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Graduate Studies

Completing your Masters degree – Thesis

Your first step regarding any questions with respect to writing your thesis is to consult the School of Graduate Studies’ Guide for the Preparation of Master’s and Doctoral Theses. All graduate theses must conform to the style and form requirements as detailed in the Guide.

Step 1. Write

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Please consult the Guide for the Preparation of Theses for samples on how to format your thesis.

Per the Guide for the Preparation of Theses: The text of the standard graduate thesis consists of the Introduction section or chapter, followed by several well-defined sections or chapters, which contain the research results, finishing with a Conclusion and Discussion section or chapter, or a summary statement of the results of the investigation. The List of References section (or bibliography) follows the text, and any appendices follow this.

Please consult the Guide for the Preparation of Theses for more detailed information on references and further resources that you can consult for referencing help.

If some of the research undertaken expressly for the degree has previously been published or prepared by the student as one or more journal articles, or parts of books, those items may be included within the thesis subject to the School of Graduate Studies’ regulations and to obtaining permission from the supervisory committee.

Please consult the Guide for the Preparation Theses – download via Quick Links to the right – for more detailed information on Sandwich Theses.

For your e-thesis to be published via MacSphere, the final version of your thesis should be named using the following file naming convention:


Effective December 1, 2023, all graduate students who initiate their defence on or after this date, are required to have their thesis run through McMaster’s plagiarism checking software, iThenticate.

iThenticate is a similarity detection tool meant to be used by researchers to check any original works that will be publicly released and who are concerned about potential plagiarism.

According to McMaster’s Research Plagiarism Checking Policy, it is expected that all graduate theses, shall be checked for plagiarism in compliance with this policy. Plagiarism checking is expected to occur prior to the coordination of the defence. Supervisors of Master’s students will need to sign a separate attestation sheet indicating that this has occurred and the document is satisfactory for public disclosure.

Your pre-defence thesis must be uploaded to iThenticate by your primary supervisor before you can initiate your Masters defence.

To protect graduate students’ privacy, only academic supervisors will have access to this software and will be responsible for uploading their student’s theses. It should not be used to check documents submitted to instructors as course assignments.

Step 2. Defend

Before initiating your defence, you should confirm with your supervisor and committee members if applicable, that you are ready to initiate. Your supervisor must also sign a separate attestation sheet prior to initiation, indicating that they have run your thesis through iThenticate and it is satisfactory for public disclosure. Once this is done, contact your department to confirm the program’s defence process. After a successful defence, the chair of the examination committee will inform you of thesis changes required by examiners. After all changes have been made, you must submit this completed form to the School of Graduate Studies for your final submission to be published to MacSphere.

You can now check supervisor(s) and academic plan(s)

If any of this information is incorrect, you should contact to your program office before proceeding.


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For dates and deadlines for defence and upcoming convocation ceremonies please refer to the Dates and Deadlines.

This step allows you to propose a date, time and location. This information will be confirmed by your program office, as they will receive notification after you have completed this process.

Please note your thesis title is required, but you can also add an abstract at this stage.

Please be aware after submission, your program office will assist you with the rest of the process and you should contact them to ensure that all arrangements have been put in place for your defence.

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You will be given an opportunity to review before submission. Once you have submitted you will receive a confirmation email that you have successfully initiated the process.

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Select My Academics in the Academic tab.

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Please consult with your department to see if they require that you initiate a Master’s Defence in Mosaic. All departments will need you to contact your Graduate Administrator to let them know you plan on defending your Master’s thesis. SGS does not require that you initiate a Master’s Defence in Mosaic but your department may have a different requirement. All PhD Defences MUST be initiated in Mosaic.

If your department requires that you initiate

You should select – Thesis Intent – Defend Thesis

This selection is only possible if you are enrolled a research plan type. If the student needs to switch to a research plan type, you should submit a service request for a plan change before initiating the thesis defence process.

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Step 3. Submit

Please note that your degree requirements are considered complete when one electronic copy of the thesis, revised as directed by your defence examining committee, is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies through the E-Thesis Submission module in MacSphere.

  • ONE electronic copy of the thesis, revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and approved by the Supervisor/Examining Committee
  • A standard 10-12 point font has been used
  • TOP and LEFT margins should be 3.8 cm, and RIGHT and BOTTOM margins should be 2.5 cm
  • Title page
  • Half-title page
  • Descriptive note
  • Abstract of 300 words or less
  • All preliminary pages are numbered in lower case Roman numerals
  • All pages must be numbered. The main body of the thesis, including text, bibliography and appendices, must be numbered continuously using Arabic numerals.

If you have not already done so, please submit the following forms to your department’s graduate administrator. They will submit them to the School of Graduate Studies on your behalf. Your final submission will not be considered complete without this documentation.

If you have completed all of the above requirements, you are ready to submit to your thesis.

  • Submit your electronic thesis to MacSphere. Please follow the link and click on ‘Sign on to my MacSphere’ to deposit your thesis. Ensure your thesis is uploaded as a pdf document. Any supporting material can be uploaded in various formats.
  • E-thesis file name conventions. For your e-thesis to be published via MacSphere, the final version of your thesis should be named using the following file naming convention:


  1. Go to MacSphere.
  2. On top/right corner click on Sign onto My MacSphere and log in with your MAC ID.
  3. Click on Start a New Submission.
  4. Select Collection: Open Access Dissertations and Theses, and click on Manual Submission to begin submitting your dissertation.
  5. Complete the submission screens as prompted. Once you click on I Grant The License your dissertation will be submitted to SGS for processing.

Links to e-theses in MacSphere are available through a variety of tools. The contents of MacSphere are Google indexed, bringing McMaster scholarship to the attention of a broad range of users. Automated tools will continue to integrate e-theses with other print and electronic library resources in both the local catalogue and integrated catalogues, such as WorldCat.

Theses in physical formats have historically been low-use library materials, however digitized theses are receiving higher usage. Site statistics for theses currently available in McMaster’s MacSphere show several each month are downloaded more than 100 times and many others have multiple downloads.

Embargoed status is intended to protect rights for immediate commercial publication, to obtain a patent which may rise from the research, or as a result of any contract made with a third party. The student may request a postponement of digital publication for up to one year at the time of thesis submission to MacSphere – all such requests are automatically granted. Students who would like to extend this initial period of postponement must apply to the thesis coordinator who will forward the request to the Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies for determination of whether further publication postponement is warranted. This request must include a full description of why the additional delay is requested and what steps have been taken to address the issues that required the initial delay. No delay of publication more than two years from the initial submission will be permitted.

Please note that you and your supervisor must both sign the delay of publication area on your Final Thesis Submission Sheet. For more information, consult the School of Graduate Studies Calendar.

If you choose to have your thesis bound, binding service is available through Via their website, you can print, bind and send your thesis where you wish. However, this is only an option; you may use any binding service that you prefer.

Optional Bound Copies – Should the supervisor and/or department require one or more bound paper copies of your thesis, it is the student’s responsibility to obtain and distribute these bound copies.

Apart from these considerations, the general guidelines for thesis production should be followed.