Thesis/Dissertation – UW Graduate School Skip to content


To graduate with a master’s (thesis program) or doctoral (dissertation program) degree, students are required to submit an Electronic Thesis/Dissertation (ETD) and a Committee Approval Form to the Graduate School through the UW ETD Administrator Site. ETDs are distributed by ProQuest/UMI Dissertation Publishing and made available on an open access basis through UW Libraries ResearchWorks Service.

The Graduate School partners with the UW Libraries to provide comprehensive resources for students as they write, submit, and publish academic theses or dissertations. These pages outline information and policies related to preparing your thesis/dissertation, including formatting, deadlines, copyright and distribution decisions, and, ultimately, graduation. We also encourage you to review the ETD Library Guide for additional information.

For comprehensive information on preparing to graduate, please refer to our graduation requirements information page.

Writing Your Thesis or Dissertation

Writing Thesis Dissertation

As a starting point, students submitting an ETD are encouraged to review the below resources:

  • Hacking the Academy: UW Theses & Dissertations (Recording of July 29, 2020 event)
    This session helps students think through their options for how and when to share their work, including the copyright and publishing considerations they may need to take into account.
  • Electronic Theses & Dissertations with the UW Libraries
    The University Libraries welcomes you to this self-guided course on electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) at the UW. In this five-part learning experience, you will learn a lot about the ETD process including how the submission process works, how to give and receive recognition for your work, how to find and interpret publisher policies and how to read and inspect publishing contracts.

After you submit your ETD, the Graduate School will review your document as part of the graduation process at the end of each quarter. We will review for information accuracy, consistency, and to ensure your ETD meets the formatting requirements described below. There are three required sections (pages) that must be included at the beginning of your manuscript: 1) Title Page, 2) Copyright Page, 3) Abstract. Templates for these sections are provided below.

Apart from these first three pages, the Graduate School does not adhere to any specific formatting or publishing requirements unless explicitly stated by the ProQuest Author Guide: Preparing Your Manuscript for Submission (provided below). You should refer to the citation, formatting, and style specifications of your discipline and the guidance of your supervisory committee. Note: theses and dissertations must be submitted in PDF format.

For a complete overview of the graduation process, please review Preparing to Graduate.

Required Sections:

  • Title Page
    Master’s Thesis Title Page Template
    Doctoral Dissertation Title Page Template
    • Must include all items listed in the sample title page and placed in the same order
    • May be the first or second page of your document
    • These items must match MyGrad – student view information:
      • Title of document
      • Author’s Full Name
      • Name of degree as it will appear on your diploma
      • Year of graduation
      • Names of chair/committee members (do not include signatures or professional titles, e.g. Dr. or PhD, before/after faculty names)
      • Program authorized to offer degree (school or department)
  • Copyright Page
    Copyright Page Template
    • May be the first or second page of your document
    • Name and year must match title pages
    • List the year of graduation
  • Abstract
    Abstract Template
    • Place abstract after copyright and title page

Master’s Thesis Approval Form:

You are required to upload a completed and signed Master’s Thesis Approval Form into the UW ETD Administrator (ProQuest) site; the Approval Form is part of your ETD submission. This Approval Form is a separate PDF and should not be included as a page in the thesis or dissertation itself.

Electronic Doctoral Dissertation Approval:

Final Exams scheduled after March 3, 2020 include a link for Reading Committee Members to approve the dissertation online at MyGrad Committee View.

ETD Formatting Resources:

Common ETD Formatting Revisions Requested

To ensure timely graduating, take some time before you submit to review this information and ProQuest’s document formatting guidelines. These are all common errors and revisions the Graduate School will request when reviewing ETD formatting. You will be required to resubmit if revisions are needed. Be precise, and consistent as you format your document.  Many formatting errors result from following a fellow or former student’s example, so it’s important to review the most current templates and guidelines.


Do Don’t
Set up your ProQuest Account with an email address that you check regularly, to avoid missing any important and time-sensitive requests for revisions. Check your junk or clutter folders for emails from “ETD Administrator”. Don’t set up your ProQuest account using an email address you do not regularly monitor when school is not in session.
Convert your thesis or dissertation to PDF format in advance, using your own software or ProQuest’s Converter Tool. Don’t wait until the last minute to convert to PDF, in case any technical issues arise.
Upload your Committee Approval form separately, via the Administrative Documents Section in ProQuest. Don’t include a committee signature or approval page in the body of your thesis.
Your ETD title must match in three places: MyGrad (in your Master’s Request or Final Exam Request), ProQuest ETD Details, and on the PDF itself. If you have updated your title since you submitted a degree request (very common!) you can edit the title via MyGrad Student View under “Review and update dissertation title” or “Check the status or update an existing master’s request”. Don’t enter a different thesis/dissertation title on your document than what you’ve entered into ProQuest.
Follow the above templates precisely, making sure your title page includes all items listed in the sample and placed in that same order. Don’t omit any information or items from the required section templates when creating your pages.
The Title Page, Copyright Page, and Abstract must be three separate, individual pages. Don’t condense the information from multiple required sections onto one page.
The first three pages should be in the following order with no blank pages in between: 1) Title Page or Copyright Page, 2) Title Page or Copyright Page, 3) Abstract. Don’t insert any blank pages within the first three pages.
You may insert images anywhere after the first three pages, as needed, ensuring you are still following the ProQuest formatting guidelines for images. Your first three pages should consist of black text on a white background. Don’t include images or color on any of the first three required pages (title, copyright, and abstract).
Omit any page headers until after the first three pages. Don’t use a Running Head in your first three required pages.
Your name should match your UW record and be consistently written the same way in your account details on the ETD Administrator site as on your title page, copyright page, and abstract page. You can update your official Preferred Name via if the name you wish to publish under does not match your legal name. Don’t use personal nicknames (unless an official preferred name) or abbreviate your name on different pages.

Title Page, Copyright Page, Abstract

Do Don’t
Follow the appropriate Title Page template according to the degree you will be earning.  Though subtle, there are significant difference between the two templates. Don’t follow the PhD Dissertation template if you are submitting a Master’s Thesis.
Make sure your name stands alone on the title page, without a preface. Don’t list “By” before your name on your title page.
Be consistent and list your first and last name only on your title page, copyright page, and abstract- including your middle name/middle initial if preferred. Don’t include your previous degrees or your professional titles on your title page, copyright page, and abstract (e.g. Dr, MSW, PhD, etc.).
Be sure to verify your exact degree title in MyGrad or your unofficial transcript before submitting. Most degree titles are Master of_____(rather than in). For most all PhD students your degree name listed on your title page will be simply: Doctor of Philosophy. When entering your degree name on the title page, don’t write “Master’s“, “Master in____” or “Doctor inPhilosophy”.
The year on your title and copyright pages is the year your degree will be conferred. If using the Registration Waiver Fee from Autumn to Winter quarter, the year will need to be updated to the following (e.g. 2017 to 2018). For your copyright or title page, don’t write the span of time you spent working on your dissertation or the year you finished it (if different than your graduation year).
PhD students: only reading committee members will appear on the title page. Check your Reading Committee listing in MyGrad to make sure the information is all correct. Contact your Graduate Program Advisor to make any updates. PhD students: Don’t list your GSR or other supervisory committee members IF they are not also a member of your reading committee.
List committee members’ first and last name only (middle name/middle initial if preferred). The exception is for your committee chair, who will be designated as Chair on the title page for PhD students (see template). Don’t list “Member” after each committee member’s name on the title page.
List chair and committee members’ first and last name only (middle name/middle initial if preferred). Verify the correct spelling from the committee information in MyGrad. Don’t include your chair or committee members’ professional titles on your title page (e.g. Dr, MSW, PhD, etc.).
On your title page, the “Program Authorized to Offer Degree” is typically the larger school or department that your program is housed under, such as: Education vs. Educational Psychology. A good reference point is to match the department name you select from the department drop-down list in ProQuest when setting up your account. Don’t list specific areas of concentration under “Program Authorized to Offer Degree” or list “UW” or “University of Washington” before the program name.
The abstract body text should be on the same page as the template header information. There should just be one line break between your chair’s department information and the beginning of your abstract. Don’t separate the abstract header text from the body of your abstract into two separate pages.

Your document must be written in English (policy If you need to write your document in another language to accommodate the main audience, you must get prior approval to do so by submitting a petition the dean via MyGrad. If the petition is approved, the required sections (title page, copyright page, abstract) must still be written in English.

Plagiarism is using words, ideas, diagrams, and other content from publicly available work without appropriately acknowledging the sources of these materials. This definition constitutes plagiarism whether it is intentional or unintentional and whether it is the work of another or your own, previously published work.

Plagiarism is a very serious offense that the University of Washington does not tolerate. Evidence of plagiarism may prevent granting of your degree.

Submitting and Publishing

Submitting and Publishing Thesis Dissertation

The Graduate School and the Libraries require that all UW theses and dissertations be submitted electronically for management efficiency, cost control, ease of dissemination, and long-term preservation reasons. In addition, your ETD must eventually be made available openly on the web. Your ETD will be hosted in both UW’s institutional repository, ResearchWorks, and in ProQuest’s ETD Database.  Consequently, you will need to indicate your choices in two sections about how your ETD is made available. Most students choose to make their work available immediately, but you can choose to limit access temporarily before making it available openly.

Students may restrict access to their theses and dissertations…

  • while seeking to publish journal articles or books based on them,
  • to protect intellectual property during the patent application process, or
  • to prevent the disclosure of sensitive or classified information.

During the submission process, you will select ProQuest and ResearchWorks (Institutional Repository, or IR) publication options. The options are summarized on a table below, followed by selected scenarios to assist you in making your decisions.

IMPORTANT: The metadata describing your ETD, including the citation and abstract, is openly available immediately—regardless of the embargo or restriction status. This information is searchable by Google, Bing and other search engines, so take care that neither the descriptive information nor the text contain confidential or sensitive information.

Selecting Access Options

If you want to… Then you need to select…
  In UW ResearchWorks   In ProQuest
Make available to everyone on the web immediately Open Access AND n/a*
*ProQuest access is limited to subscribing members. If you choose Open Access through ResearchWorks we recommend you also choose “Immediate Access” through ProQuest.
Restrict access to members of the UW community for a defined period “UW-Only Access”
Choose 1, 2, or 5 years, at which point it will become openly available on the web.
AND “No Access during Restricted Access Period”
Choose 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, or your own specification. Make sure it aligns with your UW-Only restriction period.
Restrict access to members of the ProQuest subscription community (includes UW) “UW-Only Access”
Choose 1, 2, or 5 years, at which point it will become openly available on the web.
AND “Immediate Access”*
*Be aware that the ETD will be openly available on the web through ResearchWorks once the “UW-Only Access” period ends
Deny access to anyone (limited to 1 year) “No Access”
Available for 1 year, at which point it will become openly available on the web.
AND “No Access during Restricted Access Period”
Choose 1 year, to align with ResearchWorks.

The UW Libraries and the Graduate School are committed to the goal of sharing graduate students’ research as soon and as widely as possible, while allowing students to temporarily limit access to their theses and dissertations for such reasons as to support formal publication in journal article or book form or to allow time for filing patents. Below are some examples of how students may wish to use these options to support their publishing or intellectual property-protection goals.

Scenario Suggested ProQuest Options Suggested UW ResearchWorks (Institutional Repository) Options
1.     Journal Article Publishing
a.     Articles based on a thesis or dissertation Immediate availability Immediate Open Access or UW only for 1-2 years
b.     Including journal articles already published in a thesis or dissertation Immediate availability Check publication agreements for right to include in dissertation and possible embargo requirements. Choose appropriate delay if needed.
2.     Book based on thesis or dissertation planned Immediate availability Immediate Open Access, or UW only for 5 years
3.     Patent protection issues Delay release for 1 year No access for 1 year

Discussion of Scenarios

  • Journal Articles Based on a Thesis or Dissertation. Some students complete their theses or dissertations first, then develop one or more articles for submission to journals but wonder whether journal editors might turn down a submission if the thesis or dissertation it was derived from is available open access. While this is a common concern, recent surveys indicate less than a fifth of journal editors might do so – though practices vary by discipline1,2. The Libraries therefore believes most students planning to develop journal articles from their theses or dissertations should feel comfortable choosing immediate availability for the ProQuest copy and open access for the UW copy. Another, slightly more conservative option would be to choose “Immediate Access” for ProQuest and limit access to the UW copy for a year or two.
    • Journal Article Publishing. In recent years graduate students – especially in scientific, medical and technical fields — have increasingly been publishing results of their research in journals.
    • The “Research Article” Dissertation. In some disciplines students may be expected to publish 2 or more journal articles during the course of their studies and submit them as the core of their thesis or dissertation — along with an introduction, literature review, and conclusions. Because this has become so common, most journals now permit authors to immediately republish their articles within their theses or dissertations as long as they provide the full article citation and a statement that an article is being “reprinted with permission” of the journal. However, some other journals allow the practice but require that an article not appear on an open access basis before a delay of 6 or 12 months. The Libraries strongly suggests that students become familiar with the policies in place at the journals in which they would like to publish their work, and choose appropriate access restrictions if needed when they submit their ETD’s.
  • Book Publishing. Some students in such humanities and social science disciplines as history and political science may hope to publish a revised version of their dissertation as their first book. As they consider that possibility they may be concerned they might undermine their prospects by making their dissertations widely available via ProQuest and/or on an open access basis.Before deciding whether or for how long to limit access to their work based on these concerns, The Libraries recommends students become familiar with the arguments and evidence put forward on these issues. For example, Cirasella and Thistlethwaite3 and Courtney and Kilcer4 provide excellent discussions of issues and review recent literature, while William Germano’s classic From Dissertation to Book5 and Beth Luey’s Revising Your Dissertation6 offer important insight into what might be involved during the dissertation revision process. While the Libraries recommends that most students hoping to publish their dissertations as books make them widely available while they work toward that goal, they should feel free to consider choosing otherwise, such as “Immediate Access” for ProQuest and limiting to UW for five years – at the end of which students may request additional time.
  • Patent Protection Strategies. Students whose theses or dissertations describe work for which patent protection might be appropriate should contact Jesse Kindra at CoMotion ( or 206 616-9658) prior to submitting their work to ProQuest and choosing access restrictions. Depending on the circumstances, a student may choose to completely withhold access for one year, but should recognize that doing so will prevent anyone else at the UW from having access to it during the restricted access period. To exercise this option, students should delay releasing their work to ProQuest for 1 or 2 years, and then choose “No access for 1 year, then make Open Access” from the Institutional Repository (IR) Publishing Options menu for the UW copy. In unusual circumstances, requests for access to be withheld an additional year may be considered. To make such a request, students should describe the reason(s) for it in an email to prior to expiration of the original embargo period.

1Marisa L. Ramirez, Joan T. Dalton, Gail McMillan, Max Read and Nancy H. Seamans, “Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities,” College and Research Libraries 74 (July 2013): 368‐80,

2Marisa Ramirez, Gail McMillan, Joan T. Dalton, Ann Hanlon, Heather S. Smith and Chelsea Kern, “Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Sciences?” College and Research Libraries 75 (November 2014): 808-21,

3Jill Cirasella and Polly Thistlethwaite, “Open Access and the Graduate Author: A Dissertation Anxiety Manual,” pp. 203-224 in Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Implementation (Kevin L. Smith and Katherine A. Dickson, eds.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017),

4Kyle K. Courtney and Emily Kilcer, “From Apprehension to Comprehension: Addressing Anxieties about Open Access to ETD’s,” pp. 225-244 in Open Access and the Future of Scholarly Communication: Implementation (Kevin L. Smith and Katherine A. Dickson, eds.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2017).

5William Germano. 2013. From Dissertation to Book, 2d. ed.: University of Chicago Press.

6Beth Luey (ed.). 2008. Revising Your Dissertation: Advice from Leading Editors. University of California Press.

When you submit your ETD for review and publication, you will be required to read and accept two separate publishing agreements. You will also have to decide whether to publish your work right away or to delay its release. Additional pages within this section will outline all the considerations to keep in mind, when deciding how to make your work available to the scholarly community.

All students writing a thesis or dissertation should review the UW Libraries Copyright Research Guide. Understanding copyright law is another critical aspect as you write your thesis or dissertation.  As you compose your work, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you referenced others’ work? If so, you either need to get explicit permission from the rights holder or to determine that your use is Fair.
  • Have you previously published any part of the work? If you’ve signed your copyright over to your publisher, you will need permission to use your material in your thesis.

There are no required fees, although you have the option to register your copyright via ProQuest for a fee. If you want to order bound (paper) copies of your document, you may do so through the UW Copy Centers or through ProQuest. Questions should be directed to the UW Copy Centers or to ProQuest at 1.800.521.0600 ext. 77020 — available 8 a.m.–5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday (excluding U.S. holidays).

Frequently Asked Questions


Yes. If you need to finish your submission later (for instance, if you need to update your PDF file before uploading it), you can save your information and come back to finish. No information will be lost.

Once your thesis/dissertation is submitted, no additional changes to the document are allowed with the exception of a major data error in the document. In this circumstance, a letter outlining the necessary changes is required from your supervisory committee chair.

Submissions are reviewed by GEMS advisors for formatting requirements for the three required sections — title page, copyright page, abstract — before they are delivered to ProQuest for publication. We are checking for accuracy and consistency. Refer to the Formatting Guidelines section on this page for detailed information.

We try to review all ETDs as they are received, but if you submit early in the quarter it may not be acted on immediately. If you need to confirm completion of your degree requirements to an external agency or employer, please access the request for letter of certification in the forms section of our Additional Resources page (once your degree has posted to your UW transcript, we can no longer issue this letter). In general, ETDs are reviewed in the last two to three weeks before the quarter ends and after the last day of the quarter. When your submission has been accepted by a GEMS advisor, you will receive email confirmation.

When your ETD is successfully submitted and pending review, the status will read “submission in review.”

This depends on the type of access restrictions you selected when creating your account. However, your submission will be delivered to ProQuest for publishing four to six weeks after graduation and you will receive email confirmation when this has occurred. It should be available in UW ResearchWorks around the same time.

After you receive the email confirmation that UW has “delivered” your submission (ETD) to ProQuest, you should please refer to the ProQuest customer service guidelines for the expected delivery date of your order.

If you encounter these types of situations, contact Graduate Enrollment Management Services (206.685.2630 or as early as possible and no later than the last day of the quarter in which you intend to graduate.

Additional Resources