This template was, to the best of my knowledge, developed by Dr. Michael Covington. He kindly provided me with a copy, and I am making it available to students at UGA. You need two files,
You'll need the LaTeX environment installed on your computer. The LaTeX environment is available for most platforms:
If you prefer an integrated environment, some LaTeX IDEs are kile (KDE's Integrated LaTeX Editor), texmaker, and (... I guess I'll add to this list if I run into good recommendations).
In addition to the above you probably also want to have a citation manager. BibTeX files, exactly like .tex source files, are plain-text files and can be edited with any text editor. There are bibliography managers available, of course, such as kBibTeX, jabref, and as an interesting on-line alternative, Zotero.
First and foremost, consider the learning curve. You invest in LaTeX up-front, and you reap the benefits at a time when your graduation nears and the deadlines just hammer you. If you have your thesis/dissertation in decent shape at that time, LaTeX will do the work for you. Conversely, I have seen students struggle during this critical time period with the idiosyncracies of major word processors, which tend to act up in quite unpredictable ways as the document's file size grows.