Before enrolling in a master’s degree program, it’s important that you know what a thesis is and whether you’ll need to write one. In short, a thesis is a long scholarly paper that is typically used to sum up learned knowledge in a master’s program. Graduate schools often require a thesis for students in research-oriented degrees to apply their practical skills before culmination. For instance, a psychology major may investigate how colors affect mood or a education major might write about a new teaching strategy. The thesis gives master’s-level students a chance to shine and prove their professional capability in their chosen field. Once the thesis is completed, students usually must defend their work for a panel of two or more department faculty members.

Thesis vs. Dissertation

It’s common for graduate students to mistakenly use the words “thesis” and “dissertation” interchangeably, but they are generally two different types of academic papers. As stated above, a thesis is the final project required in the completion of many master’s degrees. The thesis is a research paper, but it only involves using research from others and crafting your own analytical points. On the other hand, the dissertation is a more in-depth scholarly research paper completed mostly by doctoral students. Dissertations require candidates create their own research, predict a hypothesis, and carry out the study. Whereas a master’s thesis is usually around 100 pages, the doctoral dissertation is at least double that length.

Benefits of Writing a Thesis

There are several advantages that you can reap from choosing a master’s program that requires the completion of a thesis project, according to Professor John Stackhouse. A thesis gives you the valuable opportunity to delve into interesting research for greater depth of learning in your career area. Employers often prefer students with a thesis paper in their portfolio, because it showcases their gained writing skills, authoritative awareness of the field, and ambition to learn. Defending your thesis will also fine-tune critical communication and public speaking skills, which can be applied in any career. In fact, many graduates eventually publish their thesis work in academic journals to gain a higher level of credibility for leadership positions too.

Tips for Your Master’s Thesis

Writing your thesis paper will be a long process, so the first step is to make certain you have a close faculty advisor to guide you along the way. Before starting, consult with other scholarly texts to see exactly how a master’s thesis should be structured with an introduction, literary review, main body, conclusion, and bibliography. Finding a thesis topic may be the simplest or hardest part for you, but choose one that interests you and gives you room to explore, according to Ta Da! Creating a detailed outline will prompt an easier flow of ideas for a well-written thesis. It’s advised that you stay aware of your thesis defense date to allow enough time for proofreading and possibly sending your work to an editor.

Related Resource: Oral Exam Preparation

Overall, a master’s thesis is designed to support a graduate student’s academic and professional qualifications for a degree by presenting research findings. While it’s important to note that some graduate programs offer non-thesis tracks for master’s degrees, the thesis is the main capstone staple for many others. Now that you know what a thesis is, you can decide whether it’s a good option for your career or whether a comprehensive exam would be better.