Theses & Dissertations

The graduate thesis or dissertation is a key component of a research based graduate degree. This page summarizes some important steps in the process, however the Office of Graduate Studies Guidelines for Preparing Theses and Dissertations (PDF) is the official authority on all aspects of the undertaking. 

Formation of Committee 

Your thesis or dissertation chairperson will be responsible for guiding you through the process. Once you have identified this individual, then in consultation with them you should identify two or more (depending on program requirements) additional faculty members who will add value to the development of the research and be part of the group evaluating it when you are ready to defend your research.  

Forms for the establishment of your thesis/dissertation committee need to be completed in DocuSign

Forms for the establishment of your thesis/dissertation committee.

Select your Form

Proposal and Initiation of Scholarship 

The student is to maintain ongoing contact with the thesis/dissertation chairperson and the committee members during the development of the proposal and to abide by the academic program or department guidelines for its content and scope. Some programs and departments require a formal oral defense of a thesis proposal, though this is not a requirement of the Office of Graduate Studies. Doctoral dissertation proposals require a formal oral defense. Approval of the thesis or dissertation proposal by the chairperson and committee members is necessary for the student to proceed with the thesis or dissertation research. The student is to confer with and receive approval from the chairperson and the committee members for a proposed timeframe for completing the thesis or dissertation. The Dean of Graduate Studies does not need to approve the thesis or dissertation proposal. 

The student must seek and obtain written approval from the Towson University Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the Protection of Human Subjects prior to conducting research that involves the use of human subjects. Students must seek and obtain approval from the Towson University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) prior to conducting research that involves the use of animals. Students can contact the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research for assistance at 410-704‐2236 or at.

Defense and Graduation 

Students are to abide by all deadlines established by the Office of Graduate Studies for review and submission of the final thesis/dissertation and by the Registrar’s Office for formal submission of an intention to graduate. Students are to abide by department and program deadlines for review and submission of the thesis/dissertation, if these deadlines are earlier than those stated by the Office of Graduate Studies.  

Once it is approved by the committee chairperson, the student is to distribute the final draft of the thesis or dissertation to the committee members for review. At the time of distribution, the student is to meet with the committee chairperson to establish a date and time for the oral defense of the thesis/dissertation. The oral defense should occur at least four weeks before the end of the academic term. The student may announce the date and time of the defense to the university community at least one week prior to the event. The administrative assistant to the student’s program or college can assist in posting defense announcements. Thesis and dissertation defenses are open to all members of the Towson University academic community, and to guests invited by the student. Upon successful completion of your thesis/dissertation defense and making all corrections required by your committee you should submit your thesis to the Office of Graduate Studies and circulate the appropriate final thesis approval form to your committee members for signature. 

Forms for final approval of your thesis/dissertation.

Select your form

Submission to Graduate Studies 

The student is to submit the final approved thesis/dissertation, signed approval form, and the Internet release page in electronic form to the Office of Graduate Studies at at least 10 working days prior to the official end of the term in which the student intends to graduate.

The electronic copy of the thesis/dissertation is to be in a version compatible with Microsoft Word; the electronic copy should not be a PDF at this time. The Office of Graduate Studies evaluates an electronic copy of thesis/dissertation, after it has been approved by the committee, to ensure compliance with the procedural and formatting requirements stipulated in this manual. Theses or dissertations that do not follow the guidelines will need to be corrected by the student before receiving final approval from the Office of Graduate Studies.

Timeline of Thesis/Dissertation Completion*

Action Taken Fall term  Spring term  Summer term 
Thesis draft to advisor October March/April Early July
Oral defense Mid-November  Mid-April  Mid-July 
Corrections to Committee Members  1-2 weeks after defense  1-2 weeks after defense  1-2 weeks after defense 
Final Committee Approval and Signatures  Early December Early May End of July
Near final draft to Grad Studies Office for format review  Mid to End of November Late April/Early May Early August 
Format corrections  Exam week Exam week Early August
Final submission to Grad Studies Office Last day of exams Last day of exams End of Summer session
Submission of grade by Committee Chairperson Last day of exams Last day of exams End of Summer session

*Students are encouraged to submit their work earlier, as these dates reflect final deadlines for submission. Program or department guidelines supersede these dates if they require earlier deadlines than those published in the Office of Graduate Studies Guidelines for Preparing Theses and Dissertations (PDF).