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Thesis Approval Process

Thesis Preparation and Approval

Preparation for thesis submission begins in the summer of the fourth year with the OSR leadership. At this time, timeline and practices are distributed via email and reviewed with students in class meetings. Because thesis approval is a lengthy process involving three levels of review (See Table 1), students are encouraged to manage their time well and start writing their first draft early in the fall semester of their final year of medical school. A suggested timeline is provided below.

Table 1. MD Thesis review components
Level Review
First level Student/Thesis Advisor
Second level Departmental Review and approval
Third level OSR review and approval

July: Thesis deadlines are distributed via email to all students in the graduating class. Students should be on track to complete their thesis research by mid-fall. Any student anticipating a challenge in this regard should contact OSR as soon as possible.

August: All students expecting to graduate in May of a given year must, in August of the preceding year, provide OSR with information regarding their thesis title, advisor, and sponsoring department. Students will receive an email from OSR containing a Qualtrics link and should be prepared to provide this information by early September. OSR will contact all thesis advisors to confirm this role and to provide information and expectations regarding the thesis process.

August – December: During this time, students should be finalizing research and writing their thesis draft. As the semester progresses, activities should shift from the generation and analysis of data to the writing of the actual thesis. Students should do their best to complete the first draft of the thesis by mid-late December. Because students are also involved in the residency application and interview process, they are discouraged from starting new projects at this time.

December – January: This period is devoted to reviewing and editing of the thesis draft that is ultimately approved by the faculty mentor and submitted by the student to the thesis chair of their sponsoring department. The YSM faculty advisor will be asked to submit an online, formal evaluation of the thesis according to the competency-based criteria described in Appendix B of the Thesis Guide. Mentors wishing to submit a prize nomination should be prepared to upload a gender blinded, anonymized letter of support directly into the evaluation form.

January – February: The departmental thesis chair coordinates review of the thesis by a departmental committee composed of external reviewers. An “external reviewer” is defined as an individual who is not directly involved in the project. This individual may be a Yale faculty member internal or external to YSM, or may hold a faculty appointment at an outside institution. This reviewer is required to complete the evaluation form and to provide meaningful formative and summative feedback on the thesis, which will then be provided to the student.

February: Once the thesis has undergone external review, the thesis chair notifies the student and OSR of departmental approval. OSR then provides the student with feedback received during the review process. The student incorporates this feedback (if desired) and uploads their final thesis to OSR. OSR conducts a final review and provides the student with written notification that the thesis is approved in partial fulfillment of the YSM graduation requirements. Students who believe there may have been bias in their thesis assessment should contact OSR within one week of receiving feedback, prior to submitting for final approval, to request an independent review.

March-April: Following final approval, students should assemble their thesis as a high-quality PDF and proceed with submission to the YSM Digital Thesis Library via ProQuest (see Instructions for Uploading a PDF).