I start by describing the situation: a friend of mine is a master student in Italy, and is going to graduate soon. She wrote her master thesis and submitted it, and should have her final exam (the one in which the thesis is discussed) in about a month. In the meanwhile, she is sending PhD applications.

A professor that she contacted asked if he could read her master thesis. The problem is that I am not sure if she can (and should) send a master thesis to a third party before her exam.

What do you think of it? Do you think it could be a problem? The thesis is not meant to be publicly available before the final exam through the university site, but I've read the regulations and this kind of issue is not mentioned at all.

To give some context:

  • There is no copyright involved. The thesis is going to be available on the university site for free, but only after she has her final exam.
  • The professor knows that the person is going to graduate soon, but maybe he did not realize that he was asking for an unverified thesis.
  • She works in the field of pure science, where people usually have a "sharing" attitude.

Thank you very much for your attention.

2 Answers 2


The detailed specifics of this will likely depend on her university's policies.

In most situations I am aware of, the student retains the copyright of her thesis. She should be allowed (from a legal perspective) to distribute her work in whatever way she sees fit. Likely the best thing she can do in this situation is speak with her advisor. If her advisor is desiring to publish any papers from the thesis, he/she may not want the work shared with a third-party.

It may also be possible that the student in question here only send a portion of her thesis to the third party. A pre-print, if you will. It should be sent with a note specifying that the thesis has not been defended yet and is subject to final revisions and review. Open and full disclosure is the best option here.


She should probably ask her advisor for advice on this, but in general, informal sharing shouldn't be any problem. She should, of course, note that the thesis is still undefended and subject to revision.

In almost all reasonable cases the copyright is hers in any case. There should be no legal issue in any case, since it isn't being offered for publication and the work is hers.

If her application goes ahead at the other institution, she should probably want to send the final version later, and promise to do so now.

  • Thank you. Unfortunately, your answer came right after the accepted answer (and was practically equivalent), so I accepted that. But I upvoted both. Sep 26, 2018 at 16:51
  • 1
    No problems. I think the two of us hit the upload key simultaneously, but like you say, we said the same thing. And welcome to the site.
    – Buffy
    Sep 26, 2018 at 16:52

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