I'm close to finishing my Ph.D. at a state university and the required text on the dissertation title page appears incorrect to me.

As specified by the university graduate college, the required text should read, "Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate College of the "My State" State University in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy"

Replace "My State" with any U.S. state.

Is the "the" just after "Graduate College" necessary? It appears to me that it is not since this is not part of the official university name. This is also shown here.

Am I justified in requesting a change to the text?

  • 2
    It really depends on the name. It could presumably be: the Graduate College of Ohio State University OR the Graduate College of the State University of Ohio. Can you clarify?
    – Lambie
    Jan 10, 2019 at 19:47
  • 6
    @Lambie Actually, unlike most [N] State Universities, Ohio State is The Ohio State University Jan 10, 2019 at 19:57
  • @Lambie Oklahoma State University. AFAIK, that is the full name.
    – mitchute
    Jan 10, 2019 at 19:59
  • The official OSU Office of Licensing and Trademarks website consistently uses a zero article in front of the university name, and I think that they of all people would be careful about getting the name precisely right! However, dissertation committees are notoriously persnickety, so I would advise following their guidance on your dissertation unless you successfully convince them to change it. Jan 10, 2019 at 20:12
  • @StoneyB There are others as well.
    – Lambie
    Jan 10, 2019 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


This is truly the kind of question that is pointless to ask on the Internet, because it's your university's policy. Also they're not going to mark you up or down based on whether you included a grammatical determiner on the front page. If that's all you have to worry about, then you must feel pretty confident about your actual PhD content.

If it is really keeping you awake at night, then talk to your mentor or professor. Better: just leave it alone. This is not important. Focusing on important things, and ignoring unimportant things, is probably a good PhD skill. Learn it.


Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate College of Oklahoma State University.

I would not use a the there as the university itself does not.

Personally, I would only use a the if the official name were: The State University of [some state].

This text: Submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate College of the "My State" State University in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy" contains a placeholder term.

"My State": so, it a generic thing and not specific to Oklahoma State University. Because if it were specific to Oklahoma State University,it would not say: My State, would it?

In any event, you can easily check the university's library to see how they title dissertations. They are all in the library....

  • 1
    I agree with you that this seems to be the correct usage, but dissertation guidelines are notoriously inflexible. So if the OP is unable to successfully petition to have the published guidelines officially changed, then they'd risk actual rejection even if they are correct. I'd spell "the" as "teh" if that's what the dissertation guidelines commanded me to do rather than risk years of work being rejected! Jan 10, 2019 at 21:12
  • @CanadianYankee The fact the OP has been given that italic text with a placeholder shows that that is some generic thing. That text in italics cannot possibly be specific to his university. Ergo, it is not a specific way to write it for his university.
    – Lambie
    Jan 10, 2019 at 23:05
  • I have to agree that omitting "the" is the correct usage. However, this appears to be the standard text for all but a few dissertations. SMH.
    – mitchute
    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:45
  • No college/university will disagree with correct grammar. What they don't want is something really agrammatical or non-standard English.
    – Lambie
    Feb 16, 2019 at 16:19

The definite article is common, but it depends on how the name of the school is phrased. In formal documents, you might use the full name, which includes words ordinarily omitted. For example, my alma mater is The University of California at Los Angeles. I don't have my diploma handy to check, but other diplomas say, in small print,

The Regents of the

then in large print,

University of California

and then in small print

at Los Angeles

As an example:

enter image description here

In most contexts, however, my school is usually abbreviated to, The University of California Los Angeles, or more commonly, just UCLA. However, when using the acronym you would not say "the UCLA".

It's similar for other schools, for example:

The University of Washington

is often abbreviated in conversation to U Dub (not The U Dub). Meanwhile

Washington State University

is normally used without the definite article, and abbreviated as WSU.

The point is, do whatever is customary for your university. The most important thing is that your dissertation follows the format of every other dissertation, so that there are no minor quibbles that might interfere with its acceptance.

  • Thank you for your response. I agree with you in the case of UCLA. Also, "The University of Oklahoma" and "The Ohio State University" as mentioned above.
    – mitchute
    Jan 11, 2019 at 12:41
  • @mitchute I've added a couple more examples. It would seem "The Ohio State University" is kind of an exception to the common practice -- so again, do what your advisers say is correct, as tradition is important on a college campus.
    – Andrew
    Jan 11, 2019 at 14:57

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