Policies & Guidelines

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Master’s Thesis Submission Process

Final approval of your thesis or project report involves committee approval for content and Graduate Education Office approval for format. If your Master’s program requires a thesis or project report, your degree work will not be complete and you will not graduate until the Graduate Education Office has approved your thesis or report.

The Master's Thesis/Project Approval Form, a receipt for the Master's Thesis Fee, and a thesis or project for Digital Commons must be submitted to the Graduate Education Office by the following dates in order to be considered eligible to graduate in the current quarter:

Fall 2014 December 12, 2014
Winter 2015 March 20, 2015
Spring 2015 June 12, 2015
Summer 2015 September 4, 2015

The quarter in which all corrections are completed is the quarter of graduation if all other academic requirements for the degree have been met.

A Request for Graduation Evaluation is available here. The diploma is ordered through the Cal Poly University Store.

An optional step is having one or more paper copies of your thesis bound for your own use. You can contact binding vendors, such as HF Group’s online Thesis On Demand binding service, directly. The Kennedy Library no longer requires deposit of bound copies.

Step by Step Submission Process

Beginning November 1, 2008, students submitting Master’s theses and project reports are required to submit their work in electronic format to Cal Poly’s DigitalCommons. Please contact Meredith Rubin in the Graduate Education Office at (805)756-2328, for information on the submission and review of theses. All of the electronic theses and project reports will be made publicly available on the DigitalCommons@CalPoly website.

  1. Download the Electronic Thesis Style and Format Guide
    All theses and project reports must be in compliance with the Master's Thesis and Project Formatting Guidelines set forth by the Graduate Education Office.
  2. Download, print out and complete the Master’s Thesis/Project/Exam Approval Form (pdf)
    You should complete Section I: Student Information and Section IV: Student Agreement. After your defense, collect your committee approval signatures in Section II: Review and Acceptance. Consult with your thesis committee on Section III: Student and Committee Agreement. If you and your committee agree to place a restriction on your thesis/report for patent or security reasons, you must indicate this in Section III: Student and Committee Agreement of the Master’s Thesis/Project Approval Form. Your thesis will not be viewable or accessible for a period of one year. After the one-year restriction expires, your thesis/report will be made publicly available by the Graduate Education Office. Kennedy Library will provide access to the documents by creating a bibliographic record in the library catalog. A link to the document will be available through the library’s online card catalog.
  3. Get a Cashier’s Receipt
    Pay the $56 digital archiving fee at the Cashier’s window in the Administration Building. Or follow these instructions to pay online. One copy of the cashier's receipt or confirmation email of receipt should be attached to the Master’s Thesis/ Project Approval Form, to be turned in to the Graduate Education office. The thesis/project report will not be accepted without this receipt.
  4. Deliver the committee-approved Master’s Thesis/Project Approval Form with the cashier's receipt attached to the front of the form to the Graduate Education Office (Science Building 52, Room E47).
    Sections I, II, III and IV on the Master’s Thesis/Project Approval Form should be completed before submission.
  5. Upload electronic Master’s thesis to the DigitalCommons@CalPoly and Formatting Review
    In order for the thesis editor to review your thesis for formatting, you should submit your electronic thesis/project report to DigitalCommons@CalPoly, a digital archive for the University (click here for detailed instructions on how to upload). The thesis editor will check the document for formatting and style, according to the standards set forth in the Master's Thesis and Project Formatting Guidelines. If corrections are needed, you will receive a memo by email from the thesis editor detailing what needs to be done. Once you make all your necessary formatting corrections, the thesis editor will ask you to upload your FINAL revised document to Digital Commons.
  6. Document is made public on the DigitalCommons@CalPoly site
    After the thesis editor approves your document, the Graduate Education Office will “post” your thesis/project report to the DigitalCommons, making it publicly accessible to anyone on the web. You will receive an automatically generated congratulatory email to let you know your thesis has been published. Robert E. Kennedy Library will create a bibliographic record in the library catalog. Paper versions will not be collected by Kennedy Library. Once the confirmation email is sent to you, your Master's Thesis Approval Form will be signed by the Graduate Education Office and sent to the Office of Evaluations.
  7. Degree Posting
    Provided you have submitted your thesis by the corresponding quarter deadline posted above, as well as met all of your program’s requirements, you will still be considered a graduate of the quarter in which you submitted it (even if the thesis formatting review extends beyond the deadline). Once the Graduate Education Office has signed your form, if you would like to check on the status of your degree, we recommend contacting the Office of Evaluations at 805-756-2396.

For Cal Poly Alumni

If you are a Cal Poly graduate school alumnus(a) and wish to have your thesis or project report available on the DigitalCommons@CalPoly, you will need to first formally grant permission to the University to do this. For instructions on this process, please consult the Policies for Master's Theses and Project Reports at DigitalCommons@CalPoly.

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