Thesis Paper Guidelines

Program Guide

Thesis Paper Overview

The Thesis Paper is not simply a revised Thesis Proposal.  Your Thesis Proposal reflects your understanding at a project’s inception – a creative, intellectual, and practical plan for undertaking your Thesis.  You write your Thesis Paper from the opposite perspective, so it should reflect what you learned throughout the thesis process.  The distinctions between your Thesis Proposal (project conception) and Thesis Paper (project execution) illuminate fundamental lessons about media making.

In your Thesis Paper, present your conclusions about the central question you sought to investigate in your thesis, detail the artistic and theoretical methodologies you employed in exploring this question, and explain how this experience might influence your ensuing projects.

While the Thesis Paper serves as a corollary to the Thesis Project, write your paper with the understanding that it will be read by some people who do not have the opportunity to view your Thesis Project.

The Thesis Paper should be between 15 and 25 pages.  It should be professionally written and meticulously revised.  Take as much care with its completion as you do when preparing your Thesis Project for exhibition.  Do not treat the Thesis Paper as an afterthought – it is an integral component of the IMA Program’s graduation requirements.

The Thesis Paper should include the following sections:

  • Abstract
    • Summarize your Thesis Project in one or two paragraphs.
  • Project Description
    • Provide a detailed description of the subject matter you explored in the Thesis Project.
    • Explain your relationship to your thesis subject, including what led you to it.  How have you approached the representation of the subject?  Why did you choose this particular media, or mix of media, to explore the subject?  Describe how your stylistic, structural, intellectual, and aesthetic decisions relate to your chosen subject.
  • Research Analysis
    • Detail your Thesis Project research.  Explain how your research influenced your approach to the subject.
    • Situate your thesis within the critical and historical context of the media in which you are working.  Delineate how your thesis relates to an existing body of media work and literature, and how it contributes to the particular artistic trajectory with which you engaged.
  • Thesis Production Process
    • Reflect on the production process itself.  Evaluate what you intended to do, what you actually accomplished, the obstacles (anticipated and unexpected) you encountered and how you responded to them, what ultimately beneficial “mistakes” occurred during the process, and what you learned – about this particular project, about your artistic sensibility, and about how you will approach subsequent projects.
  • Audience and Exhibition
    • Identify the audience you want your Thesis Project to reach.  If you intend that your Thesis Project promote public awareness and discussion, how will you achieve this objective?  What is your plan for exhibiting, distributing and publicizing your thesis?
    • Elaborate on any legal issues that might impact your ability to exhibit your Thesis Project outside the IMA Program.  If your Thesis Project includes unlicensed copyrighted material, articulate your fair use rationale for including these third party elements in your thesis.  Describe your plan to clear music, archival footage, photographs, and other proprietary materials.
  • Bibliography
    • Include a bibliography of no less than 25 books, articles, web sites, films, videos, and other research sources.  The majority of your bibliographical entries should be referenced and contextualized in the body of your paper. Carefully follow the Chicago Manual of Style or MLA Style Sheet formats for bibliographic entries.

Hunter Guidelines

Guidelines for Preparing Master’s Theses in Arts & Sciences

The following are general requirements for master’s theses submitted within the School of Arts and Sciences. Candidates should check with their departments for information about any additional requirements specific to their degree programs.

Choosing the Thesis Topics, Submitting Drafts

The degree candidate should consult her/his graduate advisor for the requirements of the graduate program with regard to choosing the thesis topic and submitting the first and final drafts. The deadlines for the submission of drafts are determined by the graduate program.

Guide for Preparing the Thesis

The thesis must be typewritten, and its appearance must be neat throughout. The thesis must be printed on 8 1⁄2″ x 11″ unpunched, white, rag-content bond paper of at least 16 lb. weight. “Erasable bond” or other coated papers are not acceptable. The Library recommends paper of archival quality (acid-free, alkaline pH, 100% cotton fiber).

The left margin of both text and illustrations must be a minimum of 1.5 inches to permit binding. The right-hand and top and bottom margins should be 1 inch. Text should be double-spaced throughout, except for quotations of more than four lines, which should be set apart (single-spaced and indented). Footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography should be single-spaced, with double-spacing between notes and entries. Pages — including pages of illustrative material, bibliography, and appendices — should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals.

No ink insertions are allowed, except for diacritical marks not offered by any font. Such insertions must be made in permanent black ink. Corrections may be made if the result is clean and clear. Striking over or crossing out an error is not permitted.

Illustrations, graphs, charts, and photographs must also be printed or mounted with a permanent adhesive on the type of paper described above. Tape, staples, or other fasteners are not acceptable. The graduate program should be consulted for its regulations about photocopied illustrations. If the insertion of oversized material cannot be avoided, such material should be folded from right to left, and the left side should allow one and one- half inches for binding.

Thesis Title Page

The first page of the thesis should bear the title of the thesis, the name of the candidate, the year of completion, the names and signatures of the thesis sponsor and second reader, and the following inscription:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Hunter College of the City University of New York
Also see the title page template in MS Word format.

Multiple Copies of the Thesis

A graduate program may require students to submit a second copy of the thesis in addition to the single copy required by the Dean’s Office for binding and microfilming by the Library. Candidates should consult their graduate programs about requirements for the additional copy. Candidates may also submit additional copies to be bound for their personal libraries provided they submit a Bursar’s receipt covering the appropriate fees (see “Binding Fee” below).

Thesis Approval

The thesis should be read by two faculty readers (a sponsor and a second reader), and their approval should be certified by their signatures on the title page of the thesis. When the thesis has been approved by the thesis sponsor and second reader, it is brought to the departmental graduate advisor. If the advisor is satisfied that the thesis has met departmental requirements, she or he signs the thesis approval form that has been completed by the candidate.


Each graduate program sets its own deadline for the final approval of the thesis. The department-approved thesis must then be deposited in the Office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences (room 812 Hunter East) at least three weeks prior to the date of graduation at which the degree is conferred.

Binding Fee

Candidates must pay a binding fee of $15.00 per submitted copy to the Bursar’s Office (room 238 Hunter North). NOTE: The Bursar’s receipt for all binding fees must be submitted to the Dean’s Office along with the copies for binding.

Depositing Theses

At minimum, one signed, approved copy of the thesis is to be deposited in the Office of the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, located in room 812 Hunter East. Thesis copies should be submitted in envelopes or boxes listing the candidate’s name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and program.

The following items must be presented to the Dean’s Office when depositing a thesis:

  • At least one copy of signed thesis (identified as requested above);
  • Completed thesis approval form, signed by the graduate advisor;
  • Bursar’s receipt covering expenses for binding all submitted copies of the thesis.

When the thesis has been accepted by the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, the thesis approval form will be signed and forwarded to the degree-audit department of the Registrar’s Office to certify final approval. A copy will be forwarded to the department’s graduate advisor. The Dean’s Office will deposit the thesis in the Library.

If you have any questions about master’s theses, please contact your graduate advisor or the Dean of Arts & Sciences Office at (212) 772-5121.