Thesis Chapter 1


University Responsibilities, Regulations, and Procedures
Governing the Master's Thesis or Project


"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.

Responsibility of Students

Responsibility of the Thesis Committee Chair

Responsibility of Thesis Committee Members

Responsibility of Departments

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

Responsibility of Colleges

Responsibility of the University Thesis Reviewers

The University Thesis Reviewer assures that each thesis submitted meets approved university format guidelines and assists in the verification that department guidelines have been met. The reviewer also transmits the final approval to the University Thesis Coordinator (UTC) indicating that the thesis requirement has been satisfied. To accomplish the above functions, the UTC provides workshops for students and thesis advisors. The Thesis Reviewers and the UTC do NOT check a thesis for subject content or research quality.

Responsibility of the Office of Graduate Studies and Research

Authorship of Theses

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

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 a discipline-specific or UNIV 900 class.

To maintain residence requirements and continuing student registration privileges, graduate students must register in two quarters out of three.

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:
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 final deadline for submission of the graduate commitee and thesis reviewer approved thesis is noon on the Thursday following the end of final exam week. Deadline dates can be found at the thesis preparation website. No extensions of the 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 tenured or tenure-track faculty members from Cal State L.A. Part-time or full-time lecturer faculty members, emeriti faculty members, and off-campus professionals with appropriate training, knowledge, and skills may serve on thesis committees in addition to the minimum number of tenured/tenure-track faculty members from Cal State L.A. 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.

Once appointed to a thesis committee, a faculty member is not to be removed from the committee without their written consent, or in extraordinary situations by decision of the department chairperson and the associate dean of the college. 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 departments may have additional requirements. Verify the above with the graduate advisor in the specific department, who also can explain the formal thesis proposal submission process. Students must be “Advanced to Candidacy” before they may enroll in units for research or thesis.

Research with Human or Animal Subjects

Defense of Thesis

For most departments it is a requirement that a student present an oral defense of the thesis before the thesis committee. The defense may be open to the public and is publicized through distribution of a thesis abstract. If required by the department, a thesis abstract must be submitted to the departmental office, or for an interdisciplinary major to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. A print and/or electronic draft of the thesis must be provided to each committee member no later than two weeks before the scheduled oral defense (or later with the consent of the entire committee). The final draft of the thesis is prepared following the defense. The approval page should be signed only after the final draft has been reviewed and approved by the committee members.

Submission of Completed Theses to the University

After the contents of the thesis have been approved by the Thesis Committee, the candidate prepares a copy of it in finished format, along with copies of the approval page.  The finished copy is again submitted to the committee for approval, with a sufficient number of copies of the approval page to satisfy university, departmental committee, and personal requirements.  If the finished copy satisfies content and university format requirements, in the opinion of the committee, all approval pages are signed by committee members. Then the finished copy and one signed approval page are presented to the appropriate Thesis Reviewer.  NOTE: Students should closely review the instructional videos related to the format of the thesis that are available on the websites of both the Library and the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.  Students may also schedule an appointment with the appropriate Thesis Reviewer for a short consultation on format for the thesis.

The finished copy is reviewed by the Thesis Reviewer for acceptability of physical format.  If corrections are required, the Thesis Reviewer will return the thesis within two weeks, with directions for corrections to be made, and will discuss these revisions with the candidate.  Assuming that all suggested changes are made in the allotted time, the quarter in which the final draft of the thesis is submitted to the University Thesis Coordinator is the quarter in which the student will graduate.  Currently, the absolute deadline for a corrected, acceptable thesis or project to be received by the University Thesis Coordinator is before any courses on the student's official program expire.  The student is responsible for ascertaining this date, ahead of time.

The candidate must upload (after approval by the Thesis Reviewer) the finished electronic copy of the thesis by the absolute deadline for the quarter, which is the Thursday after the week of final exams.  The electronic file of the thesis will be uploaded to the website of ProQuest following directions provided within the website.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Thesis Reviewers are students too.  They have scheduled office hours and a designated number of hours that they work each week.  Thesis Reviewers are not available on demand or at the last moment to stop work on the theses of other students to handle and process your late submission.  Students who wait until late in the term to work with their Thesis Reviewer, or who provide the final approved copy to the reviewer very near the deadline for the term, may find that their thesis will not be approved for acceptance and uploading to ProQuest by the deadline for the term.  If this should happen, the student will be required to register for the following term and pay appropriate fees in order to submit their thesis and graduate. 

Additional Copies of the Thesis

Some departments require a "departmental" copy of every thesis.  The candidate must make individual arrangements for providing all other copies (bound or unbound), be they for the department, for committee members or for personal use.  Bound copies may be ordered through ProQuest at the time of submission of the thesis or the student may take paper copies of the thesis to any local store which does binding of documents.  Inexpensive ("pressure-type, etc.) binders may prove sufficient for all or some of these copies.