Graduate Studies


Information about the format of the thesis/project is specific and detailed. However, the information concerning policies and regulations is extracted from other sources and may not be complete. It is the responsibility of every graduate student to be familiar with both University regulations and policies as stated in the University Catalog as well as with requirements established by each department.

Your first step in becoming familiar with the regulations that govern M.A. candidates is to consult the University Catalog.

The graduate student is also responsible for keeping up with and meeting important dates and deadlines.

Also, please review A Guide to Graduate Studies: Policies, Procedures, & Format (PDF) for more in-depth explanations of the things covered throughout the pages that follow.

Academic Honesty and Integrity

The graduate student is responsible for knowing and adhering to the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

The university is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic honesty. To promote a graduate culture that respects the need for academic honesty, professors and graduate coordinators actively discuss with their students the importance of adhering to accepted standards. Graduate students are expected to know current practices and policies related to academic honesty and the discipli­nary conventions for conducting research and appropriately citing sources. Questions or concerns about these matters should be discussed with the relevant program coordinator. An essential component of graduate education is developing original research, innovative problem-solving, and creative expression. Each student must demon­strate and provide evidence of independent thought.

The International Center for Academic Integrity defines Academic Integrity as “a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to five fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility. From these values flow principles of behavior that enable academic communities to translate ideals to action.”

The students, faculty, and staff of California State University, Chico (CSU, Chico) are committed to a campus culture that fosters excellence in learning. Excellence in learning can only take place in an environment based on academic integrity and honesty. Academic dishonesty is a serious offense that can diminish the quality of scholarship, the academic environment, the academic reputation, and the long-term value of a degree from CSU, Chico. An environment of academic honesty and integrity depends on all members of the campus community participating actively in the creation and maintenance of a campus culture that cherishes such values.

Because technology has made plagiarism and academic cheating much easier for the average student than ever before, there is a growing consensus in academia that the challenge to academic honesty and integrity posed by these new technologies must be met with a proactive, unified, and concerted effort. The purpose of the following information is to address this challenge at CSU, Chico by focusing student, staff, faculty, and departmental discourse on the issues of academic honesty and integrity.


Plagiarism is the use of someone else's work, including words, ideas, projects, and/or any other material, without citing the source. Please review the links below to learn more: (PDF) in new window)

  • Plagiarism is theft.
  • Plagiarism is a violation of professional ethics.
  • The courts recognize plagiarism as a violation of copyright.
  • There are many ways to violate copyright, including failure to acknowledge direct quotes or the paraphrasing of another person's work, and the insufficient acknowledgment of such works.
  • Plagiarism is not limited to texts published in print or online but includes claiming credit for the artistic or creative work of someone else: maps, graphs, musical composition, photos, electronic images, paintings, drawings, sculptures, designs, or computer codes.

Citation and Plagiarism

  • Quality academic writing is built upon the work of others, to which we add our own unique analysis and contributions.
  • Citations allow the scholar to reveal how their argument is built upon the ideas of others.
  • Citations allow the scholar to indicate which ideas are taken from others, and from whom those ideas were taken.
  • Citations allow the interested reader to follow your argument and confirm its logic by investigating the ideas on which the argument is built or to further explore those ideas on their own.

What Needs to Be Cited

  • Direct quotes, both entire sentences and phrases.
  • Paraphrases (rephrased or summarized material).
  • Words or terminology specific to or unique to the author's research, theories, or ideas.
  • Use of an author's argument or line of thinking.
  • Historical, statistical, or scientific facts.
  • Graphs, drawings, or other such aggregations of information or data.
  • Articles or studies you refer to within your text.

What Does Not Need to Be Cited

  • Proverbs, axioms, and sayings ("A stitch in time saves nine.").
  • Well-known quotations ("Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.").
  • Common knowledge (Thomas Edison invented the phonograph; "Starry Night" was painted by Vincent Van Gogh; Oxygen has the atomic number 8).
  • When in doubt, cite.


Many departments at Chico State utilize software called Turnitin to aid students in checking their work for similarity with existing publications, internet content, and previously submitted documents in the software’s database. This writing tool is meant to help students identify when materials are not properly paraphrased or cited according to academic standards. All graduate theses, projects, and professional papers require the chair’s confirmation that the document has been reviewed through Turnitin as a final requirement for submission. Alternatively, a committee may choose to use a different program or method for ensuring the originality of a student’s work. In either case, the check for originality must be conducted and documented.  

It is advised that all students, prior to submitting their final project, thesis, or professional paper to their committee, submit their work to Turnitin and make any necessary edits to ensure all of their work is properly paraphrased and cited.  


Allegations of misconduct in research, coursework, the culminating activity, or any other instructional-related activity will be referred to the relevant program coordinator. In consultation with the appropriate faculty member(s), the coordinator will determine the merits of the allegation and whether to refer the allegation to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs for possible disciplinary action.

Evidence of plagiarism (see below) will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs, which will act in direct consultation with the student’s program coor­dinator (and thesis or project committee when appropriate). The Office of Student Judicial Affairs will follow the University's disciplinary policy.

The most likely disciplinary outcome of plagiarism in any completed cul­minating activity (e.g., thesis, project, comprehensive examination) will be expulsion from the University. Expulsion per the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.

Evidence of misuse of sources will be referred to the student’s program coordinator. If sources have been misused, in order to receive credit for the work in question, the student will be required to revise until the student’s program coordinator and professor(s) are satisfied that all sources are cited and documented appropriately.

Human and Animal Subjects Research Clearance

Many faculty, staff, and students at Chico State engage both human and animal subjects in research through surveys, focus groups, interviews, lab experiments, and in the field. It is part of our campus culture and values that we follow ethical principles and federal regulations for the protection of human and animal subjects. This involves 1) getting trained through the CITI Program and 2) submitting your research proposal to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for human subjects or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for animal subjects.  You should be working closely with your faculty advisor on all of these important steps in research. Note: Students may serve as a study PI for human subjects, but not for animal subject, only faculty. 

CITI Training  

All researchers on the campus must take part in training through the CITI Program. Some trainings are required for compliance purposes. Others are offered to help our research community gain a deeper knowledge of particular types of research strategies and best practices. For all of the information and to access the training, visit the CITI Training website. 

Once you have completed the necessary training, you will be ready to submit your research proposal. 

IACUC protocol applications for animal subjects research are submitted through Qualtrics. For information about research with Animal Subjects, please visit the Animal Care and Use webpage(opens in new window).

IRB protocol applications for human subjects research are submitted through a system called Cayuse(opens in new window). Note: For any proposal that requires a Full Board Review, you will need to close your research protocol through the Cayuse system at the end of your research study. Visit the instructions on How to Close a Study in Cayuse

For information about research with Human Subjects, please visit the Protection of Human Subjects webpage. 

Copyright Restrictions

The U.S. copyright law provides federal copyright protection for both pub­lished and unpublished works. Therefore, authors who may wish to include quotations, illustrations, charts, graphs, musical arrangements and so forth in their thesis/project should make every effort to be sure that reproduction of the copyrighted material does not exceed the doctrine of “fair use,” which considers both the purpose and character of the use of copyrighted material. Unpublished works, as well as works published without valid copyright notice, are eligible for protection. Absence of a c-world (©) does not nec­essarily mean that a work is in the public domain. Tabular arrangements and compilations are specifically covered under copyright law. Permission to reprint or adapt charts, tables, graphs, tabular arrangements, musical arrangements, and so forth must be sought from the copyright holder.

Fair Use

If a work is protected by copyright, permission must be acquired prior to incorporation of that work into a new document. Extracts and quotations may be used to a limited extent for purposes of illustration and criticism. The language of the copyright law is vague as to what constitutes fair use, so when in doubt, seek permission and con­sult with the Graduate Research and Writing Coordinator in the Office of Graduate Studies.

  • Fair use is a copyright principle based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism.
  • The four factors judges consider are: the purpose and character of your use; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and the effect of the use upon the potential market.

Public Domain

  • Most works enter the Public Domain because of old age.
  • If a book, song, movie, or artwork is in the public domain, then it is not protected by intellectual property laws (copyright, trademark, or patent laws); the scholar may use without permission
  • If published in the United States before 1923, works are in the public domain.
  • Works published after 1922, but before 1978, are protected for 95 years from the publication date.
  • Works created, but not published before 1978, have a copyright lasting the life of the author plus 70 years.

Please see the editor's presentation on copyright and fair use (PDF).

Securing Permission

Efforts to obtain permission to use material from other sources should begin well in advance of a final draft. Candidates are expected to acquire written permission to use the material, and evidence of such permission must be provided with the final copy of the thesis/project. Written permission may either be by a letter or by a fax and must be accompanied by the signature of the individual granting permission. Letters can be sent, received, and signed digitally. An e-mail response granting permission is considered similar to acquiring verbal permission over the phone. Neither is considered adequate proof that permission has been secured; therefore, they must be backed up by some means of written permission. A statement of permission must appear below the caption of a figure or at the bottom of a table. The owner of the copyright may re­quest that specific words or phrases be used to indicate that permission was granted. All copyrighted tables and figures must be followed by a complete reference citation (e.g., not the abbreviated format such as author/year) and should state, “Reprinted with permission.”

Requests for permission should be directed to the copyright holder or the copyright permissions editor of the publication. When requesting permission to reproduce copyrighted material, be sure to specify that the request is for a one-time, non-profit, edu­cational use.

The university is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic honesty. It is incumbent upon each student to become familiar with current standards and policies. Culminating activities that do not have appropriate copyright releases for borrowed material will not be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School.

The uploading of your manuscript via California State University's digital repository, ScholarWorks,  constitutes a form of publication. Because of this, it is your responsibility to obtain permission to include copyrighted material in your manuscript. This includes most journal articles and books, unless you are the owner of the copyright.

Use of copyrighted works in your thesis without securing permission and without paying royalties is permissible only when the circumstances amount to what the law calls “fair use.” This doctrine of fair use has been codified in section 107 of the copyright act (title 17, U.S. Code). Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

The Library of Congress(opens in new window) states that Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair

  1. Purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. Nature of the copyrighted work
  3. Amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. Effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Instances of quotations that exceed fair use require permission of the copyright owner.

Copyright protects works such as poetry, movies, CD-ROMs, video games, videos, plays, paintings, sheet music, recorded music performances, novels, software code, sculptures, photographs, choreography and architectural designs; the same rules apply to work coming from websites.

When in doubt, seek permission.

The California State University's Copyright Information


  • A “release” is an agreement by which someone waives (gives up) any rights to sue arising from a certain activity.
  • A release is usually needed when a publication (or broadcast) of a person’s name or image may trigger legal claims such as defamation, invasion of privacy, or violation of the right of publicity.
  • These types of legal claims are personal and relate to false statements, intrusions into personal affairs, or commercial uses of a personality. The person signing the release usually forgoes any right to sue over these claims.


  • Obtaining copyright permission is the process of getting consent from a copyright owner to use the owner’s creative material.
  • Obtaining permission is often called “licensing”; once permission is granted, the scholar has a license to use the work.
  • Permission is often (but not always) required because of intellectual property laws that protect creative works such as text, artwork, or music.

If a copyrighted work is used without the appropriate permission, you may be violating the owner’s rights to that work and therefore subject to legal action.

Example of a release letter (PDF)

Limit on Thesis/Project Submissions

Theses and projects may be submitted no more than three times (the original submission, and two resubmissions) for content approval. If none of the submissions pass as acceptable, the student cannot complete the degree with a thesis or project as the culminating activity.

Co-authored Theses/Projects

No co-authored or dual theses/projects are allowed.

Theses/Projects Written in Languages Other than English

Only master’s theses and projects submitted by graduate students in the Teaching International Languages master’s degree program may be written in a language other than English when the area of specialization is Language Studies (Pattern B). This applies specifically and exclusively to graduate students in the Foreign Language Emphasis whose Master’s Study 699 units are through Foreign Languages and Literatures. Students submitting theses and projects in a language other than English are required to include an abstract of regular length in the foreign language being studied as well as an extended précis in English of up to 1,500 words.

Graduate Advisory Committee

Find out who is the Graduate Coordinator for your department.

Forming a graduate advisory committee is one of the most important decisions you will make. Until a committee is selected, the graduate coordinator should be consulted for information and advice. The graduate coordinator assists in establishing a basic course of study and helping identify academic specialties among the program’s faculty.

The chair of the graduate advisory committee should be selected as early as possible after consultation with the graduate program coordinator.

The committee chair, with assistance from the graduate advisory committee, directs the graduate student’s course of study and oversees the thesis, project, or comprehensive examination. The committee chair will assist in meeting the university style and format requirements for master’s theses and projects. Check with your program’s graduate coordinator to determine the required number of committee members (some programs require a chair and one member; others require a chair and two members).

Members of the graduate advisory committee, particularly the chair, should have the following: a strong background in the appropriate academic area; be able to communicate and work well with other faculty in the program, and the time to participate on or chair the committee.

The committee chair must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who is from the program. This includes faculty members participating in the early retirement program (if they agree to “volunteer” their time during their off-campus semester).

The second member must have the same qualifications as the committee chair. In some departments, the second member may be:

  • A tenured or tenure-track faculty member associated with a program other than the one granting the degree
  • A tenured or tenure-track faculty member who is fully retired from the program but willing to “volunteer” his or her time to serve on the committee.

The graduate coordinator of the program must approve a second committee member who falls into category one or two above.

The third member customarily meets the second member qualifications. An exception may be allowed for a person to serve as the third member in cases where the person does not meet the specific criteria indicated above, but is determined to be otherwise qualified for committee membership due to significant professional achievement in an area related to the subject of the thesis or project. This includes professionals working in the community. Here, approval is required by the committee chair, graduate coordinator and graduate dean.

Graduate advisory committee membership is prohibited for people with conflicts of interest (e.g., those who are related to the graduate student by blood, marriage, personal relationship, or living arrangement).

Students who select the thesis or project as their culminating activity are urged to complete it during the semester they are enrolled in the designated course (customarily taken during the last semester of the master’s program). In cases where the thesis or project is not completed during enrollment in these units, students are allowed a maximum of three additional semesters to complete the thesis or project. If the thesis or project is not completed by this deadline (and the program time limit has not run out), members of the committee can choose to withdraw. In the case of a faculty member withdrawing, it is the responsibility of the student to reconstitute the committee.

Exceptions to the policy on Graduate Advisory Committees may be requested by the graduate program coordinator and must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Advisory Committee Chair Final Verification

All theses and projects submitted to the Graduate School must be accompanied by a final verification form signed by the master's candidate and the Chair of the candidate’s graduate advisory committee. This final verification serves as the committee’s verification to the Graduate School that the thesis/project complies with the following Graduate School requirements. The Graduate Research and Writing Coordinator cannot move forward with clearing the thesis or project unless this completed and signed form has been turned in at the time of the thesis and project submission. The form confirms the following:

  1. Copyright releases for all borrowed material have been acquired.
  2. Human Subjects in Research clearance procedures have been followed.
  3. No plagiarism issues exist in the document via a Turnitin report or other comparable program.

Instructions for Final Submission of a Thesis or Project (PDF)

Thesis/Project Final Verification Form