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College of Fine Arts and Communication
School of Art and Design

Thesis Information


Policy on Completion of Degree Requirements and Graduation

Graduate students who have previously registered for all credits in a graduate degree program but who have not completed all requirements (e.g., thesis, professional paper, internship, etc.) must continue to register each semester (except summer terms) until all degree requirements are completed and filed with the registrar. Students must be enrolled for at least one credit hour during the semester of graduation except summer, if registered for the prior spring semester. Students may request a leave of absence for special circumstances, but are not permitted to use university resources during the period of their leave of absence. Students may petition the Graduate School for an exception to the continuous registration requirement if all degree requirements are completed prior to the first day of class in the next term.

For information on leave of absence, view Absence and Readmission found at

For Academic Calendar Dates download the pdf or go to the Graduate School Homepage.

Information About MAEd Thesis And Culminating Project

The North Carolina Master of Arts in Education Standards require students to prepare a culminating "product of learning" such as a thesis, project, or portfolio that a panel of university faculty and school professionals can evaluate to determine whether or not you have adequately demonstrated the professional advanced competencies of a master teacher.

This product should reflect advanced teacher content knowledge and skill, and may include classroom impact, on-site visit and report that might include feedback from supervisors, colleagues, students, parents, and other individuals who might provide information about your performance and student performance data and its analysis, higher score on exit exam in content or other related information.

General Aims of the Thesis or Culminating Project

* Should build on your current knowledge and competencies

* Show your increased skills in data collection and data use for diagnosis, planning, decision-making, and evaluation

* Apply research to real-world experiences to improve classroom practice through action

* Reflect on instructional and management practices and on your professional development as a master teacher

* Show increased content knowledge in art

* Develop peer leadership and mentoring skills.

Factors to Consider when Making Your Decision

Thesis    : The Thesis is a very rigorous research/writing activity. The writing has to conform to the ECU Graduate School guidelines and be posted to the Internet. Essentially the thesis is a book that you write and the university publishes. If you have a valuable research study, the thesis option gives you an opportunity to present the research in a public forum. The thesis represents a synthesis of all the skills you have and when you are finished you have completed a book that will be in the library and on the web for the “world” to read. The thesis is labor intensive and exacting. You form a committee to work with you and read the thesis before it is submitted to the Graduate School. It is important to stay in touch with your committee throughout the process (2 courses in ART 7000). You use the committee as a sounding board and they will help you work out your ideas and research and make suggestions for the style of writing. You would choose this option if you plan to pursue a doctoral program such as a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) or a Doctor of Education (EdD).

Culminating Project: The project does not have a set format. You can have an exhibition of artwork, put up a website, write a “draft” of a book you want to submit to a publisher, create an exhibition exploring a topic related to instructional content, or pursue a large school project. In relation to the project, you choose courses that are relevant to your topic and work on the project. You choose a single professor as a Project Advisor. This person should monitor the development of the project. Generally, you will keep a weekly log and document in photos (if appropriate) the important stages of the development of the project. You will write a mid semester report reflecting on the progress of the project. Then write a summary project report and show the product. The final product can be a portfolio or a website that is archived on a CD. Two Art Education faculty members assess the final project report using the rubric at this link

For more information

Information About The MFA Thesis Exhibition

A final exhibition is the formal presentation of the student’s artwork in which the student demonstrates advanced professional competence. The work in the final exhibition is selected by the student under the direction of studio faculty in his/her major concentration.  A written document, in support of the student’s artwork, which follows the guidelines of the East Carolina University Graduate School, is also required.  The final exhibition and the written documentation are the concluding requirements of an MFA degree in studio art.  The MFA degree is recognized as the terminal degree in the studio arts.

The required written thesis follows the format and procedures for thesis requirements as defined by the EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY Graduate School. The written thesis for the MFA degree is a support document to the thesis itself, which is the thesis exhibition of artwork.

The SOAD Wellington B. Gray Art Gallery will offer a MFA Thesis Exhibition each spring semester. Applications for all graduate thesis exhibitions (fall or spring) must be made through the Director of Graduate Studies.

To initiate the process for an MFA exhibition, the student must deliver a completed and signed Intent to Exhibit Form to the Director of Graduate Studies two (2) semesters prior to the anticipated exhibition. This Intent to Exhibit Form is available in this Manual and at this LINK. Failure to do so will withdraw the option to exhibit. The Intent to Exhibit Form must be signed by the student, the thesis chairperson, the Director of Graduate Studies and, the Gallery Director of the exhibition venue. For the spring exhibition in the Gray Gallery, the Gallery Director will also receive a copy of the completed Intent to Exhibit Form. If a student intends to exhibit during the fall semester, it will be the responsibility of the student to find an exhibition space, provided the student has the approval of the thesis chairperson.  Other possible exhibition sites include, but are not limited to: CCA in Kinston, Burroughs/Wellcome Senior Gallery, Emerge Gallery or the Greenville Museum of Art (GMA). The Burroughs/Wellcome Senior Gallery is scheduled thru the School of Art and Design main office.  As gallery schedules are traditionally established one to two years in advance, it is recommended that arrangements be made by the student as soon as feasible. The procedure for initiating an exhibition at the CCA in Kinston, Emerge Gallery or the GMA is the same as for any artist and images of artwork should be submitted to their Directors two to four (2-4) semesters in advance.

The printed announcement for the MFA Thesis Exhibition must be approved by the thesis chairperson if it is a solo exhibition. Posters and invitations for group exhibitions in the Gray Gallery must be approved by the Gallery Director.

Wellington B. Gray Gallery Thesis Exhibition

The Wellington B. Gray Gallery hosts an MFA Thesis Exhibition during the spring semester of each school year. Thesis students intending to exhibit must have obtained the signature of the Gallery Director using the appropriate form two (2) semesters in advance of the exhibition date. A copy of this form must be provided to the Gallery office.

Students will meet as a group with the Gallery Director in January of the semester of said thesis exhibition.

The process for the thesis exhibition in the Wellington B. Gray Gallery has been established in order to familiarize graduate students with the practice of gallery work. Each student will be responsible, as a group, for the following

1.    Elect a chairperson of committee
2.    Design an exhibition announcement and the gallery exhibition space
3.    Assist with mailing
4.    Install and de-install all artwork
5.    Organize opening reception
6.    Meet all calendar commitments

The Gallery Director is responsible for providing participating graduate students with exhibition space and has final approval of the exhibition and announcement design. The Wellington B. Gray Gallery waives commissions on the sale price of all work of graduate students sold during the MFA Thesis Exhibition.

MFA Thesis Procedures

Graduate students pursuing a MFA degree will adhere to the following procedures unless their area of concentration has annual progress toward tenure reviews. Contact your area coordinator for details.

1. After completing 30 hours of graduate coursework for the MFA, the student’s body of work will be reviewed by the studio faculty within his/her declared concentration. Each concentration has specific procedures the student must follow. The student will become a candidate for the degree upon approval of the faculty within their declared concentration.

2. Once approved, the student will select a thesis director and a thesis topic within his/her area of study. The Thesis Director must have graduate faculty status in the student’s major declared concentration. Should the student wish to change his/her thesis director, the matter will be brought before the Director of Graduate Studies with the student and the Thesis Director present. If not resolved then, the matter will be brought before the School of Art and Design Graduate Committee.

3. The student will select a thesis committee in consultation with the Thesis Director. The thesis committee is composed of a faculty member from the student’s area concentration who serves as Thesis Director, two other graduate faculty from the School of Art and Design, who serve as readers, and one faculty member who may be from another school or department who serves as consultant. All committee members with the exception of the consultant must hold either full or associate graduate faculty status.  Any subsequent changes in the thesis committee must have the approval of the thesis director and the student.

4. After the thesis topic has been selected and approved by the thesis director, the student will write a thesis prospectus. Although there is no required form for the prospectus, generally it will contain three parts:
a.    A statement of the purpose, method and scope of the topic
b.    An outline showing the projected organization of material
c.    A bibliography of materials on the topic

5. The student will submit the thesis prospectus to each thesis committee member. Shortly thereafter, the student will meet with the thesis director and committee members to discuss the thesis topic and prospectus.

6. Each student must receive approval for his/her thesis title from the Thesis Director.

7. The student will submit a Thesis Title And Committee form signed by all thesis committee members to the Director of Graduate Studies. The Graduate Director will then create a section of ART 7000 (Thesis) for the student.

All students whose thesis projects involve clinical research with human subjects must submit, with the title of the thesis, a brief description of the manner in which said human subjects will be used for the purpose of research and receive IRB approval.
The MFA degree in studio art considers the thesis to be the exhibition of artwork created by the student under direction of studio faculty in their major concentration. 


1. Committee Meetings
The thesis director is the only individual who can endorse a committee meeting of a graduate student's thesis committee. All written material for consideration in any meeting of the committee must be delivered to the committee members one week prior to the meeting. In cases where the graduate student is doing a creative thesis, it is the thesis committee director who, after consultation with the committee, has the final responsibility for accepting the thesis (visual) work for the thesis committee.

2. Thesis Manual

The East Carolina University Manual of Basic Requirements for Thesis and Term Papers  outlines the basic requirements for all East Carolina University theses. These requirements must be met in full. Information on Graduate School thesis procedures is also available at the graduate school link on the East Carolina University web site ( see bottom of this webpage link ). In addition to the East Carolina University Manual of Basic Requirements, the MFA student will select either the MLA or Kate L. Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Thesis and Dissertations (latest edition) as the manual of style for their written thesis. MAEd candidates will use the APA Manual. The creative thesis requires documentation of the artwork in the form of photographs. The East Carolina University Graduate School Website should be consulted for further information for which the student is held responsible. Any format deviations from the above sources must be referred to the Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Art and Design.

Oral Defense Of Thesis

When the written thesis is complete, an oral defense of the thesis must be scheduled. This is done with the student’s thesis director and committee members. The Director of the Graduate Studies must receive confirmation of date, time and location for the oral defense of the thesis. 

The thesis director must notify the Director of Graduate Studies in writing if the oral defense of a particular thesis has been passed. The thesis director must then complete the Oral Defense form and submit to the School of Art and Design graduate studies office.

NOTE: MFA candidates may have 2 oral defenses of their theses; 1) defense of the exhibition of artwork and 2) the written thesis. Contact the Area Coordinator for details.

The Electronic Submission Process ronic-Submission-Process.cfm

Be sure to check the Graduate School website for the most up to date information.

Please note that there is a deadline for submission of the final copy of your thesis or dissertation to the Graduate School.  Please see the University Academic Calendar at  -for the final deadline for the term in which you wish to graduate.

1. After you have successfully defended your thesis or dissertation and made the changes recommended by your committee, obtain committee members' signatures on the signature page and complete the ECU Non-Exclusive Distribution Agreement (

2. Deliver signed signature page and the ECU Non-Exclusive Distribution Agreement to the Graduate School, 105 Ragsdale, via campus mail, email or in person.  These two forms must be on file in the Graduate School before your thesis/dissertation will be reviewed.  Please note that at the time of your electronic submission, you are to submit an unsigned signature page with committee members' names as part of your PDF.  Do not submit the signed signature page or include the ECU Non-Exclusive Distribution Agreement with your electronic submission.

3. To submit your thesis or dissertation electronically, go to the following web address: . In order to log into ECU's ETD Administrator site, you need to create a valid account.  Creating an account requires a username and a password.

4. Your username is your email address, and the system selects a password for you.  If you forget your password, please enter your email address with a password, and the system will send you your password immediately by email.  If you want to change your password to something easier to remember, please go to the My Account page and choose the Edit Profile option.

Before you begin, be sure you have the following:
•    Title of your dissertation
•    Abstract in a separate text file.
•    Full text of the dissertation in PDF format. ( PDF conversion software is available on the site. Your document must be one file.)
•    Optional supplementary files (images, sound, etc.)
•    Committee chair’s name
•    Subject category (See site)
•    Keywords (see site)

5. ProQuest Publishing Agreement
You will be presented with a Publishing Agreement during the submission process.  No actual signature is needed but you must accept the online agreement in lieu of signing in order to continue.  Please take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the text of the ProQUest/UMI Publishing Agreement.  If you have questions about which publishing option to choose, discuss with your committee chair.

6. About You
When you begin your submission, you will be required to complete several screens of information. Please enter all the information ProQuest will need to identify you and to contact you regarding your submission. Your name and affiliation should be entered exactly as you wish to have them appear on your dissertation. As indicated on the form, certain pieces of information are required.

Personal Email Address

Most graduate students stop using their university email account after graduation. In order to make sure we have accurate contact information, please provide us with an email address you plan to continue using after graduation. We recommend that you use your ECU alumni account which can be created at ( ).

Country of Citizenship
Providing your Country of Citizenship is optional and is used only for helping libraries identify graduate works of interest. For example, some national libraries collect graduate works written by graduate students from the country the library serves.

Future Mailing Address

If you plan to move after graduation, please be sure to provide us with a future mailing address so we can contact you, if needed. If you don’t know what your address will be after graduation, you can always provide ProQuest with a new address later by contacting them at  or 1-800-521-0600, ext. 7020.

Notes to the Administrator
You can use this form to send questions about your submission to the Graduate School staff person who manages your ETD Administrator site. Your administrator will see the notes after you submit your manuscript. If you will be unreachable via email, note the best way to contact you here as well.

7. About Your Work-Bibliographic Details

Please enter the title using Headline Capitalization. It should be entered exactly as you want it to appear on the final dissertation.

Keywords and Subject Categories

Putting in the proper Keywords and Subject Categories will help the indexing of your dissertation or thesis and the eventual retrieval of it by interested parties. Please choose one primary subject category from the list below that best represents your graduate work. In addition to the primary subject category, you may choose up to two additional personal subject categories. A list of Subject Categories can be found here: 

To enhance the indexing and retrieval of your dissertation or thesis, you may add up to six keyword descriptors. These will help identify and classify your thesis or dissertation; for example, geographical locations or scientific names not mentioned in your title or abstract might be listed.
If you need assistance choosing subject categories or keywords, call UMI Dissertation Publishing toll free at 800-521-0600 ext. 4883 for social sciences and humanities, or ext. 4881 for sciences and engineering.

The Abstract

You have the option of copying and pasting or typing the abstract into a text window in this area of the form. Do not include the title and your name with the abstract in this window. The abstract must be formatted according to the guidelines below. You will be offered the following options from a dropdown window on the site:
•    One paragraph: Select this setting if you’re abstract should be formatted as a single paragraph.
•    2+ paragraphs, separated by carriage returns.
•    2+ paragraphs, separated by blank lines.
•    Paragraphs formatted with HTML tags: The following HTML tags are recognized by the system and may be used to format an abstract. Please be sure to use lowercase characters.

It is recommended that you check the formatting of your abstract after you have entered it by logging out of the site and then logging back in.

8. Uploading the Full Text of your Thesis/Dissertation:
After you have entered the required information about you and your work, the next step will be to upload the PDF file of your dissertation. Click the “Browse” button next to the option button to upload a file. This will open a window allowing you to choose the appropriate file on your computer. For instance, if you wanted to upload the PDF of a paper called MyPaper.pdf which was located in a folder called My Documents, you would place the cursor in the text area labeled “Please upload your paper in PDF format,” click the Browse button, open the folder My Documents, click on MyPaper.pdf to highlight it, and then click “Open.” Depending on your operating system and browser, you will now see something like -“C:\MyDocuments\MyPaper.pdf” in the “Please upload your full text file in PDF format” area.
If you have trouble locating your document after clicking the Browse button, be sure that the setting at the bottom of the dialog is set to show files of all types.

If you are having difficulty submitting the full text of your dissertation, you may continue with your submission and upload the full text later via the Revise option.

Please Remember: Do not submit signed signature page and the ECU Non-Exclusive Distribution Agreement Form to the site. Please use an unsigned signature page with committee members’ names for the electronic submission

Do not destroy the original file from which you created the PDF file. You may need this version for subsequent revisions.

After entering copyright registration information, the Web site goes into secure mode and the site changes from http: to https (secure mode). If your browser seems very slow, you may need to change your security settings and add the ETD Administrator Web site as a trusted site in your Web browser. If you are using your school’s computer, it may be blocked by a heavy firewall and you will have to make it a trusted site.

9. Supplementary Files

Inserting external links to supplementary multimedia files in your dissertation or thesis is acceptable. To include supplementary files with your submission:
a.    From the top left Menu, select the ADD SUPPLEMENTAL CONTENT option.
b.    Upload the new file, by clicking the BROWSE button and selecting the appropriate file on your hard drive.
c.    At the bottom of the page you will see the history of all supplemental files that have been uploaded for your submission. Each item has a check box next to it: Items that are checked will appear with the published dissertation/thesis.
d.    To include your new file with your dissertation/thesis, be sure to check the box next to the file you recently uploaded. Uncheck the boxes next to those files you do not wish to include.

10. Copyright Filing and Information

During the submission process, you will have the option to request that UMI Dissertation Publishing file for copyright on your behalf. If you choose this option, there will be an additional $55 fee (payable by credit card at the time of initial submission). Please have your credit card ready if you choose this option. You also have the option of filing your own copyright registration.
Authors who publish with UMI retain all right to their original works. If you request that ProQuest file a copyright claim, ProQuest merely acts as your agent in filing the form, paying the fees and providing the copy. It is filed in your name only.
Since the U.S. joined the Berne Convention, the Copyright Office has been recommending that a copyright notice be included in all published or non-published manuscripts. However, if it goes to court for plagiarism, you can not claim your lawyer and court fees as part of the settlement unless you have actually filed a claim (in any country that is a member of Berne).

11. Bound copies

During the submission process, you may order printed copies from UMI Dissertations Publishing. This can be done online with a credit card. Hardcover bound copies have black covers with gold lettering. Printing is double-sided. Once UMI receives the manuscript from your school, it can take up to 12 weeks before it is delivered to you. If you have questions, contact the Author and School Relations group directly:  or 800-521-0600 ext. 7020.

You are not required to order your bound copies from ProQuest. You have the option of using other vendors to print and bind your manuscript. Recommended companies are: ( ) and ( ).

12. Confirmation of Receipt
A designated graduate school staff person is notified immediately when a new submission arrives. You will receive an email from the Graduate School confirming receipt of your ETD and informing you that your ETD has been successfully uploaded.

13. Revising Your Submission

After review by the Graduate School thesis/dissertation editor, you will receive an email indicating any necessary formatting corrections. Make the corrections in your original Word document, save again and convert to a PDF. Email notices from ECU’s ETD Site Administrator are delivered to the email address you entered at the time of your submission. Submit the revised PDF file.

Making revisions or checking the status of your submission.

At any point before it is delivered to UMI Dissertation Publishing, your submission will be available for revising and revisions through your My Account page, unless the ETD Administrator has locked your submission for review.

To view and check the status of your submission, log into your account. By clicking on the title of your submission you will be able to see the status of your submission in the column next to the title.
To revise your submission details about you and/or your paper:
a.    Log in to your My Account page.
b.    Click the title of your manuscript
c.    Click Revise dissertation/thesis from the list in the top left.
d.    Enter your changes in the Revise Submission form and click Submit at the bottom of the page to submit your changes. You only need to modify the portion of the form that corresponds to the changes you wish to make.
e.    Continue to the next screen if you need to revise the actual body of your manuscript.
f.    The administrator will be notified via email of your corrections.

14. Final Approval of Manuscript

You will be notified by the Graduate School via email upon final approval of your ETD document. The approved document is designated on the Administrator Site as the official copy to be submitted to Proquest. Once the Graduate School accepts/approves the final document, your account will be locked, and no revisions or resubmissions are allowed. Your approved manuscript will be submitted to Proquest and the ECU Institutional Repository at the end of the term upon verification of your graduation by the Registrar’s Office. If you would like to inquire about the status of your submission after it has been submitted to ProQuest by the Graduate School, you may contact the Author and School Relations group directly:  or 800-521-0600 Ext. 7020.

Comprehensive Assessment Requirement

All graduate programs require students to successfully complete a comprehensive assessment. The assessment may include a comprehensive examination (written and/or oral), a research project, thesis, capstone course, portfolio, and/or equivalent. The specific requirements may be found in descriptions of degree programs.

Several MFA concentrations require that their graduate students complete a comprehensive assessment in addition to the thesis. Thesis candidates should discuss the parameters of this assessment with their thesis committee director. Members of the graduate faculty with expertise in the student’s major area/discipline will be appointed by the thesis committee director to formulate and administer the comprehensive assessment. The thesis committee director must provide verification, in writing, of the pass/fail status for the comprehensive to the Director of Graduate Studies in Art and Design. Comprehensive assessment forms may be obtained from the Graduate Studies Secretary. In lieu of the comprehensive exam, MAEd candidates can complete a culminating project approved by the Area Coordinator.