Thesis vs Non-Thesis Options

Perhaps you are thinking about doing a masters degree, but you are not sure whether you want to do a thesis or not.  That is actually a difficult choice – with pros and cons on both sides.

In terms of our masters programs and “thesis vs non-thesis?”, the two programs are almost exactly the same.  They are both 10 classes. The real difference is whether a student has a 2 (or 3) credit “thesis research project” included in the mix.  If they do not have such a thesis research project, then they take 2 or 3 additional classes – which, sometimes is a better option since it allows for greater breadth.   In fact, you can even mix a few “Independent Research” classes into the mix as well.

We are currently tending to admit almost no “with thesis” masters students – for a variety of reasons.  Generally, the only students we admit into the “with thesis” track tend to be students with extensive previous research backgrounds and very-high GRE scores.  That said, if a student comes to the “non-thesis” track and demonstrates exceptional work (written, analytical, project-management, etc) – and can find a supervisor interested in supervising a masters thesis – then switching to “with thesis” is sometimes a possibility.

One other point worth making: from most perspectives, there is not really any long-term difference between the two tracks (no employer, for example, will ever know the difference – they are both Masters Degrees). The only times it might make a difference are:

  1. If you have funding from a source (e.g. some companies or some programs in the military) which requires a thesis track
  2. If you plan to carry on with a PhD. And then some schools/supervisors may be concerned about the “non-thesis” degree (e.g. if they want to see evidence of one’s ability to carry on an extended research project).

If you would like to discuss the differences more, please get in touch with Prof James Intriligator by clicking here !