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Writing and submitting your dissertation or thesis are among the final steps leading to the award of the PhD or Research Master's degree.
At the University of Pennsylvania, a doctoral candidate presents and defends the dissertation publicly, and then, with the approval of the dissertation committee and graduate group chair, submits the final manuscript for publication. Finally, the PhD degree is awarded to the candidate upon the recommendation of the Graduate Council of the Faculties.
Note: Special dissertation defense and deposit instructions continue to be in effect for the Summer 2022 semester. Dissertation defenses may be in-person or presented via remote conferencing. Electronic signatures will be allowed on all required forms for depositing, a printed copy of the dissertation will not be required, and the dissertation must be submitted electronically.
Depositing your finalized dissertation is the final step to obtain your degree. Degree candidates must confirm with their graduate group coordinator that all required forms have been submitted in Penn Graduate Forms before the date of their deposit appointment.
Doctoral degree candidates will schedule a deposit appointment; however, this is not a meeting, and you will not be present when your dissertation is reviewed. Deposit appointments are scheduled to manage the flow of degree candidate submissions received from all schools.
Deposit appointments are scheduled via Calend.ly and available during the deposit periods listed on the Graduation Calendar. Students who wish to schedule deposit appointments during peak times (the last three weeks of a term) will be required to attend a formatting pre-check appointment with a Graduate Fellow prior to their appointment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for peak appointment times.
During the time of your scheduled appointment these graduation requirements will be examined to determine if you are eligible for publication approval and degree clearance:
- required benchmarks and milestones in Penn Graduate Forms
- Penn in Touch academic planning worksheet
- bursar balance and holds on the Penn.Pay account
- completion of two PhD surveys
- final, approved dissertation submitted in ETD Administrator
In preparation for the submission of a dissertation, degree candidates should consult the PhD Dissertation Formatting Guide and Formatting Templates early and often for assistance with the formatting of their work. Formatting will likely take longer than you anticipate, so please set yourself up for success by following the formatting guideless for your own document early in the process or using the dissertation template provided.
One-on-one Formatting Support (new for Spring 2022)
Starting with the Spring 2022 term, we will pilot one-on-one formatting support via Zoom for PhD students with our Dissertation and Thesis Graduate Fellow. The Graduate Fellow is available to meet with students who have formatting questions, need technical support in Word, or just for peace of mind before a deposit appointment. Students can book an appointment directly with the Graduate Fellow at: https://calendly.com/elwebb/graduatefellow.
Students who plan to deposit during peak periods will be required to attend a pre-deposit appointment with the Graduate Fellow. The dissertation does not need to be finalized for this pre-check appointment, but students should have their preliminary pages (title page, optional copyright notice, table of contents, etc.) ready with their draft of the main text.
Additionally, any student who uploads a dissertation with significant formatting errors will be required to meet virtually with our Graduate Fellow for support before they submit a new draft.
In the final term of their program, the Research Master's degree candidate must complete these steps to graduate:
- Apply to graduate using the degree candidate system
- Schedule a thesis deposit appointment
- Upload the final, approved, and properly-formatted thesis in this Qualtrics form
- Meet all graduate degree requirements within the program of study
- Clear their bursar bill in Penn.Pay.
Graduate Groups that Deposit a Thesis
Only Research Master's students in the following graduate groups may be required to submit a thesis to the Degree Office.
|Graduate Group Name||Deposit Requirement|
|Applied Mathematics and Computational Science||Optional|
|Earth and Environmental Science||Optional|
|East Asian Languages and Civilizations||Optional|
|Epidemiology and Biostatistics||Required|
|Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations||Optional|
|South Asia Regional Studies||Optional|
The Research Master's thesis must follow the formatting procedures in the Master's Thesis Style Guide.
Research Master's candidates will schedule a deposit appointment; however, this is NOT a meeting and you will not be present when your thesis is reviewed. During the time of your scheduled appointment, these graduation requirements will be examined to determine if you are eligible for thesis approval and degree clearance:
- required benchmarks and milestones
- Advisor in Touch academic planning worksheet
- bursar balance and holds on the account
- formatting of final, submitted dissertation
For more details, view the graduation checklist for Research Master's Students.
Once a dissertation has been submitted and approved in ETD Administrator, it will be delivered in a batch once per term to ProQuest and ScholarlyCommons subject to any embargoes. It may take additional time for dissertations to appear online after submission. Learn more about embargo options here.
Dissertations at the University of Pennsylvania are available through three primary venues: ProQuest, ScholarlyCommons, and for dissertations prior to 2020, the Penn Libraries stacks. More information about ProQuest and Scholarly Commons can be found in Dissertation Embargo Guidelines.
Penn Libraries provides physical access to dissertations prior to 2020 on its shelves or through off-site storage and delivery on demand. Any member of the public may come to the Penn Libraries and access physical dissertations prior to 2020. Members of the Penn community and members of other US-based libraries participating in interlibrary loan may additionally request and check out dissertations.