Thesis General Information

All graduate students completing a Plan A (Master's Thesis) or a Plan C (Creative Project) as part of a culminating experience degree requirement must deposit their thesis with the Office of Graduate Studies & Research (GS&R). Upon approval by your thesis committee, your thesis manuscript is reviewed by our office and processed for publication. GS&R assures that all formatting requirements for publication have been met and that your thesis meets the quality standards established by the SJSU Thesis Guidelines (pdf) before the final version is uploaded to an online ETD administrator that is used for delivering the thesis to the external publisher, ProQuest, and to the SJSU library.

Below is a brief description of the Plan A and Plan C culminating experience options. For more information on other culminating experience options and general graduation requirements, please visit our sister website Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE).

Plan A - Thesis

This plan requires selection and approval (by your advisor and/or a thesis committee) of a thesis topic, and its successful completion and publication. Students must register for their departmental 299 course. The thesis will not only be reviewed by your department committee for content but it will also be reviewed by GS&R to ensure that the document follows the university's thesis guidelines. Because of this, the process for completing and submitting a thesis is an intensive one that requires students to follow strict deadlines and requirements.

Plan C - Creative Project

This plan is reserved for cases in which the final requirement is met through a special creative assignment. A creative assignment may include original paintings, dramatic presentations, motion picture productions, works of sculpture, and similar items. The student is required to submit a written report to the GS&R on the creative project following the same formatting guidelines as a regular thesis. Plan C also requires registration in a departmental 299 course.

Students should check with their department to determine whether or not their work is considered a creative project or a thesis.

Preliminary Requirements

Students submitting their thesis to GS&R are expected to have applied for graduation and completed all the necessary steps towards completion of their degree. Information on the steps for completing a master's degree and other relevant deadlines can be found on the GAPE website. The thesis must be submitted for review to GS&R in the semester that you intend to graduate.

Reviewing the procedures and the SJSU Thesis Guidelines (pdf) in advance can save time and help avoid stress, especially for candidates who are completing their thesis, moving, applying for or beginning new jobs at virtually the same time. The most important thing you can do to make the thesis process go smoothly is to take time as soon as possible to learn about requirements, mark deadlines on your calendar, and be realistic about the amount of time you will need. You may submit your thesis up to a month in advance of the posted deadline.

Criterion Software Use for Editing

San Jose State has at its disposal an online electronic editing service, called Criterion, to which students have access at no cost. Papers can be downloaded on a website, at which point a text editor quickly produces an on-screen read-out with various kinds of writing errors identified. GS&R has invented a course – GSR290E (GSR Editing) – with the access code PD28-ZFY8 for your use.

Access to the Editor. To gain access to this service, go to the eCampus page of the Academic Technology website at and follow the following prompts for first-time registration. Under Teaching Tools on the left side of the page, select Criterion. On the Criterion page, select Student Guide for Criterion. If you later have difficulties with any part of this process, you may select Need Help? Send a Ticket on the rightmost Navigation menu and fill out a “help ticket.” When you follow the link for the Student Guide, a complete explanation of the login process for new users and returning users appears. For the first time, copy and paste the URL given (, Create Account, and fill in the fields including that for the access code: PD28-ZFY8. Then press Submit. Any subsequent time, start at this page ( rather than at the eCampus page, and simply Sign In with the use name and password you identified when you created the account.

Activating the Editor. At this point (login), a page should open with the GSREditing class shown under Classes. Click on the class and then on Assignments. Select Start Response. To enter text for editing, copy and paste from a Word document in the window at the bottom of the page. Press Response to see the analysis of writing. A dark blue header indicates the errors identified under Grammar, Usage, Mechanics, and Style. Each of those opens into a set of specific errors. Clicking on the ones with numbers in parentheses takes you to the text box below in which the error is highlighted. Passing the mouse over the highlighted text produces an explanation for the error. You must then decide whether the editor is correct so that you would change your original thesis or project writeup. To make a change, click on Revise at the bottom. With each submission, you can view the analysis under Response as you did before. Ultimately, you would copy and paste the corrected version back into your original document.

Editing Accuracy. The editor is imperfect. It misses some errors. Most of the errors it positively identifies though are indeed errors. However, one must use discretion in all cases. For example, it struggles with headers and titles, where it often calls them incomplete sentences or lacking in ending punctuation. Do not take these corrections as a way to make your paper flawless, but they can help to improve your paper if you use good judgment in choosing the suggestions to accept.