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.

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 discretion of a student's advisor. Special exceptions to the continuous enrollment policy 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, 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 2022 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. Workshops are generally offered in the Fall and Spring semesters, once scheduled, they are listed on our events page.  For further questions please contact Jennifer Holm, Dissertations Specialist.

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, the Graduate Student Association, and the Office of the Vice President for Research, and Waldo Library offer a number of workshops and seminars of interest to graduate students throughout the year. Scheduled workshops will be 
listed on our events page.

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 or 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.

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 four 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. Please note, doctoral graduates receive their diploma at the ceremony, therefore they cannot walk early like master's or specialist graduates, as those students receive a decorative representation of their diploma at the ceremony.