This guide has been developed for the use of students of California State University, Los Angeles, in preparing their master's theses and reports of master's projects in final form for presentation to the University. The guide includes information about candidate requirements; style and format regulations; steps for submission of theses to the University, including payment of fees; and procedures for the approval of theses. In addition, sample pages of such elements of the thesis as the table of contents, title page, approval pages, etc., are provided in the appendix.

It is strongly recommended that all students and their faculty advisors engaged in preparation of a master's thesis, master's project, or doctoral dissertation become thoroughly familiar with the contents of this guide before preparation of the thesis. Students are strongly advised against consulting previously submitted theses concerning style or format requirements since numerous changes have been made in the requirements, and few of the previously written theses and reports follow all requirements completely. Furthermore, departments have style and format guidelines for master's theses or project reports that complement those given in Chapter 3. For example, many departments use specific style manuals or sets of instructions for footnotes, end notes, lists of references, and other discipline-specific materials. Therefore, it is important for students to check with their respective departments to ascertain their specific requirements. Note: In all matters, university-wid e approved policies and procedures shall not be contradicted by those at the individual college and department.

No guide or manual can encompass all possible questions or situations which might arise in the course of preparing theses. If a question occurs that is not addressed in this guide, students advised to consult their thesis committee or the University Thesis Coordinator for an answer, who also offers workshops. They are offered each quarter (dates are communicated to department chairs early in the quarter) to assist graduate students in preparing their master's theses or project reports in conformance with the guidelines articulated in this document.

The effective date of this thesis guide and its complementary department guides will be the start of the Fall 1993 quarter. All theses submitted to the University Thesis Coordinator on or after that date must adhere to them.


"A thesis or project that is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a graduate program at California State University, Los Angeles, must satisfy the following definitions excerpted from Section 40510, Title 5, of the California Code of Regulations (prior to January 1, 1988, referred to as the California Administrative Code).

A thesis is the written product of the systematic study of a significant problem. It identifies the problem, states the major assumptions, explains the significance of the undertaking, sets forth the sources for and methods of gathering information, analyzes the data, and offers a conclusion or recommendation. The finished product evidences originality, critical and independent thinking, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation. Normally, an oral defense of the thesis will be required.

A project is a significant undertaking appropriate to the fine and applied arts or to professional fields. It evidences originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. It is described and summarized in a written abstract that includes the project's significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion or recommendation. An oral defense of the project may be required."

Initiation, preparation, and approval of graduate theses and project reports shall be governed by the procedures included in this document. Henceforth in this guide, the term "thesis" will refer to master's theses, projects, and joint doctoral dissertations, unless specified otherwise. Students, in consultation with their thesis committees, shall be held responsible for understanding and meeting the standards for theses and projects stated in this guide and in the university catalog.



The shared goal of students, faculty, staff and administrators is to assure quality theses in terms of both content and style, and to have as efficient and fair a thesis preparation and acceptance procedure as possible.

Responsibility of the Office of Graduate Studies

The Office of Graduate Studies oversees and implements all policies and procedures governing graduate theses. It also publicizes and disseminates the articulation of these policies and procedures to the campus through such vehicles as the "Thesis Guide."

Responsibility of the University Thesis Coordinator (UTC)
The University Thesis Coordinator assures that each thesis submitted meets approved university format guidelines and assists in the verification that department guidelines are met. The UTC also submits the final approval card to the University Graduation Office, indicating that the thesis requirement has been satisfied, oversees the thesis binding process and related procedures such as microfilming. To accomplish the above functions, the UTC provides workshops and individual consultation for students and thesis advisors. The UTC does NOT check a thesis for subject content or research quality.

Responsibility of Colleges
Colleges have general oversight responsibility to assure that graduate theses and projects completed in their departments are of high quality in content and style.

The College Dean or designee, with the consultation of the college's graduate studies committee, reviews and approves department format and style guidelines and assures that they do not conflict with university format requirements. The College Dean or designee forwards a copy of department guidelines and revisions as they occur, to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Responsibility of Departments
Departments are responsible for ensuring that procedures exist for establishment and maintenance of master's thesis committees and for appropriate and adequate guidance of graduate students engaged in preparation of theses.

The department will maintain information on all aspects of style and format required by the department but not explicitly stated in Chapter 3 of this document as university format requirements. Information on department requirements will be readily available in up-to-date written form at a sufficiently detailed level.

The department, through its chair, shall ensure that all theses and projects are properly reviewed by thesis committees and conform to current guidelines before submission to the University Thesis Coordinator and that all required corrections and changes are made before theses are approved for final deposit in the University Library.

NOTE: Throughout this thesis guide, the term "department", refers collectively to a department or a division (in the Charter College of Education).

Responsibility of the Thesis Committee Chair
The Thesis Committee Chair has the leading role in guiding the student in a thesis or project, from its inception to acceptance by the university, and assumes a special mentoring role to help the student excel.

The Thesis Committee Chair assures that theses are of high quality and will reflect positively on the department. Thus, the Thesis Committee Chair is especially alert to assure that the student has the proper preparation in terms of coursework and research skills to pursue the proposed research and scholarship. The Chair also interacts with the student as appropriate, coordinates the efforts of other thesis committee members, and generally assures that the thesis research and the document itself meet the expected standards of quality.

Responsibility of Thesis Committee Members
Once faculty members agree to serve on a candidate's committee, they are responsible for reviewing all submissions by the candidate in a timely fashion and for offering appropriate constructive responses. They are further responsible for meeting with other committee members to perform duties and assessments as needed.

Responsibility of Students
Students themselves are ultimately responsible for the successful completion of their theses, including submission of information and drafts in a timely fashion. Theses must evidence originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. The student's responsibility includes not only completing the work of the thesis itself in a professionally competent manner, but also knowing and adhering to all university, college, and department requirements related to the master's thesis. It also entails adequate and regular contact, as appropriate, with individual faculty members and committees.



Authorship of Theses
It is university policy that a thesis may be authored by one and only one student (i.e, a thesis may not be authored jointly by more than one person).

The policy concerning plagiarism is stated in the University catalog:
Plagiarism is a direct violation of intellectual and academic honesty. Although it exists in many forms, all plagiarisms refer to the same act: representing somebody else's words or ideas as one's own. The most extreme forms of plagiarism are the use of a paper written by another person or obtained from a commercial source, use of a paper made up of passages copied word for word without acknowledgment. Paraphrasing another author's idea or quoting even limited portions of her or his text without proper citation is also an act of plagiarism. Even putting someone else's ideas into one's own words without acknowledgment.

In none of its forms can plagiarism be tolerated in an academic community. it may constitute grounds for a failing grade, probation, suspension or expulsion."

See the current California State University, Los Angeles, general catalog for further information on plagiarism and student discipline.

Registration in Courses for Thesis Work
Graduate students completing research units and thesis or project units required for master's degrees must be regularly enrolled during any quarter in which they use university facilities or consult with faculty.

Students who have exceeded the one calendar year time limitation associated with the SP grading symbol for research units must petition to register in Univ 900. Petition forms and instructions are available in college graduate studies offices.

Students who have previously enrolled in all allowable research units and are not enrolled in any other credit-bearing courses or thesis or project units but who will use university facilities or consult with faculty must register in UNIV 900.

To maintain residence requirements and continuing student registration privileges, graduate students who are not enrolled in credit-bearing coursework must register for Univ 900 two quarters out of four.


Graduate Thesis Procedures: Initiation, Preparation and Submission

Some departments on this campus allow their graduate students to select either a thesis option or a comprehensive examination option for the master's degree. Some departments have special eligibility criteria that must be met in order for students to select the thesis option. A student who selects the thesis option or whose graduate program requires a thesis must complete the steps described below. The steps are initiated after the student has applied through the department to the college dean for candidacy using the university's Form GS10 and has been formally advanced to candidacy. The next steps are as follows:

* Establish an approved thesis committee and thesis title (Form GS-12).
* Follow department requirements for enrolling in thesis courses.
* Fulfill registration requirements during thesis preparation, submission, and the quarter in which you intend to graduate.
* Submit an acceptable thesis or project proposal to the appropriate department (for special majors, to their thesis committee) and fulfill all of their respective requirements.
* Meet the department or division and college requirements for thesis or project defense.
* File the signed thesis or project approval page in the department and college offices.
* Submit the thesis or project to the University Thesis Coordinator in the Library following university and department requirements. Students are strongly advised to attend a campuswide workshop about thesis preparation requirements.

NOTE: The date of submission of the thesis or project will determine in which quarter a student graduates, assuming all other graduation requirements are met. If revisions are needed, the revised thesis must be submitted within the allowed period. Otherwise, graduation will be at a later date. The deadline for master's degree theses and projects is two weeks after the last Friday of regular classes in the quarter. This deadline is listed each quarter on the academic calendar page in the Schedule of Classes. No extensions of thesis/project filing deadlines will be allowed.

Thesis Committee Creation

The thesis committee provides guidance to the student in the planning and execution of the thesis. The committee usually consists of a minimum of three full-time faculty members. Normally, students approach appropriate faculty members to inquire if they would be interested in serving on the committee or as chair of the committee. The department chair or the committee chair may assist the student in finding faculty for the committee or to replace existing members if they become unable or unwilling to serve. Students should follow departmental guidelines for the establishment of the thesis committee. After the committee has been established, a completed Request for Thesis Committee form (GS12) should be submitted to the college dean for approval.

Thesis Proposal Submission

In most departments a thesis proposal must be approved before the student may undertake thesis work. Some departmen


University Format Requirement

The following paragraphs state university format requirements, which all theses and special project reports therefore must follow.

NOTE: All other aspects of format not explicitly specified as university format requirements are the responsibility of the department, which shall maintain such requirements in up-to-date written form at a sufficiently detailed level, and make them readily available.


The original of the thesis or project is printed on 8 1/2 by 11 inch, 20 or 24 pound weight, 100 percent cotton content, plain white paper. Erasable papers are not acceptable.


The left, top, and bottom margins measure 1 1/2 inches and the right margin 1 inch.


The thesis or project uses one side of the paper only, double-spaced, with a 12 point size typeface of letter-quality black printing only. A legible typeface must be used. Error correction by a cement-over process (opaque liquid and others) or any similar method is not acceptable.

Arrangement of the Thesis or Project Parts

The main text is preceded by preliminary pages arranged in the following order: thesis/project approval (signature) page, title page, copyright page, acknowledgements (if any), abstract, table of contents, list of tables (if any), and list of figures (if any). The approval and title pages follow approved university format. The abstract summarizes the purpose and scope of the study, the principal findings and their significance. The main text is divided into chapters. When present, endnotes, glossary, list of references, appendices, and index follow the main text, and in that order. Each preliminary page, chapter in the main text, the start of endnotes, references and appendices, begins on a new page.

Numbering of Pages

Preliminary pages, except the approval page and title page, are numbered using lower case Roman numerals (ii, iv, etc.). All preliminary pages, except the approval page, are counted in pagination. After the preliminary pages, all other pages of the thesis or project report are numbered using standard Arabic numerals and are counted in pagination.

Headings and Subheadings

Individual department guidelines are followed. Regardless of specific style, headings and subheadings of chapters and sections are constructed and presented in a consistent manner within a thesis.


Placement of notes, footnotes, etc. is determined by individual department guidelines, and is consistent within the thesis.

Literature References

For reference citation format, a thesis follows the guidelines specified by the student's individual department and must be consistent within the thesis.

Tables and Figures

Tables are comprised of data, such as statistical information, which are typed in column and row format. Illustrative materials such as graphs, charts, diagrams, plans, maps, and photographs, are referred to as figures. Tables and figures are numbered uniquely, consecutively, and in separate sequences, and conform to department guidelines. Figures contained on large size paper are to be folded to the 8 1/2 by 11 inches page size and follow thesis margin requirements.

Placement of Tables and Figures

Tables and figures are placed as close as possible to the first reference to them in the main text or may be placed in appropriate appendices at the end of the thesis or project. Departments will provide specific guidelines about placement.


Special Instructions for Projects and Project Reports


As indicated earlier, Title V describes a project explicitly:

"A project is a significant undertaking appropriate to the fine and applied arts or to professional fields. It evidences originality and independent thinking, appropriate form and organization, and a rationale. It is described and summarized in a written abstract that includes the project's significance, objectives, methodology, and a conclusion or recommendation. An oral defense of the project may be required."

A master's project may be presented in any of a variety of appropriate media, including video cassettes, audio cassettes, slides, kits, games in boxes, teaching materials in ring binders, microcomputer diskettes, and book-type materials. Non-print media which are not acceptable include phonograph records, audio tapes on reels and film on reels. Please consult the University Thesis Coordinator for additional information.

Reports of Projects

A master's project submitted to this University must be accompanied by a report in which are summarized the project's objectives, methodology, significance, outcomes, and recommendations. The report is prepared using the same format as that for a thesis, with all appropriate frontis materials, chapters, list of references and other parts. Approval pages with original signatures must accompany all submitted copies of project reports.

The report is submitted separately when accompanying non-print media. It may be submitted separately or bound in the same volume with projects in print media, such as novels, plays, and manuals.

Number of Copies of Projects to Be Submitted

Two copies of each project, whether in print or non-print media, and two copies of the report are submitted to the University Thesis Coordinator.

Music Compositions

A music composition may be bound separately from its report. The music composition then would be accompanied by its own title page. The title page should be on paper of the same size as that used for the composition. Information about margins is provided in Chapter 3 of this guide.

Creative Writings and Manuals Bound with Reports
Novels, plays, manuals and other printed projects may be bound with their reports. The counting and numbering of pages should be continuous throughout the report and project. In addition, if the candidate desires to do so, another set of numbers may also be assigned to the pages of the project itself. This is particularly useful if the project has its own title page, table of contents and other frontis materials. In this case, and if the second set of numbers is used, the report's table of contents will list only the title of the project and the page number of the project's title page which is the basic continuous numbering scheme for the entire bound volume.


Non-Print Projects

All non-print projects must be submitted in containers which will protect the media. Both media and boxes must be labelled. Labels must be typed and include the following information: (1) name of candidate, (2) name of project, (3) department in which the candidate is seeking the degree, and (4) quarter and year in which the candidate will complete the degree. At the bottom of the report's table of contents, the following phrase should be typed: "This report is accompanied by a name of the medium, e.g., "video cassette", which is housed in the Music and Media Center of the Library."

Audio Tapes

Audio projects may be submitted on major brand, high or extra high standard, non-metallic, sixty or ninety minute cassette tapes. Each cassette tape must be in a container designed for tape. All tapes must be protected against erasure when submitted. Recordings must be of high quality and entirely audible throughout.

Video Cassette Tapes

Television projects must be submitted for deposit in the Library and in the department on video cassette tape. For filmed projects, two video cassette tape copies must be submitted for deposit in the Library. Video cassette tapes must be major brand VHS, high or extra high standard. Tapes must be erasure protected when submitted.

Computer Diskettes, CD-ROMs or Videodiscs

Computer programs, data and knowledge bases may be submitted on diskettes, CD-ROMs or videodiscs. Each copy of a project so submitted must be in a separate container. Each must be write-protected before submission and include a printed list of all characteristics (computer or other equipment make and model, storage density, etc.) required for its subsequent use.


Slides must be 2 x 2 inches in size, mounted in glass, plastic, metal or cardboard. Slides must be numbered and each set submitted in a separate box. Each box must be appropriately labeled. Plastic album sheets are not acceptable as containers.

Contents of each slide should be described in the report of the project and captions or titles provided. Additionally, a list of the slides must be included in the report accompanying the project. The list is prepared in the format used for a list of figures. After the list, the following phrase should be inserted on the page: "Slides are housed in the Special Collections Unit of the Library."

Boxed Games

Games must be in appropriately sized, sturdy boxes. If a game contains sets of small pieces, the sets should be enclosed in sturdy plastic bags of appropriate size. The box should close securely. In addition to a complete discussion of the game, its purpose, uses, and instructions, a set of playing instructions should be included with the boxed game.


Photographs may be in black and white or in color. Photographs must be mounted so that thesis page margin requirements are met.

Other Non-Print Media

As an example, a telecommunications project might involve creation of an electronic "bulletin board." One possible, partial solution in some cases might be a videotape of the computer screen during interactive sessions.

NOTICE: For all non-print media or projects not explicitly described above, approval concerning format and other requirements must be obtained as early as possible, in writing, from the student's department and from the Office of Graduate Studies.


Contact the Graduate Studies Web Administrator
Office of Graduate Studies | Division of Academic Affairs
Office: Adm710
Phone: 323.343.3820 | FAX:323.343.5653