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Process for Submitting Your Thesis or Dissertation

This web page describes the required submission process for your thesis or dissertation.
Every term has firm deadlines related to each part of the thesis and dissertation submission process. The instructions for meeting these deadlines are described in chronological order below. You can view the deadlines for each upcoming graduation term on the Deadlines page on this site.

general information
Start Here: General Information
  • As you near completion, you will submit a draft version and later a final version of your thesis or dissertation using the William & Mary Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Administrator (ETD) website. This process is described below.
  • Submitting your thesis or dissertation to the ETD website will make it available through both the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global Database and the W&M ScholarWorks Institutional Repository where the university archives all theses and dissertations.
  • Review the About Copyright and the About Embargoes web pages and meet with your advisor to discuss whether you will need to embargo your work. This is an important decision; educate yourself about your options.
  • In preparing the draft and final versions of your thesis or dissertation, you must follow specific standards and formatting specified in the Physical Standards for Theses and Dissertations. Some W&M graduate programs might specify additional style guidelines, but these cannot supersede the physical standards required by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research (OGSR).
  • Note that the OGSR no longer requires hard copies of forms. You will submit forms to the OGSR via email using your W&M student email address (
information about pre-defense checklist
Pre-Defense Deadline

Students submitting a thesis or dissertation must complete the following four steps at least two weeks before the defense.

1. Committee Member Appointment Form
Your defense examination committee must be established and the Committee Member Appointment Form [pdf] submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies and Research (OGSR) for approval no later than the Pre-Defense Deadline.

2. Notify the OGSR of Scheduled Defense Date

You must notify the OGSR of your scheduled defense date. This means your defense date must be scheduled with your committee by this deadline. Simply email [[w|vlthompsondopp,Vicki Thompson Dopp]] with your scheduled defense date by the Pre-Defense Deadline.

3. License and Embargo Form

This form is required whether or not you choose to embargo your work.
A signed License and Embargo Form [pdf] must be submitted to the OGSR by the posted deadline. The License and Embargo Form must be signed by you and your advisor.

  • Read the form carefully.
  • Whether or not to embargo your work is an important decision. Educate yourself about issues regarding copyright and embargoes. Start with the About Copyright and About Embargoes web pages. More information is available through W&M Libraries.
  • If you choose an embargo lasting more than two (2) years, additional approval is required by the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. If you choose an embargo of more than six (6) years, you are also required to attend an Embargo Information Session with a W&M Research Librarian; this must be completed and documented before you obtain the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research’s signature on the Embargo Form. Contact the [[sweref,W&M Research Librarians]], to schedule a session.
  • Download the License and Embargo Form, obtain signatures as required, and submit the form to the OGSR.
  • Your Embargo Form must have both the ProQuest (PQ publishing options) and W&M ScholarWorks (Institutional Repository publishing options) publishing information filled in. Your embargo choice must be the same for both ProQuest and W&M ScholarWorks, the institutional repository.
4. Draft Submission

You must submit one complete draft of your thesis or dissertation to the W&M ETD Administrator website for a format review. Visit the W&M ETD Administrator and create your personal account to get started; review the instructions for using the site.

  • Before submitting your draft thesis or dissertation, make sure you have completed and integrated all required pages into your document (e.g., Title Page, Approval Page). Consult the Physical Standards for templates of and information about the required pages. Pay particular attention to the formatting instructions on the Title and Approval Page templates. Your Approval Page must be approved by the OGSR before your defense.
  • The submission process will automatically convert your document to .pdf format.
  • A staff member in the OGSR will review your document's formatting and required pages. You'll be contacted by email within five business days, notifying you that either your draft is approved or that certain revisions are required. This review considers formatting not content; you may continue editing content during the review stage.
  • If the review determines that formatting revisions are required, you will need to make those revisions and resubmit your document to the W&M ETD Administrator website. You will be notified via email once the second review is complete. The review process will continue until all required formatting revisions have been made; you will receive email confirmation once your draft is approved.
  • Changes to your submission may be made at any time to anything within the W&M ETD Administrator before you make your final submission. However, you have the option of paying ProQuest to register copyright on your behalf and to order bound copies of your work through ProQuest's service. If you choose to use either of these optional paid services, you must make these payments at the draft submission stage. You will not have the option of adding these services later. Read below about your options regarding bound copies and copyright registration.
information about defense completion deadline
Defense Completion Deadline

Your defense must be scheduled and completed by the posted deadline for the term in which you have filed to graduate. Consult your advisor(s) well in advance to arrange a defense schedule that will allow you to meet all published deadlines related to the defense and submission of the thesis or dissertation for the term in which you have filed to graduate.

  • Most advisor(s) and/or committee members spend time away from campus for conferences and research, so be sure to arrange all necessary meetings and your defense examination well in advance of the defense deadline.
  • When scheduling your defense, remember to allow yourself time following the defense to complete any revisions your committee may request of you. These revisions must be completed in time to meet the final thesis or dissertation submission deadline (see below).
  • A recent change to the A&S Graduate Catalog (2021) now allows for remote defenses. The Catalog states: "The first preference is for the student and all dissertation defense examination committee members to be physically present for the examination, unless otherwise agreed to by the student’s advisor or co-advisors."
  • At the defense, secure signatures on the following forms, which must be submitted to the OGSR to fulfill degree requirements (see below): Dissertation or Thesis Defense Examination Form; Approval Page; and the Institutional Compliance Committee Form if not already signed. See below for detailed information about these forms. If any committee members will not be present for the defense in person, follow the established process outlined regarding proxy signatures.
information about final submission process
Final Submission Deadline
There are two steps to submitting the final version of your thesis or dissertation:

Step 1: You must submit the final version of your thesis or dissertation electronically online through the W&M ETD Administrator.

The formatting of the Final Submission document must be consistent with that of the Approved Draft, approved by the OGSR for the Pre-Defense Deadline.

  • The content of the final version can have changed since the draft submission, but the formatting and required pages must remain as approved. If changes have been made since the draft submission was approved, your thesis or dissertation will not be accepted by the OGSR. Ensure that the page numbers listed in your table of contents match the page numbering in the body of the thesis or dissertation.
  • Before submitting the final version, you should complete any necessary content revisions and insert the signed and previously approved Approval Page in the required page location stated in the Physical Standards. The Approval Page must be signed by the student and all committee members at the defense; follow instructions about proxy signatures, if needed. See below for details about the Approval Page.
  • On rare occasions, in extenuating circumstances, and only with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research, exceptions to the published deadline might be allowed if your committee has approved your thesis or dissertation. The Director of Graduate Studies for your program must petition the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research for the extension to this deadline on your behalf.
  • After you submit the final version, you will receive an email confirming receipt from the OGSR containing further details about your ProQuest submission.
  • Once the final version of your thesis or dissertation has been submitted, you can no longer make revisions. This final version becomes the official version of record.

Step 2: You must submit the forms and documents discussed in detail below to the Office of Graduate Studies & Research, by the posted Final Submission Deadline.

  • Institutional Compliance Committee Form [pdf]. This form is intended to certify your compliance with institutional research protocols. Every A&S graduate student must provide an Institutional Compliance Committee form as a separate form—not inserted into the thesis or dissertation—to the OGSR when the final thesis or dissertation is submitted. The form must be signed by you and your faculty advisor, certifying that either the research does not require approval by a compliance committee, or the research has been approved by the appropriate W&M compliance committee(s). If the research requires such approval, a Compliance Page must be included among the required pages in your thesis or dissertation and must follow the template and page order provided in the Physical Standards.
  • The Dissertation or Thesis Defense Examination Form [pdf] certifies that the committee has examined the thesis or dissertation, recommends its acceptance, and states that a successful defense examination has taken place. If needed, follow the process outlined regarding proxy signatures.
  • The Approval Page [pdf] is an important official document that becomes part of the final version of the thesis or dissertation. It includes the names and formal titles of all defense examination committee members and is presented for signatures at the close of a successful defense. The Approval Page must be approved for format before the defense by the OGSR (see Pre-Defense Deadline above for details). It must be signed by the student and each individual committee member at the conclusion of a successful defense examination. If needed, follow the process outlined regarding proxy signatures. After your defense, the signed page becomes part of the thesis or dissertation; you must scan the signed page and insert it among the required pages in your thesis or dissertation in the page order indicated in the Physical Standards. See the Physical Standards for the template of the Approval Page. Once the signed Approval Page has been inserted and all final document revisions have been made, you will submit the final version of your thesis or dissertation to the W&M ETD Administrator website.
  • Survey of Earned Doctorates for Dissertations Certificate: doctoral candidates must complete this online survey. Please visit the Survey of Earned Doctorates website and complete the form electronically. You will be asked to provide a variety of demographic information, as well as basic information about your research and field. After submitting the survey you will receive a Certificate of Completion via email. You must submit a copy of this Certificate of Completion to the OGSR; we suggest you keep a copy for your records.
information about ordering bound copies
Optional: Ordering Bound Copies

The university no longer archives bound copies of the thesis or dissertation and does not provide bound copies to students. If you would like a bound copy for your records, you will have an option to order one (or more) when you submit your draft to the William & Mary ETD Administrator website (see Pre-Defense Deadline above). If you choose not to order one at the time of submission, you may find an outside vendor if you choose to have a personal copy bound later. Online vendors like or local companies like Long's-Roullet Bookbinders, Inc. provide many printing options for you to choose from.

Conferral of Degrees
William & Mary confers degrees in August, January, and May of each year. The commencement ceremony is held in May. Degree recipients of the previous August and January are recognized at, and invited to attend, the following May ceremony. The Office of Graduate Studies and Research has thirty (30) days from the actual date of degree conferral to submit final paperwork to the University Registrar for degree certification. Diplomas are issued approximately fifteen (15) days after degree certification.