Writing your Thesis/Project

What You Need to Know


Writing your thesis/project can be a daunting task. Being prepared is key to getting you through the thesis/project process. (Staying focused and keeping to your schedule will help too.)

Use these tools to help you: Pre-thesis form and Finishing your Thesis.

Choosing a Topic

Choose your topic at least one semester before enrolling in PPA 500. 

You will be living with this topic for a while, so be sure it is interesting to you. Look for inspiration from a work project or internship. Using a project from work is ideal for some students. Ted Lascher has some very good advice about this.


Use APA style when writing your thesis. The University library has dedicated a web page to Citing Science and Government Sources. This page conveniently links to their Research Guide for PPA. The Office of Graduate Studies has guides and templates available for your use. Please use these templates. They will save you a lot of time and frustration. After downloading the appropriate template, type your information directly into the file.

Selecting Readers

Select your thesis/project readers at the same time you decide on a topic, at least one semester before enrolling in PPA 500. Your readers should have some interest or expertise in your topic and/or research methods. Your readers may also help you hone your topic.

We require that all students have two readers. The first reader, or primary advisor, must be a tenure-track professor teaching in your department at Sacramento State. The second reader may be a part-time/adjunct lecturer teaching at Sacramento State or an expert in your chosen topic from outside the University. Your readers will advise you on the content of your thesis, help guide you through the process, and sign off on it when they both agree it is complete. It is your responsibility to stay in contact with them and provide regular updates of your progress or problems you encounter. You must respect their schedules and be reasonable about turn around time as they read your drafts. Also, please allow about two weeks for the Human Subjects Committee to review your IRB documents.


Hiring an editor to check your grammar, style, and formatting can be very helpful for some students. You may contact the Department for information about editors MPPA and MS/ULD students have used recently. Also, check with your fellow students about editors they have used. (Word-of-mouth is valuable!)

It is important when hiring an editor to be sure you both have clear and reasonable expectations about the service they will provide and the cost of that service. Remember that an editor cannot help you with content or research. That is the role of your advisors. The role of the editor is to help you identify and correct problems with grammar, style, and formatting. Some (not all) might for an additional fee help you with printing, submission, and other logistical concerns. Writing a thesis is stressful, so be reasonable and professional with your editor.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center, 916-278-6356 writingcenter@csus.edu, is a good option for students needing help with writing. They provide peer tutoring Monday through Friday to graduate and undergraduate students from all disciplines. On-line tutoring is also available. They do not edit papers for you, but can teach you how to editor your own papers.

The Writing Center also has resources for writing a thesis, including thesis writing groups. They also include some excellent advice from Ted Lascher on thesis writing.