Graduate Work Submission Guidelines In The USA

As we all know, when a Master’s thesis or a Ph.D. dissertation is to be submitted at a graduation school, it should comply with certain requirements. If a thesis or a dissertation is submitted in the United States, the requirements are not regulated by the Federal or State law, but rather by the university itself.

The guidelines for submitting the graduate work are provided by each university in a detailed and comprehensive manner. And yet, the students sometimes get carried away by the brilliance of their works and overlook some of those guidelines, which tragically results in the works not being accepted. This article lists the main points to be taken into account when finalizing a Master’s thesis or a Ph.D. dissertation before submitting it.

Here are the general details to be taken into account while giving the thesis or dissertation the final touch.

1. Font. Normally, a font size should be between 10 and 12 point all through the text. When possible, a bigger font size is used in the texts themselves, whereas a smaller font size is used in footnotes, tables, figures and tables captions, appendices, etc. Italics are normally used to outline a foreign-language term or phrase, or the name of a book or a journal. Boldface can be used for emphasis or in the titles.

2. Spacing. Spaces can be single, one-and-half, or double. Captions, footnotes, block quotations, longer titles can be single-spaced. Double spacing can be used with chapter numbers, headings, and subheadings.

3. Margins. The required margins are normally 0.5-1 inches or more. On the left side, the margins will not exceed 1 inch for bound copies. On the bottom of the page, the margin is often allowed to be bigger than usual. The right margin can be jagged or justified.

4. Pagination. The title page will always be the first page, but the page number is not printed here. After the title page, the pages are numbered with Arabic numerals. The pages before the title page (Dedication, Acknowledgment, Preface, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures, Key to Symbols or Abbreviations) are to be numbered with lower-case Roman numbers (iii, iv, v, etc.)

5. Numbering. Chapters are consecutively numbered with Arabic numbers, so are tables and figures. Appendices are numbered with uppercase letters.

6. Structure. A Master’s thesis or a Ph.D. dissertation can consist of the following:

Abstract. An abstract is a separate document from the thesis or dissertation. It must have the original signatures of the faculty advisors involved. The word count usually varies between 250 and 350 words. It includes the major (without the words ‘Department of’), the name of the thesis or dissertation, the author’s and the professor’s names, and the gist of the thesis or dissertation.

Preliminary Pages

– Title Page. Includes the title (can be upper/lower case, centered, single space), the student’s name, the name of the school, the desired degree, the major, the date, the names and original signatures of the professors involved.

– Copyright. If the author is quoting portions of any copyrighted material, a consent of the copyright owner should be procured and proved.

– Dedication. This is an optional part where the author may dedicate his work.

– Acknowledgment. This is an optional part where Grant and contact support can be acknowledged.

– Preface. This is an optional part where the author can make remarks before the actual body of the thesis or dissertation.

– Table of Contents. This is the part where the author lists all sections of the documents, excluding those before the Table of Contents and the Table of Contents itself.

– List of Tables. Includes names and captions of the tables used.

– List of Figures. Includes names and titles of the figures used.

– List of Abbreviations/Symbols. Can also be referred to as Key to Symbols. Includes the symbols used, in any form accepted by the school.


– Introduction. The Introduction can stand separately, or Chapter 1 can bear the function of the Introduction.

– Text body. A Master’s thesis may be divided into chapters; a Ph.D. dissertation is normally required to be divided into chapters.

Appendices. An appendix can be added to the thesis or dissertation. Appendices contains supplementary illustrations, lengthy quotations, original data, etc.

Bibliography. The list of other works quoted or references in the thesis or dissertation.

These are the main points worth keeping in mind while preparing a graduate work for submission. More detailed guidelines are provided by each school where the work is to be submitted. Moreover, a school normally has a body responsible for format revision before the work is submitted.

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