You do not need to apply for or register copyright, although it is advised for commercial works to help you claim and defend ownership.
Be aware of any further contracts that you are entering into either with your department, the university, ProQuest, or other publishers - once you give up your copyright, your work is no longer your own!
See Proquest's explanation of US Copyright Law: https://media2.proquest.com/documents/whycopyright.pdf
Human knowledge advances through collaborative scholarship, either directly or by intuitive leaps based on the work of others. Educational institutions worldwide strive to make their academic achievements accessible to others to promote and enrich this progress.
For this reason, effective July 1, 2012, Bastyr University requires that all students electronically file theses and capstone projects submitted to fulfill requirements for any degree conferred by the University. Students should refer to the University Catalog for information on program thesis and capstone project requirements.
Theses and capstone projects will be made available in full-text, open-access format in one or more electronic systems. Theses will be deposited in the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database, which is available in academic libraries worldwide. Both theses and capstone projects will be deposited in the Bastyr University Institutional Repository (IR), which is available to the University community. Time lines governing the electronic availability of the full text of theses and capstone projects will be set by the individual departments. Theses and capstone projects will be deposited directly following final departmental approval.
Copyright of electronic theses and capstone projects shall be the property of the author. However, the author must, as a condition of a degree award, grant royalty-free permission to the University to reproduce and publicly distribute his/her thesis or capstone project through the appropriate electronic system and/or the University Library. Both the University’s IR and the Bastyr University Library will maintain an archival electronic copy of all theses and capstone projects.
Prior to publishing a thesis or capstone project in any format, including posting it to a website, the author (i.e. matriculated student) is required to notify his/her thesis advisor in writing, or, if unavailable, the department chair or dean (in that order).
MyBU - Public Documents - Academics - Intellectual Property
(f) Student works
Original creations by University students while enrolled at Bastyr University shall be subject to the above sections of this Policy, where applicable. If none of the preceding sections of this Policy are applicable to a student’s creation, then copyright in the work shall be owned by the student or students who created the work, subject to the following: (a) The original work of an investigation for a graduate thesis, dissertation, or capstone project is the property of the University; and (b) The University shall have, as a condition of awarding a graduate degree, the royalty-free right to retain, use and distribute a graduate thesis, dissertation or capstone project together with the right to control its publication for archival use.