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Master's Thesis & Capstone Project Guide: Organizing Your Thesis

This provides general guidance for authors of master's theses and creative project reports prepared while at at Dominican University of California. Please read the guidelines carefully and consult with your thesis advisor and the Library.

Organizing Your Thesis

Title Page

  • The thesis title page appears as the first page of your thesis. 
  • The page number is counted but not visible
  • The title should be in title case, properly centered, with a wider margin on the left, and placed one and a half inches down from the top of the page. 
  • The correct department name should be inserted. 
  • The thesis should bear the date (month and year) the degree is to be awarded, not the date the thesis is submitted; this means the date will either read May [year], August [year], or  December [year]. 
  • The title page for a creative project report is identical to that for a thesis, except that "Capstone Project Report" is substituted for "Thesis" in the appropriate place.

Title Page Statement

On the title page include the following mid-page below the title and author name:

A culminating [thesis or capstone project report] submitted to the faculty of Dominican University of California in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of [degree name] in [major]

Replace items in brackets with the appropriate wording, degree and major

Sample Title Page

Title Page Thumbnail

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Thesis Advisors' Page

  • The thesis advisors’ page immediately follows the Title page as the second page of your thesis.    
  • Please note that the advisors’ page is a typed list of your department chair and thesis advisor(s) and should not contain signatures.  Type out your signature page including the candidate's name(s), thesis advisor, department or program chair and the dates that each signed off on the thesis.
  • Do not use a blank unsigned Signature Page as your Advisor's Page. Using a blank Signature Page makes it look as if your thesis was not accepted by your thesis committee. Take the time to type it out and make it look nice and professional.

Advisor's Page Statement

Add this statement to the top of the advisor's page:

This [thesis or capstone project paper], written under the direction of the candidate's thesis advisor and approved by the department chair, has been presented to and accepted by teh department of [department name] in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of [degree name]. The content and research methodologies presented in this work represent the work of the candidate alone.

Replace items in brackets with the appropriate wording, degree and major

Sample Advisor's Page

Advisor's Page Thumbnail

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Copyright Page

You automatically own the copyright to your work and no one may legally copy any part of it without your permission.   You also may choose to use a Creative Commons copyright to give more flexibility with how your readers may use your thesis.  If you have questions about copyright options please contact Dominican Scholar Administrator

  • To indicate such ownership, place a copyright page in your thesis as the second page following your title page.
  • This is the first page in the thesis where the page number appears as lower case Roman numeral two: ii.
  • All subsequent front matter, described below, will be numbered sequentially with the appropriate lower case Roman numeral.

 

Sample Copyright Page

Replace items in brackets with appropriate names and dates

 

Copyright Page Thumbnail

Click on thumbnail for full-sized image

Table of Contents

Your thesis must include a table of contents and, when applicable, a list of tables and a list of figures, each on a separate page with the appropriate lowercase Roman numeral at the bottom center.  For disciplines where the use of illustrations or plates is the convention, the list of figures may be modified accordingly. 

Likewise, a list of abbreviations may also be appropriate for certain disciplines and can be included with the introductory pages described here.  Please refer to your style guide for formatting specifications for the table of contents and other subsequent front matter.  Prior to submitting your thesis, make sure to double check that the page numbers listed in the table of contents, list of tables, and list of figures correspond with the material presented in your thesis. 

If you are asked to make revisions within your thesis, make sure to check that the page numbers listed in the front matter are still correct.  Any headings, subheadings, or titles listed in the front matter must match exactly with those that appear within the thesis.

NOTE: Do not list the title page, copyright page, and thesis advisors' page in your table of contents.

If you have included tables of data and/or figures (graphs, images, charts) you should also include a List of Tables and on a separate page a List of Figures.  See more about Tables and Figures under the Thesis Body tab.

Abstract Page

  • An abstract, no more than one page in length, must accompany each thesis. 
  • The abstract should be written to report concisely (usually no more than 300 words) on the purpose, design, and results of the research or a description of your project.

Acknowledgements

An acknowledgments page includes a short paragraph acknowledging those people who helped and supported you through the thesis process. It's an nice way to say "Thank you".

  • The acknowledgements or dedication page is optional. 
  • The word Acknowledgements should appear at the top center of the page.  

 

Formatting the Thesis Body

The body of the thesis, generally beginning with an Introduction section or Chapter One, is numbered with Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) that are placed either at the bottom center or the top right hand corner of the page.  Once you have decided where to place page numbers, be consistent throughout the thesis, and make sure that the page numbers are always aligned throughout.  Appendices must also include page numbers and be listed in the table of contents with their title included. The organization of your thesis and its division into chapters or sections is dictated by your style guide of choice.

Tables, Figures, and Other Images

Tables, figures, and other images cited within your thesis should appear within your thesis directly after your initial reference to them.  This requirement is in keeping with the standards of most published journal articles and style guides, many of which also provide instructions on the proper formatting for table/figure titles and captions.  Typically, table titles appear above the table, while figure titles appear below the figure.  Additional descriptive captions may appear beneath the table or figure. We recommend creating succinct titles for both tables and figures, as titles for each must appear in the list of tables and list of figures as they do in the thesis.  Please also provide a proper citation when a table, figure, or other image has been taken from another source (e.g., reprinted with permission from…/modified from…/adapted from…).  The formatting of the citation will depend on the preferences of the copyright owner.  Keep in mind that you must obtain permission from the copyright owner if you are reproducing a copyrighted work in its entirety, or when you are reproducing a significant portion of someone else’s work.  More detailed information about copyright, including requirements for obtaining permission to use copyrighted material in your thesis, is presented in the “Policies” section of these guidelines.

 

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Noticeable gaps or blank spaces between text should be avoided.  In addition, we do not recommend that you break in mid-sentence in order to place a figure/table/image within the text. While images should be embedded within your thesis, wherever possible complete your sentence or idea first.  New sections should begin with text and not with a figure or table.

While the use of color may be essential for certain disciplines, the use of color is not recommended when presenting statistical or graphical data, as it does not copy well. The thesis may also be presented in media that does not reproduce color.  Use cross- hatching, shading, and other techniques in addition to color for depicting data wherever possible.  For example, the use of differing geometric shapes to plot line graphs will result in a more discernible presentation of the data than the use of color.  If color is used for presenting data, sharply contrasting colors are recommended.

Relevant supplementary materials that a student may wish to include with the thesis should be attached as a separate file when uploading your thesis to Dominican Scholar.  Examples of supplementary materials include audio or video recordings and oversized figures such as maps, raw research data, etc. 

Submission instructions and rules are covered in the next section Submitting your Thesis.  Keep in mind that supplementary multimedia files should be saved with a file type and size that can be accommodated by most computers, since inclusion of such material implies that you would like it to be available to your readers.

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