Thesis Writing and Filing
The following guidelines are only for master’s students. If you are pursuing a doctoral degree, please see the Dissertation Filing Guide.
Filing your master’s thesis at the Graduate Division is one of the final steps leading to the award of your graduate degree. Your manuscript is a scholarly presentation of the results of the research you conducted. UC Berkeley upholds the tradition that you have an obligation to make your research available to other scholars. This is done when the Graduate Division submits your manuscript to the University Library.
Your faculty committee supervises the intellectual content of your manuscript and your committee chair will guide you on the arrangement within the text and reference sections of your manuscript. Consult with your committee chair early in the preparation of your manuscript.
The specifications in the following pages were developed in consultation with University Library. These standards assure uniformity in the degree candidates’ manuscripts to be archived in the University Library, and ensure as well the widest possible dissemination of student-authored knowledge.
- Research Protocols
- Formatting your manuscript
- Special Page Formats
- Organizing your Manuscript
- Procedure for Filing your Thesis
- Permission to Include Previously Published or Co-Authored Material
- Inclusion of Publishable Papers or Article-Length Essays
- Withholding Your Thesis
- Changes to a Thesis After Filing
- Diploma, Transcript, and Certificate of Completion
- Certificate of Completion
- Common Mistakes
- Mixed Media Guidelines
- Definitions and Standards
- Electronic Formats and Risk Categories
- Frequently Asked Questions
If your research activities involve human or animal subjects, you must follow the guidelines and obtain an approved protocol before you begin your research. Learn more on our website or contact the Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects (http://cphs.berkeley.edu/ or 642-7461) or the Animal Care and Use Committee (http://www.acuc.berkeley.edu/ or 642-8855).
Fall and Spring Semesters
To be eligible to file for your degree, you must be registered or on approved Filing Fee status for the semester in which you file. We encourage you to file your thesis as early in the semester as you can and to come in person to our office to submit your supporting documents. If you cannot come to our office, it is helpful if you have a friend bring your documents. The deadline to file your thesis in its final form is the last day of the semester for your degree to be awarded as of that semester.
Filing during the summer has a slightly different set of eligibility requirements. If you were fully registered during the immediately preceding Spring semester, and have not used Filing Fee already, you may file your thesis during the summer with no additional cost or application required. This option is available for Plan I master’s degree students only; Plan II students may use university resources and are therefore expected to enroll in three units to be eligible for a summer degree. Summer is defined as the period from the day after the Spring semester ends (mid-May) until the last day of the Summer Sessions (mid-August).
International students completing degree in the Summer should consult Berkeley International Office before finalizing plans, as in some cases lack of Summer enrollment could impact visa status or post-completion employment.
If you have already used Filing Fee previously, or were not registered the preceding Spring semester, you will need to register in 1.0 unit in Summer Sessions in order to file.
Theses filed during the summer will result in a summer degree conferral.
You must be advanced to candidacy, and in good standing (not lapsed), in order to file.
Formatting your manuscript
All manuscripts must be submitted electronically in a traditional PDF format.
- Page Size: The standard for a document’s page size is 8.5 x 11 inches. If compelling reasons exist to use a larger page size, you must contact the Graduate Division for prior approval.
- Appearance & Typeface:
- Basic manuscript text must be a non-italic type font and at a size of 12-point or larger. Whatever typeface and size you choose for the basic text, use it consistently throughout your entire manuscript. For footnotes, figures, captions, tables, charts, and graphs, a font size of 8-point or larger is to be used.
- You may include color in your thesis, but your basic manuscript text must be black.
- For quotations, words in a foreign language, occasional emphasis, book titles, captions, and footnotes, you may use italics. A font different from that used for your basic manuscript may be used for appendices, charts, drawings, graphs, and tables.
- Pagination: Your manuscript is composed of preliminary pages and the main body of text and references. Page numbers must be positioned either in the upper right corner, lower right corner, or the bottom center and must be at least ¾ of an inch from the edges. The placement of the page numbers in your document must be consistent throughout.
Be Careful! If you have any pages that are rotated to a landscape orientation, the page numbers still need to be in a consistent position throughout the document (as if it were printed and bound).
- Do not count or number the title page or the copyright page. All other pages must have numbers. DO NOT SKIP PAGE ” 1 “.
- The remaining preliminary pages may include a table of contents, a dedication, a list of figures, tables, symbols, illustrations, or photographs, a preface, your introduction, acknowledgments, and curriculum vitae. You must number these preliminary pages using lower case Roman numerals beginning with the number “i” and continue in sequence to the end of the preliminary pages (i, ii, iii, iv, v, etc.).
- An abstract is optional, but if you chose to include one, your abstract must have Arabic numeral page numbers. Start numbering your abstract with the number “1” and continue in sequence (1, 2, 3, etc.)
- The main body of your text and your references also use Arabic numerals. Start the numbering of the main body with the number “1” and continue in sequence (1, 2, 3, etc.), numbering consecutively throughout the rest of the text, including illustrative materials, bibliography, and appendices.
Yes! The first page of your abstract and the first page of your main text both start with ‘1’
- Margins: For the manuscript material, including headers, footers, tables, illustrations, and photographs, all margins must be at least 1 inch from the edges of the paper. Page numbers must be ¾ of an inch from the edge.
- Spacing: Your manuscript must be single-spaced throughout, including the abstract, dedication, acknowledgments, and introduction.
- Tables, charts, and graphs may be presented horizontally or vertically and must fit within the required margins. Labels or symbols are preferred rather than colors for identifying lines on a graph.
You may choose to reduce the size of a page to fit within the required margins, but be sure that the resulting page is clear and legible.
- Guidelines for Mixed Media: please see Appendix B for details.
Special Page Formats
Certain pages need to be formatted in a very specific way. Links are included here for examples of these pages.
Do not deviate from the wording and spacing in the examples, except for details applicable to you (e.g. name, major, committee, etc.)
- Abstract [OPTIONAL] (Click here for sample)
- As noted in the above section on pagination, the abstract is optional but if included must be numbered separately with arabic numerals starting with ’1′
- Signature page (Click here for sample)
- The signature page must not contain any page numbers or extra notations beyond what is shown in the sample.
- Your name listed on this page must be your official name as shown on your transcript, including middle names or initials.
- The name and title listed in the sample is for illustrative purposes only, you must include your name and your title.
- Title page (Click here for sample)
- The title page does not contain page numbers.
- Do not bold any text on your title page.
- The yellow bubbles in the sample are included for explanatory purposes only. Do not include them in your submission.
- If you are receiving a joint degree, it must be listed on your title page (Click here for sample with joint degree)
Organizing your Manuscript
The proper organization and page order for your manuscript is as follows:
- Title Page
- Copyright page or a blank page
- Optional preliminary pages such as:
- Dedication page
- Table of contents
- List of figures, list of tables, list of symbols
- Preface or introduction
- Curriculum Vitae
- Main text
- References or Bibliography
Procedure for Filing your Thesis
COVID-19 Special Considerations
We will assist you in any way possible in order to facilitate filing your thesis. Any of the following options are available to you for obtaining faculty approvals for your manuscript:
- Email confirmation from your committee members.
- The email should be sent to you, not the Graduate Division. The email must contain the following language without caveats or conditions: I, [COMMITTEE MEMBER NAME], approve the dissertation/thesis [CHOOSE THE CORRECT OPTION] of [STUDENT NAME], titled [DISSERTATION/THESIS TITLE].
- Electronic or scanned signatures.
- Signatures must be original at the point of signing (DocuSign or stamped signatures are not acceptable at this time). The best solution is to email the approval page to each member, have them sign it, scan it, and then send back to you.
- Physically mailed signature page.
- You can start by sending a PDF of your signature page to your committee member and they can print and mail it to you. Once you receive it you can take a photo or scan it to submit.
- A combination of the above options.
Important note: However you choose to obtain your approval page(s), you must submit them as part of your final documents in the Final Signature Submission eForm. Committee member approvals should not be submitted individually. Should you choose to scan or take a photo of your signature page, what is submitted must be legible and clear (we can not accept a dark and illegible signature page).
After you have written your thesis, formatted it correctly, assembled the pages into the correct organization, and obtained your signatures, you are ready to file it with UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division.
- Step 1: Convert your thesis to a standard PDF file.
- Step 2: Log into your CalCentral account. Under Student Resources in your Dashboard find Submit a Form and choose Final Signature Submission.
- Step 3: Complete the eForm in its entirety and hit submit once all required documents are submitted:
- Attach the PDF of your thesis and
- Attach a scan of your signature page to the eForm.
- Attach a copy of the approval letter for your study protocol from the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects, or the Animal Care and Use Committee if your research involved human or animal subjects.
- DO NOT SUBMIT A DRAFT. Once your thesis has been submitted, you will not be allowed to make changes. Be sure that it is in its final form!
- Check your email regularly. Should revisions be necessary the eForm will be “recycled” to you and you will be notified via email. To resubmit your thesis, go back to Student Resources in your CalCentral account find Manage Your Forms and select Update Pending Forms. Here you can search for your submitted Final Signature form and make necessary updates and/or attach your revised thesis.
- Signatures must be original at the point of signing. DocuSign, electronic, or stamped signatures are not acceptable, though what you attach and submit will obviously be scanned.
- The review of your thesis may take up to four business days.
Permission to Include Previously Published or Co-Authored Material
If you plan use of your own previously published and/or co-authored material in your dissertation or thesis you must request permission to do so from the Dean of the Graduate Division.
To be approved, previously published material must be incorporated into a larger argument that binds together the whole dissertation or thesis. The common thread linking various parts of the research, represented by individual papers incorporated in the dissertation, must be made explicit, and you must join the papers into a coherent unit. You are required to prepare introductory, transitional, and concluding sections. Previously published material must be acknowledged appropriately, as established for your discipline or as requested in the original publication agreement (e.g. through a note in acknowledgements, a footnote, or the like).
If co-authored material is to be incorporated (whether published or unpublished), statements granting you permission to use and reproduce the material as part of your dissertation must be obtained from all co-authors, or reasons for inability to obtain permission must be provided. Emails from co-authors giving permission will be accepted. All co-authors should be credited in the dissertation according to the norms of the field.
Requests to incorporate material written and/or published prior to graduate enrollment at Berkeley will not be considered.
To request permission to use previously published and/or co-authored material the dissertation chair should submit a letter following the template provided on the Graduate Division website. The letter from the dissertation chair should identify those co-authors who had central roles in the research and writing, from whom written permission normally must be obtained. The dissertation chair should provide explanation when some co-authors’ permissions have not been provided.
Submit the chair’s letter; the first page of each article (showing title and all authors); and permissions received as a single package. Permissions received as email are acceptable.
The request must be received by Graduate Services Degrees office at 318 Sproul Hall no later than three weeks before the intended filing date.
Inclusion of Publishable Papers or Article-Length Essays
Publishable papers and article-length essays arising from your research project are acceptable only if you incorporate that text into a larger argument that binds together the whole dissertation or thesis. Include introductory, transitional, and concluding sections with the papers or essays.
Withholding Your Thesis
Occasionally, there are unusual circumstances in which you prefer that your thesis not be published immediately. Such circumstances may include the disclosure of patentable rights in the work before a patent can be granted, similar disclosures detrimental to the rights of the author, or disclosures of facts about persons or institutions before professional ethics would permit.
The Dean of the Graduate Division may permit the thesis to be held without shelving for a specified and limited period of time beyond the default, under substantiated circumstances of the kind indicated and with the endorsement of and an explanatory letter from the chair of the thesis committee. If you need to request that your manuscript be withheld, please consult with the chair of your committee, and have him or her submit a letter requesting this well before you file for your degree. The memo should be addressed to the cognizant Associate Dean, in care of Graduate Services: Degrees, 318 Sproul Hall.
Changes to a Thesis After Filing
Changes are normally not allowed after a manuscript has been filed. In exceptional circumstances, changes may be requested by having the chair of your thesis committee submit a memo to the cognizant Associate Dean, in care of Graduate Services: Degrees, 318 Sproul Hall. The memo must describe in detail the specific changes requested and must justify the reason for the request. If the request is approved, the changes must be made prior to the official awarding of the degree. Once your degree has been awarded, you may not make changes to the manuscript.
After your thesis is accepted by Graduate Services: Degrees, it is held here until the official awarding of the degree by the Academic Senate has occurred. This occurs approximately two months after the end of the term. After the degree has officially been awarded, the manuscripts are shipped to the University Library.
Diploma, Transcript, and Certificate of Completion
Posting the Degree to Your Transcript
Your degree will be posted to your transcript approximately 3 months after the conferral date of your degree. You can order a transcript from the Office of the Registrar (http://registrar.berkeley.edu/Records/transcripts.html).
Your diploma will be available from the Office of the Registrar approximately 4 months after the conferral date of your degree. For more information on obtaining your diploma, visit the Registrar’s Web site (http://registrar.berkeley.edu/Records/diplomas.html). You can obtain your diploma in person at the Office of the Registrar, 120 Sproul Hall, or submit a form to have it mailed to you. Unclaimed diplomas are retained for a period of five (5) years only, after which they are destroyed.
Certificate of Completion
If you require evidence that you have completed your degree requirements prior to the degree being posted to your transcript, request a “Certificate of Degree Completion”.
Please note that we will not issue a Certificate of Completion after the degree has been posted to your transcript.
- The most common mistake is following a fellow (or previous) student’s example. Read the current guidelines carefully!
- An incorrect committee — the committee listed on your title page (and the signatures you submit to the Graduate Division) must match your currently approved committee. If you have made any changes to your committee since Advancement to Candidacy, you must request an official change from the Graduate Division. Consult your departmental adviser for details.
- Do not use a different name than that which is officially recognized by UC Berkeley (i.e. the name on your transcript and CalCentral Profile). For example, do note use only a middle initial when your record shows a full middle name. To correct this, petition to change your name with the Registrar’s Office before the last day of the semester.
- Page numbers — Read the section on pagination carefully. Many students do not paginate their document correctly.
- Page rotation — some pages may be rotated to a landscape orientation. However, page numbers must appear in the same place throughout the document (as if it were bound like a book).
- Do not include the signature/approval page in your electronic thesis.
- Do not include previous degrees on your title page.
Mixed Media Guidelines
In May, 2005, the Graduate Council established new guidelines for the inclusion of mixed media content in theses. It was considered crucial that the guidelines allow theses s to remain as accessible as possible and for the longest period possible while balancing the extraordinary academic potential of these new technologies.
Definitions and Standards
The thesis has three components: a core thesis, essential supporting material, and non-essential supplementary material.
Core Thesis. The core thesis must be a self-contained, narrative description of the argument, methods, and evidence used in the thesis project. Despite the ability to present evidence more directly and with greater sophistication using mixed media, the core thesis must provide an accessible textual description of the whole project.
The core thesis must stand alone and be printable on paper, meeting the formatting requirements described in this document. The electronic version of the thesis must be provided in the most stable and universal format available—currently Portable Document Format (PDF) for textual materials. These files may also include embedded visual images in TIFF (.tif) or JPEG (.jpg) format.
Essential Supporting Material. Essential supporting material is defined as mixed media content that cannot be integrated into the core thesis, i.e., material that cannot be adequately expressed as text. Your faculty committee is responsible for deciding whether this material is essential to the thesis. Essential supporting material does not include the actual project data. Supporting material is essential if it is necessary for the actual argument of the thesis, and cannot be integrated into a traditional textual narrative.
Essential supporting material must be submitted in the most stable and least risky format consistent with its representation (see below), so as to allow the widest accessibility and greatest chance of preservation into the future.
Non-essential Supplementary Material. Supplementary material includes any supporting content that is useful for understanding the thesis, but is not essential to the argument. This might include, for example, electronic files of the works analyzed in the thesis (films, musical works, etc.) or additional support for the argument (simulations, samples of experimental situations, etc.).
Supplementary material is to be submitted in the most stable and most accessible format, depending on the relative importance of the material (see below). Clearly label the CD, DVD, audiotape, or videotape with your name, major, thesis title, and information on the contents. Only one copy is required to be filed with your thesis. A second copy should be left with your department.
Note. ProQuest and the Library will require any necessary 3rd party software licenses and reprint permission letters for any copyrighted materials included in these electronic files.
Electronic Formats and Risk Categories
The following is a list of file formats in descending order of stability and accessibility. This list is provisional, and will be updated as technologies change. Faculty and students should refer to the Graduate Division website for current information on formats and risk categories.
- PDF (.pdf)
- TIFF (.tif) image files
- WAV (.wav) audio files
- JPEG, JPEG 2000 (.jpg) image files
- GIF (.gif) image files
- device independent audio files (e.g., AIFF, MIDI, SND, MP3, WMA, QTA)
- note-based digital music composition files (e.g., XMA, SMF, RMID)
- MPEG video
- other device independent video formats (e.g., QuickTime, AVI, WMV)
- encoded animations (e.g., FLA or SWF Macromedia Flash, SVG)
For detailed guidelines on the use of these media, please refer to the Library of Congress website for digital formats at http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/formats/index.shtml.
- Using a different name than that which is officially recognized on by UC Berkeley (i.e. the name on your transcript, and CalCentral Profile). For example, using only a middle initial when your record shows a full middle name.
- Page numbers — Read the section on pagination carefully. Many students do not paginate their document correctly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Can I file my thesis during the summer?
A1: Yes. There are 2 ways to file during the summer:
1) If you have never used Filing Fee before AND you were registered during the immediately preceding spring semester, you can file your thesis during the summer with no further application or payment required. Simply submit your thesis as usual and the Graduate Division staff will confirm your eligibility. If you are an international student, you must consult the Berkeley International Office for guidance as this option may have visa implications for you.
2) If you weren’t registered in spring, you can register for at least 1.0 unit through Berkeley Summer Sessions.
Q2: If I chose that option, does it matter which session I register in during the summer session?
A2: No. You can register for any of the sessions (at least 1.0 unit). The deadline will always be the last day of the last session.
Q3: If I file during the summer, will I receive a summer degree?
A3: Yes. If you file before the last day of summer session, you will receive an August degree. If you file during the summer, remember to write “Summer” on your title page!
Q1: I’ve seen other theses from former students that were / that had __________, should I follow that format?
A1: No. The formatting guidelines can be changed from time to time, so you should always consult the most current guidelines available on our website.
Q2: I want to make sure that my thesis follows the formatting rules. What’s the best way to do this?
A2: If you’ve read and followed the current guidelines available on our website, there shouldn’t be any problems. You are also always welcome to bring sample pages into the Graduate Degrees Office at 318 Sproul Hall to have a staff member look over your manuscript.
Q3: Does my signature page need to be printed on some special paper?
A3: The signature page can be on regular paper.
Q1: I’m away from Berkeley. Is there any way to file my thesis remotely?
A1: Your thesis will be emailed to the Graduate Division, which can obviously be done from anywhere there is an internet connection. You will also need to submit the remaining documents (signature page and release form). Most students who are unable to bring these to our office in person will have a friend or colleague drop them off instead. Barring that, it is acceptable to mail your documents to our office. However, it would be prudent to use a trackable courier service (like FedEx, DHL, etc) as regular mail may be unreliable. Furthermore, the documents must be received in our office by the stated deadline (not postmarked). Extensions will not be granted for transit delays.
Q2: Can I have a friend file my thesis for me?
A2: Yes. Please see the answer above regarding filing remotely.
Q3: What’s a Receipt of Filing? Do I need one?
A3: The Receipt of Filing is an official document that we produce that certifies that you have successfully filed your thesis on the specified day and that, if all other requirements are met, the date of the degree conferral.
Some students may need the receipt in order to prove to an outside agency that they have officially filed their thesis. Many students simply keep the receipt as a memento. Picking up your receipt is not required.
Q4: What’s the difference between a Receipt of Filing and a Certificate of Completion?
A4: A Receipt of Filing is automatically produced for all students upon successful filing of their thesis. However, it only certifies that the thesis has been accepted. The Certificate of Degree Completion must be requested. It will state that all requirements have been met and notes the date that the degree will be conferred. This is a useful document for students who file early in the semester and need some verification of their degree in advance of its conferral (note: degrees are only conferred twice each year).
Q5: How to I know if I’m eligible for a Certificate of Completion?
A5: In order to be eligible to receive a Certificate of Completion, you must:
1) Successfully file your thesis
2) Have a Final Report on file. Departments sign off on a document called the Final Report which certifies that you have completed all departmental requirements.
3) Pay all of your registration fees. If you have a balance on your CARS account, we will be unable to provide a Certificate of Completion.
Q6: I’m supposed to bring in my approval letter for research with human subjects or vertebrate animals, but it turns out my research didn’t use this after all. What should I do?
A6: If you’re research protocol has changed since you advanced to candidacy for your degree, you’ll need to ask you thesis chair to write a letter to the Graduate Division explaining the change. It would be best to submit this in advance of filing.
Q7: My thesis uses copyrighted or previously published material. How to I get approval?
A7:: Read the relevant section in the thesis filing guide carefully. There is a template letter for permission from co-authors available. You must submit this documentation to the Graduate Degrees Office in advance of when you intend to file. Do not wait until the last minute!
Q8: Can my co-author email his or her permission for inclusion of this material?
A8: Yes. It is better to use the provided form/template, but if they are unable to sign, an email is acceptable.
Q9: I found a typo in my thesis that has already been accepted! What do I do?
A9: Once a thesis has been submitted and accepted, no further changes will be permitted. Proofread your document carefully. Do not submit a draft. In extreme circumstances, your thesis chair may write a letter to the Graduate Division requesting additional changes to be made.
Q10: Oh no! A serious emergency has caused me to miss the filing deadline! What do I do? Are extensions ever granted?
A10: In general, no. In exceptional circumstances, the Head Graduate Advisor for your program may write to the Graduate Division requesting an extension. Requests of this type are considered on a case by case basis and, if granted, may allow you to file after the deadline. However, even if such an exception is granted you will receive the degree for the subsequent term. Your first step is to consult with your department if an emergency arises.