Thesis Guidelines

These guidelines summarize the steps you will follow to prepare for, write and submit a thesis in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

You are responsible for the content of your thesis, which must be your original work, and for ensuring the document is appropriately referenced and in the correct format. The content must also be approved by your thesis chair and committee, and the final format will be reviewed by the Office of Academic Assistance (OAA).

Getting Started

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice: The thesis constitutes a significant part of the work toward a Master’s degree and is the culmination of all other activities. The thesis must represent high standards of scholarly inquiry, technical mastery, and literary skill. It should be a contribution to the student’s area of study and should reflect the student’s independent efforts with guidance from the thesis committee.

The choice of a topic is the responsibility of the student, assisted by his or her thesis committee chair. Normally, the student should have a reasonably well-defined topic in mind before requesting faculty to chair or serve on a thesis committee. This means a student seeking to register for a thesis should be able to write a brief statement of the research problem and receive approval of the topic prior to registering for thesis hours. This statement can then be
refined through advisement. The thesis committee chair and other members of the committee are responsible for providing guidance and assistance, and ultimately for evaluating the thesis. The student is the investigator and author of the thesis. After the initial selection of the thesis committee, the student must submit to the program Director a Thesis Application form for approval. This form must accompany the Appointment of Thesis Committee form.

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice:

  1. Meet with the program Director to discuss who among the faculty would be the most appropriate person to serve as your chair.
  2. After the program Director has agreed with your choice you should invite that faculty member to chair your committee. Once your chair has been chosen, s/he will help you select the additional committee members.
  3. In consultation with the committee chair, select and receive approval from two additional faculty members who are willing to serve and have appropriate academic preparation and/or experience relative to the thesis topic. The committee composition must be approved by the program Director and the Chair of the Department.
  4. Complete the Thesis Application form and Appointment of Thesis Committee form and get the signature approvals from the appropriate individuals. Then, submit the forms to the program Director for final approval. The forms will be forwarded to OAA for record keeping.

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice: The student must have a thesis committee composed of three faculty members and the committee must be selected before eighteen (18) semester hours have been completed. The committee must be selected in accordance with the following criteria:

  1. The committee chairperson must hold primary appointment in the department.
  2. The student, in consultation with the committee chair, will select two additional faculty members who are willing to serve and have appropriate academic preparation and/or experience relative to the thesis topic and proper qualifications to direct a thesis within their respective academic units. Faculty from other institutions or a criminal justice agency may serve on the committee under special circumstances.
  3. The department’s program Director and the Chair of the Department must approve the composition of the thesis committee.
  4. No committee may consist of fewer than three members; however, a student may elect to have more than three members.

The thesis committee is responsible for directing the thesis and evaluating the thesis proposal and thesis. The program Director must approve all changes in the composition of the committee.

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice: The proposal consists of the first three chapters of the thesis, including the introduction, the review of the literature, and the methods and procedures section. References also must be included with the proposal. The student must have their proposal approved by the committee before a significant amount of the data collection and/or analysis has been completed. Following a successful defense, and before any data collection or analysis can begin, the student must obtain approval from GA State’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for projects involving research with human subjects. (Students are encouraged to seek IRB approval before completion of the thesis proposal, in consultation with the thesis committee chair).

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice: The student must send the proposal to the committee two weeks prior to the scheduled proposal defense.  The defense is typically a 1-2 hour meeting with the committee, where the student spends approximately 10 minutes presenting the proposal to the committee.  The committee then asks questions.  The result of the defense is the decision of the committee that the proposal is acceptable and that (pending any revisions) the student may begin data collection or analysis.

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice: Upon successful completion of a proposal defense, the student shall get the signatures of all committee members on the Thesis Proposal Approval form and submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Eric Sevigny (esevigny@gsu.edu).

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

The deadline to apply to graduate is two semesters before the expected term of graduation. Students should check the Graduation & Commencement webpage for details. You should apply to graduate by the appropriate deadline; if for some reason you are unable to finish by the term you requested, you may change your term of graduation without penalty. Once you have applied to graduate and paid the fee, you will be e-mailed an official graduation audit that has been reviewed by OAA. The audit will indicate remaining degree requirements. Your graduation audit (academic evaluation online) is also available in PAWS/GoSolar.

Formatting, Style and Layout

It is highly recommended you use EndNote or similar software to format your thesis. EndNote software prevents common errors in theses, by formatting footnotes and bibliographic entries into whatever style the student chooses, including the most common styles we use for thesis formatting: APA and Turabian. It is important to begin using EndNote (or your selected software) as soon as you begin doing research, making notes, and working on the draft of your thesis. Copying completed text into EndNote later is difficult. Georgia State University has a site license for EndNote — it can be downloaded for free
These publications provide specific information on correct footnoting, bibliography, quotations and general format. Theses deviating in format will not be acceptable to the School unless written justification is received from your thesis committee and prior approval is received from the Program Director. The use of an experienced editor is encouraged and recommended. *Note: Do not use another thesis as your guide. It is not acceptable to imitate the format of another thesis or dissertation; documents accepted in the past do not set a precedent for what will now be accepted.

Typically one of the following two manuals have been used as formatting styles for theses:

  • A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Thesiss, Kate L. Turabian, University of Chicago Press (most recent edition).
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C. (most recent edition).

After consultation with your thesis chair, choose one of these style manuals and follow it exclusively. Should you need to use a differing style please discuss this with your thesis chair. Regardless of the style manual all preliminary pages of the thesis will remain the same.

File Formats: You may use any standard word-processing program to create your document but some programs are more difficult to convert to PDF. Your thesis must be in PDF format for both formatting review and final submission. It is your responsibility to make sure your document is converted in the correct format to PDF.

Fonts:

  • Font Size: The body of the thesis, the abstract and the acknowledgments must be 12 point font. No font size larger than 12 point is acceptable. If necessary, exceptions may be made for:
    • footnotes (same font, smaller size allowed);
    • body of tables (same font, smaller size);
    • figures and other reproduced materials;
    • documents reproduced in the appendices, such as surveys.
  • Font Type: The entire document, including figure and table captions and page numbers, should be typed in the same typeface and size. Ornamental typefaces, including script, should never be used. Acceptable fonts include:
    • Arial
    • Calibri
    • Cambria
    • Georgia
    • Times New Roman

    Either italics or underlining should be used throughout, and no text should ever be both italicized and underlined. Common symbols, such as scientific fonts, may be used in the body but not in the title of the work. All type, including superscript numbers and letters, must be large enough and dark enough to be clearly legible even on microfilm. Boldface may be used only in chapter titles and headings within chapters. Do not use boldface for emphasis in the text.

Margins. Although you will submit it electronically, your thesis must still be printable on standard 8½" by 11" paper. The top, bottom and right-hand and left-hand margins should be 1 inch.
If you wish to have your thesis bound, the left-hand margin should be 1½ inches wide, so that copies of the thesis may still be printed and bound. Margins must be consistent throughout the document. All tables, maps, charts, etc., must conform to these margins. If necessary, documents in the appendices may be reduced to conform to the margins. Centering is always done relative to the text margins, not to the page edges.

Justification: Use the default "ragged-right" with your tipe aligned on the left and unjustified on the right. Right justification will not be accepted.

Page Numbers. Continuous page numbering is required throughout the thesis. Page numbers may be centered at the bottom of the page within the 1-inch margin or placed in the lower right-hand corner, depending on the style manual you choose. Whichever you choose, consistency throughout is key. Numbers that appear on pages before chapter 1 are Roman numerals. *Note: all preliminary pages are assigned a number except for the Abstract, but the first page to bear a Roman numeral is either the Dedication or Acknowledgements page (it may also be your table of contents if you choose to omit the dedication and acknowledgments). Arabic numbers are used beginning at the first page of chapter 1. The page numbering begins at 1 and continues to the end of the document, including the Appendices, Bibliography and Vita. Page numbers on the first page of chapters may be suppressed so they do not appear on the page if the author prefers.

Paragraphs are designated by indentation. Do not use extra spaces between paragraphs.

Spacing. The text of the thesis should generally be double-spaced. Footnotes, references, and legends are single-spaced. Leave at least two blank lines before and after tables and figures except at the very top or bottom of pages.

Widows and Orphans. Isolated lines, such as the first line of a paragraph at the bottom of a page, last line of a section at the top of a page, or a heading with no text underneath, are called “widows” and “orphans” and should be avoided. For example, no heading should appear at the bottom of a page unless there are at least two lines of text underneath it.

Every Andrew Young School of Policy Studies thesis will be comprised of:

  • Preliminary pages (covered here in section 4)
  • Main body of the Text (covered in section 5)
  • References (covered in section 6)
Preliminary Pages

Regardless of the style manual or area of study, all preliminary pages of the thesis will remain the same. Below in sequential order are the required preliminary pages. You may click the name of the page to review a sample.

  • 1. Abstract (required). The abstract will be published in Thesis Abstracts and cannot exceed 350 words. It should include a statement of the problem, procedure or methods, results, and conclusions. This page is not numbered nor counted in pagination.
  • 2. Title Page (required). The title page must include the full title of the thesis and the author's full legal name.
    • Pagination begins on this page but is not physically displayed.
  • 3. Copyright Page (optional). Copyright protection is not required, although it is strongly recommended. The copyright notice is placed in the center of a blank page. If the thesis is not to be copyrighted, a blank page is inserted immediately following the title page.
    • Pagination not physically displayed.
  • 4. Electronic Approval Page (required).In the electronic version of your thesis, the approval page, which does not have physical signatures, will replace the Acceptance Sheet (See bullet point 9. External Document) previously used in bound copies. *Note: the date of approval on this page should be the month and year of your graduation, not the month and year you turn in your thesis.
  • 5. Dedication Page (optional).This page is optional. You are not required to provide a dedication or acknowledgement for your thesis. You may write whatever you would like on this page. It should be double-spaced. *Note: If included, the dedication page is the first page to be numbered (page iv). Beginning with the Abstract page, the pages are paginated in the process, although numbers do not appear on the page.
  • 6. Acknowledgments (optional). You are not required to provide a dedication or acknowledgement for your thesis. You may write whatever you would like on this page. It should be double-spaced. Most thesiss include a brief statement of appreciation for, or recognition of, any special assistance. The Acknowledgments single out help rendered by members of the thesis committee, and acknowledge others who have assisted the candidate. *Note: If included and a dedication page is not included, the acknowledgements page is the first page to be numbered (page iv). Beginning with the title page, the pages are paginated in the process, although numbers do not appear on the page.
  • 7. Table of Contents (required). The format of this table must conform to the requirements of the style manual selected. Each entry must match the corresponding entry in the text exactly in terms of wording, capitalization, punctuation, page number, etc. The Table of Contents should be formatted so that the page numbers for each of the entries align perfectly along the far right margin. This is best accomplished by using the Table of Contents tool in MS Word. The Table of Contents should not appear as an entry on the Table of Contents.
  • 8. List of Tables and/or Figures (required if tables or figures are used). Separate pages are used for each type of list. The list of tables is presented first, followed by the list of figures.
    • A Table designates tabulated numerical data used in the body and/or appendices of the thesis.
    • A Figure designates all other nonverbal materials used in the body and/or appendices such as photographs, drawings, diagrams, multimedia files, etc. Every table and figure must have a caption (a descriptive title, usually no more than one line long) and a number; tables and figures each have a separate series of consecutive numbers. The List of Tables or List of Figures should include the captions exactly as they appear on the tables and figures; however, if captions are extremely long, they may be truncated. Figures with multimedia files should include the file information in the List of Figures. Tables and figures should be inserted as near as possible to the text they illustrate. If they are one-half page or less, they may appear on the same page with the text; if larger than half-page, they may be centered on their own separate page. You may place two tables/figures on a single page, but not side-by-side. They may be placed on landscaped (horizontal) pages, when appropriate, with the caption for rotated tables/figures in the same orientation as the table or figure.
  • 9. Acceptance Page (required but not part of your electronic thesis):
    • Acceptance Sheet. The acceptance sheet is prepared by the candidate before the final thesis defense. It must be on 100% acid-free paper. At the time of the final thesis defense, all signatures of the thesis committee must be obtained and the acceptance sheet submitted to the Office of Academic Assistance. The OAA will obtain the Dean's signature. Only one original acceptance sheet is required; this original will be kept in your file in the OAA. Should you wish to order bound copies of your thesis, a copy of the acceptance sheet will be provided for each bound copy. In the online version of your thesis, this signature page will be replaced by the Approval Page.
Introduction. Usually the first section of the text is an introductory chapter or chapters; it may be entitled "Introduction," and subsequent chapter designations will be introduced at the beginning of each major section. Pages of the main body should be numbered using Arabic numerals in accordance with the style manual you are using. The following information should be presented in the introduction:

  • The purpose of the study, including a concise statement of the problem(s).
  • The importance or significance of the project and perhaps the candidate's reasons for interest in it.
  • The scope and limitations of the study.
  • References to the most important previous studies and contributions concerning the subject. (You may wish to connect your research with that already accomplished by others.)
  • A general plan of presentation for the rest of the thesis.
  • General information, including the main data sources used, the procedures and techniques involved, and other technical aspects of handling the material.

Text. The main body of text is divided by chapters; each chapter begins a new page. Chapter headings are numbered with Roman numerals and are given distinct titles. Subtitles are acceptable and recommended. Chapters are customarily divided into subsections with subheadings that have slightly different styles and are designated first, second, and third-level headings. These should follow the rules of the style manual and be consistent throughout the text. Chapters do not have title pages. (See sample of Chapter beginning page, Figure 10)

Conclusion. The conclusion gives a clear and comprehensive summary of the previous chapters. The significant findings and the author's conclusions based on those findings are presented. Suggestions and recommendations for additional research should be made.

The references are the last division of the thesis's general format, and consist of the appendices, the bibliography, and the vita.

Appendices. Appendices are usually added to contain data and quotations too lengthy for inclusion in the text. Each appendix is identified with a capital letter, and must bear a title. Continue numbering all pages consecutively; however, reference to the appendices is indicated by the letter (for example Appendix A, Appendix B), rather than the page number of the thesis on which the appendix is located. Each appendix and its title should be listed separately in the Table of Contents. All materials in the appendices must be legible and conform to margin guidelines. Do not include copyrighted materials in the appendices unless you have obtained appropriate authorization from the holder of the copyright to do so. (Refer to the Details section for information on obtaining copyright permissions.)

Bibliography. Following the appendices is the list of references, formatted according to the style manual you selected.

Vita. The last page(s) of the thesis is a biographical sketch of the author. The vita is written in the third person in prose, and should be no longer than two pages. It should include the author's full name, date and place of birth, schools and colleges attended, degrees held, major research and publications, various types of work and military experience, and a permanent address.

Copyright Permission(s). It is your responsibility to (a) obtain letters of permission from copyright holders to reproduce copyrighted material used in your thesis and (b) turn in these written permissions at the time your submit your final draft to the Office of Academic Assistance. Permission(s) should be obtained well in advance of the anticipated date of the final defense. Allow ample time (at least several weeks) to secure permission. The main task is to identify the copyright holder at the time of publication and write for permission to reprint or adapt the material. Depending on the policies of the copyright holder, permission may be required from the copyright holder as well as from the author of the requested material. Determining who holds the copyright can be a challenge, particularly for older works, because publishers may merge and copyrights change hands. The permissions request should specify the source material (title of work, year of publication, page number, etc.) and the nature of the reuse (reprinting in a thesis). The OAA will accept a letter of permission or an email from the publisher. Once permissions are granted, the author needs to include a permissions notice in the thesis (refer to your style manual for format). Your thesis cannot be accepted as final until all copyright permissions are obtained.

  • Not following a style manual. Do not use another thesis as a guide; choose your style manual and follow it carefully.
  • Inconsistent margins often occur when tables or charts are added to the thesis. All pages must conform to the same margins.
  • Mixed fonts are not allowed; use the same typeface for text, captions, headings and page numbers.
  • Numbering preliminary pages. Although all pages are counted, the first page to actually be numbered is the Acknowledgements page.
  • Not numbering pages in the text and references. Beginning with number 1 on the first Chapter page, all pages are numbered continuously including the appendices, bibliography and vita.
  • Page numbers not consistent. The placement of numbers on pages (lower right corner, centered at bottom, suppressed or not suppressed on first page of chapters) must be consistent throughout the document.
  • Poor quality charts, maps or illustrations. Make sure any materials used in your text or appendices are readable and that the reproductions are high quality.
  • Using a non-standard font will cause problems when you convert your thesis to electronic format. Choose a standard font and use it throughout.
  • Waiting too late to obtain copyright permissions can delay your graduation. It sometimes takes weeks to obtain them; don't wait until the last minute to research sources send requests.

Final Steps and Graduation

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice: Every student who has completed a thesis is subject to a final oral examination of his or her work (final defense). The student may only schedule the final defense of the thesis when all other degree requirements have been satisfied.

Prior to scheduling the final defense, the student must submit a final draft of the thesis to all members of the committee to determine the feasibility of a final defense. The thesis committee must receive and approve the final draft of the thesis prior to the scheduling of the final defense.

The student and thesis committee must agree upon the date, time, and place of the final thesis defense and the student must announce the date, time, and place for the final thesis defense two weeks prior to its administration. A final thesis defense cannot be scheduled during
semester break. The original copy of the Thesis Defense Announcement must be delivered to the departmental office to become a part of the student’s file.

The final defense of the thesis must be scheduled prior to the final two weeks of scheduled classes for the semester of anticipated graduation. The final thesis defense must be attended by no fewer than three members of the student’s thesis committee and will be open to all faculty members and the general public.

Approval of the thesis will be by majority vote of the student’s thesis committee. Unsuccessful attempts to defend the thesis are handled by the thesis committee; however, an unsuccessful defense may result in additional requirements or termination from the program. The student is allowed two attempts to successfully defend the thesis. Immediately following the final thesis defense, the committee chairperson should report the results to the Master's program Director and the Office of Academic Assistance (OAA) using the Results of Thesis Defense form.

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

M.A. in Economics: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. Felix Rioja (frioja@gsu.edu).

M.S. in Criminal Justice:

  • Results of Thesis Defense form: This form should be signed by all committee members and submitted to the program Director and subsequently to the Office of Academic Assistance for record keeping.
  • Acceptance Sheet: You should prepare this sheet and bring it with you to your final defense. If any changes to your thesis are requested as a result of the final defense, your chair may hold the acceptance sheet until s/he believes the thesis is in final form.

Master of Public Policy: Please consult with the program Director, Dr. John Thomas (jcthomas@gsu.edu).

To be cleared for graduation your thesis format must be approved by the Office of Academic Assistance (OAA) and electronically submitted through the Georgia State University Library (exception: students in the joint Public Policy program have formatting approved by GA Tech). Follow the instructions for formatting approval and final submission.

  1. Submit a PDF of your thesis to OAA by the appropriate deadline listed in the Graduation Deadline section. Word documents or non-PDF formats will not be accepted. OAA will review your thesis PDF to ensure compliance with the thesis guidelines. Should you have edits, OAA will notify you by email that edits are required. It is your responsibility to review your document and make any changes necessary to receive approval from OAA. Failure to do so will result in a delay in graduation.
  2. Submit a PDF ofyour thesis online to GA State's Library. Instructions on how to do that may be found on the Library webpage.

Before you upload your final draft of the thesis, make sure of the following:

  • It is Complete, including preliminary pages – you cannot add text after the document is submitted.
  • It is Consistent – Margins must be consistent throughout; Headers of the same type must be treated the same way throughout; Page Numbers must be in the same place on similar pages following the guidelines of the style manual.
  • It has been checked for spelling– you are responsible for the final proof of your thesis.
  • It is Named according to the Library's file naming conventions.
  • It has a Table of Contents with numbers matching the text according to the word page numbers.
  • All notices of required corrections you have received from your thesis committee and OAA have been corrected and you have carefully proofed the final version of your document.
  • It has been converted to PDF format and you have reviewed the PDF for any formatting issues.

No modifications may be made to the final copy once it has been accepted as the official copy by the OAA. Please remember that this file will become part of your permanent body of work and it will be available worldwide. Any errors or mistakes will reflect on you and your program.

You are not required to copyright your thesis, however You may do so if you choose. An overview of copyright information is available through the Library. You may copyright your thesis for a fee through the U.S. Copyright Office

If your thesis is copyrighted, remember to include a copyright notice after the title page; if it is not to be copyrighted, a blank page is inserted after the title page.

The Andrew Young School of Policy Studies does not require you to submit bound copies of your thesis. If you wish to have your thesis bound you may use the following method:

    1. Contact the National Bindery Company by phone at 770-442-5490 or by email at nlbga@mindspring.com
      *Note: The Criminal Justice & Criminology Department requires graduate students submit bound copies of theses. You should consult directly with the program Director, Dr. Eric Sevigny regarding this requirement.

Graduation Deadlines

Fall Be sure to meet all deadlines.
Missing a deadline will delay graduation for a semester
Oct. 15 Deadline to hold your Final Thesis Defense.
Nov. 1 Deadline to upload PDF into iCollege for OAA to complete format review
Dec. 1 Electronic Thesis must be posted to GA State Library server
submission instructions available online
Spring Be sure to meet all deadlines.
Missing a deadline will delay graduation for a semester
March 15 Deadline to hold your Final Thesis Defense.
April 1 Deadline to upload PDF into iCollege for OAA to complete format review
May 1 Electronic Thesis must be posted to GA State Library server
submission instructions available online
Summer Be sure to meet all deadlines.
Missing a deadline will delay graduation for a semester
June 15 Deadline to hold your Final Thesis Defense.
June 15 Deadline to upload PDF into iCollege for OAA to complete format review
August 1 Electronic Thesis must be posted to GA State Library server
submission instructions available online

Sample pages