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Master's Theses Guidelines & Templates

Formatting for Written Thesis/Dissertation

If you are submitting a written thesis or dissertation, please follow these general guidelines and formatting specifications:

General Guidelines:

  • All theses/dissertations should be typed neatly, with no strikeovers or handwritten corrections.
  • For hybrid or intertextual theses/dissertations, the written component will serve as an access copy. The bound thesis/dissertation should contain photographs, scans, screenshots, etc. (if applicable), as well as description and contextualization of the work, as necessary.

Formatting Specifications:

1) Type:

Size: 12 pt; If applicable, footnotes should be 10 pt font.

Please use a standard font such as Times New Roman, Verdana, Courier, Arial, etc. Other fonts may be considered if approved by your mentor / thesis advisor.

2) Pagination:

All pages are numbered, except for the title page.

  • Preliminary pages: Roman numerals
  • Text: Arabic numbers

3) Thesis Body [elements marked with a "*" are required]:

Preliminary pages

  • *Title page: Please see Thesis/Dissertation Template for exact formatting and verbiage that should be included.
  • Table of Contents (if applicable)
  • List of figures and/or tables (if applicable)
  • *Abstract: 125 - 175 words


  • *Introduction or Preface
  • *Main body: Text may be divided into sections or chapters at author's discretion
  • Appendices (if any)
  • *Works Cited or Bibliography: Style (MLA, Chicago, etc.) should follow consistent guidelines set by each style.


  • All images contained in the body of the thesis must be formatted within the specified margins.
  • Images and graphics from outside sources must be properly cited / attributed.

4) Margins:

  • Single-side
  • Left: 1.5” (The left margin is especially important for binding purposes.)
  • Right: 1”
  • Top: 1”
  • Bottom: 1”
  • Footer: .5”

NOTE: Margins are the only strictly required spacing element. If you have downloaded the MFA Creative Writing Program Thesis Template or the MA Aesthetics and Politics Thesis Template, then you should already have the correct margins.

Printing of Written Thesis/Dissertation

Printed hardcopies of typed theses or dissertations should be laser-printed and single-sided.  Please print hardcopies on paper that is at least 25% cotton, 20 lb paper (white); standard xerographic bond is not acceptable.  Common brands of printing paper for these purposes include Southworth, Cranes, and Mohawk.  Materials are available in the CalArts Store and through various local and online distributors.

NOTE: Hardcopies of theses/dissertations should NOT be bound or stapled when submitting, although binder clips and/or paperclips are acceptable.

Personal Bound Copy of Written Thesis/Dissertation

Binding of theses/dissertations will resume in Spring 2022, at which point submissions from this year, as well as the past two (2) academic years (2019-2020, and 2020-2021), will be bound accordingly.  Personal bound copies of theses/dissertations can be requested, with payment being made through the CalArts Accounting Office.  All students who request a personal bound copy of their thesis/dissertation MUST supply the CalArts Library with an additional (second) hardcopy to send to the bindery for this purpose, explicitly.

To obtain your own personal bound copy of your thesis/dissertation, please complete the following steps:

  1. Print an additional (second) hardcopy of your thesis/dissertation, following all formatting and printing guidelines (see above).
  2. Complete and print the Thesis Binding Request Form (see below); follow instructions on the form to proceed with submitting payment to the CalArts Accounting Office.
  3. Submit payment for binding to the CalArts Accounting Office; save receipt of payment from the Accounting Office.
  4. Submit the Thesis Binding Request Form, payment receipt, and additional (second) hardcopy of your thesis/dissertation to the CalArts Library's Reference and Instruction Librarian, in person or via postal mail.

NOTE: The binding of theses/dissertations can take several months, and there may be additional delays this year due to various, unforeseen circumstances.

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