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.


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.


ETD Approval Deadlines

Recommended submission at least 1-2 weeks prior to the deadline. ETDs must be approved (not just submitted) by 5:00PM on the deadline.

Spring One-Credit Extension: Friday, June 2, 2023 at 5:00PM

Graduating Summer 2023: Friday, July 28, 2023 at 5:00PM

ETD Workshops and Drop-In Help

Formatting Help Throughout the Semester

The Graduate School offers many opportunities for ETD Formatting Presentations and Drop-In Help sessions throughout the semester. Feel free to attend one of our ETD Presentations with the Formatting Advisor, MSU Library, and the MSU Writing Center for information on formatting, publishing, copyright, and writing.

Formal ETD Presentations are not typically held over the summer, but students are welcome to view the slides from Spring 2023's formatting presetation here: Presentation Slides from Spring 2023

ETD Formatting Drop-in Help:

  • Wednesday, May 24 from 1-3PM in Jabs Hall 307

Formatting Advisor

Formatting Advisor | [email protected] 

Whether you are just starting to write your thesis or it is your final semester of Graduate School, it is never too soon to reach out to the Formatting Advisor! Communication between the Formatting Advisor and students is often through email or the Drop-In Help hours; however, an in-office appointment can be arranged if needed.

The Formatting Advisor with the Graduate School helps facilitate your ETD submission. The Formatting Advisor does not provide technical or editing support and will not format your ETD for you. It is the student’s responsibility to create a professional document that conforms to the Graduate School’s formatting guidelines. They will also notify students of any changes that need to be made for a document to be approved.

MSSE Students

If you are an MSSE student, be aware that your process is slightly different, as the MSSE Office will assume the duties of the formatting advisor. Please visit the MSSE students requirements page for more information.