Master’s Thesis Submission Process

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

The Master's Thesis Approval Form, a Digital Archiving Receipt, and a .pdf copy of the thesis uploaded to Digital Commons (with all content edits completed) must be submitted to the Graduate Education Office by the following dates if you wish to be considered eligible to graduate in the specified quarter.

Summer 2017 September 1, 2017
Fall 2017 December 8, 2017
Winter 2018 March 23, 2018
Spring 2018 June 15, 2018
Summer 2018 September 6, 2018

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

The Application for Graduation 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.

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Step by Step Submission Process

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

  1. Download the Electronic Thesis Style and Format Guide
    All theses must be in compliance with the Master's Thesis Formatting Guidelines set forth by the Graduate Education Office.

  2. Download, print, and complete the Master's Thesis Approval Form
    You should complete the front and back of the form, including the Student Agreement Section. After your defense, collect your thesis committee approval signatures. Consult with your thesis committee about what option of electronic access you would like to select for your thesis. If you and your committee agree to place a restriction on your thesis for patent or security reasons, you must indicate this restriction on your Master's Thesis Approval Form. If you opt to restrict access, your thesis will not be viewable or accessible for a period of one year or three years. After the one-year or three-year restriction expires, your thesis 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 (Digital Archiving 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 Digital Archiving Receipt should be attached to the Master's Thesis Approval Form and submitted to the Graduate Education office. The thesis will not be accepted without this receipt.

  4. Upload electronic Master’s thesis to the DigitalCommons@CalPoly (Formatting Review Requirement)
    In order for the thesis editor to review your thesis for formatting, you should submit your electronic thesis to DigitalCommons@CalPoly, a digital archive for the University (click here for detailed instructions on how to upload). Once your thesis has been uploaded to Digital Commons and your completed Master's Thesis Approval Form has been submitted to the Graduate Education Office, the thesis editor will check your document for formatting and style according to the standards set forth in the Master's Thesis 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.
    All thesis content edits must be completed before your document is uploaded to Digital Commons; content edits cannot be made once the thesis editor has begun reviewing your document for formatting and style. Your thesis is not considered complete until all content edits have been addressed.

  5. Deliver the committee-approved Master's Thesis Approval Form with the Digital Archiving Receipt attached to the front of the form to the Graduate Education Office (Building 52, Room E47)
    All required sections on the Master's Thesis Approval Form should be completed before submission.

  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.

  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.
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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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