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Step 2 of the Thesis Process: Departmental Approval

Planning ahead

It's not too early to start thinking about graduation and beyond. What will you be doing after graduation? Starting a new job? A new academic program? Renewing a visa? You may need certification that you have met all requirements for your degree, and such certification can be issued only after you have met all degree requirements, including thesis deposit. Each deposit period has firm deadlines by which students must apply for graduation, take the doctoral final examination, and deposit the thesis. And it may take several days for the Thesis Office to review and approve your thesis for deposit. Save yourself the stress of a last-minute thesis submission and start planning now!


File your title page with the Thesis Office

Before proceeding further, be sure to take a moment to email your title page to the Thesis Office. This quick and easy step helps the Graduate College to prepare for your eventual thesis submission and will allow us to streamline our review of your departmentally approved thesis.

  • To file your title page, simply email your title page as a PDF or MS Word attachment to the Thesis Office at Within two business days, we'll send you our feedback along with important information on how to complete your deposit.

Note: At this point, the Graduate College does not record your thesis title, which may change as needed until your Thesis/Dissertation Approval form has been signed. It is unnecessary to notify the Graduate College of a change in thesis title after the title page has been filed.


Apply for graduation

All graduate students must apply for graduation by the deadline for their intended graduation period (May, August, or December). To apply for graduation, register your intent to graduate via Student Self-Service by clicking on the "Graduation" tab and following the on-screen instructions.

Note: There is no penalty for applying for a particular graduation period and then not depositing by the deadline. However, your name will not be automatically rolled over to the next graduation list. You will need to reapply for graduation.


Get ready to defend your thesis

Master's students

For the master's thesis, the Graduate College does not require a defense. Master's students should check with their departments to find out what the program requirements are for a master's defense and committee.

Doctoral students

Doctoral students should contact their departmental office at least 3 weeks before the scheduled date of the final examination (defense) to initiate the process of committee appointment. All doctoral examination committees must be appointed by the dean of the Graduate College. Each committee must meet the minimum requirements for doctoral committees established by the Graduate College. Departments may have additional requirements.

Doctoral students are required to be registered during the entire term in which the final examination is held. Further information about this registration requirement may be found in the Graduate College Handbook.

For each graduation period, there is a final examination deadline by which the doctoral defense must be held.


Prepare the Thesis/Dissertation Approval form

The Thesis/Dissertation Approval (TDA) form must be fully signed prior to submission to the Graduate College. Please proofread this document carefully. The TDA must contain:

  • The student's UIN
  • The student's name
  • The correct degree for which the thesis is being submitted
  • The required number of signatures


Required signatures for the master's TDA = student's adviser (at least one signature in the adviser approval section or additional approval section must be that of a graduate faculty member) + department head. 

Required signatures for the doctoral TDA = director of research (adviser) + all voting committee members who voted to pass the student at the final exam (defense) + the department head.

All signatures must be on the same form. Signatures of off-site committee members may be obtained through faxing or scanning and emailing the form prior to the department head signing it.

If the student completes and obtains the required signatures, the student should return to his or her departmental office as soon as the TDA form has been fully signed. Authorized departmental faculty and staff can submit a scanned copy of the TDA form via the appropriate secured link on the Graduate College website. If the TDA form is instead delivered as a hard copy to 204 Coble Hall, the signature of the department head (or authorized signatory) must be original (wet-ink).


Obtain departmental approval

Departmental approval of the thesis or dissertation consists of two parts:

  • Adviser/Committee
  • Thesis Reviewer

Adviser/committee approval is indicated by the signed TDA. Because revisions requested by your adviser or committee may cause a change in pagination or format, you should only submit your thesis to the departmental thesis reviewer after all revisions have been approved.

After you have obtained adviser/committee approval, you will need to submit your thesis to your department's thesis reviewer, who will ensure that the format of your thesis meets any departmental requirements. All departments have an assigned thesis reviewer. If you are unsure who the thesis reviewer for your program is, you should check with your department or the Thesis Office.

Upon completion of the departmental format review, the thesis reviewer will notify the Graduate College that your thesis has been approved. The Thesis Office will not begin its review of your thesis until we have received notification of approval from your departmental thesis reviewer.

Note: Only after you have completed all revisions and corrections requested by your adviser/committee and your departmental thesis reviewer are you ready to proceed to Step 3 of the Thesis Process: Deposit.