MPH Thesis Guidelines

  • The MPH Thesis is the culmination of the student’s educational experience at YSPH and is typically a year long project.
  • Students will register for the thesis (EPH525b) in the Spring semester; the two (2) course units will be awarded in the Spring semester upon completion of the thesis. The two credits of the thesis can NOT be split between the fall and spring semesters.
  • Detailed guidelines for the thesis are outlined in the YSPH Bulletin (Appendix II) and on the Current Student Gateway.  Please use these references when preparing your thesis.

Some frequently asked questions:

Who can serve as a thesis reader?

  • The First Reader MUST have a faculty appointment at the YSPH.  If you are unsure of whether someone has an appointment at YSPH a comprehensive list of all faculty members, by department, is available in the front of the YSPH Bulletin (available on the Current Student Gateway – YSPH website).
  • The Second Reader MUST have a faculty appointment at an academic institution (it can be at YSPH or Yale University) or another outside academic  institution. If you intend to use an outside reader (one whose faculty appointment is outside of Yale) you will need to provide a copy of their CV along with the thesis reader form.
  • Choosing readers at Yale will make your life easier since they will be more accessible to you during the academic year. Choosing readers from within YSPH will also make things easier for you since they are familiar with the thesis requirements and process. Readers outside of YSPH may be unclear as to requirements, deadlines etc.
  • Choosing your readers is a very important part of the process.  Try not to leave this to the last minute. Your experience writing a thesis will depend largely on your choice of readers.

What are the differences in the roles of the first and the second reader?

  • The First Reader is generally much more involved in the process throughout the year than the second reader.  However, both readers will need to provide a final grade and should have input.
  • The second reader may or may not have considerable involvement in the process; it depends upon whatever agreement you and your second reader reach. At the least, the second reader will read and comment on at least one draft while the thesis is in progress, and read and grade the final product. Be certain that you and your second reader are clear on the level of involvement. Discuss with your second reader what their involvement will be.

Can my summer internship preceptor serve as a reader?

  • The preceptor may serve as a second reader if he/she has a faculty appointment either at Yale or another educational institution. If not, they will not be approved as a reader even though they may have considerable knowledge of the topic/project.

When do I have to decide who my readers will be?

Thesis Reader Forms (signed by both readers) are due in the Registrar’s office on October 30. Forms can be signed by your readers and emailed or faxed back to

The Thesis Reader Form is available online on the Current Student Gateway under MPH Forms.

What are the important “due dates” for the thesis?

  • October 30: Signed Reader Form due to Registrar.
  • December 1: Thesis Prospectus due to your First Reader.
  • May 1:Final completion date. Readers must submit final grades and the final version of the thesis must be submitted electronically by May 1. This means that you and your readers must agree upon a timeline that will enable you toproduce a final product by May 1.Be sure to communicate with your readers regarding their schedules.  Do not assume that you can submit a final draft the day before the May 1 deadline and expect them to turn it around immediately. On May 1 your thesis should be completely finished and ready for submission with no further changes.

What is the Thesis Prospectus?
The thesis prospectus is a document that you will provide to your first reader by Dec. 1. The exact format and content of the prospectus are determined by your first reader. Be sure that you understand what is expected of you from your FIRST READER. The thesis prospectus is not graded and does not have to be submitted to anyone other than your first reader. 

Your first reader will be required to notify the Registrar’s office of any student that has not completed the prospectus. Students that have not satisfied this requirement will not be allowed to register for the thesis (2 credits) in the Spring semester.

Thesis Grading

How is the thesis graded?
The grading system for the thesis is the same as for all YSPH courses: Honors, High Pass, Pass, The first reader and second reader each grade the thesis independently. Both grades are recorded on the transcript along with the thesis title. 

Grading forms will be provided to all readers by the Registrar; students will be notified by email when their grades have been submitted.  Final grades from both readers must be submitted to the registrar on May 1; otherwise, the student will be considered “thesis pending” and will not be allowed to participate in commencement.

How will my finished thesis be submitted?
Your thesis will be submitted electronically.  The details for doing this will be provided by the end of this semester, but keep in mind as you are writing your thesis that you will be submitting it as one document in WORD format. 

Dean’s Prize for Outstanding MPH Thesis

What is the Dean’s Prize?

The Dean’s Prize for Outstanding MPH Thesis is awarded to a maximum of four students for extraordinary achievement on the MPH thesis. The First Reader and the second reader decide whether to nominate the thesis for this prize. In order to be nominated a grade of “honors” must be given by both readers.  If your thesis has been nominated for consideration you will be informed by Dean Pistell.  The winners are decided by a committee of senior faculty; awards are presented at the Commencement ceremony.

Thesis Pending

Students who have not received final grades from both readers by May 1 will be considered “thesis pending” and will receive a grade of “Incomplete” on their transcript for the thesis course. Students with Incomplete grades in any required courses (including the thesis) may NOT participate in the Commencement ceremony, and will not receive the MPH degree. The MPH degree will be awarded when all degree requirements have been met.  If you are “thesis pending” as of May 1, the next date available for receiving your degree will be December.

Am I still considered a “student” if I am thesis pending?

Since you are not registered for courses or paying tuition you are not considered a Yale student while you are in “thesis pending” status. We will keep your Net ID and library privileges active only throughout the summer.

If I receive an “Incomplete” for the thesis, how long do I have to complete it?

Students have one year to complete the thesis (until May 1 of the following year) without penalty (including no late fee).  At the end of the one-year period, the grade of “Incomplete” will be changed to a grade of “Fail” if the thesis has not been submitted. The student will then be required to re-register for the two- unit thesis course, and pay the per course tuition charge ($3000 per/unit).  All MPH degree requirements, including the thesis, must be completed within five years of the date of matriculation (date you entered the program).

How can I avoid being thesis pending?

  • Don’t procrastinate!  Assume everything will take twice as long as planned.
  • Get as much work done on the thesis during the fall semester as possible. 
  • Set up a realistic timetable with your readers and stay on schedule. 
  • Get feedback from both of your readers so you can address any of their concerns early in the process.  Do not wait until the last minute to provide drafts to your readers.  Be sure to give them plenty of time to read and comment.
  • The key to finishing on time is an open line of communication with your readers and an understanding of their expectations. Don’t get caught off-guard as to what both of your readers expect of you.

Rev. 10/13/2014