Thesis Project

Thesis Project

Psych Day 2012 Poster Display

Psychology Thesis Guidelines: Fall 2019 – Summer 2020   

* * * BIG CHANGE: Beginning with the Spring 2019 semester, the Thesis and Dissertation Office will only be accepting electronic signature pages (for the Thesis Authorization Signature page).

Also beginning Spring 2019, there are new University thesis format instructions.  Please visit the Thesis and Dissertation Office’s web site for details and links , and submission deadlines (you must submit your thesis to the CLA Associate Dean first – see next paragraph).  Starting with Spring 2019 the new format MUST be used.  There is a formatted example on the Thesis Office’s web site: Mini Manuscript.  Also, additional assistance may be found here.  An electronic submission timeline is provided on that office’s web site.  

* * * IMPORTANT DEADLINES: The designated College of Liberal Arts’ representative for theses is Dr. Deborah Thien, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts.  You need to submit your final thesis manuscript electronically (PDF attachment) to her before you can submit your thesis to the Thesis Office:  Upcoming deadlines for submitting your thesis manuscript to Dr. Thien are: Monday, 10/21/19 for Fall 2019; Friday, 12/20/19 for Winter 2020; Monday, 3/30/20 for Spring 2020; and Monday, 7/6/20 for Summer 2020.  Your Approval/Signature Sheet, is to be submitted electronically beginning Spring 2019: instructions on the Thesis Office’s website).   

NEW: College of Liberal Arts Thesis page, including deadlines.

Please be sure to visit the Thesis and Dissertation Office’s web site for additional instructions and guidance (including deadlines): Thesis and Dissertation Office.

These guidelines are meant to help you.  If you find anything confusing or you have any questions, please contact Diane Roe, the Graduate Advisor.  For convenience’s sake, the links scattered throughout this web publication also appear at the bottom.  

Developing a Thesis Topic

Students are encouraged to work closely with a faculty member’s research program for their thesis project.  The Graduate Office has a list of faculty research interests and on-going projects.  This document is updated at the beginning of each Fall semester, and is published via the department web site.  The MAPR Seminar PSY 696 has been revised to strengthen its thesis component.

If you are unsure about a project or about the format of the written materials, previous theses are available via the University Library, through a database.  Links to abstracts and full text on the database are listed on the department web site by program: MAPR, MSHF, MSIO.  Some recent full text theses may be viewed and printed via the database (access to full text is available to current students).   However, keep in mind that formatting requirements may have changed – please defer to the Format Manual for Theses and Dissertations, available on-line via the campus library (it is formatted as a visual example of the required style – minus the headers and footers).  New University Format Guidelines beginning Spring 2019.

Enrollment in Thesis Units

You must apply for Advancement to Candidacy during the semester you first enroll in PSY 698 (Thesis) or already have been Advanced to Candidacy.  Also, you must have a thesis Chair by the time you register for PSY 698.  Get the registration course class number from the Psychology Graduate Office to register for your thesis units – the name of your thesis Chair is required to register for thesis units (this will be verified with the faculty member).  Thesis units must be taken in increments of three (either 3 per semester or all 6 at once), for your program total of 6 units.

If you have completed the required number of thesis units for your program but have not completed the thesis, you must continue to be enrolled in the University.  This can be accomplished by enrolling in GS 700B through the Extension Office (CCPE).  Enrollment in GS 700B maintains your status in the University at the cost of one unit (no credit earned, however).  Please see the Graduate Newsletter for details.  Please be aware of the seven-year limit rule regarding coursework.

Thesis Units Grading

For each semester that you enroll in Thesis units (PSY 698), you will receive “RP” on your transcript.  (This stands for “Report in Progress.”)  At the time of final orals, your Thesis Committee will determine a grade for your thesis.  Once your thesis is accepted by the Thesis and Dissertation Office, an electronic Change of Grade will be sent to the Enrollment Services Office, to be used to change your total units of PSY 698 (six for all programs) from “RP” to the grade you receive.  For example, if your committee gives you an “A” on your thesis, you will receive 6 units of “A” as your grade for PSY 698 (there is no grading for GS 700B).  Do not register for extra thesis units beyond your required 6 units – this will result in a delay in your graduation processing and a “W” (or worse) on your transcript!


The University thesis office’s handbook, Format Manual for Theses and Dissertations, is available on-line via the Library’s web site, as a PDF version (print pages as needed).  New University Format Guidelines began Spring 2019.  

Whenever you plan to visit the Thesis and Dissertation Office, Rm LIB 501 (fifth floor), (562-985-4013), the Graduate Advisor (562-985-5000 – please call or email to set up an appointment), the Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts (562-985-5381), or your typist (formatter), it is wise to phone ahead, particularly at the end of the semester or near deadlines when everyone is extremely busy.

Committee Members

Your first step will be to approach a full time tenured/tenure-track Psychology department faculty member to ask him or her to serve as your thesis Chair.  Although it is not necessary to have done research with a professor to ask her or him to chair your committee, it’s usually expected for your topic to be related to her or his research interest(s).  Very often, the Chair will then help you select your other members.  Three members are required and usually more are permitted, but more members will require more coordination at each stage.  All of the members must participate live during the meetings (members other than the Chair may Skype if necessary), but the Chair must be physically present at both preliminary and final orals, as well as the student author (which is you; if you are no longer in the area, you must make arrangements to be here physically).  Please check with all members as to their plans for the future, including sabbaticals, and in particular as to summer plans (often orals wind up being later than you planned).  Once you have your committee members selected, contact the Graduate Advisor to report your committee members for department approval.  The following is the Psychology Department’s official policy regarding thesis committees:

MA-Psychological Research Thesis Committee Members:  
A MA-Psychological Research thesis committee shall consist of at least two full-time in residence, tenured/tenure track faculty members from Psychology (including the Chair) and one other individual who holds at least a Master’s degree.  If there are compelling academic reasons, a student may petition the MA-Psychological Research Program Committee to approve a thesis committee that includes a tenured/tenure track faculty member from Psychology who shall serve as the Chair, a tenured/tenure track CSULB faculty member from another department or program, and other individual(s) from the community who hold(s) at least a Master’s degree.

MS-Industrial/Organizational Thesis Committee Members:  
A MS-Industrial/Organizational thesis committee shall consist of two full-time in residence, tenured/tenure track faculty members in Psychology, including the Chair; the third may be any professionally qualified person with a minimum of a Master’s degree.

Thesis Proposal

The proposal is to specify clearly what you propose to do for your thesis project or research study so that you and the Committee can discuss the details and arrive at definite decisions and agreement.  Committees differ in what they require in the proposal, but in general they usually include an introduction, a methods and a planned analysis and interpretations section.  See both the “Announcement/Abstract Guide for Orals” and “Thesis Proposal Guide” below for guidance in organizing the proposal.  Proposals are written in the future tense (“will”).  If there are some details or procedures you are uncertain about, include a discussion of the various ways you might proceed in your proposal, indicating the pros and cons of each possible way.  These options are discussed until resolution at preliminary orals.

You are not permitted to begin the research or project itself until your proposal has been approved at (or after) preliminary orals and by the Office of University Research (see IRB discussion below).  You may do pilot work with your committee chair’s approval.  After gaining approval, you must follow the plans agreed to in the proposal.  If minor changes are needed as you proceed, clear them with your Chair.  If major changes are needed, a new proposal (or revision) and new preliminary orals are required.  Also, if a copyrighted measurement device is to be used, approval must be obtained from the copyright holder (do this as soon as possible, as approval can take three-six months or even longer).  See the university Thesis and Dissertation Office’s information regarding Copyright, as well as a formatted Request for Permission form.

The  department will accept a satisfactory thesis based on the approved proposed research or project even if the results of the study were not as exciting as hoped, or a committee member had to be replaced (hopefully, a rare event).

You are asked to give copies of your thesis drafts to all your committee members at points designated by your thesis Chair, and at least two weeks prior to the date of your Orals – please give them a hard copy.   Do NOT email it to them, unless you ask them first if they would like it emailed and they say yes – they might even ask for both.  

Statistics Consulting / Tutoring Services for Student Theses

The graduate programs of the Psychology department prohibit students from obtaining outside tutors or consultants to perform the statistics for their thesis projects.  Any guidance a student needs concerning (a) the appropriate statistics to use or (b) the execution and interpretation of those statistical procedures should come from members of the student’s thesis committee (or possibly other members of the Psychology Department).  On rare occasions, with thesis committee approval, students can seek guidance from tutors or outside consultants on statistical analysis, but students must perform the analyses themselves.  Furthermore, the MAPR program refuses to advertise any consulting/tutoring services to its students.

Members of the thesis committees should make sure that thesis students demonstrate a good understanding of the statistical procedures and results of their projects.  This should begin with the preliminary orals when the data analysis procedures for testing the research hypotheses are discussed and approved.  The student should demonstrate knowledge of: (a) what procedures are appropriate for the data to be gathered, (b) how to carry out the analyses with available software, and (c) how to interpret the outcome of the procedures. 

Preliminary Orals

This meeting to discuss your proposed study in detail is scheduled as soon as you and your committee are satisfied that your proposal is reasonably well conceptualized.  The oral begins with your presentation of a 10-15 minute overview of the study.  Then the committee will question, discuss, and hopefully resolve the details of your proposed study.  Usually orals last only an hour, but two hours may be necessary in some cases, or an adjournment to a second hour at another time may be required.  Any department faculty member or graduate student may attend your orals (and you should feel free to attend those of other students – although it would be nice to give them fair warning; graduate students are permitted to attend as observers only; however, non-committee faculty might ask questions).  Note: Individuals other than faculty and department grad students are usually not permitted to attend – please check with your committee before inviting others.

Your orals announcement (see “Announcement/Abstract Guide for Orals” below) must be distributed at least five (5) school days (or 1 week) before the date of the meeting: type the announcement and email it to your chairperson as a Word attachment, who will then distribute it via email to the faculty and the Graduate Advisor (at least a week in advance) for paperwork preparation.  An Orals Announcement Template formatted in MS Word is available on the department web site.  Also submit a hard copy (no emails!) of your proposal to the Graduate Advisor at this time – this is a copy of the same draft that you are submitting to your committee members.  Please check with your committee members as to whether they want a hard copy of your draft, or if emailing it is OK – many professors prefer a hard copy as they will be making notes on the draft.

Paperwork provided to your thesis committee by the Graduate Advisor will include a form documenting their approval, as well as paperwork to be given to you.

When arranging for preliminary orals, it is your responsibility to reserve a room (usually Psy 101 or 232).  You can reserve either of these rooms with the Psychology Department front office staff (562-985-5001, M-Th 7:30-12, 1-4:45; F 8:00-12, 1-3:00).  If you are using the department subject pool, also contact the Department front office staff immediately after preliminary orals.  There is no Subject Pool during summer or winter sessions.

Be sure you apply for a Grad Check (AKA Request to Graduate) and pay the fee before the University deadline. Graduate students seeking to graduate in May (Spring) or August (Summer) must file between the preceding March 2nd and October 15th.  Graduate students seeking to graduate in December (Fall) or January (Winter) must file between the preceding October 16th and March 1st.  This is now done via your MyCSULB account – information is provided via the department’s Graduate Newsletter:

IRB Discussion

To comply with Federal regulations, CSULB has the University Institutional Review Board for Protection of Human Subjects (IRB), located in FO5-111.  Students using human subjects in their research must submit a protocol to the IRB Committee for approval online (after preliminary orals but before starting research on the project).  Please visit the IRB web site for application information:  
CSULB IRB Submission and Review Process (PDF)   

Students using animals in their research must obtain approval from the CSULB Animal Welfare Board.  Your thesis Chair will give you instructions from the IRB web site to assist you; please visit the IRB web site to complete the required form.  (Please make note of the time frame involved listed in the IRB protocol paperwork.)

Department Assistance

At your preliminary orals you will be given a sample of the Thesis Expense Form from the Graduate Advisor’s office.  The Psychology Department will give you up to 50 dollars WORTH of supplies from our storeroom and/or copying privileges toward your thesis (NO MONEY).  These supplies consist mainly of letterhead paper and envelopes, bond paper and clasp envelopes, as well as copying services.  You must pay the first $50 of thesis costs not including the actual manuscript preparation or publication fee.  List your costs (such as assessment materials, photocopying, stamps, etc.) on the actual NCR form (available from the Graduate Office) and get your Thesis Chair’s signature.  Bring the completed form to the Graduate Advisor to receive the supplies mentioned above.  Please, do not purchase any supplies expecting reimbursement.

PAM Request

You will also receive a form requesting your input from the Psychology Assessment Materials (PAM) office, regarding any non-proprietary research instruments you may use for your thesis.  It is hoped that with your help, a database of such instruments may be established in order to assist Psychology graduate students with their research.  Too often students end up spending weeks of time identifying relevant measures, and getting approval for use from hard-to-reach researchers.  Your assistance would be a great help in this area.

Final Orals

The purpose of final orals is to obtain the approval of your committee on the content of your thesis.  The meeting is scheduled after all members are satisfied that your thesis draft (including a 150-word Abstract – the 150-word limit comes from the university) is complete.  You are encouraged to have orals on a final draft (not the perfect professionally or self typed end-product), since changes of some kind will probably be requested.

Announce final orals just as you did preliminary orals, except that you are now reporting results (in the past tense: “did”) rather than plans (in the future tense: “will”).  If you’re hiring a typist (usually someone to format your manuscript, rather than “type”), have him or her produce the signature sheet so the printing matches.  It is your responsibility to reserve a room for final orals (again, through the Psychology Dept. front office staff: 562-985-5001). 

Usually the final oral/thesis defense meeting begins with a presentation by the student on the results of the study, with emphasis on findings and interpretation.  This is followed by discussion among the committee members and the student.  Committee members may make specific suggestions for changes in your thesis, even at this time.  Be sure you agree with and understand these suggestions, because you will have to make them before final approval is granted.  However, do not hesitate to discuss fully any changes you don’t understand or agree with.

At the time of your final orals, your Committee Chair will give you a “pink” Department Clearance Sheet.* 

The Signature Approvals are now submitted via DocuSign.  Please follow the instructions provided by the Thesis Office, meeting the deadlines above.  (The Associate Dean must sign prior to submitting to the Thesis Office – please submit a electronic (PDF) final copy of your thesis via email to the College of Liberal Arts office at least ten days before the thesis submission deadline (see deadlines above):  

*Pink Department Clearance Sheet: All graduate students must obtain the signatures of those faculty/staff members listed on this form to verify that all keys, theses, test materials, Audio-Visual materials, etc., have been returned and any outstanding financial obligations have been paid.  This is required of every student, even if you have never checked out any of these supplies.  It is recognized that this is somewhat of an inconvenience, but it is a requirement for graduation.  (NOTE: If you take care of getting the Key Issue signature, I can follow through on the rest of the signatures – two of them are mine – just give or mail me the pink sheet after you get the Key Issue signature.)  

Submission/Completion Dates

After you have final orals and have made any required changes to your thesis, you are ready to have it prepared for submission to the University Thesis Office.  You may either prepare the thesis yourself or have a professional typist prepare it for you (give to typist on disk).  Thesis typists’ “advertising” is posted on the department web site.  Remember, you are hiring this person — feel free to ask questions and shop around.  You are the client.

If you choose to prepare the thesis yourself, it would be a good idea to contact the University Thesis Office or visit their web site prior to beginning to make sure you are sufficiently informed of the requirements.  Most importantly, be sure to get the Format Manual for Theses and Dissertations and read it!  It is available on-line via the campus library, as a PDF document.

A Title Page is a required part of the thesis; the thesis title, program name, Committee Members’ and Associate Dean’s names, student author’s name, college degree(s) earned, and the master’s degree’s graduation month and year comprise this page.  A formatted PDF version is available through the University Thesis Guidelines; a Word document template is available by clicking here.  

Please list your program using the following:

Master of Arts in Psychology
Psychological Research

Master of Science in Psychology
Human Factors Psychology

Master of Science in Psychology
Industrial/Organizational Psychology    

The Thesis and Dissertation Office also has templates for the Title Page, Signature Page and Table of Contents, linked from this page.  Also provided are formatting resources, including “Page Order” and “How to Set Up Table of Contents.”  

The official master copy for submission is prepared.  For more details on the actual preparation, please see the university Thesis and Dissertation Office’s Format Manual mentioned above.  Submission and completion deadlines are announced in advance on the Thesis and Dissertation Office’s web site.

After your Thesis Committee approves your thesis, have them sign the Signature sheet via DocuSign (you’ll need their email addresses to set this up).  

Email the final, university-formatted version of your thesis manuscript, converted to PDF, to Dr. Thien, by the deadlines listed above, or on the CLA Thesis Information page.

The Thesis and Dissertation Office will send you an email within one day after your Approval/Signature sheet submission (after the Associate Dean signs via DocuSign), with instructions on how to submit your thesis manuscript electronically (as PDF) – this must be done within business five days – a timeline for thesis submission may be found on the Thesis Office’s web site.  You will be required to pay the associated thesis fee of $95 at the time your manuscript is uploaded.  (This submission procedure has reduced the cost of thesis publication in half, or sometimes more.)

The Thesis and Dissertation Office will evaluate your manuscript and notify you of needed formatting corrections (if any, and there usually are some) within 4 weeks of uploading your thesis (up to 6 weeks during peak times).  You will be given 2 weeks to make corrections and resubmit electronically.

You will be notified if additional corrections are needed.  If none are needed at this point, your final PDF will be released to the database company for publication online.  An email will be sent to you (with copies to your thesis chair, the graduate advisor, and Enrollment Services) to confirm you have fulfilled all thesis requirements.  The submission process is complete at that point.  Please note: the graduation clearing and posting of degree process will not commence until the early part of the next semester/term.  (The Thesis Office has a page with more details regarding the electronic submission procedure here.)

Additional Notes

If you have any questions about content, ask your committee chair and members. Check with the Graduate Advisor regarding procedural questions, as well as any possible problems that you have not been able to resolve with your committee.  For formatting questions check with the Thesis and Dissertation Office and the University Format Manual publications.  Be sure to read through the supplemental materials on the Thesis and Dissertation Office’s web site:  These include information regarding “Page Order” and “How to Set Up Table of Contents Tabs.”

If you are planning to include copyrighted material in your thesis, be sure to contact the copyright holder regarding permission.  A sample permission request form (formatted in Word) is included  on the Thesis web site.  Keep in mind that it can take three – six months (or longer) to hear back.  Please refer to the University Thesis Guidelines or the Thesis and Dissertation Office for additional information regarding copyrights.

If your committee membership changes, you must contact the Graduate Advisor to have the change approved and appropriate revision paperwork filed with the Dean’s office.  If your program coursework changes after you advance to candidacy, you must contact the Graduate Advisor to have the appropriate notification filed with Enrollment Services (if the courses stay the same, and all that changes is when you take/took the course, your Advancement to Candidacy need not be updated).  Also, if your graduation date changes after you have filed your Grad Check, you must do a Request to Change Graduation Term form with Enrollment Services ($10).  Remember, you must be enrolled the semester you graduate (regular coursework or GS 700B).

MA-Psychological Research Option Students: MAPR students are required to have attended at least four department colloquia prior to scheduling preliminary orals, and all six required colloquia must be attended before scheduling final orals.

Contact Information

Diane Roe
Rm Psy 215 (Office hours posted on web site)
(562) 985-5000

Library 501
(562) 985-4013

Dr. Jim Miles
(562) 985-5030   

Dr. Amy Wax
(562) 985-5023 

Institutional Review Board (IRB)  
(562) 985-2472

CLA building (north of the Library – the entrance is on the east side of the building, and the receptionist’s desk is straight ahead)
(562) 985-5381

The following is a THESIS SCHEDULE, with a step-by-step guide of things to do to complete your thesis as well as a time frame to follow.  Please read and follow this schedule.

Thesis Schedule

Beginning the Process

1. a) Consider a topic area and formally ask (in person) a tenured/tenure track Psychology professor to serve as your committee Chair.  Begin literature review.
b) Report Chair’s agreement to the Graduate Advisor (it will be confirmed).
c) Enroll in 698 for either 3 or all 6 units (depending on how many semesters you expect to take before graduating, maximum total required is 6 units for all programs).  You must have a committee Chair to enroll in thesis units.
When: approximately 2-3 semesters before you plan to graduate, usually your second or third semester here for a & b.

2. Write a proposal (see Proposal Guide below) and get at least two other committee members.

3. Rewrite proposal to satisfy committee that it is ready for preliminary orals.  Start saving money for typing, supplies, thesis publication, etc.

4. Announce preliminary orals to department via email attachment to thesis chair.
Give hardcopy of thesis proposal to Graduate Advisor.
(See “Announcement/Abstract Guide for Orals,” above)
When: Five (5) school days (1 week) before date of meeting.
Announcement must be emailed to your thesis chair at least one week in advance.


Preliminary Orals

5. Preliminary Orals (see above).
Approval of proposal signed by committee (this form is provided to your committee directly from the Graduate Advisor – meeting adjourned if necessary for satisfactory rewrites).
a) Secure approval of your project by the University IRB Committee prior to initiating your research (see IRB discussion above).
b) Have thesis cost form filled out and submit to Graduate Advisor (if requesting supplies or copying). Remember:
1. You must pay the first $50 of project expenses (not the thesis manucript production itself).
2. Do not make any purchases and expect to be reimbursed.  The department can only provide you with supplies such as letterhead paper and envelopes, and copying on our machines — NO MONEY!

6. File “Request to Graduate” (AKA “Grad Check”) via your MyCSULB account.  Students seeking to graduate in May or August must file their Grad Check between the preceding March 2nd and October 15th to be on time.  Students seeking to graduate in December must file between the preceding October 16th and March 1st.  Additional information on Graduation for graduate students may be found on the Enrollment Services web site

7. Print out (or at least read) PDF version of Format Manual for Theses and Dissertations via University Library web site, and get typists’ information via typists’ list on web site.  Phone or email typists until you have hired one.
When: At time of preliminary orals, or at least the semester prior to graduation semester.

8. Once committee and IRB (University Research Office) gives clearance, conduct study and analyze and interpret data.

9. Write first thesis draft to be given to committee Chair.  [Consult prior theses via library web site (linked from dept web site – see individual program’s web page) — and the Format Manual for Theses and Dissertations, APA Publication Manual, and Turabian style manual (if necessary) for basic format and reference style.]

10. Rewrite thesis draft as required by committee Chair and submit to other committee members.

11. Rewrite again as needed until you have a draft with which your committee is willing to go to Final Orals.

12. Give each committee member a copy of the Final Orals draft, including a 150-word max. abstract (used in draft and orals announcement).  (The Graduate Advisor does not need a copy of the final draft.) 
When: One – two weeks before Final Orals date.

Final Orals

13. Announce Final Orals to department via thesis chair (same format basically as for preliminary orals, but with findings summarized).  
When: Five (5) school days (one week) before meeting. 

14. Final Orals (See Final Orals section above).

15. Set up your Electronic Signature page.  Make changes in the thesis as required by your committee.  Show it to Chair and other committee members.  At this point you should check the thesis very carefully for grammatical and format errors.  Polish and correct it for the typist or submission.

16. Thesis to typist.
When: At least 10 days before CLA Assoc Dean’s thesis submission deadline date.  Check with typist as to schedule and availability.

17. Proofread the typed thesis using your draft and the thesis office’s online formatting guide.  Make list of errors; have typist correct errors as instructed.
When: At least 5 days before CLA deadline.

18. Go around to committee members with thesis, if another viewing required.  
When: Before thesis deadline date.
(At least 5 days before deadline date, in case you cannot find one of them.)

19. Submit your completed, formatted thesis to Deborah Thien, Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts (send as a PDF attachment to for approval, by her published deadline.  Your Approval/Signature sheet must be signed by your Committee members in the meantime.
When: 1-2 weeks before the thesis submission deadline.

Thesis Submission 

20. The Thesis Office will be notified when the Associate Dean signs your electronic signature sheet.  An email acknowledgement will be sent to you, with instructions on how to submit your thesis manuscript electronically (a $95 fee will be required at this time).
When: Within one day.

21. You will be notified of required corrections from the Thesis and Dissertation Office.
When: Within four weeks of original electronic thesis submission.

22. Make corrections/take to typist for corrections to be made.  Submit corrected thesis electronically.
When: Within two weeks of Thesis Office’s notification of required corrections.

23. Once your thesis is cleared (no more corrections required), you’ll be notified the submission process is complete.

24. Take Pink Clearance Sheet to the Key Issue Office for signature, then submit to Psychology Graduate Advisor (she’ll get the rest of the signatures).

25. Be advised: Enrollment Services will not begin degree clearance until the beginning of the next term (i.e., students who submit by Summer deadline will be cleared for graduation during the following fall semester). Also, the University does not print your diploma — it is done by an outside company, which takes time.  The Enrollment Services Office will ask you if you wish to pick it up or to have it mailed.  Keep your contact information up-to-date with the Enrollment Services Office, via your MyCSULB account.  Also, notify the Thesis and Dissertation Office if your contact information changes (as well as the Graduate Advisor!).

Note: Going through Commencement ceremonies does not mean you have graduated: “Anyone can walk.”  So if you know you will be long gone the May after you have been cleared for graduation, you may wish to go through ceremonies while still here (you’ll be glad you did!).


Announcement/Abstract Guide for Orals

Produce your orals announcement via a word processor on your computer (template available below).  Email it as an attachment to your committee chair, who will approve and submit it to the Graduate Advisor, a minimum of one week prior to the date of your orals.


Put the following information at the top of the page (see formatted orals announcement for visual example):

                                                     Preliminary (or Final) Orals

Name                                                                                                                                       Day and Date 
Program                                                                                                                                   Time, Room 
                                                                                                                                                 No. of subjects from
                                                                                                                                                   subject pool (if any) *
    *(Needed for Preliminary Orals only)

                                                             TITLE OF THESIS

Next, type your abstract. (Remember, this is all on 1 page.)

Usually include:
    Par. 1 – Purpose, major variables and major aspects of
                     setting, background.
    Par. 2 – Major aspects of method including subjects,
                     materials, procedure, data analysis, etc.
    Par. 3 – How you expect it to turn out and what it would
                     mean if it did turn out that way.

Note: For Preliminary orals, use future tense as in the proposal.

At the bottom of the page include:

Committee:   List committee members
                             (with titles/positions and affiliation if
                             third/fourth member is not Psych faculty)

Format is the same for both preliminary and finals orals’ announcements.  However, for final orals shorten the purpose and method paragraphs, and add results and discussion paragraphs.  Use past tense for method and results, and present tense for discussion.  The thesis abstract is usually used.

Click here for a formatted example of the Orals Announcement.  (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Templates are available for your use, formatted in MS Word: Prelims Oral template, Final Oral template.


MA/MS Thesis Proposal Guide

Committees differ in what they require in the proposal, but in general the following outline will be satisfactory, modified as appropriate for your study. Remember that Chapters 1 and 2 will be essentially the same in your thesis as in the proposal.  Write the proposal in the future tense since this is a proposal for future work.

Chapter 1 – Introduction

Purpose: background theory and research; the present study: main conceptual variables (independent and dependent) and, briefly, how they will be operationalized in your study; hypotheses as to how the variables are related to each other; anything else the reader needs to know in order to understand the Method section.

Chapter 2 – Method

In detail, exactly how you propose to conduct the study.  Include a description of Subjects, Materials and/or Apparatus, Design, Procedure, and plans for data analysis, plus additional details about your study, as appropriate.  Include a draft of any questionnaires or other materials to be used.  If you are uncertain about exactly how you think some particular problem should be handled, include a discussion of the various possibilities and the pros and cons of each.  (Usually it is helpful to set off such discussions and other questions in a bracketed paragraph or footnote.)

Chapter 3 – Outcomes & Interpretations

Describe the expected outcome(s) of hypotheses and discuss how you will interpret the results conceptually.  Describe and interpret each of the other possible outcomes.

See this Psychology Thesis Guidelines for further information.  If you have questions about the content of your thesis study, see your committee chair and members.  If you have questions about procedures, email, phone or see the Graduate Advisor.


Guidelines for Faculty/Student Responsibility for MA/MS Thesis

It is recognized that both the faculty members on a thesis committee and the student have obligations related to the smooth conduct of the MA/MS process.  To that end, it is expected that the following guidelines will be observed:

Preliminary Orals

  1. The committee should be given a minimum of one (1) week to read and review the thesis proposal before the date of preliminary orals can be officially announced (for a minimum total of two weeks prior to orals date).  If a committee member cannot meet this deadline, she/he must inform the student and the chair immediately and negotiate an alternative acceptable to all parties.
  2. The proposal should contain the introduction, which includes a literature review, statement of the problem to be investigated, and the methods and analyses to be used.
  3. The distributed abstract for preliminary orals should contain clear statement of the problem, methodology and planned analyses of the study.
  4. The preliminary oral should review the proposal.
  5. The committee’s department approval signature page (provided by the Graduate Advisor to the Thesis Chair) should contain the abstract, the required analyses, and a general statement regarding expected outcome(s) of the study – accomplished through the orals announcement and additional notes by the Committee.

Final Orals

  1. It is the responsibility of the student to inform his/her faculty committee during the first week of the semester that she/he intends to submit a thesis during that semester.
  2. It is the responsibility of faculty to inform their graduate students of plans to be on leave of absence or sabbatical leave as soon as those plans are known, and no later than the end of the semester prior to the period of absence.  A faculty member’s “graduate students” are defined as all of those individuals for whom the faculty member has agreed to serve as either a thesis chair or a committee member (and Faculty Mentor for the MAPR program).
  3. It will be the responsibility of the thesis chair to see that the thesis draft for final orals contains all the required analyses and appropriate interpretations prior to distribution to the thesis committee.
  4. The committee should be given a minimum of two (2) weeks to read and review the thesis draft before the date of final orals is officially announced.  If a committee member cannot meet this deadline she/he must inform the student and the thesis chair immediately and negotiate an alternative acceptable to all parties.
  5. The committee members should write and submit to the student their comments, suggestions, changes, etc. regarding the thesis draft so that the student may go over them with the committee chair prior to orals.  Any major substantive changes requested by committee members should be presented at this time.  (Major, substantive changes will include any of the following: extensive new data analysis, extensive alternative data analysis, or extensive alternative interpretations.)  It is the student’s responsibility to provide the committee members with a current draft of the thesis prior to final orals.
  6. Major, substantive changes requested by committee members (Item 5) which have not been previously brought to the student’s attention, should not be required at the time of final orals.  Minor changes or additional analysis may be required at this time, however.
  7. Final orals should be primarily a review of the results chapter and the discussion chapter of the thesis.



Submission dates are posted on the Thesis and Dissertation Office’s web site:  


Students will be advised of completion deadline dates by the Thesis and
Dissertation Office when they are informed corrections are to be made.


Links provided above:

Thesis Office



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