Prior to entering graduate school, many students might wonder if all graduate students do a thesis. Despite what you might hear, a thesis isn't always a requirement for completing all graduate school programs. It often depends on the type of subject you study, but some schools offer both a thesis and a non-thesis route that lets students take more classes in lieu of doing a thesis. Once you learn more about the alternatives to a thesis, you can better decide which option is right for you.

What is a Thesis?

A thesis is a complex paper that you write during the last year of graduate school. Students generally want to take a topic that they studied in class and look at ways to research and build a paper around that topic. According to U.S. News and World Report, students should pick a topic that relates to their past experience. Students will submit your topic to their advisor and meet with their advisor as they research and begin writing their paper. A team of professors will later read their paper and determine if it meets the requirements necessary for graduating.

Capstone or Research Project

Those looking for an answer to the question of do all graduate students do a thesis should know that some schools allow students to complete a final research or capstone project in lieu of doing a thesis. This is often the best option for those who prefer hands on experience rather than doing even more classroom work. For example, a computer science major might create a new piece of software or a computer program instead of writing about recent innovations in the technology field.

Field Experience

Did you know that some graduate schools remove the thesis requirement for students who complete field experience? If you think this sounds like an easier option, keep in mind that your school may require that you complete 300 hours or more of supervised fieldwork after finishing your studies. This may also mean that it takes you three or more years to finish your degree. Students who do a thesis often finish within two years or less. Schools that offer fieldwork in lieu of a thesis often require that students complete detailed logs of the work they do and present those logs to the department before graduating.

Choosing the Right Option

As a student entering grad school, you need to know which option is right for you. Some want an answer to the question of do all graduate students do a thesis, because they dislike research and the idea of spending long hours in the library. A non-thesis route is great for those who want to learn more about their chosen field and take more classes without writing a separate paper. The research project option is best for those who want to create a detailed project without doing any research, and field experience programs appeal to those who don't mind spending extra time working before getting a degree.

Related Resource: Dissertation

Though some students assume that all graduate students require that students write a thesis, this isn't always true. The answer to the question of do all graduate students do a thesis is that it depends on the program and that some schools offer alternatives like fieldwork or a research project.