Master's Thesis

Master's Thesis Formatting Guidelines

Master's Thesis Formatting Guidelines (PDF)

Master's Thesis Templates


These formatting templates are merely available for your convenience. You are not required to use these formatting templates, and you should only use one of these templates if you are familiar with the template format. If you choose to use one of the .doc/.docx templates or LaTeX templates listed above, you are assuming responsibility for the functionality of the template.

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 following materials 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:

  1. Master's Culminating Experience Approval (E-Form)
  2. Digital Archiving Receipt
  3. .pdf copy of the thesis uploaded to Digital Commons (with all content edits completed)

Fall 2022

December 10, 2022

Winter 2023

March 24, 2023

Spring 2023

June 16, 2023

Summer 2023

September 1, 2023

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

Graduate Student Application for Graduation (visit Steps to Graduation for specific dates to complete this form).

Master's Culminating Experience Approval (E-Form)

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 are required to submit their work in electronic format to Cal Poly’s DigitalCommons. Please contact 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.

Download Thesis Guide

Download the Electronic Thesis Style and Format Guide

Master's Thesis Formatting Guidelines (PDF)

All theses must be in compliance with the Master's Thesis Formatting Guidelines set forth by the Graduate Education Office.

Approval Form

Master's Culminating Experience Approval (E-Form).

  • 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 Culminating Experience Approval.
  • 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.

Cashier's Receipt (Digital Archiving Receipt)

Pay the $56 Digital Archiving (Master's Thesis) fee online through My Cal Poly Portal.

  1. Login to My Cal Poly Portal.
  2. Select the Money Matters tab
  3. Select the Make a Payment Now button
  4. Once redirected to Student Accounts Transact page, scroll down and select "View all" next to "Available items"
  5. Select the "Senior Project & Master Thesis Fees"
  6. Pay the $56 Digital Archiving (Master's Thesis) fee and email a copy of your receipt to

Please note that your Master's Culminating Experience Approval Form (E-Form) will not be processed until our office receives your receipt.

Upload Thesis

Upload electronic Master’s thesis to the DigitalCommons @ CalPoly (Formatting Review Requirement)

Submit your electronic thesis to DigitalCommons@CalPoly, a digital archive for the University.
Download student instructions on how to upload (PDF).

Once your thesis has been uploaded to Digital Commons and your completed Master's Culminating Experience Approval 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.

Submit Thesis

Document Made Public

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.

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