Master's Thesis or Capstone Project

Modifications to Process due to Coronavirus Concerns

The Office of Graduate Studies will continue to accept University Theses for review on the schedule given below (under Deadlines.)   Due to coronavirus concerns, the Office recommends that thesis defenses be completed via Zoom or other method compliant with university policy regarding COVID-19 restrictions   University theses have formerly required signatures from the thesis committee members.   While restrictions are in effect, rather than submitting a signature page with the signatures of the thesis committee, please ask each thesis committee member to send an email message to using a subject line of "Thesis Approval: Student Name" after they have approved the thesis.  For Departmental Theses or Capstone Projects, a single email approval from your thesis/project advisor is required.   The remainder of the review process for both types of theses and capstone projects is handled electronically and requires no modification.

If you have additional questions, please contact the graduate coordinator of your program or


Dear Master's Candidate:

You are about to embark on one of the most important aspects of a master’s degree, the preparation of a master’s thesis or capstone project. The thesis or project will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate the ideas, research skills, and creative abilities you have gained during your graduate work.

As with your previous master’s coursework, the first place to begin this new endeavor is with your department. The most important person in your department at this time will be your thesis or project advisor. You should select an advisor who is a good match with your research interests and with whom you have a good academic and working relationship. The selection and definition of a research topic and methodology is a key element for completing a successful thesis. Your thesis or project advisor is the person who will help you do this and who will guide you through the content and research requirements of the thesis or project.

The university recognizes two types of theses, University Theses, and Departmental Theses, and one type of Capstone Project.   Your program will specify which one you should complete, or perhaps provide an option of any of the three.   University Theses must comply with university guidelines regarding formatting, while your program will define the format required for a Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project.

If you are completing a University Thesis, the Office of Graduate Studies will assist you with the style and format of your thesis. This University Thesis Writing Guide and the Thesis Format One-Pager present the requirements to follow when you write your thesis. Reading and following these guidelines will help you to prepare a thesis that will be in conformance with university standards and thus acceptable for format and style. If you are completing a Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project, and your department does not provide a specified format for your thesis or project, you may wish to follow the University Thesis format guidelines in order to produce a thesis of professional quality.   Questions of content and academic quality are determined by the thesis or project advisor in your department.

if you are completing a University Thesis, after you have read the Thesis Format One-Pager and the University Thesis Writing Guide, please email if you have any questions concerning style and format not covered in these pages. If you are completing a Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project, please contact your program coordinator with any questions.   I encourage you to clear up any questions before the preparation of your final draft. 

Congratulations on your graduate work to date and best wishes on your thesis or project.


Kevin Brown, Ph.D.
Director of Graduate Studies 

A University Thesis is a formal presentation of an objective, critical investigation. It is to be written in a formal, scholarly manner in standard English. The quality of both the presentation and content of the finished thesis is a major consideration in its acceptance by the University. 

A University Thesis demonstrates originality, clear purpose, appropriate organization, critical analysis, independent thinking, and accurate and complete documentation. Style, language, and punctuation must be consistent. Description, cataloging, compilation, or other simple procedures are not adequate.

The Office of Graduate Studies will assist students completing University Theses with the required format and style.

Following the guidelines in The University Thesis Writing Guide will help you to prepare a thesis that will be in conformance with University standards and thus acceptable for format and style. You also have available to you the Thesis Format One-Pager to be used as a quick reference tool. 

For questions, email

A Departmental Thesis is very similar to a University Thesis in terms of objective and content.  The main distinction is that the format of a departmental thesis is specified by your department rather than the university.  As a result, Departmental Theses do not undergo format review by the Office of Graduate Studies.

A Capstone Project is a significant undertaking in either a fine or applied art or a professional field. Projects should provide evidence of originality, independent thinking, and appropriate form and organization. Students are required to describe their project in a written abstract that addresses the project’s significance, objectives, methodology, and conclusions. In some cases, the student may be required to present an oral defense.

For questions, please contact your program coordinator or thesis or project advisor.

For both types of theses, the Thesis Advisor in your department can answer questions regarding content or academic quality.  The Project Advisor or Instructor of your project class can answer similar questions regarding Capstone Projects.

  1. Consult with a graduate advisor. Learn about your graduate program and the requirements for preparing a thesis or project.
  2. For University and Departmental Theses, form a thesis committee. It is important to contact your department for guidelines on forming a thesis committee to supervise your writing.  Guidelines vary department-by-department. The Chair of your committee must be a California State University, East Bay faculty member.
  3. Capstone Projects may or may not require a committee.  Contact your department for more information.
  4. Previously published papers can be used for a thesis if: the student is first (senior) author on the published papers; there is written permission from the publishers to use the papers for the thesis; and there is both an introductory chapter as well as a concluding chapter that connect the papers together.
  5. Enroll in your department’s thesis or project course.   University Thesis courses are numbered 691, while Departmental Thesis courses are numbered 699.  Capstone Project courses are numbered 693.
  6. For University Theses, download and review the materials required to format the thesis, including:
    1. University Thesis Writing Guide
    2. Thesis Format One-Pager
    3. For other materials, scroll to "Thesis Resources".

Students completing a University Thesis are responsible for submitting their thesis for Format Review by the Format Review deadline for the semester in which they intend to graduate.   Students completing a Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project should not submit their thesis or project for review by the Office of Graduate Studies.   Their department will determine the appropriate format.  They should however submit an electronic copy of their thesis to the University Library for inclusion in ScholarWorks, the CSUEB institutional repository.

By the Format Review deadline, students completing a University Thesis must submit:

  1. The final committee approved copy of their University Thesis in PDF format for Format Review.
  2. The Thesis Submission Information Form.

The Signature Page should not be signed. The page must be approved for format before signatures are obtained.

By the Electronic Library Submissions deadline, students completing a University Thesis must:

  1. Submit their thesis in PDF format including committee signatures to
  2. Sign and submit the Non-Exclusive Distribution License and Availability Agreement to
  3. For University theses only, deliver the original signed Signature Page to the OGS office.  Please see guidance regarding signatures under coronavirus restrictions at top of page.

These are firm deadlines and you must meet both. Otherwise, your graduation will be delayed.

Deadlines to submit your University thesis for format review and submit copies:

Thesis deadlines
Semester Format Review Electronic Library Submissions Due
Summer 2021 July 9, 2021 July 30, 2021
Fall 2021 November 5, 2021 December 10, 2021
Spring 2022 April 8, 2022 May 13, 2022
Summer 2022 July 8, 2022 July 29, 2022

Students completing a Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project should also follow the above instructions to submit their work for archival in the University Library.   In addition, they should ask their thesis committee chair or project advisor/instructor to send an email message to using a subject line of "Thesis/Project Approval: Student Name" after they have approved the thesis or project.

Deadlines for submission of Departmental Theses and Capstone Projects for archival in the University Library are 2 weeks after the Library submission deadline above for University Theses. 

  • Settle on a thesis or project topic with the guidance of your department, and obtain Thesis Committee approval (if necessary).
  • If required, get Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Approval of research protocol by the IRB is mandatory if research with human subjects is involved. This review is necessary to determine whether human subjects will be at risk and to protect their rights and welfare. IRB approval must be obtained before research commences

Students should contact the IRB Coordinator early in their thesis or project planning process and should submit their completed application (protocol) to the IRB at least two months before they plan to begin their research.

Any research involving surveys, experiments, questionnaires, interviews, and similar methodology involves research with human subjects. Theses or projects in the social and behavioral sciences, education, health fields and management/ administration will probably require this review.

For further questions, contact the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs 

Work closely with your thesis committee chair or project advisor/instructor to review your progress, and revise as directed until your committee judges your thesis or project to be acceptable and complete.

For students completing a University Thesis, follow all formatting requirements as outlined in the University Thesis Writing Guide and Thesis Format One-Pager.

Be sure to include all mandatory elements. Theses must contain the four sections that are listed below in bold-faced type. Additional sections, as listed below and marked by asterisks (*), are optional. Sections must be assembled in the following order: 

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page*
  3. Abstract*
  4. Signature Page
  5. Acknowledgments*
  6. Table of Contents
  7. Lists of figures, graphs, photos, plates, maps and tables; if used*
  8. Preface*
  9. Page 1. First page of thesis text
  10. Endnotes, if not in text or at end of chapters*
  11. Bibliography*
  12. Appendix*

Title Page and Signature Page. Use the templates in the University Thesis Writing Guide as tools to help you determine whether your Title Page and Approval Page have been formatted correctly.

Create a typed version following the instructions on the template. Insert the same number of blank lines as indicated on the templates.

Please note that you must type each committee member’s name under each corresponding signature line.

Hold your typed Title Page or Signature Page up to the light along with a copy of the appropriate template to check alignment of all elements. Note: Alignment of the elements on your typed pages will vary slightly depending upon the font, etc.

For students completing a Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project, please contact your program coordinator for details regarding required formatting.

Note: Faculty members are not expected to take time to make extensive corrections or revisions. They are encouraged, instead, to return draft materials to the student with general instructions and suggestions for bringing the thesis or project up to required departmental and University standards.

University Thesis Defense

If your department or committee requires an oral thesis defense, you must have successfully defended your thesis prior to submitting it for format review. 

Your thesis should be defended and all committee-requested changes should be made prior to submitting your thesis for format review. All that should change between the first and second format review deadlines should be the formatting changes required by the Thesis Editor.

There can be no changes in content once the thesis has been submitted for format review – only minor formatting changes requested by the Thesis Editor can be made in that time period. So we ask that the thesis be defended prior to submission for format changes. 

Departmental Theses or Capstone Project Defense

Your department may require an oral defense of your Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project.   Please contact your department for details.

Students completing a University Thesis only are required to complete a format review through the Office of Graduate Studies.   Please complete the steps below.
  • Be sure your committee members have approved the text of your thesis and require no further changes.
  • Email the Thesis Information Submission Form to and Put "University Thesis Submission Info Form" in the Subject line.
  • Submit your final and committee approved thesis to
  • The thesis can be submitted as a single PDF, or as two separate PDFs: The Preliminary and Content Pages can be separate. Please put Thesis for Format Review in the Subject line of your email. Note: Early submissions are appreciated.
  • Obtain signatures from your University Thesis committee after the Thesis Editor approves the Format of your Signature Page. If the chair of your University Thesis committee will be away from campus during the final semester, you are responsible for making alternative arrangements for final approval.
  • During the review, the Thesis Editor will return the Thesis Checklist and a copy of your thesis with recommended edits. Work with the Thesis Editor to make the final changes.
  • After revising the thesis, return it to with the title “Revised Thesis” in the subject line for a final check.
  • When the review is complete, the Thesis Editor will send an approval email stating that your thesis is ready to publish.

Students completing a Departmental Thesis or Capstone Project should contact their program coordinator or thesis or project advisor for questions regarding formatting of their thesis. 

At CSUEB, your thesis or project will be published electronically.   To publish the thesis or project, submit the final electronic version (PDF) of the thesis to the Library for inclusion in ScholarWorks, the CSUEB Institutional Repository.

  • Complete and sign the Non-Exclusive Distribution License and Availability AgreementThe Department Chair signature is only required for Embargo.
  • Email the License Agreement and a PDF version of the complete thesis, including a copy of the signed Signature Page to
  • For University Theses, submit the original signed Signature Page to the Graduate Studies Office (SA 4500) by the deadline.  Please see note regarding signatures under coronavirus restrictions at the top of the page. After the Library receives the thesis, the Office of Graduate Studies will notify the graduation evaluators in the Records Office that your thesis has been accepted.
  • For Departmental Theses or Capstone Projects,
    • Email the Thesis Information Submission Form to  Please use a subject line of "Departmental Thesis Submission Info Form" or "Capstone Project Submission Form" respectively.
    • Ask your thesis or project advisor/instructor to send an email message to using a subject line of "Thesis Approval: Student Name" or "Project Approval: Student Name" to verify that your thesis or project is complete and ready to be archived.   Please ask your advisor to include your name, department, and thesis title in the email message.   For capstone courses, your instructor may send one message listing all students who have completed their projects in the course.

Open, Public Access to ScholarWorks. 

By default, items in CSUEB’s Institutional Repository are open access, meaning that anyone can access your work through ScholarWorks, the library catalog, or searching online via a search engine like Google or Bing. This brings greater visibility to your work and makes it more likely to be seen and used by other scholars. 

We strongly encourage you to not place access restrictions on deposited items. However, we understand that there may be times when restricted access is necessary. Please check with your thesis or project advisor and/or any journals you are planning to submit your thesis or project to for publication if you have any concerns. 

Embargo (aka restricted access) The act of restricting access to a deposited item is an embargo. Items deposited in CSUEB’s ScholarWorks may be embargoed for six months, one year, or two years, if necessary, as is standard practice by many institutional repositories (for example, Duke University, University of Washington, and ProQuest). However, once again, we strongly encourage you to not place an embargo on your work. 

While the full-text PDF of your thesis will not be available online during the embargo period, we will place a record for your embargoed work in ScholarWorks, making note of the date when the full text will become available after the expiration of the embargo. 

Embargoes upon items deposited in CSUEB’s ScholarWorks are rarely necessary, as many publishers, including Nature Publishing Group allow for the deposit of pre-submission versions of work in Institutional Repositories prior to publication. 

You can find out the pre-print, post-print, and embargo policies of many journals by searching the Sherpa/RoMEO database, a service provided by University of Nottingham. 

You and your thesis or project advisor may discuss what need, if any, there is for an embargo before submitting your thesis or project and you will need to note your decision on the Non- Exclusive Distribution and Availability Agreement. If you choose not to restrict access to your thesis or project by placing it under embargo, you do not need your advisor to sign the form.

If you have any questions, email or call the University Archives at 510-885-3892.

Some departments also require 1 or 2  printed and bound copies. Please verify this requirement with your Thesis Chair or Project Advisor/Instructor.

If a bound copy is required, or you desire a bound copy for your own records, you may contact a thesis binding service and contract with them individually.   The following two thesis binding services are recommended:

PhD Book Binding at:

Kater Crafts at: