Skip to Main Content

You are in the main content

Thesis, Research Project and Dissertation

General Guidelines

Theses, research projects and dissertations represent the culmination of research, which significantly contributes to existing scholarship within academic fields. Each of these projects consists of a written interpretation of facts and opinions gained through critical reading and independent research. Because a thesis or dissertation is considered a student's original contribution to his or her professional field, it should be written to present meaningful research and ideas to create credible conclusions.

Thesis/ Research Project/ Dissertation Committees

All questions concerning the content of the thesis, research project or dissertation and its organization should be resolved with the student's adviser. Students must also provide a list of thesis, research project, or dissertation committee members (via the Committee Approval Form) to The Graduate School to ensure that members have gone through the appropriate Graduate Faculty review process. The Committee Approval Form should be submitted to TGS no later than the second week of the semester in which the student first registers for dissertation or thesis. It is the student’s responsibility to select a graduate faculty member from his/her graduate program to serve as the director of the committee, and with the director’s guidance, select the remaining committee members. The following are guidelines for selecting the committee:

  • Each committee must consist of at least three approved members of the JMU graduate faculty. Only full-time graduate faculty in the student’s program may direct or co-direct the committee.
  • At least two of the three committee members must routinely participate in the student’s graduate program. The dean of The Graduate School must approve non-graduate faculty members for thesis, research project or dissertation committees.
  • Non-graduate faculty members shall make up less than half of the total committee membership and may include persons external to the university.


Format requirements and style guidelines are provided in the Format Manual for preparing and submitting a thesis, research project or dissertation to the Graduate School of James Madison University (JMU). These guidelines cannot be superseded by any other style guide unless explicitly required by the graduate or project adviser and approved by the dean of The Graduate School.  Most programs specify an acceptable style guide for theses and dissertations and students should consult their program advisers on which style manual or guide to follow.

Committee Approval Form
Format Manual
Sample Approval Page 
Sample Title Page 

Submission of Thesis, Research Project, or Dissertation

All Theses, Research Projects, and Dissertations are submitted electronically to The Graduate School and the University Libraries, through the JMU Scholarly Commons.  In addition, two original signed copies of the Approval Page must be submitted to The Graduate School. Thesis, Research Project, and Dissertation work is not considered complete until properly formatted and approved documents are submitted. Steps for proper submission are found on the ETD page.

JMU Libraries and Graduate School Submission
Submit your documents to JMU libraries and The Graduate School


All doctoral students are required to submit their dissertation to ProQuest for publishing in Dissertation Abstracts.  Doctoral graduates must complete the Dissertation Publishing Agreement.  The publishing agreement and fee, if applicable, are submitted online directly to ProQuest via

Dissertation Publishing Agreement
Paper version for review only


  1. Following the guidelines for your program, register for the appropriate course.
  2. Choose a graduate faculty member to act as the chair of your committee then form the rest of your committee under the guidance of your chosen committee chair and among approved graduate faculty.
  3. Submit the Committee Approval form to The Graduate School within two weeks of registering.
  4. After your research is completed and you are ready to begin writing, refer to the style guide used by your academic unit and The Graduate School formatting requirements (Format Manual).
  5. Prepare a rough draft of your document.
  6. Consult with your committee for approval of the content of your document.
  7. Attend a formatting workshop scheduled in the semester that you plan to complete your document.
  8. Arrange for The Director of Student Support to review the format of your rough draft. Review may be conducted in person at The Graduate School office or via email with the Director of Student Support.
  9. Make any necessary changes in content or format.
  10. Obtain signatures on approval pages, signed in black ink on each copy.
  11. Submit original signed copies of approval pages to The Graduate School, along with the Copyright/Embargo Document Agreement (found at
  12. Submit your document(s) to JMU libraries electronically.
  13. For Dissertations and DMA Document, submit one copy electronically to ProQuest.

Deadlines for filing of thesis or dissertation with The Graduate School and Library: 

Fall 2015:  November 20

Spring 2016: April 20

Summer 2016: July 8



Copyright/Embargo Document Agreement

JMU Libraries Submission
Submit your documents to JMU

Dissertation Publishing Agreement
Paper version for review only
ProQuest electronic submission website for dissertations