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Caltech Theses: Introduction

Ph.D. theses must be submitted in electronic form as part of the graduation requirements for Caltech. This guide serves as a stepping-off point for this process.

Caltech's Expectations for a Thesis

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred by the Institute primarily in recognition of breadth of scholarship, depth of research, and the power to investigate problems independently and efficiently, rather than for the completion of definite courses of study through a stated period of residence. The work for the degree must consist of systematic studies of an advanced character, of research and the preparation of a thesis describing these. A thesis is to be a substantial new contribution to the field that would be released into the stream of scholarship. In addition, the candidate must have clear self-expression in both oral and written English.

Caltech theses have a common format and there are regulations regarding the contents, submission, proofreading, and final disposition.  Please use the Grad Office's "Regulations for the Format and Presentation of a Graduate Thesis" as your primary guideline in formatting your thesis. 

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the regulations, following the correct format, meeting deadlines, working with their advisor and dissertation committee to schedule the examination, providing timely copies of the thesis, and making requested revisions. 

Annual Deadlines

Final 2020 deadlines:

Please call the Graduate Office if you have any questions about these dates, or if you know you will not be able to meet theses deadlines!  It is easier for them to remove you from the graduation list than to add you!  They may also be able to make special accommodations, especially if your defense date is what is causing the delay.

IMPORTANT: The final, corrected, thesis must be uploaded to CaltechTHESIS by the fifth week of the succeeding term if the candidate defended his or her thesis during the previous summer or the first and second terms; or two weeks before the degree is to be conferred if the candidate defended during the month of May.

  • If defending before April 2020, you have two months from your defense date to deposit your final thesis to CaltechTHESIS for review by the Library and approval by the Graduate Office.
  • May 15, 2020: Last Day for Scheduling Examinations for the Degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Engineer
  • End May 2020: Always check  with the Graduate Office.  Last day to defend thesis. Defenses should generally be scheduled at least two weeks before the submission deadline. Contact Grad Office if cutting it close.
  • June 1, 2020: Last day to submit thesis to CaltechTHESIS, unless defending later.  Alternate arrangements must be made in advance with the Grad Office.
  • June 8, 2020: Absolute final deadline to submit thesis to CaltechTHESIS, and receive the final sign-off by the exam committee. 
  • June 10, 2020: Last faculty meeting of the academic year ; includes final faculty approval for graduation.
  • June 12, 2020: Graduation (virtual). 


SPECIAL NOTICE: This year, there will be a second conferring of degrees for those students who complete requirements between the June deadlines and September 29, 2020.  The degrees will be conferred by the Board of Trustees at the October meeting and the diploma will be dated 2020.  Both candidates for the June and October conferrals will be eligible to participate in the in-person event, which will be scheduled at a later date whenever it’s safe to do so.  


Required Documents

Official certification of degree completion will not be provided until all the steps have been completed.  Please contact the Graduate Office for the latest requirements.

  • Grad Office information on degree tracking and degree completion:
  • Forms Available in REGIS:
    • Ph.D. Candidacy: Ph.D. Candidacy must be completed before beginning fourth year of residence.  Students should log on to the Graduate Degree Progress application within REGIS to schedule candidacy and obtain the necessary approvals.
    • Final Ph.D. Defense: Final exam committee - Students should log on to the Graduate Degree Progress application within REGIS to schedule the final exam and select an approved committee for the defense.
      • An approved committee consists of at least four total members.  At least three of the four or more committee members must be Caltech professorial faculty members 
      • The thesis advisor must be a Caltech professorial faculty member.
      • The chair of the committee must be a Caltech professorial faculty member, and cannot be the advisor.
    • Masters Application: Master's applications must be submitted no later than Add Day of spring term for a June graduation.  Students should log on to the Graduate Degree Progress application within REGIS and click on the M.S. Candidacy tab and select the option and the year in which the M.S. is to be awarded.  Then, follow additional instructions for developing a plan of study and fulfilling Institute requirements.
  • Forms Available Outside of REGIS:
    • Proofreader Agreement:  You must turn this in with at least a draft version (editable PDF copy) of your thesis to the Grad Office before your defense and at least 2 weeks ahead. You can make the recommended changes after you get it back either before or after your defense – discuss the best option for you with your advisor.
      •   You may send PDFs of both your thesis and the Proofreader's Agreement to the Grad Office either via email or via the Caltech Dropbox
    • Survey of Earned Doctorates (PhD only):   After your successful defense, fill out the electronic form. A certificate of completion will be emailed directly to Natalie Gilmore in the Grad Office.
    • CaltechTHESIS submission:  Deposit the final version of your thesis after your defense, and once all final edits have been made. Upload both a PDF and the original format (Word, LaTeX, etc.) of your thesis - the original format one can be a zipped file if necessary.
  • Forms Required of ALL students exiting campus:

Last Steps

  • It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all required information has been entered into REGIS and that committee members are sufficiently reminded to indicate the result of the defense.
  • Once your thesis submission to CaltechTHESIS has been approved by the Grad Office, both you and the registrar's office will receive an automated email from CaltechTHESIS indicating your thesis has been approved.
  • Once the registrar has noted the final thesis approval in your REGIS record, you should be able to access and download, within REGIS, a PDF copy of a letter of proof of degree completion.  This letter can be sent to future employers.


Kathy Johnson's picture
Kathy Johnson
Sherman Fairchild Library 1-43
Rm. 324
(626) 395-6065