Thesis and Terminal Project


The final requirements for completing the master's degree are determined by the major department. In some fields, master's degree candidates must submit a thesis as the final requirement for the master's degree; in others, the thesis is optional. Instead of a thesis the final requirements may include exams, a Terminal or Final Project, Policy Paper, Master's Paper, Synthesis Paper or a Capstone Project. It is the department's responsibility to provide written information regarding the departmental requirements and procedures for completion of the degree. It is the student's responsibility to become familiar with these departmental requirements and procedures.


A thesis is a substantial paper presenting independent research that makes a contribution to the current body of knowledge in a scholarly field. The author may conduct an original investigation or develop an original interpretation of existing research and/or literature. A thesis adheres to a standard format, generally including five basic chapters or divisions: an introduction and statement of the problem, a review of the literature pertinent to the problem, an explanation of the materials and methods used to solve the problem, a discussion of results, and a conclusion. A formal bibliography of references cited in the thesis is also required. A thesis must be formatted to conform to the University of Oregon Style and Policy Manual for Theses and Dissertations. The thesis is presented to the Graduate School, acknowledged on the student's transcript, and submitted to the Knight Library.

There are both departmental and Graduate School requirements for successfully completing a thesis. The student is responsible for requesting information from the major school or department about the various steps involved and the standards expected by the department.


Students writing a thesis are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the Graduate School requirements for the thesis option.

For a short list of general Graduate School expectations and Common Problems in the thesis submission process, please see the Guidelines for Manuscript Review of Theses and Dissertations.

Registration Requirements:

Master's students pursuing the thesis option must include a minimum of 9 credits of 503 Thesis in their program plan. Once a student commences work on the thesis, the Graduate School expects registration in 503 Thesis each term. The thesis is the final requirement for the master's degree and is submitted to the Graduate School in the term the degree is to be awarded. In general, students are required to be enrolled for at least 3 graduate credits (including at least 1 credit of 503 thesis) during the final term, exceptions are outlined hereOnly students pursuing the thesis option may register for 503 Thesis credits. The 503 Thesis grading option is Pass/No Pass only. Students making satisfactory progress toward the completion of the thesis will receive a grade of Incomplete for 503 Thesis each term; the Incompletes are replaced by a grade of Pass only after the Graduate School has accepted the thesis and awarded the master's degree.

Thesis Submission Procedures and Requirements:

The thesis is the final requirement for a master's degree. It is submitted to the Graduate School during the term the student plans to graduate. See Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Submission Instructions for complete information.

To ensure the awarding of the degree, students writing theses need to be aware of the three steps listed below. Each step has deadlines. Note: The dates for these deadlines vary from one academic year to the next. For the exact dates, see Deadlines for Completion of Degree Requirements.

  1. Early in the term in which the degree is to be awarded:
    • Complete the Application for Advanced Degree with Thesis Option indicated
    • Establish login name/password: this can be used to review the Application for Advanced Degree
  2. No later than the published deadline:
    • Upload the thesis to the UMI site and submit associated forms to the Graduate School (see link above for complete submission instructions).

If the thesis paperwork is being submitted by proxy or by mail, the author is responsible for making sure that it is delivered on time. If the thesis is not in compliance with submission requirements or the associated paperwork is not received on time, it will not be accepted.

After the thesis has been submitted to the Graduate School, the Editor will review it for acceptable format. A list of required format corrections will be sent to the student. The student should expect a turn-around time of one to two weeks for the correction list. The student must make the corrections and re-upload the thesis within one week after receipt of the list. Only the requested corrections will be accepted. The degree cannot be awarded until the thesis corrections have been approved.

Master's students must submit their master's theses to ProQuest, a dissertation/thesis service responsible for keeping the scholarly record of doctoral and master's recipients worldwide.  There is no cost associated with submission of the thesis to ProQuest.  For more information about their services, visit



A terminal project is a presentation embodying the knowledge and skills acquired from course work completed for the master's degree. There is no set format for a terminal project; the appropriate format is determined by the student in consultation with the adviser. The terminal project is presented to the department. It is not acknowledged on the student's transcript or submitted to the Knight Library. Check with the department for appropriate registration requirements for this option and for submission procedures and deadlines.


Departments may have additional final requirements (i.e., policy paper, synthesis paper or capstone project). The content and procedures for completion of these requirements are determined by the department.

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