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.

  1. Following the guidelines for your program, register for the appropriate course(s).
  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 Approval of Scholarly Document Committee 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 (Scholarly Document Manual).
  5. Prepare a rough draft of your document.
  6. Consult with your committee for approval of the content of your document.
  7. OPTIONAL: submit your document for review of format via email to the appropriate Graduate School staff.
  8. Make any necessary changes in content or format.
  9. Obtain signatures on scholarly document signature page, signed in black ink. If a faculty cannot sign physically, an electronic signature is acceptable.
  10. Submit at least one copy of the scholarly document signature page to The Graduate School, along with the Embargo Form (Information on Copyright may be found at
  11. Submit your document(s) to the Scholarly Commons electronically.
  12. For Dissertations, DMA and DNP Documents submit one copy electronically to ProQuest.
  13. For doctoral students only: After your document has been approved in Scholarly Commons, submit the final copy of your document to ProQuest.
Classes Requiring Scholarly Documents

If you are NOT registered for one of the courses listed below, you DO NOT need to submit the Thesis/Dissertation forms and your document to The Graduate School. 

  • Thesis Research course in your field with course number 700
  • MUS 763
  • PSYC 800
  • NURS 800
  • Dissertation course in your field with course number 900
  • CSD 920
  • Thesis/Dissertation Continuance Courses in your field

Some programs require culminating documents that are not official scholarly documents. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Graduate School at

Forming Your Committee

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 Approval of Scholarly Document Committee Form) to The Graduate School to ensure that members have gone through the appropriate Graduate Faculty review process. The Approval of Scholarly Document Committee 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.
    • The only exception to this rule is for students in the School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs, who need two approved graduate Faculty
  • 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.
Formatting Your Scholarly Document

Format requirements and style guidelines are provided in the Scholarly Document 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. Below are the three forms needed to be turned into The Graduate School and a sample title page you can use. 

Approval of Scholarly Document Committee Form

Scholarly Document Signature Page 

Embargo Form

Sample Title Page 

Submitting Your Scholarly Document

All Theses, Research Projects, and Dissertations are submitted electronically to The Graduate School and the University Libraries, through the JMU Scholarly Commons. In addition, at least one signed copy of the Scholarly Document Signature Page and the Embargo Form 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 JMU Scholarly Commons Submission link below. 

JMU Scholarly Commons Submission
Submit your documents to The Graduate School and JMU libraries via the Scholarly Commons.

Deadlines for filing of thesis or dissertation with The Graduate School and Scholarly Commons can be found here.


All doctoral students are required to submit their dissertation/document 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

  • Dissertations must only be submitted to ProQuest after their approval in Scholarly Commons.

Embargo and Publishing Policy

JMU Scholarly Commons Submission
Submit your documents to JMU

ProQuest Dissertation Abstracts submission ProQuest electronic submission website for dissertations

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