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THESIS GUIDE 2011-2012

Requirements and Guidelines for the Preparation of Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations

Thesis Office 115 Kern Building University Park, PA 16802 phone: 814/865-5448 fax: 814/863-4627 e-mail:

INTRODUCTION The primary purpose of a thesis or dissertation is to train the student in the processes of scholarly research and writing under the direction of members of the Graduate Faculty. After the student has graduated and the work is published, it serves as a contribution to human knowledge, useful to other scholars and perhaps even to a more general audience. Therefore, the Graduate School, the University Libraries, and the Graduate Faculty of Penn State have established format standards that theses and dissertations must meet before receiving final approval as fulfillment of graduate requirements. This publication sets forth those standards. Some of these requirements are purely technical; others have been established to ensure that certain vital information is presented in an orderly, uniform manner. The requirements in this publication apply to all Penn State theses and dissertations. (The general term “thesis” may be used in this text to represent both.) They are, however, designed to allow for maximum flexibility in minor matters, which vary among academic disciplines (e.g., reference forms). Thus, while you will need to comply with the specifications given here, you will probably also need to consult a specialized manual of scholarly style in your field or the style sheet of a leading journal. Be careful if using another thesis as a model for your own; remember that this guide is revised from time to time, and you must meet current requirements. You have a fair amount of discretion with regard to style, but you must be consistent in format throughout. The work should be written in clear, grammatically correct English, with words spelled and divided correctly and punctuation standard and appropriate. The Role of the Thesis Office The Thesis Office (a division of Graduate Enrollment Services) is the branch of the Graduate School responsible for certifying that theses and dissertations have been prepared in accordance with the regulations in this guide. When a thesis is submitted to the Thesis Office, it must meet the requirements set forth here. The text should be proofread and free of grammatical errors and typos. However, the Thesis Office reviews the document for format and compliance to Graduate School requirements only. Responsibility for the Thesis The author bears ultimate responsibility for meeting all of the Graduate School requirements. He or she must pay the thesis fee, activate the intent to graduate, meet deadlines for review and final submission, and obtain faculty signatures. The best advice is to start early and make certain that the requirements outlined in this guide are fully met. It is extremely important that the author carefully review and proofread the thesis or dissertation before final submission. After final approval by the Thesis Office, changes are not permitted.


SUBMISSION AND REQUIREMENTS Electronic Submission Electronic submission of the final dissertation (eTD) became a requirement for all doctoral candidates at Penn State starting in fall semester 2006 and for master’s candidates in fall semester 2008. Both the format review and final copy must now be submitted on line. For information on eTD preparation and submission, go to ( The author, when submitting an eTD, must choose one of three options for release of the document. Option 1 is open access (release of the entire work for access worldwide). Option 2 is access by those with Penn State Access IDs only for a period of two years (not to be used for theses containing patentable information). Option 3 is complete restriction for a period of two years for patent and/or proprietary purposes only. This...
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