Master’s Thesis/Project Guidelines

The following guidelines must be followed exactly. Do not use a previous thesis or project from your department or the library as a guide, as submission guidelines may have changed. Use only these Master’s Thesis/Project Guidelines distributed by the Office of Graduate Studies.

As of January 2017, all master’s theses and projects must be submitted electronically via Canvas. Please read the following information thoroughly before proceeding with your thesis or project. Questions on these formatting guidelines may be directed to:

The Office of Graduate Studies. 180 Tremont Street, 13th Floor. gradstudies [at] (gradstudies[at]emerson[dot]edu). 617-824-8612

Master’s Thesis – Introduction

The master’s thesis is a scholarly treatment of a subject or an investigative treatment of a problem that is sufficiently limited in scope to ensure thoroughness. The work on the thesis is supervised by a thesis chair and thesis committee. Students must follow program guidelines for thesis work.

Master’s Project – Introduction

The master’s project is an applied academic project that integrates theory and practice. The master’s project often takes the form of a creative project, such as an audio or video documentary, a play production, or a multimedia production. The work on the project is supervised by a project chair and project committee. A master’s project is subject to the same procedural and approval requirements as a thesis.

Master’s degree recipients are encouraged to consider the publication of their thesis/project in whole or in part. In the event of publication, the author is expected to acknowledge that the thesis/project was originally submitted as part of the requirements for the master’s degree at Emerson College. Students contemplating publication should consult with their thesis/project chair.



  • The thesis or project must follow the latest edition of either the MLA, APA, or Chicago style manuals.
  • The style and techniques of the presentation of your thesis or project, including documentation, should correspond to the standard practices in your scholarly field.
  • All questions of style and techniques should be resolved with the chairperson of the thesis committee before preparing the final copy of the thesis or project.
  • Please note: the formatting requirements (e.g. spacing, justification, etc.) set forth in this document supercede industry standards unless otherwise noted.
  • Only work in appendices may be different (such as talent forms or scripts). The appendices are still required to conform to margin and page numbering requirements.

Font Type/Size

  • The only font type and size that is to be used is Times New Roman, 12 pt, unless the style guide states otherwise.
  • Font type and size requirements apply to everything within the traditional body of work, including titles, headings, and all elements of the title, approval, and abstract pages. Appendices, illustrations, charts, and tables are accepted.
  • Please limit the use of bolding and italicizing. Use bold or italics only where they are necessary (see style guide for appropriate usage). Bolding titles is acceptable.
  • Large items, such as charts, release forms, and spreadsheets, among other items, must be reduced to fit within margin requirements and any notations or writing on them must be legible (no smaller than 10 point type size).

Spacing, Justification, and Margins


  • The body of work must be double-spaced. Work in the appendices may be different.
  • Exceptions to this rule include poetry and screenplays. Poetry may be single-spaced, and screenplays must conform to the industry standard for screenplays.


  • The body of work must be left-justified. Work in the appendices may be different.
  • Exception: screenplays may use the justification which conforms to the industry standard for screenplays.


  • All margins must be no less than 1 inch.
  • All pages in the thesis/project must conform to these margin requirements. This includes, but is not limited to, the title page, approval page, abstract page, the body of work, and appendices.
  • All information, including titles, footnotes, and illustrations, must conform to the above margins. Large plates, charts, etc., must be reduced or split across separate pages if needed to conform to these margin requirements.

Page Numbering

  • Page numbers must appear in the upper right corner of the paper. Only page numbers can appear outside the margin requirements.
  • Every page in the thesis or project is assigned a page number (including the front materials and appendices). However, page numbers do not physically appear until the body of work.
    • Example: If the thesis has a title page (1), approval page (2), and abstract page (3) before the body of work begins, the body of work would begin at page 4, and this would be the first page number to physically appear in the thesis/project.
  • For assistance on how to paginate your thesis/project, view the Pagination in Microsoft Word document.

Page Order

Written Master’s theses and projects must submit their work following the page order below. Students must also follow the title page, approval page, and abstract page formats found at the end of these guidelines. Be sure to carefully look at those formats when creating your pages.

  • Title Page (mandatory)
  • Approval Page (mandatory)
  • Dedication (optional)
  • Acknowledgements (optional)
  • Abstract (mandatory)
  • Table of Contents (mandatory)
  • List of Tables (if appropriate)
  • List of Figures (if appropriate)
  • Novel Synopsis (if appropriate)
  • Body of Work (visible page numbering begins here)
  • License, Release, Waiver Form (mandatory)
  • Bibliography or References (as appropriate to your field)
  • Appendix (if appropriate)

Notes on Title, Approval, and Abstract Pages

Title Page

  • When inputting the name of your program, only type the name of the program, not the department name or sub-section of the program (i.e., Creative Writing, as opposed to WLP or Poetry).

Approval Page

  • This page serves as the formal approval of your thesis or project. The approval page will be signed by your Committee, yourself, your Graduate Program Director, and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to obtain all appropriate signatures, with the exception of the Dean of Graduate Studies, prior to the submission of the thesis or project to the Office of Graduate Studies. The Dean will review and sign after the thesis/project is collected by the Office of Graduate Studies.
  • Your approval page must be fully signed by your Chair, Committee Member(s), and Graduate Program Director and included with the electronic submission of your thesis.
  • The sample approval page is designed for the signatures of the chairperson of the committee, a member of the committee, a Graduate Program Director, and the Dean of Graduate Studies. If your committee has more or fewer members, please adjust accordingly.
  • Prepare at least one copy of the approval page. It is recommended that students generate an additional copy, just in case something happens to the original. The additional copy does not need to be submitted.

Abstract Page

All Master’s theses and projects require an abstract page. An abstract captures the purpose and value of a thesis or project in a few meaningful sentences. The purpose of an abstract is to give the reader a concise and accurate synopsis of significant elements in the manuscript, so that the reader will be able to determine whether it is advisable to read the complete thesis. Once submitted, the abstract will be entered into a computerized index in the Emerson Iwasaki Library and become a public document. For this reason, no footnotes, references, or unexplained abbreviations should be used in the abstract.

The format for the text of the abstract is as follows:

  • Single-spaced
  • Left-justified
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph
  • No more than 150 words


The Office of Graduate Studies also provides templates for several pages that are required of every thesis or project:

Please refer to the Formatting and Submission Guidelines page for more information.

License, Release, Waiver and Authorization Form

Graduates who complete and sign the License, Release, Waiver, and Authorization Agreement will have their graduate thesis maintained by the Emerson College Archives and Special Collections. Students retain full copyright and ownership of their work, and this process should not interfere with future publication in any way. Students may choose one of three options: to grant unrestricted, non-commercial access to their thesis; to delay online access and grant only in-person, on-campus access for a period of up to 10 years, or to delay online access and temporarily restrict all access to their thesis for a period of up to 10 years. Students should choose only one of the three options and should not alter the form in any way.

If a graduate does not complete and sign the License, Release, Waiver, and Authorization Agreement, or does not wish for their thesis to be accessible to others via the archiving process, their thesis will be disposed of after it is no longer needed for academic, administrative, or programmatic requirements.

Submission to the Office of Graduate Studies

Students must submit one completed copy of their thesis or project to the Office of Graduate Studies on or before the day designated in the current academic calendar published by the Registrar’s Office. A completed thesis or project is one that meets these guidelines. Only under special circumstances, and with approval prior to the published deadline, will late submissions be accepted.

At the beginning of each semester, students taking thesis credit will be invited to join a Canvas course. If you have not been invited to the course by the end of the first month of the semester (Spring: January; Summer: May; Fall: September), please contact us at gradstudies [at] (GradStudies[at]emerson[dot]edu).

Students will go to the Assignments tab of their Canvas course and choose Final Thesis Submission. In this section, students may upload a PDF version of their thesis. Students should then e-mail gradstudies [at] (GradStudies[at]emerson[dot]edu) to inform the office that their thesis has been submitted. A member of Graduate Studies will be able to follow up to confirm that the thesis has been accepted, or if changes need to be made before the thesis may be accepted.

Students should then go to back to the Assignments tab of the Canvas course and complete the Post Graduation E-mail Address assignment. The Iwasaki Library will use this e-mail to obtain the student’s permission should anyone request to see the student’s thesis/project.

If digital media is being submitted with the thesis, it must be submitted digitally to the Office of Graduate Studies at this time. Please title the media with your name and project title. The Office of Graduate Studies will provide the link for submission in Canvas prior to the due date of the project. If you miss the thesis or project deadline for failure to meet these guidelines, you will be required to register and pay for an additional semester of Continuing Student Status credit in order to graduate.

Please contact the Office of Graduate Studies well before your submission deadline if you have any questions about these format requirements.

The Dean of Graduate Studies has final approval on all Master’s theses and projects.