Frequently Asked Questions
for Dissertations, Projects, and Theses
- What do I need to know if my research involves human subjects?
Students and Faculty whose research involves working with human subjects are required by law to complete mandatory training prior to conducting research. For any questions, contact Julia Mays, Research Compliance Coordinator in the Office of the Vice President for Research; (269) 387-8293.
- Where can I go to seek help with Dissertation Coaching, Advising, Mentoring, and Support?
The Graduate Center for Research and Retention provides coaching assistance to graduate students throughout the dissertation/thesis process, from conceptual development of the dissertation and thesis to graduation - and also beyond, with the development of application materials for the CV and resume. Contact Dr. Marianne Di Pierro for more information.
- What is "continuous enrollment" and what are the requirements?
Once a students begin enrolling in thesis, project, or dissertation credits, they must continue to enroll in these credits every fall and spring semesters until graduation, even if they have already taken the maximum number of credits required for the program. In addition they must be enrolled in a summer semester if they are graduating in that semester. Other summer enrollment is at the descretion of a student's advisor. Special exceptions to the continuious enrollment may be granted by appealing to the Graduate College Dean.
- I need to put together my committee so I can proceed with my thesis or dissertation proposal. What do I need to know?
First, you should choose a faculty member to serve as your committee chair. This person must be a full member of the graduate faculty in your home department. Your committee members should be chosen in conjunction with your committee chair. All members must have either full or associate membership in the graduate faculty. Your committee must contain a minimum of three members, but your department may require additional members. At least one other person from your home department must serve on your committee. Doctoral committees must have at least one external member, who may be from another department at WMU or from outside the University. Committee members external to WMU must be appointed as associate members to the graduate faculty for committee service by your home department.
- Is there a standard format I should use for my thesis, project, or dissertation?
Yes. Please follow the 2015 Guidelines for the Preparation of Dissertations and Theses. You are encouraged to attend a formatting workshop to learn about the formatting requirements and other information pertaining to graduation. Please see events for more details.
- Does The Graduate College offer other workshops and seminars for students? Where can I find information about activities offered through The Graduate College?
The Graduate College and the Office of the Vice President for Research offer a number of workshops and seminars of interest to graduate students throughout the year. Go to the Activities and Events listing for more information.
- I don't think I will be able to complete all of my degree requirements within the time limit (6 years for master's students, 5 years for specialist students, 7 years for doctoral students). Is there anything I can do?
Talk to your advisor as soon as possible. Part-time students and students with hardships may appeal for an extension of the time limit for completion of the degree by submitting an extension request form. After you complete the student section, your advisor will fill out the next section and submit the form to the Graduate College for review. You will receive a letter with the result of your appeal.
- When do I need to submit my master's thesis, specialist project, or doctoral dissertation to the Graduate College?
The submission deadline is generally the Friday four weeks before commencement (four weeks before the end of summer II term). Please refer to the Calendar of Deadlines for exact dates.
- It doesn't look like my committee will approve my thesis or dissertation before the submission deadline. What should I do?
Contact your committee chair/major advisor to determine a reasonable timeline for completion, and consult with the Graduate College, if necessary. If you will definitely not meet the deadline, contact your graduation auditor to change your graduation date, as you will not be automatically moved to the next graduating class.
- I have to do a project for my master's degree instead of a thesis. Do I submit this to The Graduate College?
Projects for specialist degrees are submitted to the Graduate College. Master's-level projects that are completed in some departments in place of a thesis are not submitted to the Graduate College for approval.
- What do I need to turn in with my thesis, project, or dissertation?
Please download a Master's/Specialist Check-in form, or the Dissertation Check-in form, and follow the directions on those forms. Master's and Specialist candidates must submit two original committee-signed approval forms, one photocopy of the approval form, and one additional title page and abstract. Doctoral candidates must submit three original committee-signed approval forms, one photocopy of the approval form, two additional title pages and abstracts, a completed and signed UMI agreement form, the microfilming fee, payable to WMU, and one photocopy of the agreement form. For the UMI agreement form, contact Jennifer Holm.
- How long does it take to hear back about my thesis, project, or dissertation after I turn it in to the Graduate College? What happens if I don't make the changes before graduation?
Doctoral students should allow approximately 2-3 weeks and master's and specialist students should allow a minimum of three weeks for return of the review copy. Manuscripts are reviewed in the order in which they are received, with dissertations taking priority. Doctoral students must fulfill all graduation requirements, including approval of the dissertation by the graduate dean, before graduation, while master's and specialist students have up to 30 days after graduation to fulfill their requirements. After the manuscript is reviewed, you must return any required changes to the Graduate College no later than two weeks after notification, possibly earlier for doctoral students. Students should plan to remain accessible to make any necessary changes until final approval is received. If the manuscript does not receive final approval by the deadline, you will need to change your graduation date with Graduation Auditing and submit a new title page with the new date of graduation.
- I want to graduate in August, but there is no commencement ceremony. Can I attend another ceremony?
Master's and specialist students who apply for August graduation before May 15 may participate in the June ceremony. August doctoral graduates may participate in the December ceremony. Graduation Auditing will send you further information after your audit is completed.