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Completing Your Thesis or Dissertation (ETD)

UCF encourages students to be proactive throughout the thesis and dissertation process. Effective planning, awareness, and use of resources, as well as communication with department, program, and college faculty and staff, are essential to having a successful thesis or dissertation experience. The following information should also be used to guide students through the thesis and dissertation process.

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  • Step 1   Define Your Research and Form Your Committee

      • Define your research
      • Consult with your adviser to compose a committee
      • Ensure your program is informed of your committee composition
      • Register for Thesis or Dissertation through your program
  • Step 2   Familiarize Yourself with Thesis and Dissertation Resources

      • Review university thesis and dissertation policies within the Graduate Catalog 
      • Review the Graduate Student Handbook for an overview of expectations for graduate students
      • Review your Program Handbook for specific expectations and requirements from your program
      • Review the Policies and Procedures relating to thesis and dissertation students, including Dissemination, Enrollment, Human Subjects Research, Patent and Invention, and the Review for Original Work (via
      • Attend a Microsoft Word for ETD Formatting Workshop 
      • Attend a Thesis and Dissertation 101 Workshop 
      • Log in to the Thesis and Dissertation Services site and familiarize yourself with it. Use the Format Help page to ask any questions you might have about the UCF thesis and dissertation process and requirements. Bookmark the site in your browser for later reference. NOTE: A UCF ID card number is required for login; ensure that you have a current UCF ID card prior to logging in
      • Visit the UCF Libraries website to learn about free citation management software, consultations with a research librarian, and other graduate resources
      • Consult the University Writing Center to assist with global ETD planning and organization issues 
      • See the University Academic Calendar for all deadlines during the semester you plan to graduate
      • Review the Formatting Instruction files, Thesis and Dissertation Manual, Sample ETD, and other resources on the Formatting the ETD page
  • Step 3   Set up Your ETD Skeleton Document

      • Set up a skeleton document in Microsoft Word using "Styles" and "Captions" as outlined in the Formatting Instructions on the Formatting the ETD page and use this to begin entering your thesis or dissertation text
      • This file will need to be converted to bookmarked PDF format before submitting for the initial format review, but it is a good idea to periodically convert your file PDF prior to the initial review to ensure all of the formatting (including the bookmarks and links in the table of contents and other lists) are in working order
  • Step 4   Conduct Your Research and Begin Writing

      • Follow the instructions your adviser provides regarding the best practices for scholarly writing as well as using and documenting sources properly for your discipline
      • Familiarize yourself with what "plagiarism" is and how to avoid it in your writing. The University Writing Center can offer guidance on avoiding plagiarism as well as proper citation styles
      • Identify items to be used in your thesis or dissertation that will need written copyright permission (including long text excerpts, tables, figures, photographs, and your own previously-published work) and seek permission early. See the Copyright Information page for more information
      • Discuss any possible patent issues with your adviser. If you choose to secure your thesis or dissertation for patent purposes, you must contact the Office of Technology Transfer at 407-882-1136 and complete the appropriate paperwork 
      • Consider using RefWorks or EndNote to help organize your references; see the UCF Libraries Citations Management page for additional information
      • Use Library Services such as Ask-A-Librarian, Interlibrary Loan, and Research Consultations to find the best sources of information for your research
  • Step 5   Submit Your Document for Initial Format Review

      • Review the Thesis and Dissertation Format Review Checklist to ensure your document is ready for review by the university
      • Submit your fully formatted, bookmarked PDF thesis or dissertation file to Format Review page in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site by the Format Review deadline (see the Acacemic Calendar for deadlines)
      • In order to qualify for a review, the file should be a near-final draft with complete formatting including proper page numbering, title page, abstract, table of contents (with clickable entries), list of figures/tables (with clickable entries), and body chapters
      • The content of the thesis or dissertation does not need to be completely finished (use placeholders for missing content), but the work submitted for review must be formatted in accordance to UCF's requirements
      • Check the Thesis and Dissertation Services site for format review comments and other feedback
      • If you do not receive format approval upon the initial review (most students require more than one review), resubmit for format review at least one week prior to the final submission deadline (see the Acacemic Calendar for deadlines)
      • As necessary, submit your Microsoft Word file to the Thesis and Dissertation Services site Format Help page for technical troubleshooting help
  • Step 6   Submit Your Thesis or Dissertation Release Option eForm

      • Review the dissemination (release) options for your thesis or dissertation in the Graduate Catalog Dissertation Policies or Thesis Policies section
      • Make an appointment with your adviser to discuss the dissemination option, final title, and defense date for your thesis or dissertation
      • Determine this information early in your final semester as it needs to be recorded in your records before you can defend your thesis or dissertation
      • Submit the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form at myUCF > Student Self Service > Graduate Students (scroll down on page to this section; do not use "Graduate Students" menu link)> Choose Graduate Form > TD Release Option
      • This form must list the correct term, the term in which you will be submitting your thesis or dissertation. If the correct term is not listed, please check your Intent to Graduate
      • After completing this form, College of Graduate Studies staff will need to process it and the information from it will be added to your records and Defense Approval Form
  • Step 7   Prepare for Your Defense

      • Create your defense announcement using the example in the Thesis and Dissertation Manual and send it to your program at least two weeks prior to the defense date (check with your college for defense announcement policies, as some colleges require additional procedures related to announcing the defense)
      • Send your final thesis or dissertation document to your committee at least two weeks before your defense date and follow up with committee members to receive feedback BEFORE the defense
      • Submit your thesis or dissertation to through your adviser. NOTE: the adviser is responsible for scheduling this submission and for reviewing the report results with the advisory committee; students cannot submit a document to without adviser permission.
      • Your committee must agree that your writing meets originality requirements before signing your Approval Form
      • Review the Approval Form page in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site
      • On the Approval Form, ensure your release information appears correctly and make any corrections or updates to your name, defense date, and title; hit enter after each correction to save
  • Step 8   Defend Your Thesis or Dissertation

      • Print your Approval Form from the Thesis and Dissertation Services site and collect your committee's signatures at the defense, if possible
      • Do not use the Approval form if the release option information is missing; first complete the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form (see step 6 above) and wait for this information to appear on the Approval Form
      • Do not use the Approval Form if your committee information is incorrect. Contact your program to correct this information, as you cannot defend until the correct committee is recorded
      • The committee may request changes before they will sign the Approval Form, so ensure you make corrections quickly so the final submission deadline can be met
      • Contact your program and college staff to make arrangements to gain signatures from your program director and college dean
      • Ensure that your signed Approval Form is submitted to the College of Graduate Studies by the final submission deadline listed in the Academic Calendar
  • Step 9   Submit Your Final Thesis or Dissertation

      • If your thesis or dissertation is not approved upon initial review (most are not), resubmit your corrected file to the Format Review page of the Thesis and Dissertation Services site in a timely manner prior to the final submission deadline
      • Submit your final approved thesis or dissertation to the Final Submission page in the Thesis and Dissertation Services site; you will only gain access to this page upon receiving format approval
      • NOTE: Ensure the document you submit to the Final Submission page is the the final version, as once the file has been submitted, it cannot be changed!
      • Doctoral students should complete the NORC Survey of Earned Doctorates as well as the Doctoral Student Progress to Degree Survey
  • Step 10   For Those Not Graduating in the Intended Semester

    • Students who do not end up graduating in their intended semester must take the following steps:  

      • Send an email containing your full name and program name to the College of Graduate Studies Student Services staff at explaining that your (term name) intent must be withdrawn
      • The College of Graduate Studies will notify you via your knights email address once your intent has been withdrawn
      • After receiving this notification, you will be able to file an intent to graduate for another semester in your myUCF Student Center (see Filing Your Intent to Graduate page for instructions)
      • Your correct graduation semester must be declared before you can complete the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form in myUCF and defend your thesis/dissertation
      • If you filled out the Thesis and Dissertation Release Option form in a particular semester, but did not finish the thesis/dissertation requirements in that semester, you must submit a new form after your intent to graduate for the next semester is on record
      • You must also be registered, have a current intent filed, and meet all thesis/dissertation deadlines in the graduation semester to be eligible for commencement



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