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Master's Thesis Guidelines

The first business day in May is the last day for submission of a Master's thesis.

Students must be actively enrolled at the time the thesis is submitted. If a student registers for Semester I and completes all of the requirements for the degree during that semester, a fee for Semester II will not be charged, even though the degree itself is formally conferred at the end of Semester II.

The Original and the Copy: Every candidate for the Master's degree with thesis must present to the Graduate School, in separate boxes or manila envelopes suitable for temporary storage, an unbound original and one copy of the thesis. The "original" is the original of a typed text or a photocopy of a computer-generated text on paper of archival quality. The "copy" need not be on paper of the same quality as that of the original; it may be a photocopy of the typed original or a computer-generated text.

The original will be placed for preservation in the University Archives in the John Hay Library; the copy will be catalogued and placed for use in University libraries. The department may also want a copy of the thesis for its files.

Title Page: The last item before the date should read as follows:

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts or Master of Science in the Department of (American Civilization, Anthropology, Chemistry, Classics, Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, Comparative Literature, Computer Science, Economics, Egyptology, English, French Studies, Geological Sciences, German Studies, Hispanic Studies, History, History of Art and Architecture, History of Mathematics, Italian Studies, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, Psychology, Religious Studies, Slavic Languages, Sociology, OR Theater Studies) at Brown University.


degree of Master of Arts in the Program in (Development Studies, Environmental Studies, OR Old World Archaeology and Art) at Brown University.


degree of Master of Arts or Master of Medical Science or Master of Science in the Division of (Applied Mathematics OR Biology and Medicine) at Brown University.

NOTE: Degrees are in the Division of Biology and Medicine and not in the departments within the division, e.g., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.


degree of Master of Science in the School of Engineering at Brown University.


degree of Master of Fine Arts in the Program in Literary Arts at Brown University.


degree of Master of Public Health in the School of Public Health at Brown University.


degree of Master of Public Affairs or Master of Public Policy in the Program in Public Policy at Brown University.

The Signature Page: The manuscript must be accompanied by two signature pages, both of which should be on archival quality paper. Both signature pages should bear the original signature (not copies) of the director (not the graduate representative or chairperson). Signatures should be in either black or blue ink. Please type the name of the director under the line which is to be signed. (Candidates who want an original signature page signed by the Dean of the Graduate School for their own files must include a third signature page.)

The Text: Every effort should be made to have the manuscript as perfect as possible in form and appearance. Pages containing handwritten corrections, typewritten strikeovers and unsightly erasures, misspellings, and the like will not be accepted. Typing or printing should be on one side of the page only.

Good references for editorial details are the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Modern Language Association), Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations (University of Chicago Press), and The Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press). The department should also be consulted regarding its policies or preferences in matters of format and style.

If publication of the thesis is anticipated, the medium of publication likely to be used should be considered when preparing the manuscript. If it is known in advance that the thesis will be published by a particular publisher or journal, the editorial practices of that publisher or journal should be followed. The form of footnotes and bibliography, in particular, may vary with different publishers and journals.

Computer-generated theses must conform to the standards of presentation set forth in these instructions. Black ink should be used on the printer that produces the final copy. If using a laser printer, it should have a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch.

If the thesis has already been published, two printed copies may be presented instead of the original and copy. These printed copies must have pages inserted so as to conform with the requirements for the original and copy, i.e., a title page and a page signed by the director. See sample title and signature pages. If the thesis has been published under sponsorship of some member of the department or other scholar, the printed copies must also be accompanied by a statement precisely indicating the contribution made by the candidate.

Paper: The original manuscript should be printed on permalife paper, or on paper of equivalent archival quality (plain white bond, acid-free, 8.5 x 11 inches). "Corrosible" paper is unacceptable. The copy should be on white paper of good quality. Twenty-pound paper, used for photocopy machines, is a good minimum standard.

Type and Spacing Standard: Typefaces set to print at 10-, 11-, or 12-point font are acceptable. Typing or printing should be double-spaced, except for footnotes (single-space footnotes, with double spacing to separate one note from the next). Black ink should be used to ensure typing or printing of uniform blackness and legibility. If using a laser printer, it should have a resolution of at least 300 dots per inch. Non-printable characters or symbols should be inserted in black indelible ink.

Margins: The following margins should be observed: the margin on the left (the binding side) should be 1.5 inches wide. The top, bottom and right-hand margins should be 1 inch wide. Any manuscript with margins which do not meet these guidelines will be returned to the candidate for correction.

Page Numbers: Be consistent. Either put all page numbers (both Roman and Arabic) at the top of the page, or put all page numbers (both Roman and Arabic) at the bottom of the page. Page numbers may be placed closer to the edge of the paper than the text itself.

Most theses consist of preliminary pages which are numbered using Roman numerals, and the thesis proper which is numbered using Arabic numerals.

The preliminary pages must appear in the following order:

Title page (do not number) Signature page ii Vita* iii Preface and acknowledgments iv Table of contents v List of tables vi List of illustrations vii

Should any element of the preliminary pages be longer than one page, number the pages consecutively. The preliminary pages should appear in this order but not necessarily with the page numbers shown above.

The thesis proper (including introduction, main body of the text, illustrations, appendices, and bibliography) is numbered using Arabic numerals. The numbering begins with 1 and runs consecutively to the end.

* The vita is a statement giving a short biography of the candidate, including date and place of birth, institutions attended, degrees and honors, titles of publications, teaching or professional experience, and other pertinent information.

Graphs, Drawings, and Photographs Graphs may be put on cross-section paper but the margins specified above should be preserved. If graphs are necessarily larger than the thesis paper, they should be folded and pasted within the required margins. Photocopies of drawings may be used. Photographs may be pasted on the thesis paper within the specified margins. Do not use tape or rubber cement in attaching charts, photographs, etc. Use a good glue or library paste.

Dating the Thesis: Because degrees are conferred only at the end of the academic year, the title page of theses completed during the summer or during any month of an academic year must be dated the following May. For example, if you complete your thesis in August of 2004, the date on your submission should be May 2005.

When the thesis is presented to the Graduate School, it must be in final form. It may not be revised in any way after it is presented. Please check the pages of both the original and the copy of the thesis to make sure that all of the pages are in order, that all are numbered, and that none are missing.

The following items must be brought to the Graduate School at the time the thesis is submitted.

  1. A receipt (white) from the Bursar indicating that all outstanding debts have been paid.
  2. The original and one copy of the thesis.

The name which will appear on the diploma and in the Commencement Program, and under which the Library will catalog the thesis, is the name under which the candidate is officially registered. Any request for a change of name should be addressed to the Graduate School and accompanied by legal proof (marriage certificate or court order).

If all academic requirements for the degree and all financial obligations have been met before April 1, the Office of the Registrar will issue a certificate of completion within three weeks of the candidate's request.

All students who submit a master's thesis must sign a statement authorizing Brown University to lend the thesis to other institutions and to reproduce the thesis. The page should be unnumbered and inserted in the beginning of the thesis.

If you have any questions regarding the submission of your thesis, please contact Barbara Bennett in the Graduate School at (401) 863-2843.