ETD Approval Deadlines

Graduating Spring 2024: Friday, May 3, 2024 at 5:00PM
One-Credit Extension: Friday, May 31, 2024 at 5:00PM
Graduating Summer 2024: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 5:00PM
One-Credit Extension: Wednesday, August 21, 2024 at 5:00PM

Your ETD must be approved (not just submitted) before 5:00PM on the deadline date of the semester in which you plan to graduate. To ensure your ETD is approved by the deadline, it is highly recommended that you submit a draft through the Submission Portal for initial review well in advance of the deadline. Please do not submit your ETD for the first time on the deadline day. This may result in your having to take a one-credit extension and graduating in the following semester.


What are theses and dissertations (ETDs)?

Theses or dissertations are original written product that can draw on a variety of epistemological frameworks, including a western science approach, indigenous research methods, qualitative and quantitative methods, cultural, social, and historical scholarship, and critical analysis of creative works. The common characteristic is that each dissertation and thesis must contain original scholarship that communicates advances in the field. Students can also include chapters on the broader impacts of their scholarship on society.

Given that much of human endeavor is collaborative, each dissertation and thesis is the result of shared work. It is the responsibility of the student to acknowledge the contribution of others. Joint authorship of chapters is possible after discussion with the student's committee. Students should consult with their departments and committee for how this guidance applies to their discipline.

All ETDs are published on an open access platform, ScholarWorks, by the MSU Library after they are approved by both the Graduate School and the degree granting department. Scholars from around the world visit MSU's ScholarWorks page to view ETDs written by our graduate students. The formatting standards set forth by the Graduate School are to ensure consistency and professionalism across these documents. A well-prepared document speaks highly of your abilities as a scholar and the Graduate School wants to ensure your ETD formatting is of the highest quality.

All ETDs are submitted to The Graduate School electronically. The Graduate School does not require a bound paper copy of your thesis or dissertation.

How does the ETD formatting process work?

Essentially, students...

  • Format their ETD according to the guidelines set forth on this website;
  • Submit a draft to the Submission Portal to be reviewed by the Formatting Advisor;
  • Receive feedback on their submission and make any necessary corrections;
  • Repeat this draft process using the Submission Portal until the Formatting Advisor indicates that they may submit a final draft;
  • Submit a final draft to the Submissions Portal; and
  • Receive confirmation that their ETD has been approved (not just submitted) before the ETD deadline.

Further Details on the Formatting Process

Please see the below video for additional details about the process. Keep in mind that all formatting requirements are available to you on this webpage - the more effort you put into formatting your drafts, the fewer drafts you will have to submit for corrections.

Note: For a transcript of the video, visit the ETD Introduction Video with Transcript page.


We recommend that students carefully follow the standard option or manuscript option formatting pages to ensure their formatting is correct before submitting a draft. The more effort you put into formatting your drafts, the fewer drafts you will have to submit for corrections.

You CAN and SHOULD format your ETD and submit a draft for formatting feedback before you are finished writing your paper. The Formatting Advisor gives feedback on formatting only, and does not read any content within your ETD. You may also submit only portions of your ETD for formatting feedback (for example, submit only the Table of Contents or submit only Chapter One), as long as that section is fully formatted.


The Formatting Advisor will personally email you to let you know when you may submit a "final" version of your ETD through the Submission Portal. Please do not submit a "final" until the Formatting Advisor has personally said that your latest draft looks great and you can submit a final.


Students will receive a confirmation email from the Formatting Advisor when their document has been approved. This email serves as official notification that the student's ETD has been accepted by the Graduate School. Once a document has been approved, changes cannot be made, so be sure to review for typos and numerical errors.


After ETDs are approved by the Graduate School, they will be posted on ScholarWorks by the MSU Library according to the release option selected during the final upload to the Submission PortalScholarWorks is the open-access digital repository for the research and creative work of the University community and is maintained by the MSU Library. The Graduate School handles the publication process for students.

Faculty Questions

Theses and Dissertations represent the culmination of a student’s research or creative endeavors while at MSU. A well‐prepared document speaks highly of a student’s abilities as a scholar and the Graduate School is available to ensure ETD formatting is of the highest quality. The Formatting Advisor ensures ETDs conform to the formatting guidelines and officially accepts ETDs on behalf of the Graduate School. Students should contact the Formatting Advisor with any questions and review the guidelines before submitting a draft.

  • The Standard Option is appropriate for most students and involves following The Graduate School approved guidelines for formatting (e.g. margins, headers, spacing etc.). 
  • The Manuscript Option is available to those who have or will publish chapter(s) from their ETD.
  • Students may use the style manual accepted by their discipline for formatting references, citations, etc. Students should review the applicable formatting guidelines before submitting a draft. Students are encouraged to review the Sample Pages (PDF) and utilize the Templates available on the Standard Option or Manuscript Option webpages. Should students choose to use the LaTeX template, they are responsible for ensuring the resulting document conforms to the formatting guidelines.

All ETDs must be approved on/before the deadline date of the semester in which the student plans to graduate. It is highly recommended that students submit a draft for initial review well in advance of the deadline. Students can submit their ETD as a draft via the Submission Portal for feedback.

PhD and EDD students will also complete a short SED survey online.

The final, defended, and committee-approved PDF can also be uploaded to the Submission Portal. The Formatting Advisor will either request changes or approve the final document, which will send an email notification with a copy of the PDF to the student's committee. The final upload to the Submission Portal will replace the Certificate of Approval form.

Students are responsible for making changes required by the Formatting Advisor resubmitting their document for final approval in time to meet the deadline. Changes required by the committee must also be made in time to meet the deadline. Although it is possible to defend on the deadline day if the ETD deadline and defense deadline are the same, it is not recommended as substantive or formatting changes may be required. Students are advised to submit a draft to the Formatting Advisor at least 2‐4 weeks prior to the defense/ETD deadline date.

The Formatting Advisor will review each ETD in the order received and the student and committee will be emailed when the document is approved. This email serves as official notification that an ETD has been accepted by the Graduate School. The Graduate School handles the remainder of the publication process for students. Once a document has been approved, changes cannot be made, so students should be sure to check for typos and numerical errors.