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Thesis & Dissertation FAQs

About deadlines and forms

What deadlines must I meet to graduate?

There are several deadlines students must meet to graduate. To make sure that you stay on track, review the graduation deadlines chart. These are in addition to any departmental deadlines that may apply; your advisor can tell you about departmental requirements.

What happens if I miss a deadline?

We try to help you make sure that missing thesis/dissertation deadlines won’t delay your graduation. Depending on which deadline you miss or how late you are, however, you may have to pay fines or delay your graduation. Refer back to the About Deadlines section on the Thesis & Dissertation overview page for details. Plan ahead so that if problems crop up, you’ll have time to fix them. Be sure to stay in frequent contact with your committee as your defense approaches and immediately afterward so you will know about any travel plans or other circumstances that might make getting a member’s signature on your GS7M or GS7D form (see next question) and other paperwork difficult. Ask your advisor to contact Jill Bunch, the Graduate School’s Director of Communications, if you know you are going to miss a manuscript-related deadline. If you are going to miss another type of deadline (for defending your paper, filing the GS2 or GS7, etc.), contact Enrolled Student Services at (864) 656-5339.

What is the GS7 form?

The GS7 is the form on which your advisor and committee verify with their signatures that you have successfully completed your final comprehensive exam, and have successfully defended and properly formatted your thesis or dissertation (if you’re in a program that requires a thesis or dissertation). You can review the graduation deadlines chart to determine the last date for filing the GS7. There are separate versions of the form for master’s and doctoral candidates. The GS7 should NOT be included in your electronic manuscript file.

What should I do if my advisor or one of my committee members is unavailable to sign my GS7?

We cannot overstate the importance of planning ahead. You can foresee and avoid most situations in which a committee member is unavailable shortly before the submission deadline by staying in contact with all of your committee members in the days and weeks leading up to your defense. Emergencies do come up, and in the case of a committee member who is incapacitated or called away for an urgent matter, the Graduate School and Enrolled Student Services can work with you and your advisor to keep your graduation on track. Check with Enrolled Services beforehand if you think you’ll have difficulty getting your GS7 form to one or more committee members for signing. Communicate with your committee to plan your defense, allowing enough time between the defense and the final submission deadline to make any revisions that your committee requires or recommends. If the plan changes, check in with your committee to find out if they will be available to review your manuscript and sign your GS7 either in person or electronically before the deadline.

About formatting

Why are the Graduate School’s formatting requirements so important?

Now more than ever, your thesis or dissertation will be viewed by many other scholars, since it will be available to an international audience via the Digital Commons open access platform and the Clemson University Libraries’ TigerPrints catalog. Proper formatting makes the manuscript easy to read, presents your valuable work in a professional form, and upholds Clemson University’s reputation for high standards by ensuring that all of the published theses and dissertations conform to minimum common formatting requirements.

Where is the thesis and dissertation info on the Graduate School website?

Online info is currently available in the Students section of the Graduate School website. Look for “Theses & Dissertations” in the side menu; the direct link to the ETD overview page is The remainder of the ETD info is organized step by step. Example: Step 1, the formatting instructions, hosts introductory information that answers several formatting-specific questions. A more detailed “PDF ref” (in-depth reference document) is linked at the top that page.

What date should be on my title page?

The date on your title page should be the month and year of your actual graduation ceremony (even if you don’t plan to attend) and not the date your paper was submitted or approved, or the date you completed all your program requirements. Also, it’s just the month — no day and no comma. So, “May 2022,” not “May 7, 2022” or “May, 2022,” or “March 2022,” for example.

Does the text in my figures, tables or charts have to be the same font as my regular text?

No, but to the extent possible, all figures, tables and charts should use the same font(s). At the very least, all table and figure captions or legends should be in a consistent font, even if the data inside those figures/charts is not in the same font.

What if my manuscript is made up of individual journal articles?

Journal style is used when your thesis or dissertation consists of discussions of separate bodies of research. If your thesis or dissertation is made up (in full or in part) of journal articles you have written, this is the model you will likely use. When you use journal style, you typically list works cited at the end of each article. You may want to include a preface (which introduces the bodies of research to be discussed) at the beginning of the manuscript and a conclusions section (that comments on the bodies of research as a whole) at the end of the manuscript. You may include your co-authors or co-researchers under the chapter title, may have a separate abstract at the beginning of that article, and may place separate references at the end of the article. Slight formatting variations between articles are permitted when your articles were previously formatted for different journals, BUT you must maintain 1″–1.25″ page margins consistently from chapter to chapter, and single-column, double-spaced body text, per the Graduate School guidelines. It is not acceptable to insert a PDF directly from a journal into your document.

Do I have to include either three journal articles or five regular chapters in my ETD?

Not necessarily; the Graduate School does not prescribe requirements for the body of your ETD. You and your advisor make content decisions such as this based on the nature of your research, the standards and requirements of your program, and the expectations of your discipline.

What's happening with the rows of dots in my table of contents? Why can’t I make them line up?

Word has a set of automated table of contents tools that work nicely to create and update your table of contents, but you do need to use the heading styles from Word’s styles menu to generate the automatic table of contents. You may then customize your table of contents so that its fonts coordinate with the fonts you have used for the rest of your ETD.

If you assemble your table of contents by hand, you’ll need to insert ellipses, also called leader dots: the series of dots that link entries to their page numbers in your table of contents (these things: . . . . . .). If you type a series of periods in an attempt to create ellipses, you won’t be able to line them up precisely because the spacing between the periods is affected by the letters to the left of the ellipses and the numbers to the right. To make uniform ellipses and tp perfectly align entry page numbers, use the “tab leader” function in Word. If you use one of the Graduate School’s Word templates, the ellipses shouldn’t be a problem. If you accidentally delete the pre-set ellipses leaders, or don’t want to use the templates, we’ve provided a “cheat sheet” — a table of contents instructions PDF — for creating your tabs for indents and ellipses leaders.

Where can I get help with Microsoft Word?

Your first resource should be the Help files in Word itself. Depending on what issue you’re having, they can be extremely useful. Microsoft’s online Help section on Word is also very helpful. If a quick check of the Help documentation doesn’t solve your problem, you can email the CCIT Help Desk or call 656-3494. You will probably get best results if you go to one of the Help Desks in person with the file you’re working on (hours and locations are listed on the CCIT Support page). The Manuscript Review staff can answer specific document-formatting questions about Microsoft Word, but we are limited in the time and amount of help we can provide each student, particularly near a submission deadline.

The Manuscript Reviewer tells me one thing about the format of my paper, and my advisor tells me another. Who’s right?

In many ways, formatting is more an art than a science, so there are rarely right and wrong answers, with the exception of the Graduate School’s basic requirements for title page appearance, front-matter order and format consistency. Whenever possible, we accommodate the requests of your advisor or committee (except for the few non-negotiable items listed in the formatting instructions). We know that some programs have very different standards, or provide their own template. If in doubt, email with specific formatting questions.

What do I do after I secure my committee members’ signatures on my GS7 form?

If your committee has signed your GS7 — whether or not they’ve asked for further content revisions — submit your GS7 to Enrolled Services (104-D Sikes Hall) by the GS7 submission deadline. The GS7 form may be submitted electronically, as scanned email attachment, or as a printed copy.

About manuscript review and the Manuscript Review office

What do I do if I’ve moved away from Clemson, if I’m a satellite campus or online student, or if it’s difficult for me to get to campus during business hours?

The implementation of electronic thesis and dissertation submission has been a huge benefit to students whose classes and research aren’t near the main campus, or those who have moved or are otherwise unable to make frequent trips to campus. Since 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic made remote defense via videoconferencing a workable option (CCIT recommends Zoom or WebEx under the University’s license), you can and may complete all the final ETD steps without visiting the main campus at all. Defense, ETD submission and format review, GS7 submission: All these steps may now be completed electronically. If your manuscript is not yet approved and you must be away from computer access, arrange for a reliable colleague or committee member to make sure your GS7 gets to Enrolled Student Services after your committee signs off on it.

Email is the best way to correspond with the Manuscript Review office via email, so the reviewer can provide detailed help — including screen shots — if you’re stuck at any point in the formatting or submission process.

Where is the Manuscript Review desk?

The Manuscript Review desk is in E-106 Martin Hall (Campus Map), within the Graduate School offices.

When is the Manuscript Review desk open?

The Graduate School offices are open from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., excluding weekends and University holidays. The Manuscript Reviewer is available from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

I went to the Manuscript Review desk earlier today, and there wasn’t anyone there. Why not?

The Manuscript Review staff is composed of one full-time reviewer and the Director of Communications, both of whom have many other responsibilities. We try to make sure that someone is always available in the office, but meetings, business trips, or other obligations may mean that the staff members are out of the office at the same time. If your need is time-sensitive, it’s best to email questions to or to email to make an in-person appointment with one of the staff members. The staff is sensitive to the urgency students feel about manuscript issues and endeavor to answer email even when we’re out of the office or otherwise physically unavailable.

What if I have trouble converting my manuscript to PDF or uploading my manuscript?

If you’ve checked the Convert and Submit steps in the Graduate School’s web resources, and are still having trouble, check the CCIT Knowledge Base for issues related PDF conversion (login required; search “PDF”), or contact the TigerPrints Coordinator for upload concerns. The Manuscript Review staff also can assist with PDF conversion issues. We have never met a manuscript that absolutely cannot be converted to PDF using one of the many available methods, so above all, remain calm and ask for help before you find yourself in danger of missing a deadline.

Can I submit my draft manuscript before I defend to get a preliminary review? And how do I do that?

Yes, but please do so at least two weeks before the first submission deadline. Closer to the deadline, the Manuscript Review staff must devote their time to students who have already defended and obtained committee signatures.

If you do choose to submit a draft of your manuscript for format review, you’ll do it by uploading to the same Digital Commons account that you will use for your final submission. This gives you the advantage of setting up your TigerPrints ETD submission account well ahead of the final submission deadline. In your TigerPrints account menu, there is a field for “Comments.” This is where you may indicate to the review staff that your initial submission is a pre-defense draft for a format check. We want to make sure we don’t mark your draft as “accepted” when you plan additional work on it. The manuscript Reviewer will remove your draft comment when your ETD is accepted.

How long does a review take? How will I know you’ve reviewed it?

Please allow at least one to two full business days (excluding weekends and holidays) for each review. Please plan ahead. You’ll receive an email (sent to the Clemson email address you used to set up your TigerPrints account) when the review is completed. The Manuscript Reviewer will send an email to you (to the email address you provided in your TigerPrints account) with formatting feedback — details for any revisions needed, or approval if you don’t need to revise.

Can I submit a paper copy for review instead of using the electronic process?

No; all submission and review — including draft review — is now done online via the TigerPrints Digital Commons ETD platform. Part of the review process is making sure your digital file is complete and correctly formatted for electronic publication. However, if you are still working on your manuscript and have a question that you think we could better address if we could actually see your original document, feel free to bring in your laptop or a CD, DVD, or USB key with your manuscript on it. Please DO NOT email your completed ETD directly to the manuscript reviewer for draft or final review.

About ETD submission and archiving

How can I or someone else get access to my thesis or dissertation after it’s published?

Anyone with internet access will be able to access your thesis or dissertation in its entirety in the University Libraries’ TigerPrints repository website by searching the TigerPrints ETD database (beginning a few weeks after your graduation).

How does the Clemson Library system get my ETD?

The University’s digital repository coordinator accesses your electronic file (the approved PDF you submitted to the TigerPrints ETD portal) and your metadata for cataloging (the information you enter in your TigerPrints account that includes your name and degree, graduation date, ETD title, abstract, subject categories, keywords, committee members) two to three weeks into the next semester following your graduation. You will get an email notification from TigerPrints when your work is published and available to read and download. If you requested an embargo when you submitted your manuscript, only your metadata and abstract will be publicly viewable until after your embargo ends.

When will my manuscript be available online?

You should be able to access your manuscript online about two weeks after your graduation.

I’m in a non-thesis master’s program or a doctoral program that requires a terminal project, but I’d like to publish my work and have it archived by the Clemson Libraries. Do I need to submit it for review?

No; format review is not required for non-thesis master’s projects, nor is submission via the TigerPrints ETD portal. You may have your work published online and archived by the University Libraries by visiting TigerPrints > Author Corner > Author FAQs, to find out what kinds of work you may submit. Then click Submit Research in the TigerPrints left sidebar menu and follow the instructions.

About copies of my manuscript

Do I have to order bound copies of my manuscript?

The Graduate School and the Cooper Library do not require  and cannot provide print copies, but you may be required to order a single hardbound copy or multiple copies for your department. To see if your department requires that you provide them with a copy, be sure to check the Department List and ask your advisor. A few departments specify a print service; otherwise you may engage a print-on-demand vendor of your choosing.

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