Graduate Studies

Graduate Student Thesis

USM Thesis Guidelines

Guidelines for Preparation and
Submission of a Master’s Thesis

The following guidelines are intended to assist students in the preparation of theses, to establish a University-wide consistency of form, and to ensure high standards of quality. Students are responsible for submitting theses that adhere to general University requirements. Students should prepare their manuscripts, including all documentation, in accordance with an accepted manual of style approved by the appropriate school or department.

Paper Quality

The original copy of the thesis must be on white 8-1/2 x 11 bond paper of at least 20 pound weight containing 25% or more rag content.


All copies of the thesis must be produced with text that is dark enough and clear enough to be easily readable. If a word processor is used, the manuscript must be the product of a letter quality printer or its equivalent. If xerographic copies are made, they must be of acceptable quality.

The thesis must be double-spaced throughout, with the exception of quotations, footnotes, illustrations, bibliographies and appendices which may be single spaced. Additionally, poems for a Stonecoast MFA thesis may remain single-spaced.


The final copy must be clean and neat without visible corrections. Correction fluid and tape are not acceptable.


The margins of the thesis must be at least 1.5 inches from the left edge of the paper and at least one inch from the other three edges, leaving a maximum typing area of 5.75 x 9.

Required/Optional Items and Arrangement of the Thesis

The final copy of the thesis must include certain items; other items are optional. Items should be arranged in the order listed below:

  1. Title Page (required, see sample)
  2. Acknowledgments (optional)
  3. Preface (optional)
  4. Abstract (required) (for MFA theses, 200 word limit)
  5. Table of Contents (required)
  6. List of Tables (required)
  7. List of Figures (required)
  8. Text of Thesis (required)
  9. Appendix B - Final Approval (required, see sample)
  10. References (required)


A thesis contains two sets of numbers. The preliminary pages (items 1-8 of the thesis) should be numbered consecutively in small Roman numerals. The title page should be considered “i” but should not be numbered. Beginning with the text, all pages must be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals (items 9-11 of the thesis).

Illustrations and Inserted Material

Graphs, diagrams, photographs and other material included in a thesis must be on paper that meets the specifications described above. While photocopies of graphs, diagrams and similar illustrations are permitted, xerographic copies of photographs are not acceptable.

Copies and Binding

Two copies of the thesis, with all applicable signatures obtained from the student's department and dean, must be submitted by the student to the library for binding. All students are required to use the binding service provided through USM's Glickman Library. Students must submit payment for binding services only in the form of a check or money order (payable to USM).  Binding costs are as follows: first copy, for the USM Library, is free; second copy, for academic department, $25.00; any additional copies, for the student, $25.00 each.

For binding questions only, please contact:  Marilyn MacDowell, 780-4334 or

For all other questions please contact your faculty advisor.

(Please note, Stonecoast MFA students will not have to pay this fee separately, as it is built into their final semester fees as part of their low-residency program.)


  1. Students should prepare the manuscript for a thesis or project in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style.
  2. The preceding University policies also generally apply to the preparation of project reports.
  3. Students should submit a minimum of two (2) copies for binding (one copy apiece for the USM Library and the student’s academic department).
  4. If students have only the project or thesis to finish, they may still participate in graduation. Diplomas will be mailed when work is complete.


Psy.D. Dissertation Preparation