An "ETD" is the electronic version of a thesis, project, or dissertation. Instead of being printed and bound, the file is converted to a Portable Document File (PDF) and submitted to the library. The library preserves and archives the PDF, and makes it available online through ScholarWorks at CSUSM, our Institutional Repository. The student's original research is produced, submitted, and accessed in electronic format. The components and structure of the document are basically the same as a paper thesis or dissertation. For example, it has figures, tables, footnotes, and references. 

Why ETDs? What is the benefit to CSUSM, and to me as a student?

ETDs provide increased visibility of research produced at the University. The immediate and widespread availability of ETD documents provides worldwide access to scholarship. The increased visibility and accessibility often results in increased readership and more citations. Electronic submission introduces students to electronic publishing and trains them in the technical skills needed for digital publishing. Publication of theses and dissertations in electronic format is faster, cheaper, and require less storage space.

How do I submit my thesis, project, or dissertation?

After a successful defense and committee approval, and the $25 fee has been paid online, you are ready to submit your ETD. Please follow the instructions on this guide under the submission guidelines. For students completing the CSUSM/UCSD Joint Ed.D. Program, please click on the CSUSM/UCSD Joint Ed.D Requirements tab. 

I have a project that I want to submit. Is that handled differently?

Starting with the Fall 2012 semester, the library will no longer accept paper projects. All projects must be submitted electronically. 

My project is a group project. Do we have a different process?

Group projects should only be submitted once. It may be easiest to designate someone to submit the project on behalf of the entire group. Each student is still responsible for completing the ETD certification form, and for paying the fee! Each student MUST Email their form and receipt to Carmen Mitchell AND by the deadline in order for the project to be submitted. Group projects will not be reviewed until ALL members of the group have completed their paperwork.

Do I have to make an appointment to submit my ETD?

No, you do not need an appointment to submit your thesis or project. You DO need an appointment to submit a dissertation. If you have questions that are not answered in this guide, please email Carmen Mitchell.

How should I format my thesis/project/dissertation?

Students should consult with their committee chair and members of their advisory committee to determine the textual arrangement and reference format of the dissertation or thesis. Each discipline is different, and has different expectations for style. If you need assistance with citation styles, please contact the Research Help Desk or a librarian.

Do I need to obtain signatures?

YES! Both the Departmental Signature Page and E-Thesis Certification Form must contain signatures in dark blue or black ink. 

When should I submit my thesis/project/dissertation?

ETDs may be submitted any time AFTER a successful defense and the ETD fee has been paid to the cashier's office. The deadline for Summer 2020 is August 6th at noon. If you require an extension, your committee chair will need to request the extension from Sara Constantinescu in the Office of Graduate Studies. If granted, an extension can be anywhere from one day to one week. If you need more than a one week period of time, you will need to enroll for a course the next semester. Please seek guidance from your faculty advisor or department coordinator. 

What if I don't have Adobe Acrobat Pro at home or work?

You will need Adobe Acrobat Pro in order to merge your signature page into your file, as well as check your file for ADA compliance. Adobe Acrobat Pro is available on all the computers on campus. If you are not on campus, you may download the Adobe Creative Cloud from the Student Technology Help Desk.

What if I have confidential or proprietary information in my thesis or my project? What are Character String Replacements and Embargo Periods?

If you and your committee agree to place a restriction on your thesis, project, or dissertation for patent or security reasons, you must indicate on the e-thesis/project certification form. An embargo means that your work will not be viewable by anyone without a CSUSM user name and password for the given period. After the restriction expires, the Library will make your work publicly available for anyone to see. An embargo must be authorized by your faculty advisor, and indicated on your certification form. Your advisor may ask you to submit a modified version of your abstract to ScholarWorks for embargoed items. Please let Carmen Mitchell know if you have any questions. 

If you are dealing with confidential information in your file, an embargo may not address your concerns. You might want to consider a character string replacement to replace the confidential info with generic info. Please contact Carmen Mitchell for assistance with this.

For some disciplines, you may have signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in order to complete the work necessary for your project or thesis. If this applys to you or your group, your faculty advisor may request that you submit a "reduced content" thesis or project to ScholarWorks. This request is handled the same way that an extension request is handled: Your faculty advisor should communicate with your department coordinator, and the department coordinator will request the reduced content exemption from the Dean of Graduate Studies. Please do NOT wait to make this request, as it may take some time for a decision to be made. Please contact Carmen Mitchell if you have any questions.

How do I Merge two PDFs using Adobe Acrobat Pro

To merge two PDFs into one document, use Adobe Acrobat Pro, which is available on all computers on campus.

  1. Open Acrobat Pro and click on the Tools menu on the tab
  2. Select the “Combine Files” tool
  3. Click the button for “Combine Files” in the middle of the screen and select your files. An icon of each file will appear on your screen. You can click and drag the icons to place them in the correct order, the signature page before the main file.
  4. When the items are in the order that you want, click on the “Combine Files” button in the upper right hand corner.
  5. Once the files have been combined, a window with this new PDF will open.
  6. Now you can save the file, following the naming conventions: <Last nameFirst name_TermYear> ex. <DoeJohn_Fall2018.pdf>

What about my rights as an author? 

Students retain all rights to their work. CSUSM adopted an Intellectual Property Policy in 2012. This policy states "copyrightable works prepared by students as part of the requirements for a University degree program are deemed to be the property of the student. Unless otherwise agreed upon, research records for a graduate theses or dissertation are the property of the University, but the student-creator may retain a copy of the work." You should talk with your faculty advisor if you have questions about the material contained in your thesis or project. However, students must also grant a non-exclusive license to the university at the time of submission when completing the E-Thesis Certification Form as well as on the Thesis/Project Upload during the submission process. The license confirms that the student is the creator and contributor of the work and grants the university permission to share the work for educational purposes.

Students submitting materials for which they do not own copyrights, (including research data sets) must certify that they have obtained permission from the copyright owner before making materials available online. If you are unclear about the material contained in your thesis or project, please talk with your faculty advisor. 

Students also give the university permission to make their work available to all users and to adapt it to accessible formats per American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance requirements. Requests for use of the work for purposes other than education will be referred back to the copyright holder.

Binding Options

Students who wish to purchase a paper copy of their thesis for personal use can contact binding vendors directly. Some students use The Library does not require bound copies.