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Thesis Approval Process

Thesis Preparation and Approval

Preparation for thesis submission begins in July of the student’s fourth year with a meeting with the OSR leadership. At this time, the following timeline and practices are reviewed with students. Because thesis approval is a lengthy process involving three levels of review, 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.


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.

August – December

During this time, students should be conducting 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 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 must also provide a formal letter (or email) to the Department Thesis Chair that includes 1) an explicit statement regarding the originality and significance of the work; 2) explicit information regarding the student’s role in the project; 3) explicit approval of the thesis; 4) an explicit statement regarding whether the thesis is sufficiently extraordinary to warrant consideration for a Thesis Prize (see below). To avoid potential bias in review, the letter must be anonymized by referring to the student by initials only (e.g. “S.C.” instead of “Sarwat Chaudhry”), and gender blinded by using non-binary pronouns (e.g., “their” instead of “she/he”)

January – February

The Departmental Thesis Chair coordinates review of the thesis by at least one external reviewer. 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 strongly urged to meet with the student to discuss their comments and suggestions and is required to provide an anonymized and gender blinded (see above) written critique to the Department Thesis Chair.


Changes recommended by the reviewer(s) are then incorporated into the final thesis. The student should then submit the final thesis to the Departmental Thesis Chair, who convenes a committee to 1) approve the thesis for graduation and 2) nominate no more than 15-20% of submitted theses for prize consideration. The Thesis Chair then provides the student and OSR with written notification that the thesis is approved in partial fulfillment of the YSM graduation requirements.


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.