Culminating Activities

A main degree requirement on all students in graduate programs in the College of Liberal Arts is the completion of a culminating project, such as a thesis and oral defense thereof, a final comprehensive examination, a portfolio, or a non-thesis project.

Masters theses are original academic disquisitions on a problem or issue of disciplinary interest. Compositionally, they explain the significance of the undertaking, normally by stating the major assumptions and reviewing the relevant literature, and then elaborate on the methods of data collection and analysis of evidence, develop and critique the appropriate logical inferences and argumentation, and offer conclusions or recommendations for future work. The average length of the body of a Master’s thesis is around 70 double-spaced pages. 

A non-thesis project is an artistic or technical endeavor that is appropriate for the fine and applied arts or to more professional or vocational fields. Examples could include an ethnographic film, a novel or body of creative writing, or a significantly original software program. Non-thesis projects should include a project report. The average length of the body of a project report is around 30 double-spaced pages. Non-thesis projects need not be submitted for college review.

Students may not enroll in thesis or exam coursework until advanced to candidacy. For further information about theses, course units, and committee membership, including chairpersons or directors, please review the university thesis requirements. For further information about comprehensive examinations, portfolios, or non-thesis projects, please review the university exam requirements. For information about enrollment in GS700B, please review AS policy 18–03 and contact the Director of Graduate Studies with any additional questions.

Oral Defense

By Title V §40510, an oral defense of the thesis is required of those students who pursue the thesis option for their culminating activity. For students who pursue the non-thesis project option, an oral defense is recommended but not required.

Thesis Deadlines

All theses from the College of Liberal Arts must ultimately be approved by all thesis committee members and Professor Sarah Schrank, Director of Graduate Studies, before being submitted to the University’s Thesis Office. Theses submitted to the college for review must be in their finalized form, with all copyediting and formatting completed. The theses and signature pages are to be sent to Professor Sarah Schrank, Director of Graduate Studies ( The college deadlines for theses submissions can be found here:

Semester College Deadlines University Deadlines Date Your Thesis
Fall 2023 10/23/23 11/03/23 December 2023
Winter 2024 12/18/23 01/05/24 January 2024
Spring 2024 03/22/24 04/05/24 May 2024
Summer 2024 06/28/2024 07/14/2024 August 2024

CSULB Thesis & Dissertation Office

The University’s Thesis & Dissertation Office is housed on the 5th floor of the CSULB Library in Room 501. There are numerous resources to help graduate students with the composition of their theses. Most importantly, please consult the University’s formatting guidelines, as it details all formatting rules and requirements, and includes protocols for electronic submission. Various templates have also been provided, including the template for the thesis signature page, as well as Department-specific style guides. The Thesis Office also offers consultations for students prior to submission.