Before embarking upon a graduate program, you should know whether you will have to write a thesis to get a Master's degree. This long paper typically sums up the work and experience that a student did in the graduate program and shows that the student has completed all requirements and is ready for the culmination of the degree. Though some schools do offer a non-thesis degree option, students enrolled in that program typically take more courses. Most schools require that students complete a thesis or a project before graduating.
What is a Thesis?
A thesis paper is a long paper that the student writes in the last few semesters of graduate school. It typically requires a large amount of research and work on the part of the student. For example, someone studying criminal psychology might write a paper that looks at the number of criminals wrongfully convicted of crimes. The paper would delve into the ways that criminologists tested DNA and other forms of evidence, would examine which methods worked the best at identifying the true criminals, and might even conduct interviews with experts. Read more about how to write a Master's thesis here.
Importance of a Thesis
Writing a thesis is an important part of the graduate program. This gives the student the chance to use the research and writing skills that he or she learned in the program. A student's thesis serves as proof that the student gained knowledge in a particular field; the thesis should demonstrate the student's awareness of authoritative voices on the thesis topic, and should show original and meaningful thinking. The thesis defense, a rigorous experience in which the student fields questions from professors and peers, should show the student's mastery of the chosen topic, as well as her/his speaking and thinking skills. Many students later publish their thesis papers as a way to gain a foothold in the field.
In some cases, students have the option of completing a non-thesis degree program. Those students will typically take more courses than those in the degree program, and some students find that it takes them longer to finish the program. While a thesis degree program is the best option for those interested in research who plan to complete a doctorate program later, a non-thesis degree might work better for someone whose strengths lie more in applied knowledge or in artistic (non-written) creation. Students enrolled in a terminal program can opt for the non-thesis route, but they will often still need to do some type of paper or project before graduating. In some cases, a university will offer an intense comprehensive examination as an alternative to writing a thesis.
Not all students want to write and complete a thesis before graduating. If you want to know whether you will have to write a thesis to get a Master's degree, it is vital for you to investigate your program of study, review your options, and figure out the best way for you to complete your Master's degree.
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