Submitting Your Dissertation

Policy Amendment for Spring 2020

As a result of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, GSAS has amended the dissertation acceptance certificate policies. If possible, students should include a completed dissertation acceptance certificate (DAC) before the title page of the online dissertation submission per standard policy. Electronic signatures from committee members are acceptable. If a DAC is submitted with electronic signatures, an additional DAC with handwritten signatures will not be required.

If this is not possible, students may temporarily include an email or signed letter of approval/acknowledgement from the program chair, dissertation committee chair, or DGS (see sample template below) when submitting the dissertation via ETDs at Harvard. The letter of approval must appear before the title page of the online dissertation submission.

The Registrar’s Office will still require a completed dissertation acceptance certificate. If students or programs are able to complete a dissertation completion certificate by the deadline, it should be emailed to the FAS Registrar’s Office at, per standard policy. Once it becomes possible to obtain signatures for the DAC, students and programs must ensure that completed DACs are send to the Registrar’s Office: do not send temporary letters of approval to the registrar. Delivery of important documents, such as transcripts and diplomas, will not be impacted by the delay in providing a DAC.

Letter of Approval Sample Template

In lieu of all dissertation committee members’ signatures, I [NAME, ROLE], appointed by the [DEPARTMENT/PROGRAM], confirm that the Dissertation Committee has examined a dissertation titled [TITLE], presented by [STUDENT NAME], a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for May 2020 degree conferral, and hereby certify that it is worthy of acceptance as of [DATE].

Program Submission

Students must submit their dissertation by the date established by their program, generally six to eight weeks prior to the Registrar’s Office dissertation submission deadline and follow the program’s instructions on number of copies to submit and format (bound or unbound).

  • Students are responsible for notifying their department of any requested embargoes that were approved at the time of online submission.

Dissertation Acceptance

Students must complete a dissertation acceptance certificate (DAC), which includes the title of the dissertation and signatures of at least three readers approved by the student’s program. Two signatories must be members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS); FAS emeriti (including research professors) and faculty members from other Schools at Harvard who hold appointments on GSAS degree committees are authorized to sign DACs as FAS members. GSAS strongly recommends that the chair of the dissertation committee be a member of the FAS. If approved by the department, it is possible to have co-chairs of the dissertation committee as long as one is a member of FAS. The title on the DAC must read exactly as it does on the title page of the dissertation. A document version of the DAC is available, if needed.

The DAC must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office by the student or their program by the dissertation deadline. The Registrar’s Office forwards the original DAC to the Harvard University Archives.

A copy of the signed DAC should appear before the title page of the online dissertation submission; no page number should be assigned to the DAC. The DAC will be included in all copies of the dissertation.

Registrar’s Office Submission

Students must submit their dissertation in PDF format to the FAS Registrar’s Office through ETDs @ Harvard by the deadline established for each degree conferral date (see the GSAS Degree Calendar or the Registrar’s Office websitePlease carefully review your dissertation formatting before submitting online. Formatting errors may prevent you from receiving your degree. During the submission process, students are asked to approve two license agreements and complete two graduate surveys.

The Registrar’s Office will review the dissertation for compliance and will contact the student to confirm acceptance or to request alterations.


In very rare cases, a dissertation may require redaction, which is the process of obscuring or removing sensitive information for distribution. If sensitive or potentially harmful material appears in the dissertation (e.g., commercially sensitive information, sensitive personal data, risk of harmful retribution, etc.), a student should select the “I think I need to submit a redacted version of my dissertation” on the “Upload Your Files” section of ETDs @ Harvard and follow prompts to contact the Office for Scholarly Communication.


Registrar's Office
Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Harvard University
Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center Office
1350 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 450
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138

Tel: 617-495-1543
Fax: 617-495-0815

Office Hours: 10:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

For additional questions, please send us a message.

Policy Forms

Dissertation Acceptance Certificate