- By Jason Bacot
- Published 11/29/2010
A thesis is generally the crowning achievement of the master’s degree program. Though many schools offer a non-thesis option, even students who are wary of having to produce such a major piece of work should consider writing a thesis. If you’re just starting your master’s degree program, rest assured that your professors won’t simply tell you to go “write a thesis” and turn you loose. You will have access to plenty of guidance and help along the way. And when you’re finished, you’ll have a tangible document that will make you proud. You’ll probably begin your thesis when you’re about halfway through your graduate program, but you can start preparing right from the beginning. As you map out your coursework, you’ll get a better idea of what you might want to pursue as a research project. The master’s thesis is designed to show that you have a mastery of the available scholarship in the presentation of your research. As your research interest takes shape during the first year of your graduate studies, you’ll speak with your professors and gain a better idea of what might be a good research project for you to pursue for your thesis. Don’t worry: you won’t be locked into a project from the beginning. You’ll have time to shape your research nicely as it progresses.
Once you choose a research topic, your first step toward completing your thesis is coming up
with a working title. A good working title gives you focus, and the fact that it’s a “working” title means there’s room for improvement as your work progresses. When you have your research topic in hand, and a working title, you can look to your proposed graduation date and map out a rough schedule for completing your research and writing your thesis during that time. Don’t worry if your first draft of your thesis isn’t perfect: that’s why it’s called a draft. As your work progresses, it’s important that you keep your thesis committee (the professors supervising your work) apprised of your progress regularly. That way if there are problems, you can correct them promptly and move on. You don’t want to give your professors a 200-page tome after you’ve already done your work, drawn your conclusions, and written it all up just to have them find a major problem in Chapter 1. Chances are, your professors will show varying levels of interest in your work. Some will read it carefully, and others will glance at it and toss it aside. Ask their general opinions on whether you’re on the right track, and take their comments to heart. The better the communication between you and your professors, the more likely you can stick to your schedule and graduate when you plan to.
The mindset for success with thesis writing starts early in your graduate school studies. Look forward, plan ahead, and keep track of your progress regularly and you’ll have a master’s thesis you can be proud to call your own.