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How to Write a Master's Thesis

Last Updated: June 1, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 604,975 times.

Students learning how to write a Master's Thesis will first learn that a central thesis question must be presented and subsequently answered. A Master's Thesis will be the most prominent piece of your graduate work up to this point, and a pertinent thesis question that forms the spine of this work elevates it from the prosaic to the significant.

Choosing a Topic

Step 1 Think about the objectives of writing a thesis.

  • To get a degree - topic should be difficult enough, but manageable too.
  • To enjoy the work - topic that you are truly interested in, something that you will not grow bored of after a short period of time.
  • To get a job afterward - if you know what specifically you want to do after your studies and/or for which company, it might be useful to choose a topic, that will help with this goal.
  • To be useful - thesis might actually be useful to help to make the world a little better place.
  • Try thinking about your favorite subject of study - it may be a particular author, theory, time period, etc. Imagine how you might further the study of that subject.
  • You might consider skimming through papers you wrote for your graduate courses and see if there is any apparent topic that you tend to gravitate towards.
  • Consult with faculty members, favorite professors. They might have some good suggestions to write about. Generally, you'll be required to meet with your thesis advisor at least once before you start working.
  • Consider consulting with industry partners. Your favorite company might have some work to do which might be done as a master's thesis. This might also help you get a job within the company afterward and maybe even some money for the thesis.
  • If you want to help the world to be a better place, you might want to consult with your local non-profits and charities or check the Internet for possible thesis topics to write about.
  • 3 Choose the right topic. From the possible topics generated in the previous step, find the one which best fits the objectives from the first step, especially the objectives most important to you. Make sure that you have a clear, specific, and organized plan on how to write a master's thesis which you will be able to then defend.

Step 4 Choose your thesis question.

  • Make sure that your question and the answers provided will provide original content to the body of research in existence. A judicious question will also keep research focused, organized, and interesting.
  • Once you've formulated your topic and direction of inquiry, try formulating 5-10 different questions around your intended research. This forces you to think flexibly about your topic and visualize how small changes in wording can change the trajectory of your research.

Step 5 Conduct your research.

  • Usually, your committee chair will be in place before you formally start your thesis. They can help guide you and provide input into your project, so the earlier you can get their commitment, the better.
  • Nothing is more frustrating than your thesis progress being held up by a professor who has too many obligations to make time to meet with you.

Selecting Your Texts

Step 1 Complete a literature review.

  • For example, a novel written by Ernest Hemingway or a scientific journal article in which new results are documented for the first time would both be considered primary sources.

Step 3 Choose your secondary sources.

  • For example, a book written about Ernest Hemingway's novel or a scientific journal article examining the findings of someone else's experiment would both be considered secondary sources.

Step 4 Manage your citations.

  • Use the in-text citation format appropriate to your discipline. [3] X Research source The most common formats are MLA, APA, and Chicago.
  • Create a coordinating works cited or reference entry for each source you cite in the text of your document or in a footnote.
  • Consider using a citation management software such as EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero. These will enable you to insert and move citations within your word processor program and will automatically populate a works cited or reference page for you.

Planning an Outline

Step 1 Know the requirements for your field/department.

  • Qualitative. This type of thesis involves completing a project that is exploratory, analytical, or creative in some way. Usually, students in the humanities will complete this kind of thesis.
  • Quantitative. This type of thesis involves conducting experiments, measuring data, and recording results. Students in the sciences usually complete this kind of thesis.

Step 2 Nail down your thesis idea.

  • Signature page (with the completed signatures of your advising committee - usually attained at the defense, or after the project is deemed complete )
  • Abstract - this is a short (one paragraph or so) description/summary of the work completed in your thesis
  • Table of Contents (with page numbers)
  • Introduction
  • Body of paper
  • Works Cited or Bibliography
  • Any necessary appendices or endnotes

Moving through the Writing Process

Step 1 Make a schedule.

  • If you do not already have a review of literature written, it’s time to do your research! The review of literature is essentially a summary of all of the existing scholarship about your topic with plenty of direct quotations from the primary and secondary sources that you’re referencing.

Step 8 Contextualize your work.

Finalizing Your Thesis

Step 1 Compare your draft with your university's requirements.

  • Many departments or programs provide a document template for theses and dissertations. If you have one of these, it may be easiest to use such a template from the beginning of your work (rather than copying and pasting your writing into it).

Step 2 Re-read the entire thesis for correctness.

  • Alternatively, ask a trusted colleague or friend to read over your thesis to help you catch any minor grammar/spelling/punctuation errors and typos.

Step 3 Follow all printing guidelines according to your department's policies.

  • Some institutions require you to submit your thesis for a formatting check prior to uploading the document to ProQuest. Be sure to check with your department’s Director of Graduate Studies for specific instructions.
  • Be aware of thesis submission deadlines, which are often well in advance of your graduation date. Late submission of your thesis may force you to push back your graduation date, which may affect your employment or continuing graduate studies.

Masters Thesis Outline

whats a master thesis

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

  • Remember why you are writing a Master's thesis and who will want to read and use the material. You write a Master's thesis for members of your community, so keep in mind that they will have extensive knowledge and experience before reading your work. Don't bore them with unnecessary material. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Choosing the perfect question before starting research will prevent frustration and save time. Rigorous effort on finding the perfect question is probably the most important task when learning how to write a Master's thesis. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Consult other people who have completed a Master's thesis and obtained a Master's degree. It can be a long, grueling process, and having the support and advice of someone who has already done it can be very valuable. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

whats a master thesis

You Might Also Like

Restate a Thesis

  • ↑ https://umb.libguides.com/PrimarySources/secondary
  • ↑ https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/in-text-citation-styles/
  • ↑ https://www.unk.edu/academics/gradstudies/admissions/grad-files/Grad%20Files/ThesisGdlnsFinal08.pdf
  • ↑ https://u.osu.edu/hackingthethesis/managing-stuff/your-content/outline/
  • ↑ http://www.imm.dtu.dk/~janba/MastersThesisAdvice.pdf

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a master's thesis, make it a goal to write 500 words every day, which will help you meet your deadline without having to rush at the last minute. It's also helpful if you work in 25-minute increments and take a 5-minute break in between, which will make your work sessions less overwhelming. Also, figure out a writing time that works best for you, whether it's in the morning or at night, and stick with it so you're more productive. For more help writing your master's thesis, like how to make an outline, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.

A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.

A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.

When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.

Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.

Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.  

Descriptive thesis (not arguable) 

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence) 

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim 

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim 

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis 

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
  • picture_as_pdf Thesis

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How to Write a Master's Thesis: A Guide to Planning Your Thesis, Pursuing It, and Avoiding Pitfalls

#scribendiinc

Part 1: Initial Considerations

Who needs to write a master’s thesis.

Thesis writing is one of the more daunting challenges of higher education. That being said, not all master's students have to write a thesis. For example, fields that place a stronger emphasis on applied knowledge, such as nursing, business, and education, tend to have projects and exams to test students on the skills and abilities associated with those fields. Conversely, in disciplines that require in-depth research or highly polished creative abilities, students are usually expected to prove their understanding and independence with a thesis.

What's Your Goal?

Do you want to write a thesis? The process is a long one, often spanning years. It's best to know exactly what you want before you begin. Many people are motivated by career goals. For example, hiring managers may see a master's degree as proof that the candidate is an expert within their field and can lead, motivate, and demonstrate initiative for themselves and others. Others dream of earning their doctorate, and they see a master's degree as a stepping stone toward their Ph.D .

whats a master thesis

No matter what your desired goal is, you should have one before you start your thesis. With your goal in mind, your work will have a purpose, which will allow you to measure your progress more easily.

Major Types of Theses

Once you've carefully researched or even enrolled in a master's program—a feat that involves its own planning and resources —you should know if you are expected to produce a quantitative (which occurs in many math and science programs), qualitative (which occurs in many humanities programs), or creative (which occurs in many creative writing, music, or fine arts programs) thesis.

Time and Energy Considerations

Advanced degrees are notoriously time and energy consuming. If you have a job, thesis writing will become your second job. If you have a family, they will need to know that your thesis will take a great deal of your attention, energy, and focus.

whats a master thesis

Your studies should not consume you, but they also should not take a back seat to everything else. You will be expected to attend classes, conduct research, source relevant literature, and schedule meetings with various people as you pursue your master's, so it's important to let those you care about know what's going on.

As a general note, most master's programs expect students to finish within a two-year period but are willing to grant extra time if requested, especially if that time is needed to deal with unexpected life events (more on those later).

Part 2: Form an Initial Thesis Question, and Find a Supervisor

When to begin forming your initial thesis question.

Some fields, such as history, may require you to have already formed your thesis question and to have used it to create a statement of intent (outlining the nature of your research) prior to applying to a master’s program. Others may require this information only after you've been accepted. Most of the time, you will be expected to come up with your topic yourself. However, in some disciplines, your supervisor may assign a general research topic to you.

Overall, requirements vary immensely from program to program, so it's best to confirm the exact requirements of your specific program.

What to Say to Your Supervisor

You will have a supervisor during your master's studies. Have you identified who that person will be? If yes, have you introduced yourself via email or phone and obtained information on the processes and procedures that are in place for your master's program? Once you've established contact, request an in-person meeting with him or her, and take a page of questions along with you. Your questions might include:

  • Is there a research subject you can recommend in my field?
  • I would like to pursue [target research subject] for my thesis. Can you help me narrow my focus?
  • Can you give me an example of a properly formatted thesis proposal for my program?

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help (to a Degree)

Procedures and expectations vary from program to program, and your supervisor is there to help remove doubt and provide encouragement so you can follow the right path when you embark on writing your thesis. Since your supervisor has almost certainly worked with other graduate students (and was one at some point), take advantage of their experience, and ask questions to put your mind at ease about how to write a master’s thesis.

That being said, do not rely too heavily on your supervisor. As a graduate student, you are also expected to be able to work independently. Proving your independent initiative and capacity is part of what will earn you your master's degree.

Part 3: Revise Your Thesis

Read everything you can get your hands on.

Whether you have a question or need to create one, your next step is simple and applies to all kinds of theses: read.

whats a master thesis

Seek Out Knowledge or Research Gaps

Read everything you can that relates to the question or the field you are studying. The only way you will be able to determine where you can go is to see where everyone else has been. After you have read some published material, you will start to spot gaps in current research or notice things that could be developed further with an alternative approach. Things that are known but not understood or understood but not explained clearly or consistently are great potential thesis subjects. Addressing something already known from a new perspective or with a different style could also be a potentially valuable project. Whichever way you choose to do it, keep in mind that your project should make a valuable contribution to your field.

whats a master thesis

Talk with Experts in Your Field (and Don't Be Afraid to Revise Your Thesis)

To help narrow down your thesis topic, talk to your supervisor. Your supervisor will have an idea of what is current in your field and what can be left alone because others are already working on it. Additionally, the school you are attending will have programs and faculty with particular areas of interest within your chosen field.

On a similar note, don't be surprised if your thesis question changes as you study. Other students and researchers are out there, and as they publish, what you are working on can change. You might also discover that your question is too vague, not substantial enough, or even no longer relevant. Do not lose heart! Take what you know and adjust the question to address these concerns as they arise. The freedom to adapt is part of the power you hold as a graduate student.

Part 4: Select a Proposal Committee

What proposal committees are and why they're useful.

When you have a solid question or set of questions, draft a proposal.

whats a master thesis

You'll need an original stance and a clear justification for asking, and answering, your thesis question. To ensure this, a committee will review your thesis proposal. Thankfully, that committee will consist of people assigned by your supervisor or department head or handpicked by you. These people will be experts who understand your field of study and will do everything in their power to ensure that you are pursuing something worthwhile. And yes, it is okay to put your supervisor on your committee. Some programs even require that your supervisor be on your committee.

Just remember that the committee will expect you to schedule meetings with them, present your proposal, respond to any questions they might have for you, and ultimately present your findings and thesis when all the work is done. Choose those who are willing to support you, give constructive feedback, and help address issues with your proposal. And don't forget to give your proposal a good, thorough edit and proofread before you present it.

How to Prepare for Committee Meetings

Be ready for committee meetings with synopses of your material for committee members, answers for expected questions, and a calm attitude. To prepare for those meetings, sit in on proposal and thesis defenses so you can watch how other graduate students handle them and see what your committee might ask of you. You can even hold rehearsals with friends and fellow students acting as your committee to help you build confidence for your presentation.

whats a master thesis

Part 5: Write Your Thesis

What to do once your proposal is approved.

After you have written your thesis proposal and received feedback from your committee, the fun part starts: doing the work. This is where you will take your proposal and carry it out. If you drafted a qualitative or quantitative proposal, your experimentation or will begin here. If you wrote a creative proposal, you will now start working on your material. Your proposal should be strong enough to give you direction when you perform your experiments, conduct interviews, or craft your work. Take note that you will have to check in with your supervisor from time to time to give progress updates.

whats a master thesis

Thesis Writing: It's Important to Pace Yourself and Take Breaks

Do not expect the work to go quickly. You will need to pace yourself and make sure you record your progress meticulously. You can always discard information you don't need, but you cannot go back and grab a crucial fact that you can't quite remember. When in doubt, write it down. When drawing from a source, always create a citation for the information to save your future self time and stress. In the same sense, you may also find journaling to be a helpful process.

Additionally, take breaks and allow yourself to step away from your thesis, even if you're having fun (and especially if you're not). Ideally, your proposal should have milestones in it— points where you can stop and assess what you've already completed and what's left to do. When you reach a milestone, celebrate. Take a day off and relax. Better yet, give yourself a week's vacation! The rest will help you regain your focus and ensure that you function at your best.

How to Become More Comfortable with Presenting Your Work

Once you start reaching your milestones, you should be able to start sharing what you have. Just about everyone in a graduate program has experience giving a presentation at the front of the class, attending a seminar, or watching an interview. If you haven't (or even if you have), look for conferences and clubs that will give you the opportunity to learn about presenting your work and become comfortable with the idea of public speaking. The more you practice talking about what you are studying, the more comfortable you'll be with the information, which will make your committee defenses and other official meetings easier.

Published authors can be called upon to present at conferences, and if your thesis is strong, you may receive an email or a phone call asking if you would share your findings onstage.

Presenting at conferences is also a great way to boost your CV and network within your field. Make presenting part of your education, and it will become something you look forward to instead of fear.

What to Do If Your Relationship with Your Supervisor Sours

A small aside: If it isn't already obvious, you will be communicating extensively with others as you pursue your thesis. That also means that others will need to communicate with you, and if you've been noticing things getting quiet, you will need to be the one to speak up. Your supervisor should speak to you at least once a term and preferably once a week in the more active parts of your research and writing. If you give written work to your supervisor, you should have feedback within three weeks.

If your supervisor does not provide feedback, frequently misses appointments, or is consistently discouraging of your work, contact your graduate program advisor and ask for a new supervisor. The relationship with your supervisor is crucial to your success, especially if she or he is on your committee, and while your supervisor does not have to be friendly, there should at least be professional respect between you.

What to Do If a Crisis Strikes

If something happens in your life that disrupts everything (e.g., emotional strain, the birth of a child, or the death of a family member), ask for help. You are a human being, and personal lives can and do change without warning. Do not wait until you are falling apart before asking for help, either. Learn what resources exist for crises before you have one, so you can head off trauma before it hits. That being said, if you get blindsided, don't refuse help. Seek it out, and take the time you need to recover. Your degree is supposed to help you become a stronger and smarter person, not break you.

Part 6: Polish and Defend Your Master's Thesis

How to write a master’s thesis: the final stages.

After your work is done and everything is written down, you will have to give your thesis a good, thorough polishing. This is where you will have to organize the information, draft it into a paper format with an abstract, and abbreviate things to help meet your word-count limit. This is also where your final editing and proofreading passes will occur, after which you will face your final hurdle: presenting your thesis defense to your committee. If they approve your thesis, then congratulations! You are now a master of your chosen field.

Conclusion and Parting Thoughts

Remember that you do not (and should not) have to learn how to write a master’s thesis on your own. Thesis writing is collaborative, as is practically any kind of research.

whats a master thesis

While you will be expected to develop your thesis using your own initiative, pursue it with your own ambition, and complete it with your own abilities, you will also be expected to use all available resources to do so. The purpose of a master's thesis is to help you develop your own independent abilities, ensuring that you can drive your own career forward without constantly looking to others to provide direction. Leaders get master's degrees. That's why many business professionals in leadership roles have graduate degree initials after their last names. If you already have the skills necessary to motivate yourself, lead others, and drive change, you may only need your master's as an acknowledgement of your abilities. If you do not, but you apply yourself carefully and thoroughly to the pursuit of your thesis, you should come away from your studies with those skills in place.

A final thought regarding collaboration: all theses have a section for acknowledgements. Be sure to say thank you to those who helped you become a master. One day, someone might be doing the same for you.

Image source: Falkenpost/Pixabay.com 

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M.A. Thesis: What is it and what does it need to do?

The purpose of a M.A. thesis is to demonstrate a student’s capacity to develop an original historical argument based on original research . Given the significant amount of work and effort that—beyond classwork—goes into completing and defending a thesis, students on the thesis track should seriously consider why is it that they want to write a thesis and discuss their reasons (and their intellectual and professional trajectory more broadly) with the History or Public History advisor early on, preferably during their first year in the program. Students should start thinking about possible topics and committee members (one chair and two readers) early on as well.

The Thesis “Pipeline” Students generally start developing their thesis topic during the third semester, as they enroll in the General Research Seminar (GRS) and Thesis A (see the Graduate Student Handbook for details). In consultation with the instructor of record and the History or Public History general advisors, they will select a paper advisor for the course, knowledgeable in the student’s field, who will very likely fulfill the role of thesis director and committee chair for the student after the GRS. During the Seminar, students will be working on research, methodology, and historiography which will serve as the basis of the thesis. To get credit for Thesis A, moreover, students will have to defend a thesis proposal (5-8 pages) before a committee, which will recommend that the student continues with the project or switches to the Comps track.

Scope Students must be able to assess the value of their source base—which can include textual primary sources, material culture, the built environment, oral interviews and oral histories, digital media, musical examples, and visual images—demonstrating the ability to critically evaluate and engage with several archival and non-archival sources. Students then must place their research into conversation with the existing literature on the topic. They must show their ability to summarize the recent historiographical trends on the subject, and then must illustrate the ways that their research contributes to, contends with, or challenges current trends. In other words, the original research needs to be put into a larger intellectual framework. This framing involves the skill to utilize the research of other scholars to help build students’ argument and analysis. Since the historical profession is built on acknowledging the contributions of other scholars, it is vital that the M.A. thesis integrate existing scholarship throughout the thesis.

Another feature of a thesis is that, although the thesis can be structured chronologically or thematically, the argument must address change over time . To effectively do this, the M.A. student must first set up the historical context, thereby establishing the “problem” that will be solved. Lastly, an M.A. thesis must comply with the academic conventions of historical writing . This includes using the Chicago/Turabian citation method, offering a clear and effective organization, and writing in a clear, concise, and readable style.

Public History students must incorporate a Public History component in their thesis. Types of components are categorized and described, with accompanying examples, in a separate guide.

Format M.A. History theses are typically comprised of an Introduction (~10 pages), 2-3 chapters (~20-25 pages each) organized chronologically or thematically, and a conclusion (~10 pages). To form an idea of the Department’s expectations, students are encouraged to peruse previous theses at the library’s website . Students are also encouraged to consult the Graduate College Guide to Preparing and Submitting a Thesis BEFORE beginning the writing process, as the guide provides templates with the proper formatting that will make the final submission a much easier endeavor.

Alternatively, and with the approval of the thesis committee and/or the History or Public History advisor, preferably before taking Thesis B (see the Graduate Student Handbook for details), students can opt for an article-length thesis, which will include a 9000-to-12,000-word standalone article chapter of publishable quality and, to satisfy Graduate College requirements, a thorough introduction chapter and a comprehensive conclusion chapter. Students considering a Ph.D. in History are particularly encouraged to discuss this option with their advisors, for an article chapter would provide a strong writing sample, which will enhance the student’s chances of gaining admission. In consultation with the thesis committee, students working on an article-length thesis should identify suitable publication venues and keep their scope and formatting guidelines in mind during the writing process, so that they can submit their work for consideration after the defense.

As with all M.A. History theses, the committee is the sole arbiter of the quality, scope, and length of all parts of the document.

Ver. 01/15/21

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How to write a masters dissertation or thesis: top tips.

How to write a masters dissertation

It is completely normal to find the idea of writing a masters thesis or dissertation slightly daunting, even for students who have written one before at undergraduate level. Though, don’t feel put off by the idea. You’ll have plenty of time to complete it, and plenty of support from your supervisor and peers.

One of the main challenges that students face is putting their ideas and findings into words. Writing is a skill in itself, but with the right advice, you’ll find it much easier to get into the flow of writing your masters thesis or dissertation.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to write a dissertation or thesis for your masters degree, with top tips to consider at each stage in the process.

1. Understand your dissertation (or thesis) topic

There are slight differences between theses and dissertations , although both require a high standard of writing skill and knowledge in your topic. They are also formatted very similarly.

At first, writing a masters thesis can feel like running a 100m race – the course feels very quick and like there is not as much time for thinking! However, you’ll usually have a summer semester dedicated to completing your dissertation – giving plenty of time and space to write a strong academic piece.

By comparison, writing a PhD thesis can feel like running a marathon, working on the same topic for 3-4 years can be laborious. But in many ways, the approach to both of these tasks is quite similar.

Before writing your masters dissertation, get to know your research topic inside out. Not only will understanding your topic help you conduct better research, it will also help you write better dissertation content.

Also consider the main purpose of your dissertation. You are writing to put forward a theory or unique research angle – so make your purpose clear in your writing.

Top writing tip: when researching your topic, look out for specific terms and writing patterns used by other academics. It is likely that there will be a lot of jargon and important themes across research papers in your chosen dissertation topic. 

2. Structure your dissertation or thesis

Writing a thesis is a unique experience and there is no general consensus on what the best way to structure it is. 

As a postgraduate student , you’ll probably decide what kind of structure suits your research project best after consultation with your supervisor. You’ll also have a chance to look at previous masters students’ theses in your university library.

To some extent, all postgraduate dissertations are unique. Though they almost always consist of chapters. The number of chapters you cover will vary depending on the research. 

A masters dissertation or thesis organised into chapters would typically look like this: 

Write down your structure and use these as headings that you’ll write for later on.

Top writing tip : ease each chapter together with a paragraph that links the end of a chapter to the start of a new chapter. For example, you could say something along the lines of “in the next section, these findings are evaluated in more detail”. This makes it easier for the reader to understand each chapter and helps your writing flow better.

3. Write up your literature review

One of the best places to start when writing your masters dissertation is with the literature review. This involves researching and evaluating existing academic literature in order to identify any gaps for your own research.

Many students prefer to write the literature review chapter first, as this is where several of the underpinning theories and concepts exist. This section helps set the stage for the rest of your dissertation, and will help inform the writing of your other dissertation chapters.

What to include in your literature review

The literature review chapter is more than just a summary of existing research, it is an evaluation of how this research has informed your own unique research.

Demonstrate how the different pieces of research fit together. Are there overlapping theories? Are there disagreements between researchers?

Highlight the gap in the research. This is key, as a dissertation is mostly about developing your own unique research. Is there an unexplored avenue of research? Has existing research failed to disprove a particular theory?

Back up your methodology. Demonstrate why your methodology is appropriate by discussing where it has been used successfully in other research.

4. Write up your research

Your research is the heart and soul of your dissertation. Conducting your actual research is a whole other topic in itself, but it’s important to consider that your research design will heavily influence the way you write your final dissertation.

For instance, a more theoretical-based research topic might encompass more writing from a philosophical perspective. Qualitative data might require a lot more evaluation and discussion than quantitative research. 

Methodology chapter

The methodology chapter is all about how you carried out your research and which specific techniques you used to gather data. You should write about broader methodological approaches (e.g. qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods), and then go into more detail about your chosen data collection strategy. 

Data collection strategies include things like interviews, questionnaires, surveys, content analyses, discourse analyses and many more.

Data analysis and findings chapters

The data analysis or findings chapter should cover what you actually discovered during your research project. It should be detailed, specific and objective (don’t worry, you’ll have time for evaluation later on in your dissertation)

Write up your findings in a way that is easy to understand. For example, if you have a lot of numerical data, this could be easier to digest in tables.

This will make it easier for you to dive into some deeper analysis in later chapters. Remember, the reader will refer back to your data analysis section to cross-reference your later evaluations against your actual findings – so presenting your data in a simple manner is beneficial.

Think about how you can segment your data into categories. For instance, it can be useful to segment interview transcripts by interviewee. 

Top writing tip : write up notes on how you might phrase a certain part of the research. This will help bring the best out of your writing. There is nothing worse than when you think of the perfect way to phrase something and then you completely forget it.

5. Discuss and evaluate

Once you’ve presented your findings, it’s time to evaluate and discuss them.

It might feel difficult to differentiate between your findings and discussion sections, because you are essentially talking about the same data. The easiest way to remember the difference is that your findings simply present the data, whereas your discussion tells the story of this data.

Your evaluation breaks the story down, explaining the key findings, what went well and what didn’t go so well.

In your discussion chapter, you’ll have chance to expand on the results from your findings section. For example, explain what certain numbers mean and draw relationships between different pieces of data.

Top writing tip: don’t be afraid to point out the shortcomings of your research. You will receive higher marks for writing objectively. For example, if you didn’t receive as many interview responses as expected, evaluate how this has impacted your research and findings. Don’t let your ego get in the way!

6. Write your introduction

Your introduction sets the scene for the rest of your masters dissertation. You might be wondering why writing an introduction isn't at the start of our step-by-step list, and that’s because many students write this chapter last.

Here’s what your introduction chapter should cover:

Problem statement

Research question

Significance of your research

This tells the reader what you’ll be researching as well as its importance. You’ll have a good idea of what to include here from your original dissertation proposal , though it’s fairly common for research to change once it gets started.

Writing or at least revisiting this section last can be really helpful, since you’ll have a more well-rounded view of what your research actually covers once it has been completed and written up.

How to write a masters dissertation

Masters dissertation writing tips

When to start writing your thesis or dissertation.

When you should start writing your masters thesis or dissertation depends on the scope of the research project and the duration of your course. In some cases, your research project may be relatively short and you may not be able to write much of your thesis before completing the project. 

But regardless of the nature of your research project and of the scope of your course, you should start writing your thesis or at least some of its sections as early as possible, and there are a number of good reasons for this:

Academic writing is about practice, not talent. The first steps of writing your dissertation will help you get into the swing of your project. Write early to help you prepare in good time.

Write things as you do them. This is a good way to keep your dissertation full of fresh ideas and ensure that you don’t forget valuable information.

The first draft is never perfect. Give yourself time to edit and improve your dissertation. It’s likely that you’ll need to make at least one or two more drafts before your final submission.

Writing early on will help you stay motivated when writing all subsequent drafts.

Thinking and writing are very connected. As you write, new ideas and concepts will come to mind. So writing early on is a great way to generate new ideas.

How to improve your writing skills

The best way of improving your dissertation or thesis writing skills is to:

 Finish the first draft of your masters thesis as early as possible and send it to your supervisor for revision. Your supervisor will correct your draft and point out any writing errors. This process will be repeated a few times which will help you recognise and correct writing mistakes yourself as time progresses.

If you are not a native English speaker, it may be useful to ask your English friends to read a part of your thesis and warn you about any recurring writing mistakes. Read our section on English language support for more advice. 

Most universities have writing centres that offer writing courses and other kinds of support for postgraduate students. Attending these courses may help you improve your writing and meet other postgraduate students with whom you will be able to discuss what constitutes a well-written thesis.

Read academic articles and search for writing resources on the internet. This will help you adopt an academic writing style, which will eventually become effortless with practice.

Keep track of your bibliography 

When studying for your masters dissertation, you will need to develop an efficient way of organising your bibliography – this will prevent you from getting lost in large piles of data that you’ll need to write your dissertation. 

The easiest way to keep the track of all the articles you have read for your research is to create a database where you can summarise each article/chapter into a few most important bullet points to help you remember their content. 

Another useful tool for doing this effectively is to learn how to use specific reference management software (RMS) such as EndNote. RMS is relatively simple to use and saves a lot of time when it comes to organising your bibliography. This may come in very handy, especially if your reference section is suspiciously missing two hours before you need to submit your dissertation! 

Avoid accidental plagiarism

Plagiarism may cost you your postgraduate degree and it is important that you consciously avoid it when writing your thesis or dissertation. 

Occasionally, postgraduate students commit plagiarism unintentionally. This can happen when sections are copy and pasted from journal articles they are citing instead of simply rephrasing them. Whenever you are presenting information from another academic source, make sure you reference the source and avoid writing the statement exactly as it is written in the original paper.

What kind of format should your thesis have?

How to write a masters dissertation

Read your university’s guidelines before you actually start writing your thesis so you don’t have to waste time changing the format further down the line. However in general, most universities will require you to use 1.5-2 line spacing, font size 12 for text, and to print your thesis on A4 paper. These formatting guidelines may not necessarily result in the most aesthetically appealing thesis, however beauty is not always practical, and a nice looking thesis can be a more tiring reading experience for your postgrad examiner .

When should I submit my thesis?

The length of time it takes to complete your MSc or MA thesis will vary from student to student. This is because people work at different speeds, projects vary in difficulty, and some projects encounter more problems than others. 

Obviously, you should submit your MSc thesis or MA thesis when it is finished! Every university will say in its regulations that it is the student who must decide when it is ready to submit. 

However, your supervisor will advise you whether your work is ready and you should take their advice on this. If your supervisor says that your work is not ready, then it is probably unwise to submit it. Usually your supervisor will read your final thesis or dissertation draft and will let you know what’s required before submitting your final draft.

Set yourself a target for completion. This will help you stay on track and avoid falling behind. You may also only have funding for the year, so it is important to ensure you submit your dissertation before the deadline – and also ensure you don’t miss out on your graduation ceremony ! 

To set your target date, work backwards from the final completion and submission date, and aim to have your final draft completed at least three months before that final date.

Don’t leave your submission until the last minute – submit your work in good time before the final deadline. Consider what else you’ll have going on around that time. Are you moving back home? Do you have a holiday? Do you have other plans?

If you need to have finished by the end of June to be able to go to a graduation ceremony in July, then you should leave a suitable amount of time for this. You can build this into your dissertation project planning at the start of your research.

It is important to remember that handing in your thesis or dissertation is not the end of your masters program . There will be a period of time of one to three months between the time you submit and your final day. Some courses may even require a viva to discuss your research project, though this is more common at PhD level . 

If you have passed, you will need to make arrangements for the thesis to be properly bound and resubmitted, which will take a week or two. You may also have minor corrections to make to the work, which could take up to a month or so. This means that you need to allow a period of at least three months between submitting your thesis and the time when your program will be completely finished. Of course, it is also possible you may be asked after the viva to do more work on your thesis and resubmit it before the examiners will agree to award the degree – so there may be an even longer time period before you have finished.

How do I submit the MA or MSc dissertation?

Most universities will have a clear procedure for submitting a masters dissertation. Some universities require your ‘intention to submit’. This notifies them that you are ready to submit and allows the university to appoint an external examiner.

This normally has to be completed at least three months before the date on which you think you will be ready to submit.

When your MA or MSc dissertation is ready, you will have to print several copies and have them bound. The number of copies varies between universities, but the university usually requires three – one for each of the examiners and one for your supervisor.

However, you will need one more copy – for yourself! These copies must be softbound, not hardbound. The theses you see on the library shelves will be bound in an impressive hardback cover, but you can only get your work bound like this once you have passed. 

You should submit your dissertation or thesis for examination in soft paper or card covers, and your university will give you detailed guidance on how it should be bound. They will also recommend places where you can get the work done.

The next stage is to hand in your work, in the way and to the place that is indicated in your university’s regulations. All you can do then is sit and wait for the examination – but submitting your thesis is often a time of great relief and celebration!

Some universities only require a digital submission, where you upload your dissertation as a file through their online submission system.

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whats a master thesis

What is a Master’s Thesis?

If you’re thinking about going to grad school, it’s important that you know exactly what your academic career will entail. One key factor in choosing your graduate degree path is deciding whether or not you want to write a master’s thesis. Depending on your aspirations, a master’s thesis may offer an academic experience critical to your future goals. 

A Quick Breakdown

A master’s thesis is used to showcase a student’s academic knowledge and professional capabilities. It’s essentially a research paper that challenges students to use the information and skills they’ve learned during their graduate career. Unlike typical research papers that you’ve had to do in high school or undergraduate courses, a thesis requires a more rigorous amount of research and writing—usually between 60 to 100 pages. Keep in mind that a thesis is not the same thing as a dissertation. Unlike a thesis, a dissertation usually requires the student to collect their own personal findings and is meant for students pursuing a Ph.D. Although the layout may vary depending on your institution, a thesis instead typically consists of an introduction, literary review of gathered findings, main body, conclusion, and bibliography. 

Do I Have to Write a Thesis to Graduate?

Do I Have to Write a Thesis to Graduate?

Ultimately, writing a thesis depends on the graduate program that you choose. Some options, even for the same field of study, may or may not include a thesis depending on the school. If your career goals include research as part of the job, or if you plan to continue your studies and pursue a doctoral degree, I would recommend considering a degree that includes a thesis requirement in the curriculum. The thesis can help give you the experience you need to prepare for a research-based job or your Ph.D. dissertation. 

How Difficult Is a Master’s Thesis?

The requirements and format of a thesis varies by college and program. Nevertheless, if you pursue a thesis master’s degree, your institution will provide you with all of the resources and support you need throughout this challenging project. Your program will most likely provide you with courses that can help you prepare and better understand how to develop and synthesize your ideas, and professors and faculty advisors will also be available to guide you through your research and writing. Your college writing center can also provide you with support as you put your work together. 

Although it may sound like a lot of writing, a master’s thesis can be greatly beneficial to your academic and professional career. Think about whether writing a thesis can help you achieve your goals. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend reaching out to your college of choice. You could even contact graduate professors or advisors to get an inside look on their department’s master’s program.

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Required sections, guidelines, and suggestions.

Beyond those noted on the Formatting Requirements page , the Graduate School has no additional formatting requirements. The following suggestions are based on best practices and historic requirements for dissertations and theses but are not requirements for submission of the thesis or dissertation. The Graduate School recommends that each dissertation or thesis conform to the standards of leading academic journals in your field.

For both master’s and doctoral students, the same basic rules apply; however, differences exist in some limited areas, particularly in producing the abstract and filing the dissertation or thesis.

  • Information in this guide that pertains specifically to doctoral candidates and dissertations is clearly marked with the term “ dissertation ” or “ doctoral candidates .”
  • Information pertaining specifically to master’s candidates and theses is clearly marked with the term “ thesis ” or “ master’s candidates .”
  • All other information pertains to both.

Examples of formatting suggestions for both the dissertation and thesis are available as downloadable templates .

Required? Yes.

Suggested numbering: Page included in overall document, but number not typed on page.

The following format for your title page is suggested, but not required.

  • The title should be written using all capital letters, centered within the left and right margins, and spaced about 1.5 inches from the top of the page. (For an example, please see the template .)
  • Carefully select words for the title of the dissertation or thesis to represent the subject content as accurately as possible. Words in the title are important access points to researchers who may use keyword searches to identify works in various subject areas.
  • Use word substitutes for formulas, symbols, superscripts, Greek letters, etc.
  • Below the title, at the vertical and horizontal center of the margins, place the following five lines (all centered):

Line 1: A Dissertation [or Thesis]

Line 2: Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School

Line 3: of Cornell University

Line 4: in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of

Line 5: Doctor of Philosophy [or other appropriate degree]

  • Center the following three lines within the margins:

Line 2: Primary or Preferred Name [as registered with the University Registrar’s Office and displayed in Student Center]

Line 3: month and year of degree conferral [May, August, December; no comma between month and year]

Copyright Page

Suggested numbering: Page included in overall document, but number not typed on page

The following format for your copyright page is suggested, but not required.

  • A notice of copyright should appear as the sole item on the page centered vertically and horizontally within the margins: © 20__ [Primary or Preferred Name [as registered with the University Registrar’s Office]. Please note that there is not usually a page heading on the copyright page.
  • The copyright symbol is a lowercase “c,” which must be circled. (On Macs, the symbol is typed by pressing the “option” and “g” keys simultaneously. If the font does not have the © symbol, type the “c” and circle it by hand. On PCs, in the insert menu, choose “symbol,” and select the © symbol.)
  • The date, which follows the copyright symbol, is the year of conferral of your degree.
  • Your name follows the date.

Required?  Yes.

Suggested numbering: Page(s) not counted, not numbered

Abstract formats for the doctoral dissertation and master’s thesis differ greatly. The Graduate School recommends that you conform to the standards of leading academic journals in your field.

Doctoral candidates:

  • TITLE OF DISSERTATION
  • Student’s Primary or Preferred Name, Ph.D. [as registered with the University Registrar’s Office]
  • Cornell University 20__ [year of conferral]
  • Following the heading lines, begin the text of the abstract on the same page.
  • The abstract states the problem, describes the methods and procedures used, and gives the main results or conclusions of the research.
  • The abstract usually does not exceed 350 words in length (about one-and-one-half correctly spaced pages—but not more than two pages).

Master’s candidate:

  • In a thesis, the page heading is simply the word “ABSTRACT” in all capital letters and centered within the margins at the top of the page. (The thesis abstract does not display the thesis title, author’s name, degree, university, or date of degree conferral.)
  • The abstract should state the problem, describe the methods and procedures used, and give the main results or conclusions.
  • The abstract usually does not exceed 600 words in length, which is approximately two-and-one-half to three pages of correctly spaced typing.
  • In M.F.A. theses, an abstract is not required.

Biographical Sketch

Suggested numbering: iii (may be more than one page)

  • Type number(s) on page(s).

The following content and format are suggested:

  • The biographical sketch is written in third-person voice and contains your educational background. Sometimes additional biographical facts are included.
  • As a page heading, use “BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
  • Number this page as iii.

Required? Optional.

Suggested numbering: iv (may be more than one page)

The dedication page is not required and can contain whatever text that you would like to include. Text on this page does not need to be in English.

Acknowledgements

Suggested numbering: v (may be more than one page)

The following content and format are suggested, not required.

  • The acknowledgements may be written in first-person voice. If your research has been funded by outside grants, you should check with the principal investigator of the grant regarding proper acknowledgement of the funding source. Most outside funding sources require some statement of acknowledgement of the support; some also require a disclaimer from responsibility for the results.
  • As a page heading, use “ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS” in all capital letters, centered on the page.

Table of Contents

Suggested numbering: vi (may be more than one page)

The following are suggestions.

  • As a page heading, use “TABLE OF CONTENTS” in all capital letters and centered on the page.
  • List the sections/chapters of the body of the dissertation or thesis. Also, list preliminary sections starting with the biographical sketch. (Title page, copyright page, and abstract are not listed.)
  • For theses and dissertations, the conventional format for page numbers is in a column to the right of each section/chapter title. The first page of each chapter/section is stated with a single number. Table of contents usually do not include a range of page numbers, such as 7-22.
  • The table of contents is often single-spaced.

Two-Volume Theses or Dissertations

If the dissertation or thesis consists of two volumes, it is recommended, but not required, that you list “Volume II” as a section in the table of contents.

List of Figures, Illustrations, and Tables

Suggested numbering: vii (may be more than one page)

  • If included, type number(s) on page(s).

As described in the formatting requirements above, figures and tables should be consecutively numbered. The Graduate School recommends that you conform to the styles set by the leading academic journals in your field. The items below are formatting suggestions based on best practices or historic precedents.

Table of contents format:

  • As a page heading, use “LIST OF FIGURES,” “LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS,” or “LIST OF TABLES” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
  • There should be separate pages for “LIST OF FIGURES,” “LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS,” or “LIST OF TABLES” even if there is only one example of each.
  • The list should contain enough of the titles or descriptions so readers can locate items using the list. (It may not be necessary to include entire figure/illustration/table captions.)
  • The list should contain the page number on which each figure, illustration, or table is found, as in a table of contents.
  • The list of figures/illustrations/tables may be single-spaced.

Page format:

  • Figures/illustrations/tables should be placed as close as possible to their first mention in the text. They may be placed on a page with no text above or below, or placed directly into the text. If a figure/illustration/table is placed directly into the text, text may appear above or below the figure/illustration/table; no text may wrap around the figure/illustration/table.
  • If a figure/illustration/table appears on a page without other text, it should be centered vertically within the page margins. Figures/illustrations/tables should not be placed at the end of the chapter or at the end of the dissertation or thesis.
  • Figure/illustration/table numbering should be either continuous throughout the dissertation or thesis, or by chapter (e.g. 1.1, 1.2; 2.1, 2.2, etc.). The word “Figure,” “Illustration,” or “Table” must be spelled out (not abbreviated), and the first letter must be capitalized.
  • A caption for a figure/illustration should be placed at the bottom of the figure/illustration. However, a caption for a table must be placed above the table.
  • If the figure/illustration/table, not including the caption, takes up the entire page, the figure/illustration/table caption should be placed alone on the preceding page and centered vertically and horizontally within the margins. (When the caption is on a separate page, the List of Figures or List of Illustrations or List of Tables can list the page number containing the caption.)
  • If the figure/illustration/table, not including the caption, takes up more than two pages, it should be preceded by a page consisting of the caption only. The first page of the figure/illustration/table must include the figure/illustration/table (no caption), and the second and subsequent pages must also include, at the top of the figure/illustration/table, words that indicate its continuance—for example, “Figure 5 (Continued)”—and on these pages the caption is omitted.
  • If figures/illustrations/tables are too large, they may be reduced slightly so as to render a satisfactory product or they must either be split into several pages or be redone. If a figure/illustration/table is reduced, all lettering must be clear, readable, and large enough to be legible. All lettering, including subscripts, must still be readable when reduced 25% beyond the final version. All page margin requirements must be maintained. Page numbers and headings must not be reduced.
  • While there are no specific rules for the typographic format of figure/illustration/table captions, a consistent format should be used throughout the dissertation or thesis.
  • The caption of a figure/illustration/table should be single-spaced, but then captions for all figures/illustrations/tables must be single-spaced.
  • Horizontal figures/illustrations/tables should be positioned correctly—i.e., the top of the figure/illustration/table will be at the left margin of the vertical page of the dissertation or thesis (remember: pages are bound on the left margin). Figure/illustration/table headings/captions are placed with the same orientation as the figure/illustration/table when they are on the same page as the figure/illustration/table. When they are on a separate page, headings and captions are always placed in vertical orientation, regardless of the orientation of the figure/illustration/table. Page numbers are always placed as if the figure/illustration/table was vertical on the page.

Photographs should be treated as illustrations. To be considered archival, photographs must be black-and-white. (If actual color photographs are necessary, they should be accompanied by black-and-white photographs of the same subject.) Color photos obtained digitally do not need to be accompanied by a black-and-white photograph. Make a high-resolution digital version of each photograph and insert it into your electronic document, following the guideline suggestions for positioning and margins.

Optional Elements

List of abbreviations.

As a page heading, use “LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS” in all capital letters, centered on the page.

List of Symbols

As a page heading, use “LIST OF SYMBOLS” in all capital letters, centered on the page.

Suggested numbering: xi (may be more than one page)

As a page heading, use “PREFACE” in all capital letters, centered on the page.

Body of the Dissertation or Thesis: Text

Suggested numbering: Begin page number at 1

  • Text (required)
  • Appendix/Appendices (optional)
  • Bibliography, References, or Works Cited (required)

Please note that smaller font size may be appropriate for footnotes or other material outside of the main text. The following suggestions are based on best practice or historic precedent, but are not required.

  • Chapter headings may be included that conform to the standard of your academic field.
  • Textual notes that provide supplementary information, opinions, explanations, or suggestions that are not part of the text must appear at the bottom of the page as footnotes. Lengthy footnotes may be continued on the next page. Placement of footnotes at the bottom of the page ensures they will appear as close as possible to the referenced passage.

Appendix (or Appendices)

An appendix (-ces) is not required for your thesis or dissertation. If you choose to include one, the following suggestions are based on best practice or historic precedent.

  • As a page heading, use “APPENDIX” in all capital letters, centered on the page.
  • Place in an appendix any material that is peripheral, but relevant, to the main text of the dissertation or thesis. Examples could include survey instruments, additional data, computer printouts, details of a procedure or analysis, a relevant paper that you wrote, etc.
  • The appendix may include text that does not meet the general font and spacing requirements of the other sections of the dissertation or thesis.

Bibliography (or References or Works Cited)

A bibliography, references, or works cited is required for your thesis or dissertation. Please conform to the standards of leading academic journals in your field.

  • As a page heading, use “BIBLIOGRAPHY” (or “REFERENCES” or “WORKS CITED”) in all capital letters, centered on the page. The bibliography should always begin on a new page.
  • Bibliographies may be single-spaced within each entry but should include 24 points of space between entries.

Suggested numbering: Continue page numbering from body

If you choose to include a glossary, best practices and historic precedent suggest using a page heading, use “GLOSSARY” in all capital letters, centered on the page.

Suggested numbering: Continue page numbering from glossary

If you choose to include one, best practices and historic precedent suggest using a page heading, use “INDEX” in all capital letters, centered on the page.

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What is a thesis | A Complete Guide with Examples

Madalsa

Table of Contents

A thesis is a comprehensive academic paper based on your original research that presents new findings, arguments, and ideas of your study. It’s typically submitted at the end of your master’s degree or as a capstone of your bachelor’s degree.

However, writing a thesis can be laborious, especially for beginners. From the initial challenge of pinpointing a compelling research topic to organizing and presenting findings, the process is filled with potential pitfalls.

Therefore, to help you, this guide talks about what is a thesis. Additionally, it offers revelations and methodologies to transform it from an overwhelming task to a manageable and rewarding academic milestone.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic.

Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research, which not only fortifies your propositions but also confers credibility to your entire study.

Furthermore, there's another phenomenon you might often confuse with the thesis: the ' working thesis .' However, they aren't similar and shouldn't be used interchangeably.

A working thesis, often referred to as a preliminary or tentative thesis, is an initial version of your thesis statement. It serves as a draft or a starting point that guides your research in its early stages.

As you research more and gather more evidence, your initial thesis (aka working thesis) might change. It's like a starting point that can be adjusted as you learn more. It's normal for your main topic to change a few times before you finalize it.

While a thesis identifies and provides an overarching argument, the key to clearly communicating the central point of that argument lies in writing a strong thesis statement.

What is a thesis statement?

A strong thesis statement (aka thesis sentence) is a concise summary of the main argument or claim of the paper. It serves as a critical anchor in any academic work, succinctly encapsulating the primary argument or main idea of the entire paper.

Typically found within the introductory section, a strong thesis statement acts as a roadmap of your thesis, directing readers through your arguments and findings. By delineating the core focus of your investigation, it offers readers an immediate understanding of the context and the gravity of your study.

Furthermore, an effectively crafted thesis statement can set forth the boundaries of your research, helping readers anticipate the specific areas of inquiry you are addressing.

Different types of thesis statements

A good thesis statement is clear, specific, and arguable. Therefore, it is necessary for you to choose the right type of thesis statement for your academic papers.

Thesis statements can be classified based on their purpose and structure. Here are the primary types of thesis statements:

Argumentative (or Persuasive) thesis statement

Purpose : To convince the reader of a particular stance or point of view by presenting evidence and formulating a compelling argument.

Example : Reducing plastic use in daily life is essential for environmental health.

Analytical thesis statement

Purpose : To break down an idea or issue into its components and evaluate it.

Example : By examining the long-term effects, social implications, and economic impact of climate change, it becomes evident that immediate global action is necessary.

Expository (or Descriptive) thesis statement

Purpose : To explain a topic or subject to the reader.

Example : The Great Depression, spanning the 1930s, was a severe worldwide economic downturn triggered by a stock market crash, bank failures, and reduced consumer spending.

Cause and effect thesis statement

Purpose : To demonstrate a cause and its resulting effect.

Example : Overuse of smartphones can lead to impaired sleep patterns, reduced face-to-face social interactions, and increased levels of anxiety.

Compare and contrast thesis statement

Purpose : To highlight similarities and differences between two subjects.

Example : "While both novels '1984' and 'Brave New World' delve into dystopian futures, they differ in their portrayal of individual freedom, societal control, and the role of technology."

When you write a thesis statement , it's important to ensure clarity and precision, so the reader immediately understands the central focus of your work.

What is the difference between a thesis and a thesis statement?

While both terms are frequently used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings.

A thesis refers to the entire research document, encompassing all its chapters and sections. In contrast, a thesis statement is a brief assertion that encapsulates the central argument of the research.

Here’s an in-depth differentiation table of a thesis and a thesis statement.

Now, to craft a compelling thesis, it's crucial to adhere to a specific structure. Let’s break down these essential components that make up a thesis structure

15 components of a thesis structure

Navigating a thesis can be daunting. However, understanding its structure can make the process more manageable.

Here are the key components or different sections of a thesis structure:

Your thesis begins with the title page. It's not just a formality but the gateway to your research.

title-page-of-a-thesis

Here, you'll prominently display the necessary information about you (the author) and your institutional details.

  • Title of your thesis
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date
  • Your Supervisor's name (in some cases)
  • Your Department or faculty (in some cases)
  • Your University's logo (in some cases)
  • Your Student ID (in some cases)

In a concise manner, you'll have to summarize the critical aspects of your research in typically no more than 200-300 words.

Abstract-section-of-a-thesis

This includes the problem statement, methodology, key findings, and conclusions. For many, the abstract will determine if they delve deeper into your work, so ensure it's clear and compelling.

Acknowledgments

Research is rarely a solitary endeavor. In the acknowledgments section, you have the chance to express gratitude to those who've supported your journey.

Acknowledgement-section-of-a-thesis

This might include advisors, peers, institutions, or even personal sources of inspiration and support. It's a personal touch, reflecting the humanity behind the academic rigor.

Table of contents

A roadmap for your readers, the table of contents lists the chapters, sections, and subsections of your thesis.

Table-of-contents-of-a-thesis

By providing page numbers, you allow readers to navigate your work easily, jumping to sections that pique their interest.

List of figures and tables

Research often involves data, and presenting this data visually can enhance understanding. This section provides an organized listing of all figures and tables in your thesis.

List-of-tables-and-figures-in-a-thesis

It's a visual index, ensuring that readers can quickly locate and reference your graphical data.

Introduction

Here's where you introduce your research topic, articulate the research question or objective, and outline the significance of your study.

Introduction-section-of-a-thesis

  • Present the research topic : Clearly articulate the central theme or subject of your research.
  • Background information : Ground your research topic, providing any necessary context or background information your readers might need to understand the significance of your study.
  • Define the scope : Clearly delineate the boundaries of your research, indicating what will and won't be covered.
  • Literature review : Introduce any relevant existing research on your topic, situating your work within the broader academic conversation and highlighting where your research fits in.
  • State the research Question(s) or objective(s) : Clearly articulate the primary questions or objectives your research aims to address.
  • Outline the study's structure : Give a brief overview of how the subsequent sections of your work will unfold, guiding your readers through the journey ahead.

The introduction should captivate your readers, making them eager to delve deeper into your research journey.

Literature review section

Your study correlates with existing research. Therefore, in the literature review section, you'll engage in a dialogue with existing knowledge, highlighting relevant studies, theories, and findings.

Literature-review-section-thesis

It's here that you identify gaps in the current knowledge, positioning your research as a bridge to new insights.

To streamline this process, consider leveraging AI tools. For example, the SciSpace literature review tool enables you to efficiently explore and delve into research papers, simplifying your literature review journey.

Methodology

In the research methodology section, you’ll detail the tools, techniques, and processes you employed to gather and analyze data. This section will inform the readers about how you approached your research questions and ensures the reproducibility of your study.

Methodology-section-thesis

Here's a breakdown of what it should encompass:

  • Research Design : Describe the overall structure and approach of your research. Are you conducting a qualitative study with in-depth interviews? Or is it a quantitative study using statistical analysis? Perhaps it's a mixed-methods approach?
  • Data Collection : Detail the methods you used to gather data. This could include surveys, experiments, observations, interviews, archival research, etc. Mention where you sourced your data, the duration of data collection, and any tools or instruments used.
  • Sampling : If applicable, explain how you selected participants or data sources for your study. Discuss the size of your sample and the rationale behind choosing it.
  • Data Analysis : Describe the techniques and tools you used to process and analyze the data. This could range from statistical tests in quantitative research to thematic analysis in qualitative research.
  • Validity and Reliability : Address the steps you took to ensure the validity and reliability of your findings to ensure that your results are both accurate and consistent.
  • Ethical Considerations : Highlight any ethical issues related to your research and the measures you took to address them, including — informed consent, confidentiality, and data storage and protection measures.

Moreover, different research questions necessitate different types of methodologies. For instance:

  • Experimental methodology : Often used in sciences, this involves a controlled experiment to discern causality.
  • Qualitative methodology : Employed when exploring patterns or phenomena without numerical data. Methods can include interviews, focus groups, or content analysis.
  • Quantitative methodology : Concerned with measurable data and often involves statistical analysis. Surveys and structured observations are common tools here.
  • Mixed methods : As the name implies, this combines both qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

The Methodology section isn’t just about detailing the methods but also justifying why they were chosen. The appropriateness of the methods in addressing your research question can significantly impact the credibility of your findings.

Results (or Findings)

This section presents the outcomes of your research. It's crucial to note that the nature of your results may vary; they could be quantitative, qualitative, or a mix of both.

Results-section-thesis

Quantitative results often present statistical data, showcasing measurable outcomes, and they benefit from tables, graphs, and figures to depict these data points.

Qualitative results , on the other hand, might delve into patterns, themes, or narratives derived from non-numerical data, such as interviews or observations.

Regardless of the nature of your results, clarity is essential. This section is purely about presenting the data without offering interpretations — that comes later in the discussion.

In the discussion section, the raw data transforms into valuable insights.

Start by revisiting your research question and contrast it with the findings. How do your results expand, constrict, or challenge current academic conversations?

Dive into the intricacies of the data, guiding the reader through its implications. Detail potential limitations transparently, signaling your awareness of the research's boundaries. This is where your academic voice should be resonant and confident.

Practical implications (Recommendation) section

Based on the insights derived from your research, this section provides actionable suggestions or proposed solutions.

Whether aimed at industry professionals or the general public, recommendations translate your academic findings into potential real-world actions. They help readers understand the practical implications of your work and how it can be applied to effect change or improvement in a given field.

When crafting recommendations, it's essential to ensure they're feasible and rooted in the evidence provided by your research. They shouldn't merely be aspirational but should offer a clear path forward, grounded in your findings.

The conclusion provides closure to your research narrative.

It's not merely a recap but a synthesis of your main findings and their broader implications. Reconnect with the research questions or hypotheses posited at the beginning, offering clear answers based on your findings.

Conclusion-section-thesis

Reflect on the broader contributions of your study, considering its impact on the academic community and potential real-world applications.

Lastly, the conclusion should leave your readers with a clear understanding of the value and impact of your study.

References (or Bibliography)

Every theory you've expounded upon, every data point you've cited, and every methodological precedent you've followed finds its acknowledgment here.

References-section-thesis

In references, it's crucial to ensure meticulous consistency in formatting, mirroring the specific guidelines of the chosen citation style .

Proper referencing helps to avoid plagiarism , gives credit to original ideas, and allows readers to explore topics of interest. Moreover, it situates your work within the continuum of academic knowledge.

To properly cite the sources used in the study, you can rely on online citation generator tools  to generate accurate citations!

Here’s more on how you can cite your sources.

Often, the depth of research produces a wealth of material that, while crucial, can make the core content of the thesis cumbersome. The appendix is where you mention extra information that supports your research but isn't central to the main text.

Appendices-section-thesis

Whether it's raw datasets, detailed procedural methodologies, extended case studies, or any other ancillary material, the appendices ensure that these elements are archived for reference without breaking the main narrative's flow.

For thorough researchers and readers keen on meticulous details, the appendices provide a treasure trove of insights.

Glossary (optional)

In academics, specialized terminologies, and jargon are inevitable. However, not every reader is versed in every term.

The glossary, while optional, is a critical tool for accessibility. It's a bridge ensuring that even readers from outside the discipline can access, understand, and appreciate your work.

Glossary-section-of-a-thesis

By defining complex terms and providing context, you're inviting a wider audience to engage with your research, enhancing its reach and impact.

Remember, while these components provide a structured framework, the essence of your thesis lies in the originality of your ideas, the rigor of your research, and the clarity of your presentation.

As you craft each section, keep your readers in mind, ensuring that your passion and dedication shine through every page.

Thesis examples

To further elucidate the concept of a thesis, here are illustrative examples from various fields:

Example 1 (History): Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807 by Suchait Kahlon.
Example 2 (Climate Dynamics): Influence of external forcings on abrupt millennial-scale climate changes: a statistical modelling study by Takahito Mitsui · Michel Crucifix

Checklist for your thesis evaluation

Evaluating your thesis ensures that your research meets the standards of academia. Here's an elaborate checklist to guide you through this critical process.

Content and structure

  • Is the thesis statement clear, concise, and debatable?
  • Does the introduction provide sufficient background and context?
  • Is the literature review comprehensive, relevant, and well-organized?
  • Does the methodology section clearly describe and justify the research methods?
  • Are the results/findings presented clearly and logically?
  • Does the discussion interpret the results in light of the research question and existing literature?
  • Is the conclusion summarizing the research and suggesting future directions or implications?

Clarity and coherence

  • Is the writing clear and free of jargon?
  • Are ideas and sections logically connected and flowing?
  • Is there a clear narrative or argument throughout the thesis?

Research quality

  • Is the research question significant and relevant?
  • Are the research methods appropriate for the question?
  • Is the sample size (if applicable) adequate?
  • Are the data analysis techniques appropriate and correctly applied?
  • Are potential biases or limitations addressed?

Originality and significance

  • Does the thesis contribute new knowledge or insights to the field?
  • Is the research grounded in existing literature while offering fresh perspectives?

Formatting and presentation

  • Is the thesis formatted according to institutional guidelines?
  • Are figures, tables, and charts clear, labeled, and referenced in the text?
  • Is the bibliography or reference list complete and consistently formatted?
  • Are appendices relevant and appropriately referenced in the main text?

Grammar and language

  • Is the thesis free of grammatical and spelling errors?
  • Is the language professional, consistent, and appropriate for an academic audience?
  • Are quotations and paraphrased material correctly cited?

Feedback and revision

  • Have you sought feedback from peers, advisors, or experts in the field?
  • Have you addressed the feedback and made the necessary revisions?

Overall assessment

  • Does the thesis as a whole feel cohesive and comprehensive?
  • Would the thesis be understandable and valuable to someone in your field?

Ensure to use this checklist to leave no ground for doubt or missed information in your thesis.

After writing your thesis, the next step is to discuss and defend your findings verbally in front of a knowledgeable panel. You’ve to be well prepared as your professors may grade your presentation abilities.

Preparing your thesis defense

A thesis defense, also known as "defending the thesis," is the culmination of a scholar's research journey. It's the final frontier, where you’ll present their findings and face scrutiny from a panel of experts.

Typically, the defense involves a public presentation where you’ll have to outline your study, followed by a question-and-answer session with a committee of experts. This committee assesses the validity, originality, and significance of the research.

The defense serves as a rite of passage for scholars. It's an opportunity to showcase expertise, address criticisms, and refine arguments. A successful defense not only validates the research but also establishes your authority as a researcher in your field.

Here’s how you can effectively prepare for your thesis defense .

Now, having touched upon the process of defending a thesis, it's worth noting that scholarly work can take various forms, depending on academic and regional practices.

One such form, often paralleled with the thesis, is the 'dissertation.' But what differentiates the two?

Dissertation vs. Thesis

Often used interchangeably in casual discourse, they refer to distinct research projects undertaken at different levels of higher education.

To the uninitiated, understanding their meaning might be elusive. So, let's demystify these terms and delve into their core differences.

Here's a table differentiating between the two.

Wrapping up

From understanding the foundational concept of a thesis to navigating its various components, differentiating it from a dissertation, and recognizing the importance of proper citation — this guide covers it all.

As scholars and readers, understanding these nuances not only aids in academic pursuits but also fosters a deeper appreciation for the relentless quest for knowledge that drives academia.

It’s important to remember that every thesis is a testament to curiosity, dedication, and the indomitable spirit of discovery.

Good luck with your thesis writing!

Frequently Asked Questions

A thesis typically ranges between 40-80 pages, but its length can vary based on the research topic, institution guidelines, and level of study.

A PhD thesis usually spans 200-300 pages, though this can vary based on the discipline, complexity of the research, and institutional requirements.

To identify a thesis topic, consider current trends in your field, gaps in existing literature, personal interests, and discussions with advisors or mentors. Additionally, reviewing related journals and conference proceedings can provide insights into potential areas of exploration.

The conceptual framework is often situated in the literature review or theoretical framework section of a thesis. It helps set the stage by providing the context, defining key concepts, and explaining the relationships between variables.

A thesis statement should be concise, clear, and specific. It should state the main argument or point of your research. Start by pinpointing the central question or issue your research addresses, then condense that into a single statement, ensuring it reflects the essence of your paper.

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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

Published on September 7, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 21, 2023.

The introduction is the first section of your thesis or dissertation , appearing right after the table of contents . Your introduction draws your reader in, setting the stage for your research with a clear focus, purpose, and direction on a relevant topic .

Your introduction should include:

  • Your topic, in context: what does your reader need to know to understand your thesis dissertation?
  • Your focus and scope: what specific aspect of the topic will you address?
  • The relevance of your research: how does your work fit into existing studies on your topic?
  • Your questions and objectives: what does your research aim to find out, and how?
  • An overview of your structure: what does each section contribute to the overall aim?

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Table of contents

How to start your introduction, topic and context, focus and scope, relevance and importance, questions and objectives, overview of the structure, thesis introduction example, introduction checklist, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about introductions.

Although your introduction kicks off your dissertation, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you write — in fact, it’s often one of the very last parts to be completed (just before your abstract ).

It’s a good idea to write a rough draft of your introduction as you begin your research, to help guide you. If you wrote a research proposal , consider using this as a template, as it contains many of the same elements. However, be sure to revise your introduction throughout the writing process, making sure it matches the content of your ensuing sections.

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Begin by introducing your dissertation topic and giving any necessary background information. It’s important to contextualize your research and generate interest. Aim to show why your topic is timely or important. You may want to mention a relevant news item, academic debate, or practical problem.

After a brief introduction to your general area of interest, narrow your focus and define the scope of your research.

You can narrow this down in many ways, such as by:

  • Geographical area
  • Time period
  • Demographics or communities
  • Themes or aspects of the topic

It’s essential to share your motivation for doing this research, as well as how it relates to existing work on your topic. Further, you should also mention what new insights you expect it will contribute.

Start by giving a brief overview of the current state of research. You should definitely cite the most relevant literature, but remember that you will conduct a more in-depth survey of relevant sources in the literature review section, so there’s no need to go too in-depth in the introduction.

Depending on your field, the importance of your research might focus on its practical application (e.g., in policy or management) or on advancing scholarly understanding of the topic (e.g., by developing theories or adding new empirical data). In many cases, it will do both.

Ultimately, your introduction should explain how your thesis or dissertation:

  • Helps solve a practical or theoretical problem
  • Addresses a gap in the literature
  • Builds on existing research
  • Proposes a new understanding of your topic

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Perhaps the most important part of your introduction is your questions and objectives, as it sets up the expectations for the rest of your thesis or dissertation. How you formulate your research questions and research objectives will depend on your discipline, topic, and focus, but you should always clearly state the central aim of your research.

If your research aims to test hypotheses , you can formulate them here. Your introduction is also a good place for a conceptual framework that suggests relationships between variables .

  • Conduct surveys to collect data on students’ levels of knowledge, understanding, and positive/negative perceptions of government policy.
  • Determine whether attitudes to climate policy are associated with variables such as age, gender, region, and social class.
  • Conduct interviews to gain qualitative insights into students’ perspectives and actions in relation to climate policy.

To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline  of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

I. Introduction

Human language consists of a set of vowels and consonants which are combined to form words. During the speech production process, thoughts are converted into spoken utterances to convey a message. The appropriate words and their meanings are selected in the mental lexicon (Dell & Burger, 1997). This pre-verbal message is then grammatically coded, during which a syntactic representation of the utterance is built.

Speech, language, and voice disorders affect the vocal cords, nerves, muscles, and brain structures, which result in a distorted language reception or speech production (Sataloff & Hawkshaw, 2014). The symptoms vary from adding superfluous words and taking pauses to hoarseness of the voice, depending on the type of disorder (Dodd, 2005). However, distortions of the speech may also occur as a result of a disease that seems unrelated to speech, such as multiple sclerosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

This study aims to determine which acoustic parameters are suitable for the automatic detection of exacerbations in patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by investigating which aspects of speech differ between COPD patients and healthy speakers and which aspects differ between COPD patients in exacerbation and stable COPD patients.

Checklist: Introduction

I have introduced my research topic in an engaging way.

I have provided necessary context to help the reader understand my topic.

I have clearly specified the focus of my research.

I have shown the relevance and importance of the dissertation topic .

I have clearly stated the problem or question that my research addresses.

I have outlined the specific objectives of the research .

I have provided an overview of the dissertation’s structure .

You've written a strong introduction for your thesis or dissertation. Use the other checklists to continue improving your dissertation.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.

Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .

To define your scope of research, consider the following:

  • Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
  • Your proposed timeline and duration
  • Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
  • Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.

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As of 2015, approximately 25.4 million Americans held advanced degrees , with more citizens joining these ranks each year. As studies continue to show the career advancement and salary benefits of completing a master's degree, more and more students elect to pursue advanced educations. When considering their options, many question whether to enroll in a master's requiring a thesis or not. The following guide examines some of the reasons degree seekers may want to write a thesis while also highlighting why they might not. Students on the fence about this important decision can find expert advice, actionable tips, and relevant guidance to help them make an informed choice in the guide that follows.

Understanding the Master's Thesis

What is the difference between a thesis & non-thesis master's program, the decision not to do a thesis.

As students research various master's programs in their chosen discipline, it's common to find that many degrees require a thesis – especially if they want to enter a research-heavy field. While this word gets thrown around a lot in academia, some learners may want more information regarding what it entails in order to make an informed decision.

What is a Master's Thesis?

The master's thesis is an original piece of scholarship allowing the student to dig into a topic and produce an expanded document that demonstrates how their knowledge has grown throughout the degree program. These documents require significant independent research of primary and secondary sources and, depending on the subject, may require interviews and/or surveys to support the overarching argument.

Individual schools and departments dictate the length of these documents, but they typically range between 60 and 100 pages – or approximately 20,000 to 40,000 words. While tackling a document of such heft may seem overwhelming at first, learners need not fret. Each master's candidate receives a faculty advisor early in their tenure to provide support, feedback, and guidance throughout the process. Because the final thesis is expected to be of a publishable quality, learners seeking the highest marks typically send their supervisor excerpts of the document as they write to ensure they are on the right track.

When picking a thesis topic, no magical formula exists. Students should consider their interests and read extensively on that topic to get a better sense of existing scholarship. They should also speak to other academics working in that sphere to familiarize themselves with ongoing projects. Only after they feel reasonably well-read should they begin looking for uncovered angles or interesting ways of using emerging methodologies to bring new light to the topic.

When considering formatting, degree seekers should check with their specific schools and departments, as they may have unique requirements. To get a general understanding of what to expect, learners can review Simon Fraser University's guidelines on thesis formatting. After completing the thesis, some programs require an oral defense before a committee while others read the document and provide a grade. Check with your prospective schools to get a better sense of procedure.

Format & Components of a Master's Thesis

While this guide attempts to provide helpful and actionable information about the process of deciding whether to follow a thesis or non-thesis track in a master's program, readers should remember that specific components and requirements of a thesis vary according to discipline, university, and department. That being said, some commonalities exist across all these – especially when it comes to what students must include in their final drafts.

As the first section a reader encounters after moving through the table of contents and other anterior text, the introductory allows the writer to firmly establish what they want to accomplish. Sometimes also called the "research question" section, the introductory must clearly state the goals of the paper and the overarching hypothesis guiding the argument. This should be written in a professional yet accessible tone that allows individuals without specializations in the field to understand the text.

This section allows learners to demonstrate their deep knowledge of the field by providing context to existing texts within their chosen discipline Learners review the main bodies of work, highlighting any issues they find within each. Constructive criticism often centers around shortcomings, blind spots, or outdated hypotheses.

Students use this section to explain how they went about their work. While scientists may point to a specific method used to reach conclusions, historians may reference the use of an emerging framework for understanding history to bring new light to a topic. The point of this section is to demonstrate the thought processes that led to your findings.

This section allows for learners to show what they learned during the research process in a non-biased way. Students should simply state what information they gathered by utilizing a specific framework or methodology and arrange those findings, without interpretation, in an easy-to-read fashion.

After providing readers with all the necessary information, the discussion section exists for candidates to interpret the raw data and demonstrate how their research led to a new understanding or contributed a unique perspective to the field. This section should directly connect to the introduction by reinforcing the hypothesis and showing how you answered the questions posed.

Even though the previous sections give prospective degree seekers a better sense of what to expect if they decide to write a thesis during their master's program, they don't necessarily help learners decide whether to pursue a thesis or non-thesis track. The following section highlights some of the reasons students frequently choose to complete a thesis or bypass the process altogether by providing a pros and cons list.

Why a Thesis Program

  • Especially when entering a research-heavy discipline, completing a thesis shows prospective schools and employers that you possess the skills needed for researching and writing long-form reports.
  • Students hoping to pursue a Ph.D. stand in better stead with admissions panels if they wrote a thesis during a master's program.
  • Individuals hoping to enter a field that values syntax and grammar often better their writing skills by completing a thesis.
  • Students who write a thesis can submit the final product to various academic journals, increasing their chances of getting published.
  • Theses expand students' understanding of what they're capable of, deepen their ability to carry out an argument, and develop their skills in making connections between ideas.

Why a Non-thesis Program

  • Because they don't require a significant written product, non-thesis master's tend to take less time to complete.
  • Often mirrors a bachelor's program in terms of structure, allowing learners to complete classes and take exams without a great deal of research or writing.
  • Students who excel in project-based assignments can continue building skills in this arena rather than focusing on skills they don't plan to use (e.g. research)
  • Provides learners the opportunity to work more closely and more frequently with faculty on real-world projects since they don't spend hundreds of hours researching/writing.
  • Allows learners to take more classes and gain hands-on skills to fill the time they would have spent researching and writing a thesis.

How to Choose a Master's Program: FAQs

Within some academic disciplines and professional fields, research and writing plays a key role in work done on a daily basis. Because of this, master's programs in these fields require learners to complete theses to compete against peers and be seen as competent in their work. Other disciplines, conversely, rely on other tools to accomplish work and progress ideas – making theses less important.

Yes. Master's programs focused more on application than research typically don't require a thesis – although they may still give students the option. Examples of common non-thesis master's programs include nursing, business, and education.

Even though non-thesis students won't be writing a 100-page paper, that doesn't mean they avoid completing a significant project. In place of a thesis, most applied master's programs require students to take part in at least one internship or complete a culminating project. These projects typically ask learners to take what they learned throughout coursework and create an expansive final project – examples include case studies, creative works, or portfolios.

While students who followed a non-thesis path routinely receive acceptance to Ph.D. programs, those with theses often find the process easier. Even if a learner pursues a Ph.D. in a discipline that isn't research-heavy, admissions panels still want to get a sense of your academic interests and ability to engage in independent, nuanced thought. Students with theses can provide solid proof of these skills, while those without may struggle to demonstrate preparedness as thoroughly.

The answer to this question depends on many factors, but typically it is okay not to do a thesis if you plan to enter a field that doesn't depend heavily on research or writing, or if you don't plan to complete a Ph.D.

Students wanting to work in academic, research, or writing should always opt for the thesis track. They should also follow this path if they have any doctoral degree aspirations.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to complete a thesis rests with the individual student. Figuring out how to proceed on this front requires lots of careful consideration, and learners should ensure they consider various aspects before coming to a final decision. The following section helps students consider how they should and should not come to a conclusion.

Dos and Don'ts of Choosing a Thesis or Non-thesis Program

  • Consider the longevity of your decision: will you feel the same in 5-10 years or are you making a decision based on current desires?
  • Talk to others who with experience in this area. Ask them questions about their decision-making process and if they regret their choice.
  • Research potential thesis topics before starting a program. Going in with a game plan can help you feel more confident and settled about the process than if you're scrambling for a topic while in school.
  • Reach out to prospective schools to speak with faculty and/or current students following both tracks. This will provide knowledge specific to the school while also expanding your network if you choose to attend there.
  • Research Ph.D. entrance requirements to ascertain if the majority expect learners to possess a thesis when applying. This will give you a sense of whether you may experience issues later on if you do not complete one.
  • Decide not to complete a thesis simply because you have never taken on such a task and feel overwhelmed or fearful that you will fail.
  • Complete a thesis simply because you think it will look good on your resume. Theses require intense devotion over an extended amount of time; learners who complete them without conviction often find the process miserable.
  • Forget to research alternatives to writing a thesis. Just because you don't complete a research paper doesn't mean a non-thesis track lacks rigor or challenging coursework.
  • Forget to read examples of theses by previous students. If you feel overwhelmed by the task, reading work other people have done can often make the task at hand feel less scary.
  • Let yourself off easy by taking the non-thesis path. If you find you have extra time in the program, talk to your advisor about taking more classes, develop meaningful projects for yourself, or see about presenting at an academic conference.

From the Expert

Sudiksha Joshi

Sudiksha Joshi, Ph.D. is a learning advocate. Her mission is to empower our youth to think bigger, bolder thoughts and forge a career path that will change the world. She taps into her natural curiosity and ability to identify strengths to help students and those in transition find their path from feeling lost in the traditional ways of achieving success to charting their own path. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Medium and LinkedIn.

Why might a student decide to follow a thesis track? Why might they follow a non-thesis track?

A student might decide to take a thesis track if she/he wants to pursue a Ph.D. Also, if the students want to focus on careers where research and writing have a strong focus, the students opt for the thesis option. Research assistantships at the graduate level are also more often available to students who opt for the thesis option.

A student who might feel that writing is not one of their strengths might choose to go the non-thesis track. Likewise, a student who has other work commitments may find a non-thesis option more convenient.

Do you have any tips for deciding on a program?

I chose a thesis option because being able to conduct independent research was a big reason to go to graduate school. Also, showing the ability that I could do research was what afforded me research assistantships which meant that my tuition was paid for and I got a stipend that paid for expenses while I was in graduate school. This also allowed me the opportunity to work closely with the faculty mentor that provided me with the support and the accountability I wanted.

I would not recommend taking a non-thesis option if all the degree requires is for you to take courses. You have little to show in terms of your learning other than your grades unless you are already working on something on the side that does that for you and all you need is a certificate.

Opt for a non-thesis option if you can still work closely with a professor or on a project and if you'd rather be involved in multiple projects rather than focus on a single project. If you already have a good (informed) reason for choosing one over the other, go for it.

What's the most important thing to consider when choosing a program?

The most important thing to consider when choosing a program is getting excited about the projects that at least one of the faculty members are involved in. Do some research and see why you are excited about a particular work that at least one of the faculty members have been involved in.

Who should students talk to when considering options?

Students should talk to other students and also reach out directly to the graduate coordinator and even individual faculty members. This means that students should have done prior homework and have some good questions ready. Asking good questions will get you at least halfway through to make the right decision.

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Masters Thesis vs. PhD Dissertation: Key Differences

whats a master thesis

Whether you are a graduate student just starting out in academia or a professor advising a student, making the distinction between a dissertation and a thesis is critically important to writing a strong dissertation and becoming a stronger writer. Unfortunately, the difference remains unclear since the terms are used interchangeably by graduate students, doctoral researchers, academic publishers & universities.

If you’re not sure whether you’re writing a thesis or a dissertation, this article will help you understand the differences between the two whether you’re a PhD or master’s degree student.

Main Differences Between a Dissertation and a Thesis

While theses and dissertations share many similarities (they are both advanced graduate research papers), they actually refer to two different types of academic writing, and their differences include important concepts such as scope, purpose, length, and research requirements.

Most importantly, the difference between a thesis and a dissertation depends on the level of education. Far beyond being a simple essay, a thesis is for graduate students pursuing a master’s degree while a dissertation is written by doctoral students, also referred to as PhD candidates.

There are a few key differences between a thesis versus a dissertation.

The biggest difference between a thesis and a dissertation is that a thesis makes arguments based on existing research. Meanwhile, a dissertation often requires the PhD candidate to conduct research and then perform an analysis.

More specifically, a thesis often takes the form of a literature review , which is a compilation of research knowledge in a particular field of study that proves one is competent in that subject. On the other hand, a dissertation is a more specific type of research paper written by those working toward a specific doctorate degree that contributes knowledge, theory, or methods to a field of study.

What is a master’s thesis?

A master’s thesis is an academic research paper that requires a greater degree of research than an undergraduate thesis or term paper. It is marked by a higher standard of writing, and students are expected to demonstrate competence, literacy, and mastery of a subject. It usually takes two or three years to complete. Finally, a master’s degree thesis is usually written in order to obtain a research degree and is not intended to be published separately.

What is a PhD dissertation?

A PhD dissertation is a substantial piece of independent research that is required of all students who are pursuing a doctorate degree. It is a piece of original work that has not been published elsewhere and, most importantly, makes a new contribution to the field. This contribution may be a new way of thinking about an existing topic or even a novel theory. The research performed for a dissertation is usually conducted over a period of several years to half a decade.

Features of a Master’s Thesis vs PhD Dissertation

Content and structural differences.

So how is dissertation writing different from thesis writing?

Now that you know the definitions of a dissertation and thesis, let’s dive into some clear ways in which they differ in structure and other main characteristics.

How long is a thesis vs dissertation?

Length is the most obvious factor in differentiating between writing a thesis or dissertation. 

Generally, a doctoral dissertation has greater breadth, depth, and intention than a master’s thesis since it is based on original research. While the standard length of a master’s thesis is around 100 pages , a doctoral dissertation can be upwards of 400-500 pages. 

While most students can finish their PhD dissertation or thesis in as little as 1-2 years, it can take as long as 7 years depending on the school, program, and dissertation topic. As doctoral programs have their own formatting requirements, check with your school or university to find out what you need for your own dissertation or thesis. Most dissertations are organized into chapters, but the number of chapters varies as well.

Differences in research methods

A thesis and dissertation are both graduate-level research reports. This means they require students to investigate and report on a specific topic. But what is the difference in the scale of research between a master’s versus doctoral degree? The answer comes down to how much and what type of data you collect .

Data sources for a thesis vs dissertation

A master’s thesis is limited to secondary or reported knowledge . This knowledge has already been published, analyzed, and scrutinized in the literature. A thesis does not typically offer anything new in that regard. Your purpose is usually to write a comprehensive literature review on a novel or underreported topic using already-reported data.

On the other hand, a doctoral dissertation reports on  novel data  and is published so it can be scrutinized by others. It culminates in your dissertation defense.

The above lists clearly show that a PhD researcher and dissertation writer must have specific hands-on experience about not only the result of others’ research but also how the researchers obtained the data. A dissertation must venture into criticism of how other studies performed their experiments, whereas a master’s student will only report on and evaluate the results.

Differences in research scope 

As mentioned above, a thesis is more of a literature review written to demonstrate competence and mastery of a field of study. In short, you are a reliable “reporter” of information related to that subject. A thesis shows that you know the technical jargon, understand the subject, are familiar with industry tools, and can translate that information to a general audience. This is why a master’s degree is sufficient and often preferred for industry jobs.

In contrast, a doctoral dissertation goes beyond simply using the building blocks of your subject and actually creates new tools, knowledge, and theories to advance the subject as a whole. If a master’s degree holder is like a seasoned Rolling Stone journalist, then a doctorate is the band/musician who actually makes the music.

dissertation vs thesis comparison chart

So should you pursue a thesis or a dissertation?

The benefits of earning a graduate degree are huge. According to the US Census Bureau , those with an advanced degree earn 3.7 times as much as a high school dropout, and 13.1% hold a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree. If you’re a curious undergraduate student thinking of applying to graduate school, which is the right choice?

In short, a dissertation is more focused and in-depth than a thesis. While a doctoral dissertation is based on original research, a thesis is often an extension or review of others’ research in order to demonstrate literacy. Further, a dissertation can be used as the basis or subject of a thesis, but not vice versa.

Editing a Dissertation vs Thesis

So far, we’ve focused a lot on differences such as research and purpose, but in the end, a thesis or dissertation is a written document that requires skill, focus, discipline, subject knowledge, organization, and scheduling. 

For non-native English speakers, the challenge is especially difficult since English is the lingua franca of academia and research. 

How does an editing service improve your dissertation or thesis ?

From body spacing and pagination, to font size and citation formatting, the dissertation guidelines are exhaustive. Even worse, they vary by school. So besides the actual English writing and grammar, graduate students must worry about consistency, formatting, nomenclature, and terminology. That’s quite the burden!

This is why it’s very common for graduate students, especially ESL and foreign ones, to seek out dissertation editing services that specifically cater to the academic needs of researchers and students.

Here are just a few reasons why dissertation proofreading is so helpful and what these editors do:

  • Correct grammar, punctuation, syntax, and structural errors
  • Offer suggestions to rewrite, remove, and revise writing
  • Ensure formatting and nomenclature are consistent
  • Knowledgeable academic editors with master’s and PhD degrees
  • Free up your time to focus on research, revisions, and content instead of looking for mistakes
  • Provide a  language editing certificate , which may be necessary for non-native English-speaking students

Lastly, most PhD advisors recommend that students seek out professional editing services , specifically thesis editing or dissertation editing , since professors prefer to assess the actual research content of a dissertation, not mundane writing errors. Any graduate student reading this knows professors don’t like their time to be wasted! 

Be sure to check out other academic resources on how to improve your academic manuscript and the benefits of proofreading and editing.

And try the Wordvice FREE Citation Generator, which provides citations for four academic formatting styles:  APA Citation Generator , MLA Citation Generator , Chicago Citation Generator , and Vancouver Citation Generator .

4+1 Accelerated Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering

Students will require 30 credits for satisfactory completion of the accelerated M.S. degree. Of the required 30 credits, a minimum of 21 will be within BME. A minimum of 6 credits at the 600 level or higher will be required (in addition to a minimum of 6 thesis [699] credits); non-thesis student will be required to take a minimum of 12 credits at the 600 level or higher. A minimum of 18 credits of credits of coursework will be required. Students wishing to complete a thesis may take up to 12 credits of BME 699 (Master’s Thesis).

To help accelerate progress towards the M.S. degree, up to twelve credits of graduate level coursework taken during a student's undergraduate degree can be transferred directly to the M.S. degree. The student may use up to six of those credits (i.e., two courses) to satisfy degree requirements in both their bachelors and graduate programs.

Application information & deadlines

Please consult the program .

Biomedical Engineering

Advance health care using the latest experimental and computational techniques to solve problems at the intersection of biology, medicine, and engineering.

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Undergraduate Spotlight: Jessica Faith Lee

Headshot of Jessica Faith Lee

Photo of Jessica Faith Lee

Jessica Faith Lee is a political science major with minors in Spanish and music. She’s also completing the Sustainability Science and Practice Coterminal Master's program. She loves playing the cello, having jam sessions with her friends, and performing in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. As a classical musician, Jessica has her favorite composers, which include Gustav Mahler, Ludwig van Beethoven, Edward Elgar, and Johannes Brahms. However, her favorites often change since she is constantly exposed to music. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Why did you choose to participate in the Honors Program in Ethics in Society?

I’m really passionate about environmental justice, and I wanted to explore this issue through normative, philosophical, and theoretical frameworks. Many of the honors thesis programs across campus use empirical approaches to answering questions about climate change and environmental justice. I found that the Ethics in Society program fosters an environment where you can focus on normative questions and theory, which is a better fit for my interests and the questions I want to explore in my thesis.

What are you exploring for your honors thesis research?

My honors thesis aims to apply the philosophy of John Rawls to the moral questions arising from the climate crisis. More specifically, I’m interested in the seeming lack of a coherent framework within Rawlsian theory dealing with both global and intergenerational justice. I wanted to see how an application of Rawls could potentially explore the intersections between both types of justice and how these insights could be applied to our understanding of climate change. One thing I have found so far in the literature is an interesting principle, articulated by Hyunseop Kim, that which I find bears interesting similarities to another principle (the Perpetuity Principle), argued by Justice Josephine Staton in a recent court case (Juliana v. United States). At this point, I’m focusing on the application of Rawls on the ethical questions of climate change and looking at different climate litigation cases to see how, if at all, these ethical principles are used.  

Explain why your topic interests you and share any “aha” moments that you’ve experienced in your research.

An ongoing “aha” moment is me realizing that although it’s easy to think that ideal theory is stuck in the abstract world, it’s actually really tangibly important to engage in this type of thinking. Without it, we lack direction in knowing where to go and what a just world would look like. Ideal theory is useful in shaping our understanding of a just world, and we should think deeply about where our moral principles come from and how they are justified. 

How do you define ethics, and how has this approach affected how you examine your thesis topic and your other studies?

At the core of ethics is the question of how we pursue the sense of justice that I think we all have deep down in our hearts. We all share these intuitions, informing our basic ideas of right and wrong. I’ve always thought of ethics as addressing what we make of those intuitions that we all have. How do we explain them? How do we justify them? What happens when they conflict? How do we deal with those conflicts? 

In thinking about principles of environmental justice, I’m trying to ensure that I’m not just focused on the world of theory but also grounding it in the real world. A lot of my studies in the political science department have actually been about political and moral philosophy, which directly contends with these ethical questions. But, I feel like these questions of ethics often go unexamined for many of my other classes which focus more so on the policy and science surrounding climate change. My thesis has afforded me the opportunity to dig deeper, challenge, and critically consider these big “why” questions. 

WTVR Richmond, VA

WTVR Richmond, VA

Packs of pills turn heads in Richmond. And that's exactly what she wants.

Posted: February 20, 2024 | Last updated: February 20, 2024

Shannon Kurzyniec, a Master of Fine Arts student at VCU, built the art installation as part of her thesis project, putting prescription pills in the spotlight.

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Packs of pills turn heads in Richmond. And that's exactly what she wants: 'We need to question more'

whats a master thesis

RICHMOND, Va. -- One of the largest packs of pills you've likely ever seen is now on display at VCU's Murray N. DePillars building off Broad Street in downtown Richmond.

Shannon Kurzyniec, a Master of Fine Arts student at VCU, built the art installation as part of her thesis project, putting prescription pills in the spotlight.

"I'm creating this world of bringing it to the front. The things that we hide in our pockets, our purses, our medicine cabinets, are now surrounding you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, but you always have it," Kurzyniec said. "Why is it uncomfortable now that it's in front of you?"

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Her art installation includes wearable pill jewelry, a machine to take pills by the mouthful, and a white coat filled with pill bottles. It's all presented against a backdrop of an enlarged blister pack of large white pills, scaling about nine feet by four feet.

"The white circular pills are recognizable to anybody," Kurzyniec explained. "It could look like Oxycodone, it could look like Ritalin, it could look like the Claritin that you take to help with your allergies. I don't want to speak to one topic or one pill in general because it's not just one that's the problem."

Since childhood, Kurzyniec said she's been told she had problems that could only be solved by pills.

"At seven years old, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression," she said. "Being a young age, being put on it, in elementary school, it was to help me focus. But then I would be so hyper from the Ritalin that they actually put me on a downer to help me sleep at night and help me deal with the depression that was caused with it."

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"I talk about my grandma a lot in my subject matter because at that age, she had broken her neck and I remember her taking them by the handful to help heal her and I was mesmerized by the colors, shapes, and sizes, and you know, at that young age, it's an impression that's put on you," Kurzyniec added. "That it's okay to do this, and that you're supposed to do this, as you get older, the more you take."

Kurzyniec said she's also lost friends and family to addiction to pills.

"Went to the emergency room with my father recently, and they prescribed him an opioid, but they never asked my sister or I, or him, if he has a history of drug abuse," she said. "That scares me."

Her fear of reliance on pills is front and center in other pieces of her work, including a vending machine that's been repurposed with different "pills" and antidotes for different things. Kurzyniec said she understands how valuable medication can be for some.

"We need to question more, especially myself," she said. "Especially myself, I question all the time now."

She hopes her art invites people to ponder the impact of pill use and support those who may be struggling with addiction.

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"I have the ability to have an impact on the public in such a way that I never thought I could," she said. "And that's my hope, is to impact others through my personal journey."

We want to hear your voice too! If you know someone we should profile, email [email protected].

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    whats a master thesis

  3. What Is a Master's Thesis & How to Write It: Best Tips

    whats a master thesis

  4. Master Thesis or Master's Thesis

    whats a master thesis

  5. Proofread my essay: Master thesis database management

    whats a master thesis

  6. How to Write a Master's Thesis (with Pictures)

    whats a master thesis

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  5. What Is a master's Thesis (5 Characteristics of an A Plus Thesis)

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  1. What Is A Master's Thesis?

    Your thesis is the sum of all of your learned knowledge from your master's program and gives you a chance to prove your capabilities in your chosen field. A thesis also involves a significant amount of research, and depending on the subject, may require you to conduct interviews, surveys and gather primary and secondary resources.

  2. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  3. How to Write a Master's Thesis (with Pictures)

    First, you need to find a topic (or "thesis question"), often with the help and/or approval of your faculty-led thesis committee. Next comes the process of research, which is often the most time-intensive. Then, you must take the time to analyze your research. Lastly, you outline and write the actual thesis. Thanks!

  4. The Ultimate Guide on How to Write a Master's Thesis

    A master's thesis is a written document highlighting knowledge gathered throughout the graduate degree, a unique perspective into the domain of study, an understanding of scientific and research methodology, and one's ability to analyze and interpret research outcomes.

  5. Thesis

    Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim.

  6. Guide to Writing Your Thesis/Dissertation : Graduate School

    The dissertation or thesis is a scholarly treatise that substantiates a specific point of view as a result of original research that is conducted by students during their graduate study. At Cornell, the thesis is a requirement for the receipt of the M.A. and M.S. degrees and some professional master's degrees.

  7. PDF What is a Master's Thesis?

    A master's thesis is a piece of original scholarship written under the direction of a faculty advisor. A master's thesis is similar to a doctoral dissertation, but it is generally shorter and more narrowly focused.

  8. How to Write a Master's Thesis: A Guide to Planning Your Thesis

    Who Needs to Write a Master's Thesis? Thesis writing is one of the more daunting challenges of higher education. That being said, not all master's students have to write a thesis.

  9. A guide on how to write the master's thesis

    The objective of this guide is to show you what a master's thesis written in the monograph form involves. If you are writing an article-based thesis, please see the guide written for article-based masters theses. The way a thesis is structured will vary, depending on professions, the academic disciplines, its

  10. PDF Overview of the Master's Degree and Thesis

    guidance on how to write the actual thesis, one chapter at a time. The Master's Degree There is a vast number of types of master's degrees in a variety of disciplines and specialty areas. The two main types of academic degrees at the master's level are the Master of Arts and the Master of Science. The MasterofArts

  11. How to Write a Thesis: A Guide for Master's Students

    According to Dictionary.com, a thesis is "a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections." Therefore, avoiding a weak thesis statement is vital when writing an applicable paper. Thesis statement examples are pivotal in understanding this position.

  12. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay. It usually comes near the end of your introduction. Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you're writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across.

  13. M.A. Thesis: What is it and what does it need to do?

    The purpose of a M.A. thesis is to demonstrate a student's capacity to develop an original historical argument based on original research.

  14. How to Write a Dissertation or Masters Thesis

    Writing a masters dissertation or thesis is a sizable task. It takes a considerable amount of research, studying and writing. Usually, students need to write around 10,000 to 15,000 words.

  15. What is a Master's Thesis?

    A master's thesis is used to showcase a student's academic knowledge and professional capabilities. It's essentially a research paper that challenges students to use the information and skills they've learned during their graduate career. Unlike typical research papers that you've had to do in high school or undergraduate courses, a ...

  16. Required Sections, Guidelines, and Suggestions : Graduate School

    Master's candidate: In a thesis, the page heading is simply the word "ABSTRACT" in all capital letters and centered within the margins at the top of the page. (The thesis abstract does not display the thesis title, author's name, degree, university, or date of degree conferral.)

  17. PDF How to Write a Master's Thesis

    Choose a level of language that is appropriate for a Master's level thesis. In general, it is helpful to ask someone else to read your thesis draft before handing it in. This is especially helpful if the other person is not familiar with the subject. Finally, read the finished thesis multiple times to improve the language and the writing.

  18. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument. Integral to these competencies is thorough research ...

  19. A complete guide to writing a master's thesis

    There are two ways that you can approach the editing of your master's thesis. Both have value and it depends on how you view the process of writing. These are: Individually edit sections as they are returned from the supervisor. Edit at the very end, so that the editing can be consistent across sections.

  20. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Introduction

    Overview of the structure. To help guide your reader, end your introduction with an outline of the structure of the thesis or dissertation to follow. Share a brief summary of each chapter, clearly showing how each contributes to your central aims. However, be careful to keep this overview concise: 1-2 sentences should be enough.

  21. Choosing Between a Thesis & Non-Thesis Master's Degree

    The master's thesis is an original piece of scholarship allowing the student to dig into a topic and produce an expanded document that demonstrates how their knowledge has grown throughout the degree program.

  22. Masters Thesis vs. PhD Dissertation: Key Differences

    A master's thesis is an academic research paper that requires a greater degree of research than an undergraduate thesis or term paper. It is marked by a higher standard of writing, and students are expected to demonstrate competence, literacy, and mastery of a subject. It usually takes two or three years to complete.

  23. Master's Thesis

    Office of Graduate Studies. 1055 - Administration Building. 4901 Evergreen Road. Dearborn, MI 48128. View on Map. Phone: 313-583-6321.

  24. What Is A Master's In Data Science?

    A master's in data science provides you with advanced knowledge and skills essential for many data science careers. This degree takes you from gathering and analyzing raw data to using ...

  25. 4+1 Accelerated Master's Degree in Biomedical Engineering

    Students wishing to complete a thesis may take up to 12 credits of BME 699 (Master's Thesis). To help accelerate progress towards the M.S. degree, up to twelve credits of graduate level coursework taken during a student's undergraduate degree can be transferred directly to the M.S. degree. The student may use up to six of those credits (i.e ...

  26. Undergraduate Spotlight: Jessica Faith Lee

    February 20, 2024. Photo of Jessica Faith Lee. Jessica Faith Lee is a political science major with minors in Spanish and music. She's also completing the Sustainability Science and Practice Coterminal Master's program. She loves playing the cello, having jam sessions with her friends, and performing in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.

  27. Packs of pills turn heads in Richmond. And that's exactly what ...

    Shannon Kurzyniec, a Master of Fine Arts student at VCU, built the art installation as part of her thesis project, putting prescription pills in the spotlight. More for You.

  28. Packs of pills turn heads in Richmond. And that's exactly what she

    Shannon Kurzyniec, a Master of Fine Arts student at VCU, built the art installation as part of her thesis project, putting prescription pills in the spotlight. 1 weather alerts 1 closings/delays.

  29. PDF Call for Nominations: Jeffery C. Gibeling Master'S Thesis Excellence

    The Thesis Award will: 1. Honor the individual who, in the opinion of the selection committee, has submitted the best Master's thesis within the College of Engineering during the eligibility period. 2. Publicize some of the outstanding research carried out in the college. 3. Acknowledge the mentorship of the major professor.