this detailed breakdown of its four major parts: pre-text pages, Text (Chapters), Documentation, and Appendices. Follow the provided order to ensure your document is well-structured and meets all necessary formatting requirements. Additionally, explore valuable resources, templates, and guidelines to aid you throughout the writing and formatting process.


Structuring Your Thesis/Project

A thesis/project comprises four major parts:

  1. Pre-text pages (Title to Abstracts pages, see list below)
  2. Text (Chapters)
  3. Documentation (e.g., References, Works Cited, etc.)
  4. Appendices

Follow this order when structuring your thesis/project:

  • Title Page
  • Graduate Advisory Committee Page
  • Publication Rights (optional)
  • Dedication (optional)
  • Preface/Acknowledgments (optional)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables (if used)
  • List of Figures (if used)
  • List of Symbols or Nomenclature (if used)
  • Abstract
  • Chapters
  • Documentation (e.g., References, Works Cited, etc.)
  • Appendices

For more information on the content and structure of a thesis or project, visit the Thesis Overview and Project Overview webpages. 


Final Formatting

The Graduate Research and Writing Coordinator's role is to support students with thesis/project formatting and general writing issues before the final submission and, once submitted, will review and approve the final thesis/project formatting. 

Students will use the combination of their discipline's designated style guide and the University Format guidelines (see below) to format their thesis/project document. The students use the style guide for formatting their in-text citations, all tables, captions for figures and tables, and the documentation (e.g., References, Works Cited, etc.).

With direction and written approval from their advisory committee chair and graduate coordinator, students may select a format consistent with professional publications in their area for the body of text (e.g., formatting the chapters and chapter reference section, if applicable). However, specific University Format guidelines must still apply to the pre-text pages and other University Format requirements.

Departmental Style Guides

Students are responsible for using the appropriate departmental style guide and must follow the specifications in that guide. Each department selects its style guide, which in turn determines the format for the following:

  1. Referencing system (in-text citations) throughout the thesis/project.
  2. Formatting and captioning of all tables.
  3. Format of captions for all figures.
  4. Documentation (e.g., References, Works Cited, etc.).  

Please speak with your Graduate Coordinator to find your department's style guide.

Anyone wishing to follow a manual other than that approved by the department must provide the Graduate Research and Writing Coordinator with a written memo signed by all committee members approving the change and a copy of the alternative style manual. 

Links for Style Guides: APA, MLA, Chicago, Turabian, CSI, and ECE

University Format

The University Format guidelines provide a systematic structure for thesis and project documents and need to be adhered to for final submission. Formatting requirements for theses/projects have been developed with accessibility and readability guidelines in mind.